I want to print letterhead!
May 28, 2013 6:33 PM   Subscribe

Here's the issue—every single print shop I ask can only do runs of like 500 sheets for personal letterhead. I want only 50 sheets with envelopes, and I don't want to pay a freaking arm and leg for nice letterhead. How can I do this? I don't want something that's merely laser printed onto cheap paper. I'd like something that's nice, professional, and exudes quality. I've seen these at Crane, but they're still quite expensive. Any ideas mefites?
posted by uncannyslacks to Media & Arts (19 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Nice letterhead, meaning engraved, offset or letterpress printed, requires a certain amount of set up and tooling. Good engraved letterhead can be beautiful, but 50 sheets is nothing. You might consider finding an artist who is willing to use traditional printmaking methods to produce it.
posted by Teakettle at 6:39 PM on May 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

Well, how much do they want to charge you for the 500 sheets? Letterhead gets cheaper the more you buy, since the setup, packaging, etc... is all the same no matter how many sheets you're getting, so it is usually priced in bulk, especially for engraved or letterpress designs.

Costco Stationery (Harland Clarke) has some deals if you're a member. Notice how the 250 sheet price isn't that much less to the 500 sheet price?
posted by zachlipton at 6:44 PM on May 28, 2013

Where are you? Alphagraphics has been my go-to in Chicago for various printing tasks and have always been quite reasonable in price, and occasionally over-the-top spectacular in customer service.
You'll have to specify what you want and get a quote, but do give it a shot.
posted by Cold Lurkey at 6:48 PM on May 28, 2013

I asked a similar question, though without the caveat for detail and craft, and received a similar answer: for low quantities at a low cost, do it yourself on an office-quality printer. Splurge a bit on the paper, and you're better than the run-of-the-mill DIY print job.
posted by filthy light thief at 6:50 PM on May 28, 2013

The price of getting 50 instead of 500 is probably 90% of what the 500 costs, not 10%, in all likelyhood getting a mere 50 costs the same arm and most of the leg.

I'd either spring for the 500, or do a small number of the Crane ones, or DIY it - if you can get access to a laser printer, you can feed your own super-nice paper into it, and you can also do some further embellishment by hand afterwards (such as embossing)
posted by anonymisc at 6:50 PM on May 28, 2013

vistaprint will give you LH in smaller quantities. the quality of their printing is sort of mediocre but if you want something as simple in design as that crane LH (i.e. a few lines of text only) then they may be able to do that at a decent quality for offset printing. at least i would hope they can. i got some business cards thru vistaprint and the design is nice (it's full color process printing) but the printing was mediocre because it is a more complex design. did you try Pip? this is the kind of thing they do. 500 sheets for LH is standard at print shops. personally, i'd go for a quick printer like Pip or some other local quick printer and shell out for the 500 because it would be less of a gamble than vistaprint.

fyi: what you linked to at crane was thermography (i.e. the ink is raised) rather than engraving. i would not choose thermography at a cheaper printer without seeing several samples of their work as it can look pretty poor in quality. engraving is super expensive so you don't want that. for what you want i'd stick to offset (flat) printing.
posted by wildflower at 7:07 PM on May 28, 2013

Why would you only want fifty sheets of a letterhead? If it's truly going to be a letterhead, i.e., something you're going to use a whole ton, then 500 is probably a pretty minimal order, and it would be worth spending some money on it. At fifty sheets, we're talking "custom greeting card" not "letterhead".
posted by valkyryn at 7:19 PM on May 28, 2013

Depending on whether or not you can adopt a handmade look and make do with a fairly minimal design, you might consider having nice custom woodcut or rubber stamp made. Then you can use a high quality ink in a subtle shade and hand-stamp the letterhead block onto sheets of fine stationary paper as needed. You could make a cutout cardboard template so as not to have to get out the ruler each time. Something like these.
posted by snuffleupagus at 7:29 PM on May 28, 2013

having nice custom woodcut or rubber stamp made.

