Beginning in 1894 and through the twentieth century, the BEP printed almost all of the nation's stamps. Before 1894, stamp production was done by several private security firms under contract to the U.S. Post Office. These firms used production techniques similar to those of the BEP, including the printing of plate proofs to verify the quality of the product. These proofs did not generally bear the certification markings that became the rule once the Bureau began printing stamps.
The earliest stamps were printed by Rawdon, Wright, Hatch & Edson; Toppan, Carpenter, Casilear & Company; and the latter’s successor Butler & Carpenter. Butler & Carpenter printed the first issue revenue stamps of 1862, for example, the 10-dollar Probate of Will stamp.