This section is from the book "The Boy Mechanic Vol. 2 1000 Things for Boys to Do", by Popular Mechanics Co.. Also available from Amazon: The Boy Mechanic, Vol2: 1000 Things for Boys to Do.
A person's monogram or any special lettering embossed on stationery is quite expensive. The engraving of the dies by experts commanding high salaries, and the subsequent presswork necessary to give relief to the design upon the paper cause an expense which the economical person hesitates to accept, much as the refinement and individuality of the embossed work may be admired. But there is a way by which almost anyone may emboss stationery at home with one's own design at no expense whatever. The work is easy and the results pleasing, and monograms or lettering thus done will compare very favorably with the printer's work, especially if there is a good design to follow and the work is done with care. A little artistic ability will, of course, aid one in preparing a design, but is not essential, for the letters required may be cut from printed matter and used as a guide for tracing. There is no limit to the varieties of work possible by this process. Single letters, monograms, words or designs are suitable for reproduction in raised characters.
All the materials required for embossing the stationery are the envelope or paper on which the design is to appear, a stylus and a blotter. The paper should be of fair quality. If it is too thin the stylus point is likely to push through it. The linen-finished papers of medium weight and tough texture give excellent results, although almost any grade of good writing paper can be used successfully. As embossing by this process can be done well only through one thickness of paper, in working on envelopes it is best to put the design on the central portion of the flap, or turn it up and make the design in the left-hand corner of the envelope.
The stylus may be any kind of a pencil-like instrument, easy to grip between the fingers, with a hard, smooth point, rounded slightly so that it will not cut the paper. The ordinary bone stiletto, used in embroidering, makes an ideal tool for this purpose. If this is not to be had, a substitute is easily whittled from a piece of hard wood. Even a wire nail, with its point smoothed with a file, may be used, the upper portion being wound with string to afford a better grip.
The blotter should be white, perfectly clean, and of good weight. A thin, hard blotter will not produce a good raised letter as a softer one will. When the surface of a blotter has become covered with creases from repeated use, it should be discarded and a new one substituted.
As it is best to adopt a distinctive form of monogram or design for stationery and to use it without deviation, it should be selected or worked up with care until something is outlined that will suit. With the design settled upon and drawn on a piece of paper, go over it with a soft pencil to deposit sufficient graphite for an impression. Lay the pattern, face down, upon the back of the paper to be embossed, and directly opposite the spot on the other side where the raised characters are to appear. With the handle of a knife or scissors rub over the back of the pattern till the graphite has left the tracing of the design reversed on the writing paper.
Ill: Manner of Holding the Stylus When Tracing the Design on the Back Side of the Paper
The pattern is now laid aside until required for transferring the design to another sheet of writing paper. Lay the blotter on some smooth, hard surface, such as a desk leaf or table top and lay the writing paper on the blotter, reversed design uppermost. Hold the stylus firmly at an angle as shown in the illustration and keep the blotter and paper from moving with the other hand. Carefully trace the design, using considerable pressure to insure a good relief upon the opposite side of the paper. A soft eraser should be used to remove the guide marks on the back of the sheet when the relief is finished.
After a little practice with a certain design, if it is not too intricate, the operator will find that it can be reproduced quite faithfully freehand, without the use of the pattern, but, of course, the use of the pattern will be the only guarantee of exact duplicates.