Engraver and Artist Charles Burt

Born in Edinburgh in 1823, Burt lived most of his life in the US and died here is 1892. Like most artists of any era, he took what work was available whenever he could find it. His works included original subjects, but were most often taken from existing paintings and etchings from which he would create engravings on commission. As a freelance artist, his work covered the gamut of subjects from portraits to vignettes. Some of his art includes engravings of American Indian subjects, both portrait and group scenes. He was most famous though, for his portrait work and his contributions as chief engraver for the Treasury Department.

His creations can be found on many American bills, and not just the fractional series. His image of Martha Washington, for example, graces the reverse of the 1896, one-dollar silver certificate which is part of what has become known as the "Educational Series", a grouping generally recognized as the most artistic in the history of US currency. His other fractional contributions include the famously disgruntled pose of William Meredith on the ten-cent note of the fifth issue, and the sublimely rendered likeness of Lincoln on the 50-cent bill of the fourth issue. The likeness on the 10-cent, fourth-issue Liberty is said to be on a young woman named Mary Hull.

Early engravers like Burt, and Douglas Romerson (4th Issue "Columbia" 15 cent, and 25-cent Washngton) combined the exacting task of creating patterns intricate enough to foil counterfeiters, and infusing the notes with a romantic and dignified aesthetic still prominent in modern American currency design.