a job where I could work with my hands. I wasn't academically inclined having left school with just one O level, a spirit level and a girl's bike!
How has your business changed over the years?
During the late 1970s I was very busy. I remember my biggest order was from a well-known finance house in the City of London. They had almost 800 employees and every one of them had their own hand-engraved stationery - letterheads, business cards and compliment slips.
The order came to nearly £80,000. I used the money to buy a four-bedroomed detached house and a new Mercedes! Those days were never seen again.
Sadly, today I find I'm not as busy as I was twenty years ago. It seems that people are not willing to pay for hand-engraved stationery. They go for the cheaper option. Of course the quality is not there but that's the way of the world, I suppose.
You have an impressive client list. Can you tell us about the work you have done for the Royal Household?
In addition to normal engraving jobs such as stationery, wedding invitations and business cards, I engrave for the Royal palaces and Castles. This involves stationery for Windsor, Balmoral, Sandringham, Buckingham Palace etc., in fact every Royal Residence.
I consider it a privilege to engrave for the Royal Family. This work is so special that it merits its own kind of ambience. I like to get in the right mood for engraving the Royal copper plates.
In the past when I've engraved for the Palaces, I've started the job at 10.00 pm and worked through the night. I used to take a bottle of champagne, some crusty bread and a hefty chunk of Roquefort cheese to see me through to morning.
Paul Helleu, the famous French engraver in the late 1800s, was known for working to the same ritual. I've recently read about a young Brazilian engraver, in his twenties, who is a late-night champagne and cheese man too.
I look upon this extravagant indulgence as a romantic bond for those of us who earn our living by putting designs on steel and copper by using just our hands, a sharp graver and a keen eye
What is the engravings market like? Does it appeal to collectors?
I engrave a lot of first day covers. When the Royal Mail issues a new set of stamps, I engrave a design to go with them. I believe this market is flourishing and seems to be bucking the trend regarding the recession.
I engrave the designs for Cotswold Covers and Stuart. This is my most enjoyable work. The artist who provides the artwork for me to work to is very talented. Her designs are not only interesting but thought provoking too. It's a joy to follow her designs.
Are you seeing a growth in demand?
I wish I could say yes, but sadly, no. I'm in a dying trade. I'm just one of two engravers left in the