138 Years of Dempsey & Carroll

As we approach our 138th anniversary on August 28th, we look to our heritage and how we have carried on the tradition started by John Dempsey & George Carroll in 1878. From our first location in Union Square, to our current home on the Upper East Side, we have proudly stayed close to our New York City roots as we continue to create the highest quality of hand-engraved paper goods. The past few months have been exciting as we have ushered in new collections.

This spring, we launched our collaboration with FORM Design studio, a firm which “strives to be an arbiter of taste and holistic living, blending the line between what is beautiful and what sustains”. The unique pieces for this line were created with mixed media and inspiration from the Earth’s natural beauty.

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Pieces from our collaboration with FORM

This summer, we launched new lines from our continued partnership with F. Schumacher. It has been an honor to work with this storied brand as we combine our luxurious paper with the iconic designs of Schumacher’s fabrics. The Lansdale and Zanzibar collections have expanded our offerings to include matching journals and coasters to the boxed sets of correspondence cards. We also launched four bespoke lines in addition to the boxed products so that our clients can add new looks to their personal paper wardrobes.

 

We have seen our collaboration with Hendrick’s Gin come to life this month with correspondence cards, coasters, hang tags, and a 2017 calendar. Hendrick’s Gin is produced in the small seaside village of Girvan, Scotland using a blend of spirits from two different antique stills. Our process of engraving paper has remained virtually unchanged since our founding and we continue to use the same equipment as we have since the 1800s. Both of our brands celebrate tradition while forging through the 21st century.

August has also seen the launch of our new lines with John Derian. Fabricated in his New York City Studio, Derian uses decoupage as a unique way to bring life to an assortment of home furnishings. Our new collections pair classic Dempsey & Carroll motifs with extraordinary designs from Derian’s archives.

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John Derian Blue Coral

The excitement of our new collections reminds us to look to our history for inspiration. Dempsey & Carroll has transcended two centuries of incredible changes in the world. We have seen the leaps of technology and the rise of the digital age. As we head into the next 138 years, we look to one of our favorite quotes about why we continue our legacy of facilitating gracious living:

“The love of elegance and exquisite finish in stationery is no new love, but elegance and finish are not in themselves artistic, they are simply the last result of mere mechanical execution. We take especial pleasure, therefore, in calling attention to the work of Messrs. Dempsey & Carroll, who have earned for themselves the honourable designation of “Art Stationers.”

The Home Journal (Town & Country), 1879

We are thankful for our loyal clientele, as well as all of the extraordinary people who have come before us in building this brand. Cheers to 138 years of Dempsey & Carroll!

The History of the Calling Card

To honor our Annual Calling Card Event,  we wanted to share the history of the calling card and how its purposes have evolved over time. We hope that this piece inspires you to put your best card forward! 

History

Before the age of the telephone, the calling card (or carte de visite in French) had a significant role as a social tool. In the days when ladies might receive visitors during hours they were known to be “at home,” the calling card served to announce a visitor to the house. Thought to have originated in China in the 16th century, the calling card flourished in France and England before coming to America, reaching its heyday during the Gilded Age of the late 19th century.

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Function

A visitor would present his card to the butler, who would place it on a silver tray and, leaving the visitor to wait, take it to the lady of the house. Different corners of the card would be turned down to indicate the visitor came in person, or that the call was intended to express congratulations or condolence.

On an initial visit, a gentleman would give a card to the butler and leave; if the recipient wished to start a friendship, a card would be returned in the same manner; but no response or a card returned inside an envelope indicated the recipient did not wish the acquaintance to continue.

Although business cards existed, they were never used in social situations. Just as today it is usually considered rude even to ask a new acquaintance what he or she does to earn a living, the idea that a person might produce a card with business information in a social setting was inconceivable until the early twentieth century. So the calling card would have served that social function, and any information missing, or perhaps a short note, would often be written directly on the card.

Format

The most formal calling card format features only a person’s full name, complete with title: Mr., Mrs. or Miss. “Doctor” is spelled out, as is “junior.” A home address, as brief as possible, is sometimes added to the lower right corner of the card; men’s cards sometimes include the name of a club.CallingCardEvent-OrangeClutch-03-Edited

Traditional calling cards are always engraved, using only black ink, the finest paper stock, and one of a small selection of conservative typefaces. Interestingly, the ornate social codes of American Society developed standard sizes to denote sex and marital status. These “proper” sizes were in use well into the twentieth century, though today it is acceptable to throw these rules out the window and choose a size – or create a different size – that suits your taste.

