Spotlight on Marcardin Calligraphy

We sat down with Heather Brock of Marcardin Calligraphy to talk about her beginnings as a calligrapher and how she became inspired to start her own company. 

Q: “Marcardin” is such a unique name. Can you please tell us the significance of why you chose that name for your company?

HB: The name Marcardin is very dear to me because it is the name of an old family estate located in Shelbyville, Kentucky that belonged to us for over 150 years. Much like other homes and farms of that era, the estate was named by its builder, Mark Hardin. Fast forward to the early 1990s and my family was faced with the tough decision to sell it [Marcardin Farms] once my Great Aunt passed away. Most of the family memorabilia was kept in the attic; old letters and notes penned by ancestors, including those from my great uncle Mark Hardin, dated back to around 1856. All of the letters feature beautiful pen and ink calligraphy, and as an adult, the penmanship is my favorite thing to exist from that attic. I’m very fortunate to have such richly documented family history to reflect on. Marcardin, which was once known as Marcardin Farms, is now calligraphy for me.

Q: When did you first learn calligraphy and how did you know that you wanted to do it as a career?

HB: I was probably 10 or 11 when I picked up any sort of calligraphy pen for the very first time. I remember mastering (or so I thought I did) any instructional books I could get my hands on, but I moved on with other art mediums as I grew up. In my 20s I decided to pick up a pen again to learn the refined skill of pointed pen calligraphy in hopes to address my own wedding envelopes some day. When I realized how therapeutic it was to put pen to paper, I knew it was something I wanted to pursue for a long time to come.


An envelope addressed to Marcardin Estate 

Q: How long have you been based in Kentucky? Do you have a wide client base in your area, or does most of your clientele hail from elsewhere? 

HB: I was born and raised (and still reside) in Louisville, Kentucky, so I’ve always stayed put. I am very fortunate to work with some of the absolute best wedding planners and designers in the city and state, so I do get a lot of referrals through them. I also serve nationwide, working with some stationers out of New York City and Los Angeles.

Q: We see that you offer a variety of calligraphy styles for your services. Do you think that there is an even split between interest in more traditional styles versus a more modern look? img_5198

HB: I would say nine times out of ten, my clients choose my Signature style. It’s definitely more modern, but it still gives that flourished feel that can be found in some traditional styles. I’m definitely more of a modern calligrapher; traditional calligraphy, such as Spencerian and Copperplate, can take decades to master. I certainly envy my calligraphy colleagues across the world who have the patience and skill set to achieve those writing principles.

Q: You have done beautiful work on everything from outer and inner envelopes, to escort cards and menus. How do you ensure that your pieces reflect overall aesthetic of the event?
img_0083HB: I love when I’m able to help design an entire invitation suite, so it can be printed or pressed in every which way. I like to start with my bride’s ideas of what she is thinking by getting inspiration photos from her. I’ll go through my series of questions which can turn into a few different pencil sketches before I put ink to paper. I then send my work to my go-to designer to do all the digitizing for me. From there, we meet to make sure everything is set perfectly for print.



Q: We were thrilled to work with you on pieces for a Dempsey & Carroll wedding recently. How did you first hear about Dempsey & Carroll? 

HB: I was so excited to finally get my chance to calligraph the beautiful paper from Dempsey & Carroll. I’ve seen it [Dempsey & Carroll’s paper] in many areas of the wedding industry, and have always heard great reviews from other calligraphers. The paper is exquisite and I am in love with everything from the texture to the watermark logo– It’s hands down my favorite to write on.


Heather’s work for a recent Dempsey & Carroll wedding 

Our 2016 John Derian Collections

We have ushered in autumn with the exciting launch of our second collaboration with Designer John Derian. Our five new collections pair classic Dempsey & Carroll motifs with decoupage prints from Derian’s extensive archives. Some of our Dempsey & Carroll team members have offered insight into which lines are their favorites, though it is difficult to choose just one. We invite you to explore our 2016 John Derian collections so that you can discover your favorites as well!

Carolyn: “My favorite is the Fly Fisher. I love the color story, but most of all, I love how it can resonate with a consumer. For me, it reminds me of going fly fishing with my family inhp4-091216-derian-web Colorado and I’m sure it rings true for many other people all over the world!”




Lauren: “My favorite is Earth & Sky.  I love the colors and the round globe motif paired with the round map of the sky. There is a lovely balance between the latitude and longitude lines in the engraved globe and the colorful envelope liner– I love it! I am planning to order a set of 50 personalized.”


Leo: “Earth & Sky is my pick. The celestial map envelope liner reminds me of a group of vintage prints that I have been collecting for years.  Astronomical maps seem to transcend time; at once modern and vintage.  The globe engraving is wonderfully detailed, a Dempsey & Carroll classic from the archive, and the gray engraving on white paper sets off a fresh mix and match with the envelope liner.”

