The U.S Postal Service honors Oscar de la Renta

Fashion meets mail with the beautiful new stamps honoring fashion icon Oscar de la Renta. The official Dedication Ceremony on February 16th, 2017 was a momentous occasion that brought together people from all different industries in honoring the late designer. We were thrilled to attend the event, which featured remarks by Oscar de La Renta CEO Alexander Bolen, Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Artistic Director of Conde Nast and Editor-in-Chief of Vogue Anna Wintour, and Secretary Hillary Clinton.

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Photo: U.S Postal Service

Janice D. Walker, Vice President of Corporate Communications for USPS, led the official stamp dedication and lauded de la Renta’s innovative designs and leadership in the fashion industry.

“Like Oscar de la Renta, handwritten letters never go out of style,” remarked Walker. The timelessness of handwritten letters rings true as we head into our 139th year as a proud New York company.

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(l-r) Alexander Bolen, Michael Bloomberg, Anna Wintour, Hillary Clinton, Janice Walker, Anderson Cooper (photo: Getty Images)

Following the ceremony, we had a chance to learn more about the stamp design process from Xavier C. Hernandez, a Communications Specialist and spokesperson for the USPS.

Can you tell us a bit more about who decides on the new stamps that are released?

 The stamp development team vets the ideas and does the design work, but the Postmaster General ultimately decides the next catalog of stamps for the year.

 During Anna Wintour’s speech, she exclaimed that de la Renta wasn’t a big letter writer, but how does the USPS see the connection between writing and fashion?

 The greater picture is that the Postal Service likes to honor American icons and their influence on American culture, especially for our commemorative stamp series.

 We’ve found that there is definitely a younger generation celebrating the art of letter writing in the age of emails and text messages. How does the USPS work to keep people interested in sending mail?

 There are so many great stamps out right now because we want to encourage people to write as many letters as possible. We have a JFK stamp coming out on President’s day and we just released new stamps for the Chinese New Year. We like to incorporate all different facets of American culture to be as inclusive as possible.

 It was incredible to see the turnout for this dedication event with people from all different industries!

 It’s wonderful to see a turnout like this for the official release of these commemorative stamp because our goal to bring everyone together. We are lucky that this wound up happening during Fashion Week so it has some relevance to timeliness.

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Thank you to the U.S Postal Service for the beautiful new stamps honoring Mr. de la Renta. We look forward to adding a fashionable touch to our envelopes!

National Handwriting Day 2017

Our handwriting’s just one of the many facets of ourselves.

January 23rd is officially known as “National Handwriting Day” as it falls on the birthday of John Hancock, the first person to sign The Declaration of Independence. The Writing Instrument Manufacturers Association started this holiday in 1977 to acknowledge the history of penmanship and to recognize the importance of handwritten notes.

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We continue to celebrate the art of the handwritten note and the individuality of each person’s handwriting. We hope that this holiday inspires you to put pen to paper and join the tradition! We’ve included a few of our favorite quotes about writing below, though we look forward to hearing from our followers as well.

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“And the idea of just wandering off to a cafe with a notebook and writing and seeing where that takes me for awhile is just bliss.” – J. K. Rowling

“Writing, to me, is simply thinking through my fingers.” – Isaac Asimov

“True ease in writing comes from art, not chance, as those who move easiest have learned to dance.” – Alexander Pope

 “Writing gives a sort of immortality to all other things.” -Richard Herring

“My two fingers on a typewriter have never connected with my brain. My hand on a pen does. A fountain pen, of course.” – Graham Greene 

Please feel free to share your handwritten notes on social media by tagging @dempseycarroll on instagram or twitter and using the #NationalHandwritingDay hashtag to celebrate with us.

Holiday Cards: A Brief History

Did you know that December 9th is known as “Christmas Card Day” to honor the anniversary of the first commercially sold holiday card? We found this article by John Hanc to be very helpful in its thorough account of the history of holiday cards.

During the 1800s in England, the British postal service introduced the “Penny Post” system which allowed people to send a letter anywhere in the country by affixing a penny stamp to the envelope. Sir Henry Cole, prominent patron of the arts and founder of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, found it difficult to keep up with the piles of mail that he would receive during the holiday season.

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Sir Cole’s first Christmas Card

Cole hit on an ingenious idea [in 1843]. He approached an artist friend, J.C. Horsley, and asked him to design an idea that Cole had sketched out in his mind. Cole then took Horsley’s illustration—a triptych showing a family at table celebrating the holiday flanked by images of people helping the poor—and had a thousand copies made by a London printer. The image was printed on a piece of stiff cardboard 5 1/8 x 3 1/4 inches in size. At the top of each was the salutation, “TO:_____” allowing Cole to personalize his responses, which included the generic greeting “A Merry Christmas and A Happy New Year To You.”

Many of Cole’s Victorian aristocratic contemporaries started to send out their own Christmas cards in the following years, and the trend reached The United States several decades later. The custom of sending holiday cards quickly became an integral part of the season, and people would line up at card shops in order to catch a glimpse of the newest designs for that year.

Dempsey & Carroll’s founding in 1878 coincided with the recent boom in popularity for Holiday Cards. In our 1880 book The Art of Correspondence, Messrs. Dempsey & Carroll published the press release to announce their new holiday collections.

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We have imported the most elegant Christmas Cards ever brought to this city. We call your attention to the fact that WE SHALL OPEN ABOUT DECEMBER FIRST an assortment of fine Christmas Cards excelling anything ever offered. LAST SEASON A GREAT NUMBER OF OUR PATRONS were disappointed that they purchased elsewhere before seeing ours; stating that ours were the handsomest they had seen. Please call early to avoid the crush that delay occasions.

138 years later, we still take great pride in unveiling our new designs for the holiday season. In modern times, however, our new collections are usually done with production by the end of June and are on display for the press by mid-July. Many of our clients are already looking to order their Holiday cards by early fall so as not to feel rushed in December.

We’ve expanded upon our offerings in recent years by combining multiple printing techniques for many of our new holiday collections. Our commitment to providing the highest quality of craftsmanship to our clients remains strong as we continue to creative beautiful designs for 2017 and beyond.

Though technology has greatly changed since Sir Cole’s first Christmas card in 1843, the joy of sending holiday cards to family and friends is a feeling that transcends time.

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.

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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.

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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.”

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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!”

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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.”

 

 

 

 

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 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