 

Single Men:                                        1-9/16” x 3-1/4”

Married Men:                                     2” x 3-1/2”

Single women:                                   2” x 2-7/8”

Married women and widows:          2-3/8” x 3-1/4”

Married couples:                               2-1/2” x 3-1/2”

 

The Calling Card Today

 Calling cards, sometimes referred to as personal cards, are experiencing a renaissance, particularly among younger people, who change jobs more frequently and may want to present themselves socially with a less work-related face. Though a standard business card size is still popular for calling cards, a more unusual size may be a surprise to the recipient. Ink color and typeface are other ways to make the card have more personality. And today, there is sometimes more contact information put on the card; a cell phone number and personal email address are very common, as they don’t change when a person changes jobs or home addresses. Still, many clients prefer the simple elegance of engraving only their names on the center of the card.

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How to Use Your Calling Cards

Calling cards are the perfect “blank slate” for today’s social and business interactions. It is perfectly acceptable to jot a little note or a bit of information directly on to your calling card. For example, after a business meeting you might add your work email and hand it to a new acquaintance. After running into an old friend you might write “call me” and include your mobile telephone number. How you use your cards is entirely up to you. You should be comfortable and confident that your cards are a sophisticated reflection of your personality and are completely adaptable to any situation. Calling cards also make fabulous gift enclosures – simply write “Happy Birthday” or “Congratulations” on the card and enclose it with a gift.

We’re sure you’ll find hundreds of ways to use your cards. Be sure to visit our website or call us at 212.570.4800 to learn more!

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New Schumacher: Lansdale vs. Zanzibar

July has been an exciting month at Dempsey & Carroll as we debuted the latest lines from our collaboration with F.Schumacher & Co. We are thrilled to introduce the Lansdale and Zanzibar collections of boxed correspondence cards, drink coasters, and journals. The Lansdale collection features vibrant hues of pink, green, and orange, while the Zanzibar Collection features chic gray tones of florals.

Now we pose a question: are you Team Lansdale or Team Zanzibar? Head over to our website to see for yourself! Here are thoughts from some of the Dempsey & Carroll team on their preferences so far:

LansdaleBouquet-JournalAriel:  “I prefer Lansdale because I love the splash of color. The print tells a summer story and definitely has a fun personality. The colors remind me of a lakeside sunset in the summer.”

Megan:  “I’m Team Lansdale and the journal is my favorite.”

DSC04707_web Alyssa: “I love how colorful and fun the Lansdale journals are while still remaining timeless”

 

Austin:  “This is tough because I love color, and I love the color in the Lansdale pieces, but I get totally lost in the Zanzibar collection. My very dry gimlet would sit perfectly on one of those Zanzibar coasters (though not for too long)!”zanz coasters blog

Emma: “I am Team Zanzibar because of how the pattern makes an impression while being subtle at the same time. The coasters are a must-have for my bar cart!”

Carolyn:  “I’m Team Zanzibar. I love the journal! It’s perfect for meetings, notes on the go, or a quick sketch. I love the neutral palette – it’s great for people who shy away from color, but still has a playful tone through the pattern.”

Leo: “Zanzibar for me. I’m thinking 5 or 6 of the notebooks will find their way to my gift shelf– easy chic for any lady.”

Evon: “Although both are great, the color tones throughout the Zanzibar lends to more versatility and potential outside pairings, if desired.”MMI-072516_Schumacher-web

Spotlight on Leo Mascotte, Part II

Austin Ackles sat down with Creative Director, Leo Mascotte, to discuss more of his favorite Dempsey & Carroll wedding suites. 

AA: This wedding took place on a family property in Old Chatham and we drew a marvelous tree the couple was to be married beneath. (The resulting steel engraving die was a sculpture in and of itself!) What makes this wedding suite one of your favorites? 

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LM: Old Chatham’s charms, to no surprise, are notably old school.  This Columbia County hamlet oozes classic Yankee Town & Country charm, and is home to one of America’s most storied fox hunts, The Old Chatham Hunt Club.  The blind engraved tree motif could not be more inspired.  So too the navy blue and white color palette, classic and crisp, yet decidedly modern for a wedding.  These colors perfectly set the stage for this type of “Down East” event.  As does the Chevalier font, as naturally handsome as the chocolate labs I imagine sleeping under the couple’s table.

