Stationery has historically meant a wide gamut of materials: paper, office supplies and school supplies, writing implements, greeting cards, glue, pencil case etc.
Originally the term "stationery" referred to all products sold by a stationer, whose name indicates that his book shop was on a fixed spot, usually near a university, and permanent, while medieval trading was mainly ambulant, by peddlers (including chapmen, who sold books) and others (such as farmers and craftsmen) at non-permanent markets such as fairs. It was a special term used between the 13th and 15th centuries in the manuscript culture. The Stationers' Company formerly held a monopoly over the publishing industry in England and was responsible for copyright regulations.
In its modern sense of (often personalized) writing materials, stationery has been an important part of good social etiquette, particularly since the Victorian era. Some usages of stationery, such as sending a manufactured reply card to a wedding invitation, has changed from offensive to appropriate. Many of these social guidelines may have been defined by the manufacturers of stationery products themselves, such as "Crane's Blue Book of Stationery" showing so much influence by Crane & Co. that the company name is included in the title.
The usage and marketing of stationery is a niche industry that is increasingly threatened by electronic media. As stationery is intrinsically linked to paper and the process of written, personalized communication, many techniques of stationery manufacture are employed, of varying desirability and expense. The most familiar of these techniques are letterpress printing, embossing, engraving, and thermographic printing (often confused with thermography). Flat printing and offset printing are regularly used, particularly for low cost or informal needs.