Inside the Terrapin Archives

Last week during my visit to Terrapin / Stationers Engraving & Printing Co. I had a chance to watch the engraving process first hand — something truly amazing to see in person. It was equally amazing to take a trip back in time via the Terrapin archive. The company has 50+ years of old business cards, stationery and other printed goods sitting around. The good news is, they didn’t mind letting me look through it.

Looking through this old stuff was really interesting. I love seeing the old graphics and the old style addresses and phone numbers. Need to call the Hotel Astor? You can reach them at Circle 6-6262. Need to speak to Martin Finkelstein? He’s at Oregon 4-5360. Great stuff.

I love the old phone numbers.

Stationery from when Canon was a little brand in the U.S.

Business cards.
Hotel Astor Circle 6-6262

A set of note cards the folks at Terrapin made during the economic shit-show that was 2009.

Comments on “Inside the Terrapin Archives

    Patrickon June 19, 2010 @ 2:35 AM:

    Look at that subtle off-white coloring. The tasteful thickness of it. Oh my God, it even has a watermark!

    Lineage of Influenceon June 19, 2010 @ 6:22 AM:

    Absolutely amazing stuff. I love seeing old printing.

    Such a shame it’s now a dying art.

    seveneighton June 19, 2010 @ 6:31 AM:

    it’s funny – while i am at work i always listen to old horror and crime radio shows like inner sanctum, beyond midnight, candy matson, and especially crime classics. i love it when they have to use the old style phone numbers. it is interesting to see the same thing in printed form. classic!

    JonIndia™on June 19, 2010 @ 8:59 AM:


    greg.orgon June 19, 2010 @ 10:27 AM:

    I was plenty happy to see that lens graphic element on Canon’s letterhead. Those WTF? notecards were like whipped cream.

    Bretton June 19, 2010 @ 10:57 AM:


    Coryon June 19, 2010 @ 11:32 AM:

    Incredible quality – love the old-style numbers. Crazy to see my hometown represented on Ralph Ursillo’s business card – must be from the glory days of Pennsylvania crude.

    JFDon June 19, 2010 @ 12:58 PM:

    Though he has been dead 30 years, my dad was a printer. I loved going to his noisy and inky shop and I grew up talking at the dinner table about type fonts, hand justification, kerning, and design. When I went off to college, he made me some very nice letterpress stationery, which I got to watch being printed on a very old (even then) letterpress. I sill have an old engraver’s stone of his. Though I think he would have loved desktop publishing, he would have lamented the loss of true professional skills. Those folks had serious specialized knowledge and knew what they were doing. It didn’t look great by accident.

    It is nice to see that the art isn’t lost yet.

    Jasonon June 19, 2010 @ 4:04 PM:

    I read this blog through google and so don’t often comment but seriously this sort of post gives me NYC envy. We have a few print shops in the DC area that run as non profits and are really fun. You can go in and typeset with only a materials and your time as the cost.

    Corveon June 19, 2010 @ 6:33 PM:

    This was an interesting read.

    LSLon June 19, 2010 @ 9:38 PM:

    Loved seeing phone numbers circa 1960-no area code, just a name for the first two numbers. Mine was MO for Mohawk.

    doaneon June 19, 2010 @ 11:38 PM:

    The emboss on The Rumor Mill crest is lights out.

    Tedon June 19, 2010 @ 11:52 PM:

    The embossed crest is a steel die engraved by hand.
    It’s costs a bit more, took weeks to get it right . It will last forever.
    The only thing cooler than the Rumor Mills Stationery
    is the music of it’s founder J. Ralph!

    Jayon June 20, 2010 @ 1:56 PM:

    Superb post, sir. Direct hit on the intersection of history & design made in the USA.

    Matton June 20, 2010 @ 7:33 PM:

    Love it! A little more interesting than avatars and e-cards!

    Tedon June 20, 2010 @ 8:40 PM:

    For inquiries by email
    or 212 213 6912. Still offering 10% discount
    to ACL readers. Thank you!

    Ericon June 21, 2010 @ 10:05 AM:

    Jason –

    Can you tell me where to find the shops that you mentioned in D.C.?

Comments are closed.