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I Would happily take odds that the weekend felt like a trip back to a cherished campus. The Groom and groomsmen in navy blazers, with Hermes ties chosen to recall shared sport. Radiant and crisp in Oscar de la Renta organza, the bride, seemed to be the source of the reception tent’s glow.  Her mother, effortlessly triumphant spending an evening at home amongst abundant flowers, planned to appear picked from the property’s gardens.

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AA: This wonderful couple was married in the bride’s grandmother’s garden just outside Melbourne, Australia. They loved the watercolors from our Mark Ingram collection (which we used for their save the dates) and they wanted to incorporate them into their wedding suite. I think the colors are delicious! 

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LM: Tasty indeed, the palette reminds me of tea at Laduree, in Paris.  The pale pistachio walled salons filled with a dazzling array of pastel tinted macaroons.  The wedding stationery is kept from getting too sweet by the underlying hint of rich ochre in the custom sand colored ink.

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Attention to detail here is remarkable.  Each piece of the extensive suite was engraved, such a wonderful and increasingly rare touch.  Rarer still, each item received edge treatment using a custom pale french pink.  The invitation is set apart by it’s exquisite beveled edge.  My favorite touch is named Henry B. the couple’s beloved Labradoodle.  He sits atop the reply card, bestowing a welcoming glance encouraging all to join.

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AA: How we love a perfectly-sized New England church wedding and then a celebration afterwards at a yacht club! This wedding suite is one in a series that is a variation on a very classic theme. How do you see it reinvented this time?

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LM: I love the look of this suite almost as much as I revere the venerated yacht club where it was held.  This group sets up a carefully balanced interplay of established forms set off against modern elements.  A generation ago this piece would have been printed on a folded sheet.  Today so rarely used, the foldover’s scarcity may as well predict it’s return to favor.  Here, a stiff Embassy card reflects the current currency of chic.   This nod to today is set in contrast to timeless Italian script.  For me this font remains, the unassailable definition of impeccable old school elegance.   The suite’s painted edges are left un-beveled, at once old school handcraft, and not expected.  The rich pewter ink color manages a similar duality, with Commodore worthy aplomb.

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AA: Dempsey & Carroll has this long running creative partnership with the legendary firm, Schumacher, and this is a beautiful example of our collaboration. The font here feels old and new to me at the same time. What is it that makes this invitation suite at once breezy and stately?

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LM: This celebrated print “Birds & Butterflies” was based on a hand printed 1960’s wall covering found in Schumacher’s archive.  Available as both a fabric and wallpaper it has a lovely density that never overpowers.  Set amongst charmingly drawn foliage, rendered in spare black on white, a flock of colorful creatures takes flight.

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The Open Antique Roman font almost seems to have been picked from amongst the fabric’s vines.  The letter forms have a polished yet unfussy 1930’s feel.  Designer Thomas O’Brien coined the phrase “Vintage Modern” which seems to describes this Schumacher print, the  and this this suite perfectly.  I can think of no better way to mark a marriage in Millbrook, NY.  Very top drawer.

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What Are They Packing?

July 4th Weekend is a wonderful time to take a long weekend to travel, whether it involves hiking in Aspen or relaxing on the beach.  Sometimes the most difficult part of traveling is the packing, so our  Creative Director, Leo Mascotte, and CEO, Lauren Marrus, have graciously shared their essentials for their summer destinations.

Leo’s Aspen hiking essentials

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A Fourth of July Parade in Aspen

 

Lauren’s Beach essentials

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Sandy Hook Beach, New Jersey

The 2016 Museum Mile Festival

We had the opportunity to enjoy this year’s Museum Mile Festival on Tuesday evening, a cultural celebration hosted by the storied institutions of Fifth Avenue.

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The festivities spanned Fifth Avenue, from the Metropolitan Museum of Art at 82nd Street, to The Museum of the City of New York and El Museo del Barrio at 104th Street.  It was a rare opportunity to stroll down the middle of Fifth Avenue, with musicians and artists sharing their talents on a beautiful summer’s evening. Many of the museums offered free admission and kept their doors open later than usual to promote their most recent exhibitions.

