Bespoke Engraved Stationery

Nancy Sharon Collins is renowned for bespoke, custom-made, hand-engraved, personal, one-of-a-kind stationery.

What we do here is an art, not a science. While looking through this website it is useful to think about Mrs. Collins’s engraved stationery in a similar fashion to the artisanal slow food industry. Every step involves hours of hand labor with very little automation. A great deal of thought and care goes into every phase of production. No templates are used other than those created here. Variances and eccentricities are to be expected. Patience with our process is a virtue.

Hand-engraved 1/2″ thick steel die with an in-house copy of Albrecht Dürer’s monogram.

About Our Process

When engaging Mrs. Collins to create your new stationery suite, several factors will be considered.

Format

Are you thinking of a simple note card? A flat one? Or a fold over card? Perhaps a letter sheet? The dimensions? How about the size of your new monogram or cipher, and its placement? What about having your name engraved in a vintage lettering style, or just your address? A legacy holiday greeting? There are so many choices. Once commissioned, the myriad details comprising your stationery Design are carefully attended to. With your constant input, of course.

Paper

Mrs. Collins recommends the paper she uses every day herself: A premium, American, Alpha Cellulose, smooth writing paper in off white. The various United States Postal Service approved sizes are ideal for routine correspondence. For extra-special use, Mrs. Collins  recommends her own 100% Cotton and Cotton Content Onion Skin paper. It is less than half as thick as computer copy paper and requires special care, making it a truly exceptional paper indeed!

Wedding Invitation Engraved
A bespoke, two-color wedding invitation. Shown are the hand-drawn and hand-engraved monogram on 100% Cotton Card stock and hand-lined envelope. The invitation edges are hand-beveled and edge-painted to match one of the two ink colors.

Color

Together with the client, we look at loads of colors for the ink to be engraved on your new stationery. All ink, with the exception of black, is mixed by hand and to the eye. Ink is matched as closely as possible to a target color. Target colors are from real samples such as paint chips, clippings from bits and pieces found in the environment, and some commercial color-matching systems. Once, in fact, a client asked that a very specific New York City dirt be matched. They were very pleased with the results.

Color swatches for presentation to a client taped to the card stock upon which their cipher is to be engraved. This is an extreme close-up.

Color Matching

Color is never judged on or from the computer screen. Why? Read Mrs. Collins’s series about color and color matching for PRINT magazine, go HERE, HERE, and HERE.

Bindery & Finishing

Super-personalize your stationery suite with one or all of our bindery and finishing services. We create custom envelopes, custom envelope lining (such as bespoke marble paper), note card and letter sheet bordering, card edging in custom colors, and bevel-edged gilding. Treat your new stationery to a custom-built, French Fitted Case. Go to this News post and see options, special projects, and invitations.

Historic Recreations

Periodically, we are asked to recreate an item of older stationery. An inherited item, or one that has just not been used in a while. Often a calling card in a lettering style that looks and feels pretty old. With caveats, we can usually accommodate these special requests. While the act of engraving has not changed in centuries, materials definitely have. Steel is different, copper as well. Pigments used in inks and paper have changed. Papers we were able to easily source from overseas are no longer available to the U.S. market. In addition, many domestic and foreign paper mills have closed. Because of these changes, we are careful about letting clients know what is and is not feasible. If you have special requests you’d like fulfilled, just get in touch. We love discussing interesting projects. Check out the NEWS POST with many special projects.

How to Use Your Monogram or Cipher

There are options for using your new Design for engraved, custom stationery.

Hand Engraved Die

Your Design—monogram or cipher—is cut by hand into a half-inch thick steel die. This is a highly skilled craft and takes upwards of ten years to master, which is why there are so few hand engravers anymore. Hand-engraving is most assuredly our preferred method for creating personal stationery. Our engraver uses the Finished Pencil Sketch Design to go from.

The die is usually archived with us for future use. The cost of the die is quoted once the Design has been approved. The cost depends on complexity and size and does not include stationery paper or engraving printing. The example at left is moderately complex. The copper plate example below is a simple Design.

Copper Plate Etching

Referred to commercially as copper plate engraving, about 98% of all engraved stationery these days is created in this manner. How does it work? A vector graphic version of your Design is transferred to a 1/16” thick copper plate. Rather than a human using an engraving tool, acid “cuts” the Design. Plates are touched up and finished by hand.

Printing from a plate is virtually the same as from a die. In both instances, ink is applied and the surface of the steel or copper is wiped clean. So that ink is in the “cuts” only. Once inked and wiped, a single piece of stationery is positioned on top of the die or plate, and, under great pressure—two tons per square inch—a print is made. As with steel dies, after the press-run is complete, we archive the plate for future use.

Vector Graphic

Once your monogram cipher Design is created by us, we can also be commissioned to create a vector graphic file. This can be used by you to make everything from embroidered napkins to T-shirts to postcards, and pretty much anything else you can think of. Most forms of commercial printing, embroidery, and signage require this kind of file. While creating it, we are extremely careful to maintain the hand-drawn quality of your original Design. Once complete, the vector file is emailed as an Adobe Illustrator or PDF file. Additional file types of the Design, such as JPG and PNG, can be provided as well. With the transmission of the file, all rights of reproduction are transferred to you.

The cost of the vector graphic is quoted once the Design has been approved and does not include stationery or engraving printing. Engraving printing from your vector graphic file requires an etched copper plate.

Are You Ready?

To commission your own engraved stationery, contact Mrs. Collins and request a consultation.

To commission your own monogram or cipher, browse through the methods used by Mrs Collins for developing client’s unique, one of a kind, marques.

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