James Bannister was born in England in 1821. He would move to the United States, probably in the early to mid 1840s. There, he worked as an engraver, a portrait painter and an illustrator. In the 1860s he worked for the American Bank Note Company, although he is also linked to the Franklin Engraving & Printing Co, with some sources naming him as one of the founders in 1877. The Franklin company would be acquired by the ABNC some three years after its foundation. Bannister’s stamp work was all done for the ABNC.
In the 1860s, Bannister engraved a number of definitives for New Brunswick. Nova Scotia and Newfoundland. Most of these bore the portrait of Queen Victoria.
His profile Victoria portrait first appeared on the Nova Scotia defintivies of 1863, but it made further appearances on the Newfoundland 1865 definitive set and even on Canada's Second issue Bill Stamps of 1865. Unusually, his engraving was subsequently on a number of banknotes, which were issued in Mexico and Peru.
More Victoria was to follow. For New Brunswick he engraved the Chalon portrait on the 1860 definitive set and for Newfoundland he engraved a more mature portrait of Victoria, while also engraving stamp portraits of Prince Albert and King Edward VII when he was still Prince of Wales.
For Argentina, too, Bannister would engrave two portrait stamps: those of the generals Belgrano and San Martin from the 1867 definitive set.
James Bannister passed away in New York on 11 October 1901.
You will find James Bannister's database HERE.