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Monday, June 24, 2024

Etched in History

Nussmeier Engraving Co., located at 933 Main St., might not seem like a repository for rare historical records and objects. Established in 1916, the company offers services in engraving, printing, foil stamping, embossing, die cutting, and designing.

Yet the Nussmeiers’ special collection dates back to 1816, when one of the remaining few books recording the laws passed by Indiana’s First State Legislature was put into the company’s custody. According to co-owner David Nussmeier, the family acquired the book during The Depression in the 1930s when it was discovered that one of its employees allegedly stole around $1,200 from the company. Inevitably, the employee was fired but never prosecuted. A couple years later, that employee mailed the Nussmeiers the book of Indiana’s First State Legislature as apparent restitution for his actions.

Also, the Nussmeiers have a newspaper dated Aug. 27, 1933, from The Evansville Courier Journal that featured the first owners of the engraving company, Harry and Oscar Nussmeier, pictured with the book recording the laws passed by Indiana’s First State Legislature.

Another interesting item that the Nussmeiers have in their possession is a page of a Bible that is marked and dated to be from England in 1225 A.D. It’s a psalter leaf written in monk-scribe, hand lettered, and illuminated on parchment. It was acquired during The Depression when a museum in Ohio, as a fundraiser, took the Bible, dismembered it, and sold each page to help keep the museum functioning.

The next item up for discussion is a framed specimen of genuine state bank notes that were used prior to the War of Rebellion, popularly known as the American Civil War. The collection consists of 100 different designs, with no duplicates, of landscapes, marine views, Niagara Falls, Crystal Palace, New York City, and vignettes, all in fine condition.

The bank notes were originally owned by John Walz, one of the founders of Nu-Art Engraving Company in Chicago and were pasted in a notebook. Walz gave the bank notes to his brother Pete, who mounted them in the frame and then gave it to Robert Peckham, who worked at Nu-Art Engraving Co. Peckham left the company in 1966 and gave the framed bank notes to Harry Nussmeier because he thought Nussmeier would both appreciate them and provide a permanent place for their display.

For more information about Nussmeier Engraving, call 812-425-1339 or visit nussmeier.com.

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