Behind the scenes of nearly every large stationery company, several individuals have the all-important task of keeping the rich tradition of stationery alive in a relatively new and but incredibly relevant forum (some would say the only forum that matters these days) — the internet.
Crane & Co., founded in 1770, once printed banknotes for Paul Revere to help finance the American Revolution (banknotes printed on much the same cotton paper the company uses today), and Crane still prints not only American money but that of many of other countries. Despite all this, a stationery company still needs a blog and a lively social media presence to survive in today’s marketplace. Just ask Jessica Sick — she’s Crane & Co.’s Digital Marketing Manager, and shapes much of the company’s gorgeous and engaging blog content (she even interviewed me a few years back!).
I do envy Jessica in many ways — after all, she’s got great subject matter to write about. Just check out these recent releases from Crane and its recent acquisition, William Arthur (another company with a rich, interesting history), which includes its to-die-for, luxe Vera Wang line.
These hand-engraved cards are from Crane’s Explorers collections, new for 2014 to mark the 450th anniversary of Galileo Galilei’s birthday. Engraved in gold atop the company’s thick ecru card stock, they are a subtle but sure sign of taste and refinement. The Galileo quote reads, “Bright stars speak of your virtues.” $22/10, and you can read a blog post about the entire collection here.
The card below comes from Crane’s new Flights of Fancy collection, featuring elegant two-pass engraved motifs, also on ecru kid finish paper. $32/12, and you can read a post on the entire collection here.
These hand-engraved Florentine Brocade Notes were inspired by Firenze and are part of Crane’s Vintage Lace collection. $29/12. Like the above two selections, the envelopes are also lined in gold lustre for the ultimate posh touch!
Now we are leaving engraving to see Crane’s letterpress. These fountain pen cards are fitting for the modern yet erudite correspondent, and come from Crane’s Tools of the Trade Collection. $19/10.
Now we jet over to William Arthur for these bicycle notes, part of their Retro Collection. These adorable palm-sized folded notes are thermographed, with jaunty envelopes lined in saffron. Here is a post from the William Arthur blog on their designer, James Gulliver Hancock, who is also currently drawing all the buildings in New York. The paper is 100% wood pulp from sustainable fibers. $18/10.
Now, for some good news: Crane has quite graciously donated boxes of all of the above (plus one more surprise item!) to our letter-writing correspondents. So for the next few weeks I will be sending these to the TPC correspondents I feature.
But more importantly (especially for those of us not getting this gorgeous stationery for free), what are Jessica’s views on the industry? What are her favorite non-Crane companies? Read on to find out!
1. SS: How did you get into this crazy business?
JS: My background is in editorial, but when my husband and I moved to NYC from Miami, I figured it was the perfect opportunity to try something new. I saw that Crane was looking for a digital marketing manager to build out their presence online. I had spent my career telling stories, and so I loved the idea of telling the story of this brand with such a rich heritage. More than 200 years of material has made my job easy!
2. SS: What design or lifestyle trends are finding yourself particularly intrigued with these days?
JS: I’m loving the return to an interest in craftsmanship, whether it’s whiskey, shoes or … Crane stationery! People like knowing the story behind what they’re buying. They like knowing who made it, how it was made and where it came from. That’s why you see so many brands creating these lovely craftsmanship videos to showcase their goods now. I could spend all day watching them.
Other trends I’m digging are black and white — I love that it feels both modern and classic at the same time — and Menswear. The dapper gentleman is having a moment, and I love that the style is crossing gender lines.
3. SS: What letter, card or invitation first comes to mind as the best you’ve ever received?
JS: Definitely the letter my mom gave me when I graduated from college. I could just feel the love and pride coming through. She’s always been my biggest fan. Plus, she was a kindergarten teacher for a decade, so her penmanship is impeccable!
4. SS: What are your three favorite paper lines aside from Crane/William Arthur?
JS: I’m fancy when it comes to my stationery (how could I not be working at Crane?), so I’ve always been a huge fan of Connor and Mrs. John L. Strong. I also love Rifle Paper Co. because they’ve done such a great job at making their designs so recognizable. I know I’m looking at a Rifle illustration before I even check the back of the note. Plus they’re incredibly whimsical and fresh.
5. SS: Is there anything you do personally to keep letter-writing, card-sending and invitation using alive?
JS: It’s my job every day to keep it alive, so I’m correspondence’s biggest cheerleader! I try to share a mix of ephemera — beautiful detail shots of exquisite engraving, stories in the news about the importance of letter writing, quips about what we all love most about classic correspondence. I have to admit I knew next to nothing about the stationery world before I came to Crane, and I was very impressed with the stationery community’s fan base. They’re such a passionate bunch.
Personally, I send my fair share of thank-you notes, and if I read a book or an article I particularly love, one that really leaves an impression, I’ll write the author a note. I think gestures like that are important. It’s always nice to know there are people out there who are reading — and enjoying — what you write.
The only person I write letters to anymore is my aunt — it isn’t often, but when we do exchange them, they always center around a book recommendation or what we thought about the other’s recommendation. Those letters are such a treat, and I cherish getting them.