Engraving & Diestamping Walkthrough

During a recent production of diestamped (engraved) stationery, bearing the Royal Warrant in colour for Cleave Limited, Court Jewellers & Medallists, a set of pictures was taken.

These pictures show how steel dies are engraved and then set in a diestamping press to print the highest quality stationery. We hope that they will show that it is only with extremely skilled craftsmen, that such fine results can be achieved.

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1. Fine line drawing of the image
The image to be engraved is first scratched onto the steel.

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2. Engraving the image of the Lion
The engraver carves the steel out to varying depth to give “sculpture” to the image

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3. Black Die - Lettering
This shows the letters being hand engraved onto the die, which is resting on a “Sandbag”, turned by the engraver as needed.

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4. Royal Warrant Die - Gold
This will make the gold die for the Royal Warrant Coat of Arms, that will be diestamped in gold, silver, black, green and red. Note the Sculpture and very fine detail required of the engraver. What an amazing skill!!

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5. Gold Die again
Another look at the gold in the Royal Warrant Die. If the “Graver” slips and cuts the die in the wrong place - bad luck - start again!!

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6. Blue die for Royal Warrant
This shows the amazing skill of the engraver who has to cut these letters by hand - out of a block of steel. Letters backwards of course!

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7. Red die for Royal Warrant
All these images must be in exactly the right place relative to each other, to allow the correct placing of the colours within the final image when all colours are combined.

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8. Green die for the Royal Warrant
Note the “Register Marks” (crosses) that will help the diestamper to align the five dies into the correct position for each pass of the colour. (Marks will not be inked up and will not show on final print)

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9. Silver die for Royal Warrant
The silver die here needs some deep sculpture so a “Half Round Tool” is used to gauge out more metal. The engraver gauges to different levels so that three dimensional limbs will be seen on the ‘Unicorn’

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10. Six Dies and Tools
The six dies finally cut, with his engraving tools that have not changed for hundreds of years!

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11. Back of the Die Press
The red die is in place and being inked up by the smaller roller that has in turn been inked by the duck rollers. The surface of the die will then be scraped of ink and the surface “wiped” by brown paper on a roll.

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12. Red image goes down first
Red image stamped onto card

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13. Cutting out the Male Force
All dies have to have a male “force” cut from card to fit exactly into the female engraved steel. This would be a skilled job for a brain surgeon! It is all part of the diestamper’s skill

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14. Feeding the card into the Die Press
The press will bring the die down onto the card with a force of around four tons per square inch. Keep your fingers clear!

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15. Red and blue image
Two colours - soon to be joined by black, silver and gold

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16. Red, blue and black images
Image is building up in colours

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17. Cards drying on trays awaiting the next colours
Black and red diestamped cards laid out on the boards to dry before the next colour is added

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18. The force being cut for the stamping in silver
Very sharp knives are vital! Silver and gold inks have to be “burnished”, thus causing an additional feed to smooth the ink.

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19. Lovely Green Ink!
Ink in the duct will be transferred to the die. The die is then wiped across the surface, leaving the ink only in the engraved areas of the die

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20. Silver image added
The image is building up nicely. Great care has to be given to “register”

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21. The Final Royal Warrant Image
Hugely blown up image showing all five colours “in register”

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22. The Cleave Lion
The lion image was engraved on the same die as the gold in the Royal Warrant to allow both gold images to be done at the same pass - and then of course ‘burnished’

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23. Cleave A4 Letterhead - Diestamped
This strip image shows the diestamped images from the six engraved dies, printed at the head of the A4 letterhead. What a prestigious looking sheet! And each sheet has been fed seven times - by hand!

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24. Business Card
The Business Cards were produced from a set of six smaller dies

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25. Final Stationery Products
Compliment Slips and Business Cards, diestamped throughout

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26. Stationery on full size A4 sheet

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27. The Engraver
Ron Hughes, the engraver of the dies, standing by a Columbian Press, on a visit to the Cambridge University Press.

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28. Piccolo Interior
Where it happens! Two of our die presses can be seen on the left of the picture

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29. Piccolo Exterior
Where it happens inside!

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30. That’s us…......