A Lesson in Engraving

As a part of The English Group’s tenure as Project Director for the revival of one of France’s oldest printing houses and bespoke stationers, Armorial Paris, we were privileged to be invited to spend a number of days in traditional engravers’ studios learning the sadly dying art of engraving and die-stamp printing.

There are three types of engraving; CNC laser engraving (which is the current state-of-the-art option), photo-etched engraving and the most highly skilled and oldest option which is to create plates entirely engraved by hand. Hand engravers are a dying breed and there are very few of them still practising anywhere in the world.

Photo-etched (and CNC laser engraving) transpose a designer’s black & white artwork to a copper plate, whereas a hand engraver (wearing an engraver’s monocle or magnifying loupe) will painstaking sculpt an interpretation of a design at often tiny size into a block of polished steel.

A steel engraved plate, which usually becomes the property of the client, will last for hundreds of years and many of Europe’s great families have had their family crests or monograms engraved in this studio and will still be using the same plates crafted for them as far back as the years following the end of the French Revolution.

With the benefit of all that the Agency has learned about this and other heritage printing processes whilst overseeing this project for our end client, The English Group actively seeks out opportunities to use engraving and die-stamped printing whenever we can create an opportunity to do so.

The images here – all photographed by The English Group team – detail the Armorial Paris bespoke stationery boutique on Blvd. Hausmann in Paris, the engravers studio and also a publication/information pack realised by The English Group to showcase examples of these legacy print processes.