It’s not what you write…


Thanking someone for a gift, for lovely hospitality or for being thoughtful/kind/supportive/inspirational is something one can take enormous pleasure in, and stationery is a vital part of this pleasure for me.

For more formal notes and thanking,  my correspondence cards and writing paper are engraved by Smythson and although there are now other significant players in London (most notably The Wren Press and Mount Street Printers, both of whom are excellent and I have used in the past) Smythson are certainly the most coveted supplier. Engraving is only possible with great precision and skill by experienced craftspeople and printers. Hours of patient labour and hand-work in cutting the letters and design into a copper printing plate are rewarded by a finished printed paper displaying a unique and unmistakable raised ink texture which is discernable to the touch and distinctly rich in ink colour. The reverse of engraved print is almost always “bruised” by the action of the paper being pressed against the inked plate, resulting in another mark of quality and craft.

Similarly, letterpress printing uses blocks which are skillfully made and arranged letter by letter. These are then inked and paper pressed against the blocks, resulting in the paper being printed. Letterpress also has a distinct texture but the reverse of engraving which is raised to the touch – letterpress is depressed into the paper.

Two delightful companies using this technique have come into my consciousness lately and both are American. They both produce ranges which are vintage in style, the highest quality and delightfully the product feels “right” to the touch. Their details are below. I was very sad to read of the demise of Mrs. John L. Strong, the New York stationer, but a quick visit to Mrs John L. Strong’s website would appear to indicate there may be a reversal of fortunes… I will watch this one closely.

A word of caution to all fellow stationery fans – Thermography is the very worst possible choice. This method is a poor imitation and mimics the raised texture of engraving but using a plastic-y, shiny ink which expands with heat. It is absolutely ghastly and should be actively shunned if offered.  If cost is an issue, which is often the case especially for invitations which are prohibitively expensive when engraved or letterpressed, use flat-printing (lithography). No one will care if you have chosen flat printing over engraving for anything other than the smartest wedding invitation. But thermography looks and feels cheap and totally counter-intuitive.

Jonathan Wright & Co.

Hello! Lucky

photo – Ryan Benyi / Country Living


One Response to “It’s not what you write…”

  1. Kim Cotton Says:

    I was fortunate to be bought some personalised correspondence cards from a couple of years ago. Despite the misleading and particularly dull moniker, they are a fab little company based just down the road from Marylebone Stn and have got the most wonderful classic stationary. They’ve also been very helpful with last minute Christmas presents etc and… are also extremely good value for money! (I’m currently lusting after their Junior range…so sweet!) Definitely worth checking out. Kx

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