 

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Jazz Musicians playing outside of The Neue Galerie 

 

Here are a few of the exhibitions highlighted during the festival:

  • The Metropolitan Museum of Art:

Transitional Object (PyschoBarn), Cornelia Parker

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The Metropolitan Museum of Art

  • Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum

Future Present, László Moholy-Nagy

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The rotunda of The Guggenheim 

  • Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum

The Beauty-Cooper Hewitt Design Triennial 

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The Cooper Hewitt 

 

Spotlight on Valley & Co.

Dempsey & Carroll’s Austin Ackles sat down with Aleah and Nick of Valley & Co. to talk about some of their favorite wedding destinations on the West Coast. 

 

AA: Squeezed into just a few dozen words, can you give us the essence of Valley & Co.?
A&N: In short, we throw pretty incredible celebrations for our clients and have a ball doing so! We focus on the beauty and fun in life and incorporate realistic elements into our events. We truly love creating joy for others and Valley & Company is a reflection of our passion!

AA: Which came first, the business relationship or the life partnership?
A&N: Our relationship came before our business. We met during Aleah’s senior year in high school and Nick’s freshman year at university. Aleah followed Nick to college where we planned events with several student government organizations and some pretty impressive non-university related parties as well! You can say the rest is part of our history! We’ve been planning events together since we got together and formed our company in 2003, right after we graduated from college.

AA: You’re the masters of the best coast! What’s your single favorite thing about the mighty Pacific Northwest and the very best thing about the glorious south coast?

A&N: Oh, what a kind compliment, thank you! The Pacific Northwest is absolutely incredible. Both born and raised, there is just so much to appreciate. We love the sea and islands, the culture, the incredible food (especially Dungeness crab), and the majestic mountains. But the best thing about the mighty Pacific Northwest is the fact that you can drive out of the city to any number of spectacular places in just an hour or two. There are countless hidden gems for destination weddings that we love! California is also pretty amazing and we love events along the coast in San Diego and in the desert of Palm Springs. The year-round nature of events in California (except for the one unexpected November day mentioned below!) is special and you can’t beat the sunsets and cuisine. Our West Coast clients up and down the coast tend to share an underlying vision of wanting to create a true experience for their guests, so we put great emphasis on the setting, the local bounty and seafood and land food, great wines,, and showcasing the very best that our region and the coast has to offer.

AA: Can you tell us about an impossible to foresee (or just plain weird) logistical challenge and how you overcame it?
A&N: One November in San Diego we had a beautiful wedding planned on the rooftop of a beautiful hotel perched above the busy boardwalk in Pacific Beach. An unexpected and unprecedented storm came rolling in rather quickly, dumping torrential rain and gale force winds on our just-installed tent. As we were setting up the chairs, the tent (properly weighted!) started to take flight up and over the balcony, with weights and all. Nick and some of the crew quickly pulled down the tent and slashed the ceiling to let air through. They held it down until it could be taken away. We all worked extremely fast to move the ceremony into the beautiful restaurant below and dinner on the terrace protected by glass doors. Luckily as the ceremony was underway the skies parted and the sun came out, but that was the most unexpected weather incident we’ve ever encountered! Our team was swift on our feet and was so professional and cool under the pressure! It reminded us that there can never be enough back-up plans (this summer in Washington we rolled out a Plan J!). Foreseeing any potential issue before it can arise and already having a solution in place is a large part of our job.

AA: Please think back a few years: Are the any materials or themes that you were employing regularly that have completely dropped from your current repertoire? 

A&N: We love a good classically beautiful wedding with fresh and modern touches that reflect our couples. With that said, we are seeing a departure from too rustic, overly glam, and anything that can possibly look dated even a few years down the road. Our clients tend to want an extremely personal celebration that has roots in pure beauty, so we start from scratch working in details that truly mean something to them, like a special patterned china, an altar built with logs from the bride’s family home, traditions through toasts and activities, and a menu and drink experience that is expressive of them and their backgrounds. It’s refreshing and exciting that so many of today’s couples want to create their wedding vision with a totally blank canvas!

 

AA: And now for some fun: You’re stranded on a desert island with 100 other people. Thankfully, a couple of your fellow castaways have fallen in love and are getting married. You have no supplies. What five items do you wish you had and, if it’s not obvious, why?

A&N: What a great thought!

We would wish for:

  • a stereo to provide music for the celebration
  • a pallet of champagne
  • a fishing pole to catch fish to feed all of the guests a lighter to make a roaring fire (Nick’s answer)
  • a sewing kit to fashion décor from palm fronds (Aleah’s answer)