Artists producing art and engraving on United States banknotes began experimenting with copper plates as an alternative to wood engraving in the early 18th century. Applied to the production of paper currency, copper-plate engraving, and later steel engraving, enabled banknote design and printing to rapidly advance during the 19th century. This vignette, engraved by W. W. Rice, appeared on certain United States fifty-dollar bills issued in 1875. Produced for the Department of the Treasury‘s Bureau of Engraving and Printing, the engraving is of Robert Walter Weir‘s painting Embarkation of the Pilgrims, which hangs in the United States Capitol rotunda. It depicts the Pilgrims on the deck of the ship Speedwell as they depart Delfshaven in South Holland on July 22, 1620. They met additional colonists at Southampton, England, and transferred to the Mayflower before sailing to the New World.
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