Wednesday, November 29, 2006


If you're of a certain age or older, you might remember that the "cc" on the bottom of a letter meant carbon copy. Although carbon paper is still in use on some forms, it's use has declined since the advent of carbonless paper, and the near obsolescence of typewriters(not quite dead!). Carbon paper is very simple; it's placed, carbonized side down, between two sheets. Putting pressure on the paper with a pen makes the carbon come off onto the second sheet.
Carbonless copy paper also works in a fairly simple way. It consists of sheets of paper that are coated on the bottom and/or the top with micro-encapsulated dye or ink and/or a reactive clay. The back of the first sheet is coated with micro-encapsulated dye. The top of the middle sheet is coated with a clay that quickly reacts with the dye to form a permanent mark. The back of the middle sheet is also coated with the dye. The lowermost sheet is coated on the top surface with the clay with no coating applied to the back side. When the sheets are written on, the pressure from the point of the writing instrument causes the micro-capsules to break and spill their dye. Since the capsules are so small, the print obtained is very accurate.
This patented product was invented by Robert E. Miller and Robert W. Brown, while working for Appleton Papers in Wisconsin. NCR is Appleton's brand name, and , of course, stands for No Carbon Required.
Merrick Printing exclusively uses NCR Paper for all their multi-part forms.

Sunday, November 26, 2006


The good news for printers like me, is that catalogues are not becoming obsolete. In fact, according to an article by Louise Lee in this week's BusinessWeek, there were about 19 billion catalogues sent out in 2005, compared to 16 billion in 2002.
It seems that, even though all the advertisers have a website, they need to spread the word so customers will come to their sites. Also, the color will always look better printed on glossy paper than on a monitor, no matter how good the resolution is. Companies can also attach samples, such as fabric, to the catalogue.
These catalogues are smaller than previous ones, and show only selected items. Ms. Lee says that Victoria's Secret will mail 400 million catalogues this year. Yes, that is good news.

Saturday, November 25, 2006


I do not, by any stretch of the imagination, consider myself to be a professional writer. Many bloggers, by definition, are professional in varying degrees of remuneration.
My original intention in starting this blog was to create a little buzz, and bring more traffic to my company website, Merrick Printing. If you, or someone you know, purchase printing and mention this blog, I will take 10% off of your invoice.
This might, possibly, make me a professional writer.

Friday, November 24, 2006


Before digital printing and offset printing, there was letterpress printing. This printing process started with Johann Gutenberg in 1450 with his press, and the start of movable type. It was refined over the next five centuries, originally made of wood, then iron and later steel. It operated first manually, then by steam power, water power and later by electrical motor.
When I started in the printing industry I operated a number of letterpresses. In 1985 when we bought Merrick Printing, we had a working Heidelberg Windmill letterpress and a Linotype hot lead typesetter. Although we scrapped the typesetter, we still have the letterpress. We do use it occasionally, but not as much as we used to.
However, the demise of letterpress is not true. One only has to visit
Briar Press, and see what the enthusiasts have to say. If you are a fan of printing or history, take a trip to this site.

Monday, November 20, 2006


When you're in charge, you are saddled with the responsibility of making sure the business runs smoothly. The taxes get paid, your employees get paid, your suppliers get paid, and somewhere down the line you get a few bucks. After all, if you're not making a profit, you're not in business. Having a hobby is great, but most of us don't make money off it.
The simplicity of "buy low, sell high" doesn't always work that way in practice. There are many factors such as overhead, competition and service or production problems conspiring to decrease your profit margin.
Generally speaking, most small businesses are either retail/wholesale, manufacturing or service. In the retail/wholesale area, it is a matter of getting the product from your supplier at a low price, so you can sell at enough of a profit to cover your overhead and have something to show for your efforts. In manufacturing you're buying various components and making them into new products to be sold either retail or wholesale. The service businesses sell their time/labor, but can make a profit on selling equipment/components that may be necessary.
Of course this is a simplistic view of business. Any business that you own will be more work than working for someone else. Be aware that being your own boss is not for everyone. There's something to be said for a steady paycheck and benefits. Some people are great employees, some are great entepreneurs. However, it is possible to do both, to some extent.
My wife, Susan, has a new blog(I love the name), You're Not The Boss Of Me. Check it out, there are some great ideas on it.
Have a Happy Thanksgiving, a true American holiday that overlooks religion and race, but can be tailor made to anyone's creed. Please remember the less fortunate today.

Friday, November 10, 2006

A Brief History

Business cards evolved from a fusion of traditional trade cards and visiting cards.

Visiting cards (also known as calling cards) first appeared in China in the 15th century, and in Europe in the 17th century. The footmen of aristocrats and of royalty would deliver these first European visiting cards to the servants of their prospective hosts solemnly introducing their arrival.

Visiting cards became an indispensable tool of etiquette, with sophisticated rules governing their use. The aristocracies of North America and the rest of Europe adopted the practice from French and English etiquette.

Visiting cards included refined engraved ornaments and fantastic coats of arms. The visiting cards served as tangible evidence of the meeting of social obligations. The stack of cards in the card tray in the hall was a handy catalog of exactly who had called and whose calls one should reciprocate. They also provided a streamlined letter of introduction.

With the passage of time, visiting cards became an essential accessory to any 19th-century upper or middle class lady or gentleman. Visiting cards were not generally used among country folk or the working classes.

Trade cards first became popular at the beginning of the 17th century in London. These functioned as advertising and also as maps, directing the public to merchants' stores, as no formal street address numbering system existed at the time.

Businesses used their cards as marks of distinction and thus introduced the first modifications in their design. Later, as the growing demand for the cards boosted the development of color printing, more sophisticated card designs appeared, making the cards works of art.

The trend toward fanciful trade cards was balanced by the pragmatic need of a growing group of private entrepreneurs who had a constant need to exchange contact information. These users often started to print out their own cheaper business cards.