Stationery’s closest design relative is most likely textiles — and indeed, card and invitation designers often dabble in the medium. What works on fabric works succeeds on cards as well, as The Warner Textile Archive in Braintree, Essex, well knows. This British institution began producing fabric in the late 17th century as Warner and Sons. Although weaving stopped in 1971, the firm’s enormous collection of fabric samples, paper designs and documents became the Warner Textile Archive. Now the archive sells prints, wallpaper, jewelry, home goods and, of course, greeting cards in square and portrait formats.
Today the archives adds 12 historical designs to its range of greeting cards, featuring designs spanning from the 1840s to the 1970s, providing an interesting visual history lesson. Reading this quote from Kate Wigley, Archivist at the Warner Textile Archive, I am reminded of the Mohawk archives — this is the British textile equivalent. “Warner & Sons enjoyed long and successful relationships with innovative designers, and the archive’s collection of greeting cards provides a perfect platform for the company’s creativity, talent and eye for detail to be enjoyed by a new audience.”
Thus the designs have a diverse charm — as a tour through them proves. To me, they are just as compelling as when they were introduced. Talk about legs! First up we’ve got Eleanor, a vibrant, hand-printed cotton from 1840s France.
Phlox and Blossom are both from the 1900s.
I am actually a big fan of Roaring ’20s and Depression era designs, and in addition to making a gorgeous floral quintet, Bloomsbury Square, Dorothy, Virginia and Spring “tap into a revival of interest” in work from these two decades.
Ribbons, also from the 1930s, seems to evoke a kinder, sweeter time. I would love it wallpapering one wall of my daughter’s room (though, at 7-going-on-17, she’d tire of it long before me!)
Three designs feature hand-painted florals, spotlighting their evolution through the 20th century. Michaelmas Daisy is from 1929.
Sheppy is from 1961.
The almost psychedelic Summer Belles is from 1970.
Finally, the jewel in the crown of the collection is Everhard, the paisley creation of Eddie Squires (1940-1995), released in celebration of the 50 years that have passed since he joined Warner & Sons’ design team. The 1967 design was a screen-printed cotton, and no doubt it adorned many an adorable shift. The archive describes it as “portraying the free-spiritedness enjoyed by the iconic designer of the 1960s.”
Each card is printed in the UK on FSC-certified textured board, responsibly sourced from sustainable forests. Packing and distribution then takes place near Braintree for a card collection which truly celebrates British industry and design. £1.99 each.
This summer range is to be available here today — and check out their other offerings in stationery as well as other categories. Anglophiles as well as design fans should enjoy immersing themselves in a rich, multi-layered British perspective from the comfort of stateside computers.