has historically meant a wide gamut of materials: paper
and office supplies
, writing implements
, greeting cards
, etc. Modern use of the term "stationery" more specifically relates to materials used for formal or personal correspondence.
History of Stationery
Originally the term "stationery" referred to all products sold by a stationer, whose name indicates that his book shop was on a fixed spot, usually near a university, and permanent, while medieval trading was mainly ambulant, by peddlers (including chapmen, who sold books) and others (such as farmers and craftsmen) at non-permanent markets such as fairs. It was a special term used between the 13th and 15th centuries in the Manuscript culture.
Though decreasingly popular in western culture, stationery has been an important part of good social etiquette, particularly since the Victorian era. Some usages of stationery, such as sending a manufactured reply card to a wedding invitation, has changed from offensive to appropriate. Many of these social guidelines may have been defined by the manufacturers of stationery products themselves, such as "Crane's Blue Book of Stationery" showing so much influence by Crane & Co. that the company name is included in the title, though written by an independent author.
The usage and marketing of stationery is a niche industry that is increasingly threatened by electronic media. As stationery is intrinsically linked to paper and the process of written, personalized communication, many techniques of stationery manufacture are employed, of varying desirability and expense. The most familiar of these techniques are letterpress printing, embossing, engraving, and thermographic printing (often confused with thermography). Flat printing and offset printing are regularly used, particularly for low cost or informal needs.
Styles of Printed Stationery Techniques
is a printing method that results in letters that are recessed upon the printed page. The print may be inked or blind but is typically done in a single color. Motifs or designs may be added as many letterpress machines use movable plates that must be hand-set.
is a printing technique used to create raised surfaces in the converted paper stock. The process relies upon mated dies that press the paper into a shape that can be observed on both the front and back surfaces. Conversely, "debossing" and "impressing" are colloquial terms to describe recessed surfaces made through the same process.
is a process that requires a design to be cut into a plate made of a relatively hard material. It is a technology with a long history and requires significant skill and experience. The finished plate is usually covered in ink, and then the ink is removed from all of the un-etched portions of the plate. The plate is then pressed into paper under substantial pressure. The result is a design that is slightly raised on the surface of the paper and covered in ink. Due to the cost of the process and expertise required, many consumers opt for thermographic printing, a process that results in a similarly raised print surface, but through different means at less cost.
is a process that involves several stages but can be implemented in a low-cost manufacturing process. The process involves printing the desired designs or text with an ink that remains wet, rather than drying on contact with the paper. The paper is then dusted with a powdered polymer that adheres to the ink. The paper is vacuumed or agitated, mechanically or by hand, to remove excess powder, and then heated to near combustion. The wet ink and polymer bond and dry, resulting in a raised print surface similar to the result of an engraving process.