Since 1879, Crane & Co. has been the exclusive currency paper supplier to the Bureau of Engraving and Printing. The company was founded in 1801 by Zenas Crane. Crane, the fourth son of Liberty Paper Mill’s owner Stephen Crane, knew he would not be able to take over the family visit. After learning about paper making, Zenas moved to Dalton, Massachusetts and founded his own mill.

According to CNN Money, Crane & Co. became the supplier of currency paper to the BEP by applying business practices that would not be tolerated today* outbidding other potential bidders:

In May 1879, Zenas’ son, W. Murray Crane was in Washington, D.C., and heard that the Treasury Department was unhappy with their paper currency supplier and was accepting bids for the business.

After all the bids were submitted, Murray learned the amount of the lowest bid and raced back to his hotel room to prepare a second, much lower bid, says Crane historian Peter Hopkins. When the other bidders heard about Crane’s plan they locked him in his room, according to the story, but he managed to slip out and get his bid in just in time. Ever since, Crane & Co. has manufactured the U.S. currency paper.

Today, Crane & Co. is providing the currency paper for the new $100 note with technical features not found on any other note in the world. Interestingly, Crane & Co. is owned and managed by the eighth generation of the Crane family and continues to survive using its currency paper and stationary business.

The following video interviewing Crane & Co. CEO Charles Kittredge about the company’s history and the current economic climate for paper appeared in the Small Business Section of

* CORRECTION: I was contacted by Peter Hopkins, who was quoted in the CNN story. He pointed out to me that while the CNN story may have made the practice of submitting a last minute bid was not exactly ethical, the telegram Murray Crane sent back to Crane & Co. noted that up to three bids could be submitted. Thus, Murray Crane was acting in accordance with the rules while his competitors were not acting professionally. I apologize for the error and corrected the story.

Video courtesy of CNN

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