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

Still a family business. Mother Cathy and son Ted Harrington at their facility in Manhattan.


    Bretton June 11, 2010 @ 4:54 PM:

    I really dig.

    Sinuheon June 11, 2010 @ 5:15 PM:

    The patina on the old machines speaks volumes.

    Vitoon June 11, 2010 @ 5:18 PM:

    Some fine photos of some very fine work. There is nothing that makes an impression like engraved stationery. It evokes that hold-it-in-your-hand and feel-it-in-your-core reaction. Engraving adds a physical attribute to the message it carries. Thank goodness this art is not yet lost!

    Nancy Corradinion June 12, 2010 @ 12:42 AM:

    Many women have left stationery and gone to email — horrors! But my men clients love their engraved stationery and calling cards. Big kiss to you all!

    Jackon June 12, 2010 @ 5:56 AM:

    Visiting Stationers Engraving is an amazing walk back in time. To see the pressmen and 100 year old presses in action producing beautiful handcrafted artwork is quite a memory. Then you get to send something special to clients and/or close friends. Worth every minute and every penny!

    Loopyon June 12, 2010 @ 10:29 AM:

    The epicenter of the printing trades in NYC was actually farther downtown: Nassau St., Park Row and Printing House Square. Varick was where some of the offset and litho houses moved later on. *pedant.jpg*

    j henleyon June 13, 2010 @ 6:10 PM:

    nice letterhead, michael…”look at that subtle off-white coloring…the tasteful thickness of it…oh my god! it even has a water mark!”

    Matton June 13, 2010 @ 11:29 PM:

    My ex-father-in-law owned a printing and engraving company in Dayton, OH. They did all sorts of things, calendars, check plates, on and on. One year for my birthday my now ex-wife gave me a steel desk nameplate (at 20 years old I was still impressed.) She used Futura font! I am unemployed and divorced now, but some days I get it out, push away the empty beer cans and opened bills I can’t pay scattered on the kitchen table, and place the nameplate in front of me…dreaming of better days behind.

    letterprestonon June 14, 2010 @ 8:42 AM:

    I can smell the ink.

    Peteron June 14, 2010 @ 9:50 AM:

    These folks did my wedding invitations and were gracious enough to throw in a box of engraved calling cards for free, simply because I mentioned that I’d always wanted a set. They do magnificent work and are the nicest people. Thanks for the post.

    FaceTubeYouBookon June 14, 2010 @ 11:26 AM:

    Really nice stuff…

    Philipon June 14, 2010 @ 11:53 AM:

    LOVE Ted and Cathy! Ted did an amazing job on my new business cards and I love.

    Jessicaon June 14, 2010 @ 12:22 PM:

    super. there’s a similar place that’s been operating since the 30’s? here in houston called kahenek printing… it smells really good in there.

    Brianon June 14, 2010 @ 5:34 PM:

    Really beautiful and cool as hell.

    But I wanted to comment more to Matt. Keep your head up man, it hurts to hear what sounds like a good guy tell a sad story like that.

    Keithon June 14, 2010 @ 6:52 PM:

    Some of the highest quality printing and engraving from some of the nicest and most professional people. Nobody does it like they do at Terrapin/Stationers Engraving & Printing Co., and I mean nobody!

    Tedon June 15, 2010 @ 2:13 PM:

    Hi All,

    Thanks so much for the phone calls and the kind comments. As a courtesy to ACL followers we will extend a 10% discount on engraved notecards and stationery (make sure to mention A Continuous Lean when you call).

    craigon June 15, 2010 @ 6:30 PM:

    i wish they had a web site so i could easily order some stationery.

    Tedon June 15, 2010 @ 8:12 PM:

    Craig, you can send me an email!
    I will be than happy to work that way.
    I’m working on the website. Sorry

    lineage of influenceon June 16, 2010 @ 9:20 AM:

    Beautiful. There’s nothing like good old fashioned Lithographic printing.

    Adrianon June 16, 2010 @ 9:27 AM:

    What’s that font, Michael?

    Tedon June 16, 2010 @ 1:51 PM:


    Peteron June 16, 2010 @ 7:47 PM:

    Thank you for promoting this dying art in New York City. It’s such a shame to see the printing business flee and to hear success stories like this gives me hope.

    Rob Malvision July 7, 2010 @ 2:11 PM:

    I found a business card of my father’s from the early 70s that uses a remarkably similar font to that you have used. The nearest I have found to it is Burin Sans. Could I ask the font you used?

    Tedon July 7, 2010 @ 9:39 PM:

    Copperplate is the font

    Rob Malvision July 8, 2010 @ 3:03 AM:

    @Ted, thanks for the reply. Could you point me to a modern font family that matches it? Or is this one area where only a traditional process will do?

    The only copperplate sans I can find is by Gert Weischer and doesn’t match yours in various ways; the center vertex of the M is on the base line, the bottom verteces of the A do not follow the base line but dip below it etc (apologies for incorrect terminology, I am an amateur).

    Any help is greatly appreciated, I am hoping to get a facsimile of my father’s cards from the 1970s made up but with my current contact details – we share the same name so the effect should be good.

    Thanks also to Michael, for the inspiration provided by ACL.

    Tedon July 9, 2010 @ 12:24 AM:

    Hi Rob,

    email my art director Jennette@terrapinstationers.com
    we can get you the information you need.
    We can set it up for you too.



    angelaon July 11, 2010 @ 10:32 AM:

    great post and fantastic images

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