EXPERIENCE HAND ENGRAVED STATIONERY

Engraving creates a lasting impression that represents you at your very best

Located in LaGrange, Kentucky
First Impression offers engraving,
foil stamping and printing services.
Designed and Produced in-house

Engraving
Calligraphy
Die Cutting
Lithography
Foil Stamping
Thermography
Graphic Design
Embossing and Debossing

Proudly serving individuals, businesses and institutions around the world

Hand Engraving is THE OLDEST OF ALL THE GRAPHIC ARTS

 

THE HISTORY & VIRTUES OF HAND ENGRAVING
BY ARLEEN BARNHOUSE

HAND ENGRAVING IS AN ART; THE OLDEST OF ALL THE GRAPHIC ARTS. CENTURIES AGO, ANNOUNCEMENTS AND OFFICIAL DOCUMENTS WERE WRITTEN BY PEN IN CALLIGRAPHIC STYLES BY MONKS. THE CHOICE OF ENGRAVING STYLES TODAY IS BASED ON THESE WRITINGS. THE PROCESS OF ENGRAVING ON PAPER MADE IT POSSIBLE TO REPRODUCE THIS HANDWRITING. THE FIRST ENGRAVED PLATES MADE FOR IMPRINTING PAPER WITH INK WERE PRODUCED SOLELY BY THE ENGRAVERS HAND. HE SKETCHED THE LETTERING DIRECTLY ONTO THE COPPER OR STEEL DIES, IN REVERSE, AND CUT OUT THE METAL, FORMING THE LETTER WITH HIS GRAVER. IN THE EARLY 1900'S THE USE OF THE PANTOGRAPH, WITH A SHARPENED DIAMOND POINT, ALLOWED THE TRANSFER OF LETTERING FROM A MASTER PLATE ONTO METAL. THE TRACED LINE IS ETCHED INTO THE METAL AND CUT TO THE DESIRED DEPTHS BY HAND.

WHAT CAN BE FINER THAN A HAND ENGRAVED INVITATION? FOR A FORMAL AND VERY SPECIAL OCCASION, NOTHING ELSE CAN MATCH THE CRAFTSMANSHIP AND TRADITION OF A HAND ENGRAVED INVITATION. SURELY, THE BIRTH OF A CHILD WOULD SIGNIFY THAT THE FINEST ANNOUNCEMENT BE USED. WE THEN THINK NEXT OF WEDDINGS. THIS EVENT IS THOUGHT OF BY MOST WOMEN AS THE MOST SPECIAL DAY OF THEIR LIVES, AND THEY WANT ONLY THE FINEST THINGS TO REPRESENT THE BEAUTY OF THEIR DAY. WE PERHAPS CAN IMAGINE THAT HAND ENGRAVING IS LIKE THE WEDDING ... THE MARRIAGE OF INK TO PAPER, BECOMING ONE WITH THE OTHER, BONDED FOR ETERNITY. IT IS A SPIRITUAL MEDIUM ... THE SOUL, THE ENERGY OF THE ENGRAVER IS FOREVER LINKED TO THE FINISHED PRODUCT.

TODAY THERE ARE FEW ENGRAVED STATIONERY BUSINESSES LEFT THAT SPECIALIZE IN HAND ENGRAVING. WITH THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE COMPUTER, MOST ENGRAVING IS DONE PHOTOGRAPHICALLY (PHOTO-ENGRAVED), BY PRODUCING COPY FROM THE COMPUTER AND TRANSFERRING THE IMAGE ONTO METAL (USUALLY COPPER) BY USING A FILM POSITIVE TO TRANSFER THE IMAGE ON TO A PRE-SENSITIZED METAL PLATE (ALTHOUGH THIS METHOD IS PREFERRED BY MOST ENGRAVING COMPANIES, BECAUSE YOU CAN DO MORE ENGRAVED PLATES FASTER, YOU TEND TO LOSE THE AUTHENTIC STYLE THAT ONLY HAND ENGRAVING PROJECTS). THIS PROCESS TOOK THE HAND ENGRAVERS OUT OF MOST ENGRAVING SHOPS, BECAUSE THERE WAS NO LONGER A NEED FOR THE ENGRAVERS' HAND.

ENGRAVED INVITATIONS ARE TRADITIONALLY USED FOR FORMAL WEDDINGS. SUCH INVITATIONS FOLLOW AN ACCEPTED PATTERN IN WORDING WITH LITTLE DEVIATION IN FORM. THESE INVITATIONS ARE ENGRAVED ON 100% COTTON, ECRU OR PEARL WHITE STATIONERY, SUCH AS CRANE PAPER. STYLES OF ENGRAVING FREQUENTLY USED IN THE EARLY 1900'S INCLUDED LONDON SCRIPT, SHADED ANTIQUE ROMAN AND ST. JAMES SCRIPT (TO NAME A FEW), AND IS STILL THE CHOICE OF MANY BRIDES. THE COMBINATION OF EXQUISITE HAND ENGRAVING AND FINE PAPER IS A MARK OF DISTINCTION AND REFINEMENT.