This idea, only buy the special ink and embossing powder and a heat gun (should run you no more than 40 bucks total) and emboss that shit. It'll give you the shiny, tactile, raised letter effect that just looks so cool. If I were interested in having fancy stationery but wanted to save on price, that's what I would do.

Alternatively, if you want to do the limited run because you're concerned your info will change, have your letterhead be your name only and, like, a decorative divider line or something. Contact info can be laserprinted on there with whatever else you're typing up.
posted by phunniemee at 7:37 PM on May 28, 2013 [3 favorites]

I've used American Stationery in the past and was very pleased with the quality.
posted by JujuB at 7:50 PM on May 28, 2013

Check out Lunalux. They do conventional letterpress (i.e. you would need a big run) BUT on Stationery Saturday of every month, you can buy ten or more of single design. You might contact Jenni (she's great) to see whether any upcoming Stationery Saturday designs will be versions of letterhead.
posted by cushie at 9:22 PM on May 28, 2013

Phunniemee, apologies for crosstalk -- but can that be fed through a laser printer, or is the idea there to do the embossing part after printing the document?
posted by snuffleupagus at 9:33 PM on May 28, 2013

Have you checked on Etsy?
posted by spunweb at 9:33 PM on May 28, 2013

I think the only cost effective way to print such a small amount is to use digital printing. Both offset and letterpress have substantial set up fees (letterpress is just way more), while digital printing charges more evenly by quantity. There are several digital printing warehouse type websites online. Minted is who I use for almost all my printing and their paper/printing is excellent (I use their basic paper and I can't imagine how luxe the extra thick paper must be -- I can barely get the paper to hang on my refrigerator because it's so heavy). Minted tends to be pricier, but I can almost always dig up a coupon. They have some pretty amazing designs. Hello Lucky is pretty stylish and may be the next place I order from (their digital printing, not their letterpress printing, unless I win the lottery). Tiny Prints is hit or miss (lots of miss) but generally very affordable if you find something you like. Digital printing will not look as high quality as letterpress, but with good design, I've really gotten over being a paper snob.

If a stamp is not your thing, you might have a simple stamp sized image designed for the header and print it through a reputable online printer. There are tons of people on etsy who do this; I have been considering getting hand lettering for my own stationery this way (it would run me about $50 the last I checked). Moo and 4 x 6 produce good note cards -- you haven't specified what size you're looking for. The nice thing about digital printing is that, because there's no set up and making of plates, you can get a proof before deciding to proceed with a company.
posted by sweltering at 4:13 AM on May 29, 2013

Laserprint on to quality stock if my advice.
posted by BenPens at 4:16 AM on May 29, 2013

what phunniemee posted is actually hand thermography aka raised ink. this would be hand embossing where the paper has been raised, rather than the ink. embossing is simple and sophisticated and much easier than dealing with stamps or ink powder as you'll get much neater and cleaner results. you could get 1 or 2 hand embossers for $30 each and emboss away on some nice paper of your choice. you could even buy crane paper. the second photo here is a nice example of embossing and if you follow the link here is the rectangular embosser for $30 that can be customized.
posted by wildflower at 4:30 AM on May 29, 2013

Phunniemee, apologies for crosstalk -- but can that be fed through a laser printer

I wouldn't do it with the puffy paint (not that it'd be appropriate here anyway), but it should run through just fine.

I know it's not proper embossing, but when you go to Michael's and ask for raised ink hand thermography materials, you may be unsuccessful. Everything is sold as "rubber stamp embossing" supplies.
posted by phunniemee at 4:40 AM on May 29, 2013

i think this is what you want: the stationery studio
posted by wildflower at 5:55 AM on May 29, 2013

Here's a neat link to celebrety letterhead.

Checks in the Mail does Business Stationary. I don't know if they appeal, but it's $80 for 250.

You can do your letterhead on the laser printer at your house and have them run off on creamy, gorgeous paper and envelopes at a print shop.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 11:24 AM on May 29, 2013

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