Megan: “My favorite collection from the new John Derian collaboration is definitely Earth & Sky.  The stunning starry night liner coupled with the beautifully detailed engraved globe motif is a stellar combination to be used for any occasion.  I am already planning on having some on hand while I am traveling this Fall!”



Evon: “I am most attracted to the John Derian Grand Tour Collection. The liner prints all display an excellent use of typography and color. Additionally, the crops of the liners are dynamic, providing just enough insight into these historic hotels, but yet still leaving much to the imagination.”


Ariel: “I really love all of the new John Derian products, but my personal favorite is Blue Coral. I have always loved spending time in Florida at the hp1-090116-derian-webbeach, and the stunning coral artwork brings back amazing memories from my family vacations”




Emma:” It is difficult to choose a favorite, but I am definitely favoring Tea Salon at the moment. I love how it pairs our classic tea cup motif with John Derian’s vintage Frehp1-091216-derian-webnch architecture-inspired patterns for the envelope lining. This collection brings back memories of living abroad in France, where afternoons were often spent studying in baroque-style salons de thé.”





Weekend Getaways

Labor Day is seen as the last hurrah of summer before the busyness of fall sets in. Some of the Dempsey & Carroll team shared where they chose to spend their Holiday Weekend and what made their time enjoyable.

Rye, NY 

“I love taking the train up to Westchester for the weekends. It’s so close to the city, but feels like it’s a world away! Heading to Rye Town Beach on Friday nights in the summer is one of my favorite things to do –- Rye Playland does a firework show each Friday night, which is the perfect way to end a night after walking along the shore.”


Rye Town Beach

Montauk , NY

“It was a great way to escape the heat in the city and have some fun at the beach. There great seafood to be had at The Surf Lodge and Navy Beach!”



Gateway National Recreation Area, NY

“As my partner and I prepare for a big trip in just a few weeks, we stayed around town over the holiday weekend,  but did spend a great deal of time in the squares and riverside. We also went out to the bird sanctuary on Broad Channel Island which is part of the Gateway National Recreation Area. It’s near the Rockaways so you feel these wonderful sea breezes. It was a wonderful time to visit because this is when you see the juveniles.


A Snowy Egret

A particularly great sighting was of the snowy egret juveniles that are so slight that they almost disappear, and of course the osprey were circling and diving and then soaring off with the catch of the day.”







The Jersey Shore, NJ 

“Labor Day weekend is bittersweet no matter where you spend it, but at least this sunset helped. I was also really glad the hurricane never came.”


Sunset on the Jersey Shore


The US Open, NY

I spent summer’s last gasp in town. I had a wonderful time on “the middle Saturday” at The Open. The Grandstand court is an instant classic, super intimate, tucked off the
beaten path with the seats sunken below grade. It also has dedicated bars, and shops. I loved finding my friend Bill Draddy’s ‘B.Draddy’ shirts on sale, snagged this Rhys Stripe number.”



Cold Spring, NY

Processed with VSCO with c1 preset

Cold Spring

“I went to Cold Spring with my family. It’s a super quaint town and I loved how close knit the community is there and the unique antique shops. The view was also stunning!”




Block Island, RI


The Southeast Lighthouse

“Spending time on ‘The Block’ is a family tradition and it is refreshing to see that much of the island has remained unchanged. You can rent a bike for a morning ride through town to grab coffee and a pastry from Aldo’s Bakery before heading to Town Beach to relax and swim. When the weather isn’t nice enough for swimming, it makes for a wonderful reason to hike around the Mohegan Bluffs and the Southeast Lighthouse. The 1661 Inn Restaurant is the perfect place to dine for a special occasion as it is tucked away from the main part of town.”


The Ice Cream Place, Block Island


(Save some room for a cone from The Ice Cream Place for dessert!)

The Hendrick’s Gin Cucumber Southside

Summer is not quite over yet! We’re inspired by our new collaboration with Hendrick’s Gin to toast Labor Day Weekend with a refreshing Southside. Follow the recipe below and enjoy!

Hendrick’s Gin Cucumber Southside

Ingredients:Southside picture

1 ½ parts Hendrick’s Gin

¾ parts Fresh lemon juice

¾ parts simple syrup

4 mint leaves

3 English cucumber wheels



Add ice to shaker.  Crush ice and muddle repeatedly.  Add all ingredients, shake well, and strain into a Collins glass with ice. Garnish 1 English cucumber wheel and 1 mint sprig.



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.


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.


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! 


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.



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.


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.


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!


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