nonfiction · Uncategorized · writing

For The Love of Stationery

I suppose some people  might think it’s strange to write  about stationery.  Not me. I  love stationery. The really fancy stuff. The kind that you almost don’t want to write on because it’s like little pieces of art. I  have always loved these bits  of paper. Not only because I love the written word and writing them, but the artistic side of me loves the art printed on them.


(via wikipedia) Originally the term stationery referred to all products sold by a stationer, whose name indicates that his book shop was on a fixed spot, usually near a university, and permanent, while medieval trading was mainly peddlers (including chapmen, who sold books) and others (such as farmers and craftsmen) at non-permanent markets such as fairs. It was a special term used between the 13th and 15th centuries in the manuscript culture. The Stationers’ Company formerly held a monopoly over the publishing industry in England and was responsible for copyright regulations.


The usage and marketing of stationery is a niche industry that is increasingly threatened by electronic media. Like paper printed books, stationary is in danger of becoming something  of the past. Which makes me sad. Writing thank you notes, or letters are becoming a lost art due to the emails and electronic media where you can write a note and send it off via the internet.


I personally believe there should be a revival of these lost arts. I still think people get a thrill when they receive a note or letter in the mail box. Addressed to them, for their personal pleasure. I know I do. And I very rarely get anything in the mail box but bills.


Stationery can come in so many styles. The most familiar of these techniques are letterpress printing, embossing, engraving, and thermographic printing (often confused with thermography). Flat printing and offset printing are regularly used, particularly for low cost or informal needs.

Letterpress is a printing method that requires characters being impressed upon the page. The print may be inked or blind but is typically done in a single color. Motifs or designs may be added as many letterpress machines use movable plates that must be hand-set.

Embossing is a printing technique used to create raised surfaces in the converted paper stock. The process relies upon mated dies that press the paper into a shape that can be observed on both the front and back surfaces.

Example of an embossed design
Example of an embossed design (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Engraving is a process that requires a design to be cut into a plate made of a relatively hard material. It is a technology with a long history and requires significant skill and experience. The finished plate is usually covered in ink, and then the ink is removed from all of the un-etched portions of the plate. The plate is then pressed into paper under substantial pressure. The result is a design that is slightly raised on the surface of the paper and covered in ink. Due to the cost of the process and expertise required, many consumers opt for thermographic printing, a process that results in a similarly raised print surface, but through different means at less cost.

Thermographic printing is a process that involves several stages but can be implemented in a low-cost manufacturing process. The process involves printing the desired designs or text with an ink that remains wet, rather than drying on contact with the paper. The paper is then dusted with a powdered polymer that adheres to the ink. The paper is vacuumed or agitated, mechanically or by hand, to remove excess powder, and then heated to near combustion. The wet ink and polymer bond and dry, resulting in a raised print surface similar to the result of an embossing process.

Maybe we can start a new trend. Writing notes to send through snail mail again. I will be the first to sign up! Who wants to join with me?