Book Reviews | September 2012 | Rebecca Rego Barry

The Complete Engraver

CompleteEngraver_cover.1.jpgOut this week is a wonderful surprise of a book called The Complete Engraver: Monograms, Crests, Ciphers, Seals, and The Etiquette of Social Stationery, written by Nancy Sharon Collins (Princeton Architectural Press; $29.95). At first glance, it might strike some as something nostalgic or sugary--for the type who keeps a faux quill on her desk. Not so. The Canadian designer Marian Bantjes, comes close to the book's intended readership when she blurbed, "For those who love everything fine." People who enjoy fine paper, fine design, fine printing -- the craft and the result -- can take away something from this book.

What I particularly liked is that is a terrific introduction to the terminology and processes that can seem complicated to those who were raised in a primarily digital design environment. Know the difference between a personal monogram and a cipher? Or, what the size of a calling card signifies? Or, how to tell the difference between wood engraving and steel engraving? You will. Collins' book is abundantly illustrated and her timeline of engraving, from Gutenberg (who dabbled in copperplate engraving) to today's specialty engravers is clear and useful.

The Complete Engraver is both a history and a how-to. This is one for the home library reference shelf.

To read an interview with the author over on the Crane & Co. blog, go here.