Q&A: City Company Seals

Q&A: City Company Seals

Established in 1973 and based in Hackney, London, City Company Seals make paper embossers, company seals, rubber stamps, engraved signs, wax seals, and sealing wax. While many companies making embossers and seals have begun producing products with plastic parts, City Co Seals preserve the tradition of hard-wearing metal dies to ensure a crisp, high-quality finish.

London born and bred, Grant Wilson has been director of the company for 20 years. We spoke to him about his work.

How would you describe what you do?
I make custom embossing machines that are capable of marking very thick paper. I also produce custom wax seals.

Can you describe your making process?
Our methods depend on the intricacy of the artwork wanted. We either engrave using our computerised engraving machines or we engrave the custom embossing plates by hand.

What tools and materials do you use in your work? Do you have a favourite material and is there a tool you couldn't do without?
We mainly use aluminium and brass as they have free cutting properties and are very strong. We used to use steel but we changed our materials as this tended to rust.

The machine we can't do without now is our computerised engraving machine.

What initially sparked your desire to make your work and what drives you today?
To be honest, it was an accident. I initially wanted to be a electrician but the job here was advertised as the guy doing it before me left suddenly and they needed someone to fill the role quickly. I applied and was offered the position, and I am now the director of the company 20-odd years on.

The drive I get today is keeping the customer happy. There's nothing better than getting a letter or email thanking me for the great work we've done.

Can you remember the first thing you made?
It was a text-only embossing die; one of 300 I've made to date!

What do you feel the role of makers and designers is today?
I think it's a specialist and niche market - in fact, I think some areas are a dying art. In my area, for example, no one wants to be a hand engraver or similar anymore, but there's actually a lot of work available. I'm not sure what will happen in the future as not everything can be done by a computer.

Who in the world would you most like to buy one of your designs?
It can be anyone from 'Joe Public', to governments around the world, to royalty.

What's your next project(s)?
I have none on the horizon at the moment as we have so much work already!

Thanks to Grant for taking time out of his (very busy) schedule to speak to us!

Images by Marina Castagna

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