BIOGRAPHY: Edward Mitchell Weeks

Edward Weeks (1866-1960) was a letter and frame engraver working for the Bureau of Engraving and Printing (BEP). He was born in Riverside, New Jersey, and became an art student at the Spring Garden Institute. He followed this up by attending the Pennsylvania Museum and School of Industrial Art in Philadelphia and later the Corcoran Art School in Washington DC.

After a period of letter engraving for various companies, he joined the BEP in 1900. While working there, Weeks devised his own method of spacing letters to fit definite spaces; how to fit variable lengths of text into definite spaces, whether straight-lined, circled or in arcs or wavy ribbons. He even wrote a book about it: "Letters Analyzed and Spaced".

Weeks' most ‘famous’ work was that on the 1918 airmail stamps issued in the United States. He worked over thirty hours spread out over two days on the frame and lettering of those airmail stamps. While it was always thought that Marcus Baldwin engraved the vignette, an entry in the BEP records showed that Weeks spent just over two hours working on the vignette as well, after Baldwin had finished it. This seemed to be corroborated by an entry in Baldwin’s diary, reading “Mr. Weeks did the lettering”. Although for a long time, this was thought to refer to the frame and lettering engraving of Weeks, the two facts together proved that it was indeed Weeks who finished the engraving of the vignette by adding the serial number 38262 of the plane. This number had only been made public after Baldwin had finished his work. As luck would have it, out of the six new planes, it was the one carrying this serial number which was the first to fly ceremoniously from Washington DC.

From 1925, Weeks had functions such as 'Foreman of Letter Engravers' and 'Superintendent', but he preferred to return to actual engraving, which he did in 1935. He finally retired in 1940, but not after having engraved his first complete stamp design in 1939, the single US stamp promoting the New York World's Fair. 

You will find Edward Weeks' database HERE.