nancy sharon collins's blog

This is the continuing story of the Linotype rep in Pineville, LA.

Last time I visited he let me photograph some of the trade manuals he has and the set of proofs he pulled from the wood type he owns. You have to scroll left over the whole image, above.

The press proofs of wood type can be viewed on Vimeo, sorry about the quality and long black screen lag at the beginning, motion is not yet my métier:

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Cheese or Font? Take the Test.

If this has already been posted I apologize but this is hysterical,
test your knowledge of chees vs. font names here:

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Calligraphic Engraving

This past week I spent researching calligraphic engraving at the Harry Ransom Center (HRC) at University of Texas at Austin. HRC archives hold many copybook (or copy book) specimens, three "The Universal Penman" by George Bickham, great master of this highly specialized craft in 18th-century England, one beautiful copy is in the fabulous bound Beaufoy, H.B.H., collection of English, German and Dutch writing manuals.

Please join me at University of Texas at Austin for the most recent rendition of this evolving presentation about American commercial engraving.

Tuesday September 22, 6:00pm–7:30pm
Art Building, Room ART 1.120

This lecture will include images from recent research and sources of commercial engraving and specifications for engraving types never before shown in public or discussed.

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Beauty Make-Over Complete!

A silk purse...

...from a...

sow's ear.

Mission complete, the smaller of two, hundred year old engraving proofing presses have just been fully restored and completely operable by my husband and partner, John Mack Collins. This baby (pictured above) weighs-in at about two hundred pounds and when you hit the ball watch your head and digits 'cause it wields about a force of two tons.

Nancy Sharon Collins, A/K/A the engraving lady, is seeking submissions of engraved social stationery, read about it in the Mohawk paper website,

Nancy Sharon Collins, Stationer (A/K/A the engraving lady) is proud to announce the current issue of The Doctrinaire, the irreverent, idiosyncratic newsletter about all things engraved on paper.

In this issue on page 3 is Petite Suite, and catch it featured in September VOGUE magazine as well.

The Doctrinaire is on four separate .pdf pages (sorry, the collated file was too large to uplad.)


Previously posted on this blog has been the story of the engraving proofing presses. Since that time they were completely dismantled, steam-cleaned and the individual parts and fittings sand blasted. The parts were immediately "oiled" with silicone to prevent rusting in the extreme, south Louisiana humidity, the frame and screw handle with inertia-weight—that looks like a dumbell with a big steel ball on each end—were coated with a primer then painted. It was so humid the primer wouldn't dry so we had to leave them up in Alexandria, LA, until dry.

My husband brought them home yesterday and—with our 2-ton shop crane, dolly, ramps and brute force—into the cool, humidity controlled studio where he is polishing the brass fittings.

SUNDAY, 7/19 AT 12:00 NOON
Type in 20

Nancy Sharon Collins talks about FLOOD BOOK and notions of readable text. Audrey Bennett and Ellen Lupton are cited.

In 2005 Audrey Bennett spoke on this topic at Typecon in Boston, she and I have exchanged emails about this, infrequently, ever since. I was interested in her talk because I was then teaching graphic design and typography at a university literally down the bayou in south Louisiana where illiteracy rates soar. Recently at an AIGA leadership retreat in Portland, OR, I ran into Audrey who I had not seen since Boston. I was very excited to show her a book I designed and was amazed to discover that she had just purchased a copy.

2:00 pm-5:30 pm

Presented by Nancy Sharon Collins (Collins LLC/Loyola University/AIGA New Orleans)

Location: Portfolio Center, Atlanta
Cost: $50 + $10 materials fee

The two engraving proofing presses previously written about (here) are going up to Alexandria, LA for a beauty makeover.

While John (hubby) and Ken (friend) work on the presses tomorrow in Ken's shop, I will be going back over to James Gabour's printing facility in Pineville. Meeting us there will be the new archivist from the LSU AgCenter in Alexandria.

James senior may have to close the plant and— as much as possible—I (we) want to help preserve the contents and printing history in his shop.

Monograms and hand engraving by Nancy Sharon Collins, Stationer, on Darcy Miller's blog. See samples and get the 25% Discount now through the end of June.

The best way to snag that new job is to HAND WRITE a personal note (brief) and send it through the mail (yes, snail mail—USPS). This is in addition to following-up immediately with a brief email once you have forwarded your resume/CV and or had that all-crucial interview.

Another trick is to do your research, target for whom you want to work, write a letter and send IT through the mail.

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When Old Becomes Obsolete

Virtually on Christmas Eve, 2008, yet another commercial engraving house bites the dust.

I have personally worked with these folks for more than thirty years (yes, 30) and with them made exquisite specimens of engraved types—no wonder manufacturing in this country is in such deep and ugly trouble.

Business can be a sorry business, read it here:

and here.

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Monogram from Pantograph Lettering Style

This monogram was engraved from a lettering style used in the Masterplate pantograph system.

The letters are engraved in reverse on 1/2" thick steel then it (the die) is die stamped on this vintage, onion skin paper (about 9#) then hand folded in our bindery, here.

Yesterday evening I realized how much the strokes remind me of Magnolia tree branches, we have several such trees in our yard.

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Launch of Updated Website

My hair is completely torn out from having just finished updating my website, its filled with new images of engraving.

Take a look,

I meet enough new people to be initially curious about almost everyone. Sometimes new acquaintances click and we get to spend time mutually talking about our passions. Such is the case with brilliant and 27 year old Dorothy Ball—poet—newly returned to New Orleans from living in NYC and editing at Princeton University Press.

She teaches me the difference between 2 and 3 dimensional thinking. In return I run on about type and design theory. We both like to read and the subject of "dead white male authors" came up. Dorothy mentioned she had never read any of them because when she went to school they weren't being taught anymore. I love reading these old farty dinosaurs so made a list.

Hand engraved “thank you” card by Nancy Sharon Collins, Stationer. The original lettering was hand cut into a 1/2" thick steel die then "die stamped" onto this hand gilded card.

See, “I’m In Love…” Posted by Marisa Sellitti, Stationery Expert, Martha Stewart Wedding.

I'm on an AIGA Center For Sustainable Design (CFSD) committee so have become conscious of my consumption and waste.

I drink a lot of water, travel a lot and spend a lot of time in New Orleans where the water is of dubious potability. We have excellent well water at home so all I needed was something in which to carry it. I researched plastics of all kind and got real scared by most of them. I found a perfect and beautiful stainless steel canteen bought by the U.S. Army but it retails to civilians for $90.00. Plus, the washer on the plug was made from one of those plastics I didn't like.

An all day event about sustainability and the communities of New Orleans.

and download the complete schedule plus information about the many participants here...make sure to read all four pages of it.

Its nice to hear/read reference to the technology of paper and books. One of the newest growth industries is digitizing thousands, okay, millions of square yards of medical records is big business. Ogilvy (one of the big-old gray matter Madison Avenue ad companies) opened a department that services and markets your medical records— digitally—on your iPhone.

"Yat" is a local dialect of New Orleans, it sounds similar to a deep Long Island or Bronx accent with a light, sweet southern lift. It was just blogged on Design Observer by William Drenttel,

Selections from History in Small Places the upcoming exhibition of archival pigment prints February 28 through March 28, Hill Memorial Library, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

Exhibited will be images captured from the Dameron-Pierson collection of engraved commercial plates and hand engraved monograms Mr. and Mrs. Collins donated to the Southeastern Louisiana Archival Collections and the Hill Memorial Library, respectively:

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