Cards such as you're describing must be handcrafted in multiple steps.
I still have some, manufactured as a gift by a friend who used to run
a printshop with a Heidelberg 'windmill' printing press that is needed
to accomplish the embossing and foiling you describe. Since each card
must be run through the press for each step - once for printing, once
for embossing, and once for each foiling color that is applied, the
cards I have took 5 runs each, at an average of 25 cents per run, and
that was some years ago. So the cards I have cost over $1.25 apiece,
just to manufacture. I went to work for him long enough to learn how
to run the press, so I'm very familiar with the process. A minimum
run would typically be 500 cards.
So you need to locate a printer that does "letterpress" printing,
such as Eagle Print in Toronto, who have an image of the Heidelberg
Windmill on this page of their website, describing it as follows:
"There are some things you still can't do on a digital press or
a conventional offset press. The letterpress has been with the
printing industry from the very beginning. For some jobs there
is still no substitute for this time honoured industry workhorse.
Die Cutting for rolodex cards, pocket folders, special cut out
shapes and 'windows' and myriad of other die cutting services.
Scoring and Perforation. Sequential Numbering for business forms,
tickets, ballots, etc. Embossing. Foil Stamping. Imprinting on
non standard products like bags, pre made folders, paper too small
to run through an offset press, etc."
You may also want to hire a graphic designer if the printer
doesn't have one in-house. The graphic designer can create
custom lettering and the templates for custom embossing and
The printer will also need to engage the services of an engraver
who can engrave the dies needed to impress the embossing and the
foiling on the card. You should know that the die belongs to you,
even though it's customary for the printer to retain the dies in
case you want another run of the cards in the future. But, if you
relocate, and/or plan to use a different printer in the future,
it's your right to ask the printer for the metal dies.
It's obviously best if you can locate a letterpress printer who
is local to you so that you can work closely with the graphic
artist during the design stages, and so that you can approve the
product during the different stages of production. I can assist
you in locating one in your area if necessary, though the phone
book may prove a better resource than the internet in this case,
since letterpress is an 'old-fashioned' art, and not all printers
will have websites.
There are, however, online printing services which offer foiling
and embossing, such as American Business Card, on this page:
Hopefully I've provided you with enough insight about the process
of manufacturing these specialty cards that you will be able to
negotiate successfully with an online company, if that's your
If your company logo will not be embossed or foiled, but you
want the lettering on the card to be embossed and foiled, and
the lettering is a standard font, it will only take about 3
runs for the cards - one for the printing, one for the embossing
and one for the foiling. If you wanted to go all out and have
your company logo embossed and foiled as well, and if you have
a multi-colored logo, it will cost you more and take longer.
I should also add the motto my printer friend used with regards
to what to expect from the printer:
There are three factors involved in a custom print job - quality,
price, and turn-around time. Pick two, because you won't get all
If you have any questions, or need further assistance, please
post a Request for Clarification before rating this answer.
Additional information may be found from an exploration of
the links resulting from the Google searches outlined below.
Searches done, via Google:
foiled embossed "business cards"
Clarification of Answer by
16 Nov 2006 18:09 PST
Interesting concept. Had you mentioned it in the original question,
I might not have answered the question, as I've never heard of the
idea of watermarks on business cards, except for adding them to
business cards created using Microsoft Publisher, as discussed on
this page from Graham Mayor's website:
As you probably know, watermarks are normally set into high quality
paper stock of the weights used for stationery, and such visible
watermarks are a sign of the quality and expense of the paper,
which often is a laid or linen stock. Stationery is typically about
24 lb stock.
Business cards are typically printed on about 80 lb card stock, and
I'm unfamiliar with stock of this weight coming with watermarks, but
such stock seems to exist, as shown on this page from DrawingBoard
Printing, though the usual watermark is not apparent to me from the
photo. Perhaps it shows on the back of the card:
"Product Item #: CC1CI
Classic LaidŽ Avon Baronial Ivory is distinguished by its apparent
horizontal grain and distinctive watermark."
So it would just be a matter of whether the printer happens to have
such a paper in stock, or whether it is worth it for him to locate
and order such stock based on your order. Some printers will not
be willing to order the paper if your order will only use a small
portion of what they are required to buy at a minimum.
That's why printers like Drawing Board advertise specific papers
as they did above - they have purchased a quantity of paper in
advance, and represent it to customers as something they can offer.
Bottom line: only your printer will know for sure, but it seems
possible - you may just have to shop a little harder for a printer
who both runs a letterpress and can accommodate your interest in
a watermarked card stock. Possibly you'll be lucky and find one
who already has the paper in stock.
Searches done, via Google:
"card stock" watermark
80 lb card stock watermark
Clarification of Answer by
16 Nov 2006 18:17 PST
In case I wasn't absolutely clear, watermarks are normally added
during the paper manufacturing process, and come to the printer
already set into the paper. I'm unaware of any process by which
a printer might add a watermark after the fact of its manufacture,
but, again, if such a thing is possible, your printer will know.
The thing is, that a watermark added after the manufacturing
process would be obvious as something added, which defeats
the purpose of a watermark, that being to verify the quality
of the paper's manufacture. Being a part of the manufacturing
process, a true watermark is part of the paper itself, and
this cannot be duplicated by any printing process. Hence the
use of watermarking for secure documents such as checks and