UK who do this kind of work. When we are gone, that's it!
From your vast experience, what is it that makes a successful engraver?
Patience, I suppose, and a will to produce a job to be proud of. It's a skill but an enjoyable one. I'm probably the luckiest man in Britain. I love going to work every day. There are many people who can't say that.
What is the most demanding part of your job?
My eyesight is failing rapidly. I think the miniature engraving has affected my eyes such a lot. The strain is tremendous. Five years ago I had a serious eye problem caused by too many late nights of looking through the microscope for hours on end.
I was treated in Birmingham's Eye Hospital and it improved slightly. The treatment involved having a course of botox injections. When I was first told of this I was thrilled. I thought I wouldn't have a wrinkle again. Alas, I've still got the wrinkles. It didn't get rid of even one.
And the most rewarding part?
Seeing the finished job. Heavily embossed print on paper takes some beating.
I engraved a gold crest several years ago for a fashion catalogue. I was watching News at Ten one evening and the very same fashion show in Paris was featured.
On the front row, right next to the catwalk, was sitting Christina Onassis. She had the catalogue on her lap and was stroking the gold crest with her fingers. It's something everyone does. It's irresistible.
What is your most interesting story from your years in this business?
I started taking an interest in miniature engraving when I was about 17 years of age. Pennies bearing the date 1933 were often in the headlines. There were only seven of them struck.
I used to look out for a 1935 penny and re-engrave the 5 so that it looked like a 3! I 'doctored' several of these pennies and a couple of them were even featured in the local newspaper. I can imagine the excitement felt by those who thought they had found a genuine 1933 coin.
Under a magnifying glass they were immediately identifiable as a fake but to the untrained naked eye they were passable. I released about 40 of these pennies into circulation!
It was March, 1962, I was just two years into my six-year apprenticeship, when an elderly London engraver, George Mason, whose specialty was engraving miniature lettering on crests and coats of arms, visited our company.
He stood and watched, looking over my shoulder as I was attempting to 're-date' one of these pennies. I remember he found it quite amusing. He was chuckling to himself.
A few days later, he sent a penny in the post to me. It was wrapped in an envelope with a message scrawled on the front. It read, 'Look closely at the King's hair'. Using the smallest lettering imaginable, he'd engraved, in very small Palace Script lettering, a message in the