The Engraving Process

As a form of printing, engraving is in the intaglio family, meaning it is a technique in which the area carved away is the intended shape or letter. This differs from relief printing processes, like letterpress, where everything but the intended shape or letter is carved away. In other words, an engraving or intaglio plate will have letters that recede into the metal, and a letterpress or relief plate will have letters that stick out.

An engraving plate on the press

After the final hand-cutting of the image or letters, the die or plate is placed into the engraving press.

Press with ink

The press quickly inks the plate and wipes off the excess before each impression, leaving ink in the recessed areas of the letters.

Final product

When paper is fed by hand into the impression area, the press applies approximately three thousand pounds of pressure, causing parts of the soft, cotton paper to be pushed into the recessed areas. The ink that was in these areas now adheres to the paper.

Dempsey & Carroll is one of only a handful of stationers still using these distinctive hand-engraving techniques. Using handcrafted steel dies and copper plates, we create beautiful luxury paper products with their own unique stamp of history and tradition.

For a more detailed explanation of the engraving process, please click here.

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