The art of engraving 1920’s

City Directory 1920 Detroit, Michigan
The art of engraving 1920’s

I was working on the “D. R. Lewis wed Ida Mae Jordan 1902, Baltimore Family Tree” when I was asked by one of the owners to help her with information about her great-grandmother.

I created a tree for her family; “Oscar William Parrish – Bev Nov 2014” and one of the hints was a 1920 Detroit City Directory (Detroit, Michigan).

Since I had just finished writing a blog posting about city directories I thought I would follow my own instructions and look at the “whole” city directory.

While paging through the directory I came across this ad and the engraving caught my eye.

Blog - J W Dykstra and Company - 1920 ad

The monogram contains all the letters of the company name in a simple geometric pattern. “J W D & Co”.


The craftsmanship involved is a thing of the past, I thought.

When I was at Michigan State University back in the 70’s (that 1970’s) I took a class in carving on linoleum and created some monogram stamps. I was studying Industrial Arts Education to become a shop teacher and know firsthand what it takes to make such an intricate monogram as the one in the 1920 city Directory.

I said I thought it was a thing of the past but now having researched a little bit more I find that the craft is alive and thriving.

The Wikipedia posting on “Monograms” gives a brief history and shows some examples of old monograms.


Doing a Google search on monograms I found many sites which are dedicated to monogram carving.

There are many sites which talk about wedding invitations but there are others which are dedicated to everyday monogram or design stamps.

There are artist who make a living off of their craftsmanship, so even if we might not see this type of artwork and craftsmanship in everyday life it is still available if you know where to look.


To get a good idea of what is available do an Images Google search for monogram and then visit the sites which contain the images.
Monogram Images - Google search

Here are some of the web sites I found which deal with monogram carving.
This new monogram stamp is designed and hand-carved by Tyr, a stamp-maker based in Stockholm, Sweden.

Gorgeous Handmade Monogram Stamp

Undefined Stamp Carving Kit comes with rubber, tools, wooden blocks and foam for mounting your new stamp.
Monogram stamp created with the Undefined Stamp Carving Kit.
Melissa – StudioMo
in Toronto, Canada
Tommie – HappieStamps

We can generate our own monograms using a computer and there are web sites which will help you with that, but many do it for a cost. Here is just one such web site:

I hope this little posting will lead you to some new discoveries and maybe get you interested in carving your own monograms.

Thank you.
Jose from Clarkston, Michigan.

4 thoughts on “The art of engraving 1920’s

Add yours

  1. thanks for including my stamp shop here 🙂
    there are a lot of custom stamp choces online. i hope everyone who loves stamping get to find a good one!

    tommie from Happie Stamps

    1. Glad to do it Tommie. It is nice to know the art of carving has not died out.

      Take Care and good luck with your art work.
      Jose from Clarkston, Michigan

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