Hatch, Lorenzo James

Biographical notes:

Lorenzo James Hatch (1856-1914) was born in Vermont and is best known for his work as a portrait engraver in Washington, D.C. and New York. He worked for the United States Bureau of Printing and Engraving, private bank note printers, and in China, assisting the government with establishing a government bureau of printing and engraving.

Early in his career, Lorenzo found his talent for engraving intricate portraits in metals. In 1874, the head of the United States Bureau of Printing and Engraving admired Hatch's portrait of George Washington on copper and hired him. During his time in Washington, D.C., Hatch spent his nights studying drawing and watercolor painting. However, his talent to engrave vignettes of presidents and other famous figures proved more impressive.

In 1888, Hatch moved to Chicago to work for a private bank note company. There, he met Grace Harrison of California. They were married and had one son, Harrison in 1902. After taking a job in New York City with another bank note company, Hatch solidified his reputation in the field. Around 1908, the Chinese government invited Hatch to establish a Bureau of Printing and Engraving modeled after that of the United States. He accepted a six-year contract to oversee the building of the bureau and train the Chinese to run the office. With his wife, their son, and sister-in-law Effie Harrision, Lorenzo moved to Peking.

During his time in China, Lorenzo Hatch succeeded in building the foundations for a modern printing bureau. However, the revolution in China between 1911-1912 hindered completion. He described his experiences, perceptions, and insecurities of being in China to his family and friends through letters. Before his contract ended, Hatch passed away on February 3, 1914.

From the guide to the Lorenzo James Hatch and Hatch family papers, 1902-1937, bulk 1908-1914, (Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution)

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