EXECUTIVE STATIONERY HAS TRADITIONALLY BEEN ENGRAVED ON HIGH QUALITY COTTON-FIBER PAPER. THIS PROJECTS A VERY DISTINCTIVE IMAGE FOR THE COMPANY, BECOMING AN EMISSARY OF TASTE, QUALITY AND ELEGANCE TO ALL THAT RECEIVE YOUR WRITTEN MATTER.

HAND ENGRAVING MAKES A LASTING IMPRESSION, AS IT PRESENTS ITSELF ON OUR BEHALF, REPRESENTING US AT OUR VERY BEST.

COMMERCIAL AND SOCIAL STATIONERY

SOCIAL STATIONERY
Weddings
Menus
Programs
Invitations
Announcements
Save the Date Cards
Baptism
Christening
Bar Mitzvah
Calling Cards
Personal Stationery
Monogrammed Stationery
Black Tie Occasions
Birth Announcements
Seating Cards
Place Cards

 Commercial Stationery
Labels
Envelopes
Will Covers
Letterheads
Business Cards
Diplomas
Announcements
Correspondence Cards
Report/Presentation Folders

About First Impression

A Personal History of First Impression by Marsa Davis Cornell

It all started in April 1979, Washington, D.C. ...

Upon returning stateside from a three year stay in Europe, I thought I'd take a few days off before beginning my job search. I looked in the Washington Post that first morning and saw a want ad for an apprentice engraver. Being an artist, I thought that a definite possibility, answered the ad, got the job and started on Monday.

The company, Copenhaver, was the oldest engraving company in Washington and owned by Phil Sheridan. It is here that I started my apprenticeship as a stationery engraver.

In 1981, learning that I was headed to Kentucky to visit my parents, Mr. Sheridan asked me to visit the new engraving plant for The Jenner Company in LaGrange, Kentucky. Copenhaver sent overflow work there and wanted me to see the facility--a brand new building buzzing with engraving presses stamping in the manufacturing arena and phones ringing in the office. I was quite impressed by the quality work being produced at that plant and felt confident that this was the place to send any work that could not be done in-house at Copenhaver. Mr. Sheridan was pleased with my findings and continued a relationship with The Jenner Company; when he died suddenly in 1982, the company underwent management changes that proved detrimental to the production of stationery engraving in-house.

I was invited to join the Copenhaver management team, and I accepted. I did not know at the time how crucial this move would be for me and my future.

In 1990, Copenhaver asked investment bankers to evaluate the company and suggest how to keep it solvent. One of the first decisions was to release some of the employees; I could stay, but at half pay. I decided to leave Washington and return to Kentucky, nearer to my family.

I first went to The Jenner Company, hoping to be hired in the industry I'd grown to love. I applied there, but was told I was not management material without college credentials. They asked if they could retain my application and I agreed; needless to say, I was disappointed.

In the meantime, Copenhaver contacted me and asked if I'd be interested in the tools and equipment in the engraving room; I could have it all for $500, a small amount to start a business. That is when First Impression was born. I decided to go into business for myself, renting a house with a full basement and engraving dies and plate for companies across the United States that had presses but no engraver.

It worked!

About four months later, The Jenner Company called and asked whether I'd found a job; how pleased I was to report I'd found a job; how pleased I was to report I'd started my own engraving company, First Impression.

My husband and partner, Don Cornell, fortunately joined me in Kentucky in May 1990 to pursue a life-long project: manufacturing engraved stationery--not just engraving dies and plates. He, too, learned his trade in Washington. Always mechanically inclined, he was quite interested in how die-stamping presses functioned. His apprenticeship was not easy; it was difficult to find any career die-stampers willing to share their knowledge, so fearful were they of losing their jobs. Don was intrigued by the presses and the beautiful images they produced. If he could only figure out how it all worked by observing; it was highly unlikely the old veterans would teach a potential replacement what they gained through a lifetime of hard work.

Don did learn everything about those presses--how they operated, how to take them apart and put them back together and, most importantly, how to produce a high quality image using them.

Fast-forward to 2011. The 29,000 square foot production plant, The Jenner Company, sitting on 5 acres belongs to us! We purchased the business, equipment, building and land, and moved First Impression to its new location in March 2011. We are trying to revive the century-old Jenner Company while keeping our grass-roots company, First Impression, thriving.

We are passionate about this craft and proud of our company, employees, customers and, most of all, our product.

OUR LOCATION

FIRST IMPRESSION, FSE
502.265.9821
M-F: 9am - 5pm, or by appointment