At one point there were hundreds and hundreds of printers and engravers in New York. Varick Street was the center of the printing district and the buildings were packed with all sorts of different companies proficient in various specialties; but these days the New York printing industry is a shell of its former self and only a few businesses continue the tradition. The good news is, the art of engraved stationery is alive and well on 37th Street at Terrapin / Stationers Engraving & Printing Co. The family run business, operated for years by a husband and wife Lloyd and Cathy Harrington, and their son Ted, has fought off all of the challenges presented with a changing industry. Recently Lloyd retired and Cathy and Ted have carried on their company’s nearly 100 year tradition of producing some of the finest stationery and printed goods in the U.S. Even the recently shuttered (and well respected) Mrs John L Strong would send their engraving work to Terrapin. As would law and financial firms, and of course fashion houses; anyone looking for beautiful letterhead, business cards, note cards and or invitations.
This past week I stopped by to see the process in action and watch the folks at Terrapin make a run of personalized note cards. Stepping in the shop was like walking back in time. Most of the machinery was from the early nineteen hundreds — and still in use, same as it ever was. The overall process of engraving has changed little over the last 100 years and it is obviously exciting to get engraved note cards made, let alone watching them be produced. And for me, seeing how things are made is almost as great as actually owning those things.
In addition to the wonderful old process and vintage machinery (and nice folks), Terrapin has an amazing old archive of stationery and business cards from the past 50 or so years and they were kind enough to let me look through and document some of those old ephemera gems. More on that in a follow-up post. For now, take a look inside an old print shop right here in good old Manhattan.
To get your own engraved stationery, contact the good people at Terrapin / Stationers Engraving & Printing Co. the old fashion way, on the telephone. I’m sure a nice letter would do the trick too.
Ted Harrington // 212-213-6912