Intaglio, Bank Paper Leave County Scrambling

MODESTO, Calif. (CN) – A Northern California county has limited people to one copy of birth, death and marriage certificates, saying the companies that make the special paper and use the special printing process for the documents have closed.
     Stanislaus County, between San Jose and Yosemite National Park, says certified copies of vital records require secure bank-note paper and printers, to guard against counterfeits. It has limited people to one copy apiece, though multiple copies are needed for some legal procedures.
     The California Legislature requires intaglio printing for security of vital records. In intaglio, ink is deposited in incised lines, rather than on top of the paper. The records also require special paper with a special border, bar code, raised lettering and specific fibers.
     Many printing plants cannot provide intaglio printing, and several that once did have closed recently or eliminated their intaglio divisions. Among those was Ohio-based NBN/Sekuworks, the sole supplier of secure bank note paper to California. The company closed in July without warning.
     The Stanislaus County Clerk’s office was about to buy its year’s supply of when Sekuworks shut down. Its supplies are running low.
     “There is no known U.S. source of bank note paper which can meet California’s current legal restrictions, although 38 other states allow alternative security features in place of intaglio printing,” the clerk’s office said.
     The office normally issues 100 to 150 certificates each business day on the secure paper, but will be forced to limit that number until it can find a solution to the problem.
     Customers who need multiple copies of the vital records should obtain them from the California Office of Vital Records in Sacramento, the clerk’s office said.
     Stanislaus County residents can get birth or death certificates from the county Health Services Agency, which has plenty of stock on hand.
     The nearby counties of Merced and San Joaquin have purchased their year’s supply of the paper. But with the only state-approved intaglio printer in the country out of business, California will have to look for a printing company outside the United States, or amend its legislation to resemble other states that do not require intaglio printing.
     Assemblywoman Kristin Olsen, leader of the Republican caucus, is trying to tackle the problem. She represents Modesto, the Stanislaus County seat.
     “I am working alongside county representatives to find a viable solution that will balance the need to protect the identities of Californians with the sudden and urgent need to ensure we can provide legal documents as they are needed,” Olsen said.
     Intaglio printing was developed in Europe in the 1430s. The earliest examples of it are in playing cards. Albrecht Durer and other artists developed it into a fine art. Its use declined after the 1550s, when artists began preferring etching, and it took its big hit after the invention of photography.

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