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!

Vintage Valentine’s Day Greetings

The roots of Valentine’s Day can be traced back to Ancient Rome, though the modern incarnation of the Holiday didn’t begin until the turn of the 19th century.This article in Town & Country Magazine illustrates a brief history of how Valentine’s Day has evolved and why the tradition of sending greeting cards has become a fixture of the season.

We love looking back at vintage Valentine’s Day cards from the 19th and 20th centuries to see changing trends. Many of the bold illustrations and puns of the past have given way to more subtle designs, though we can’t help but smile when we look at how people have expressed their love through the ages.

Please feel free to share some of your favorite Valentine’s Day cards that you have received over the years and tag us on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook.

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.

The Art of the Condolence Note

The New York Times published an article, “The Art of Condolence,” about the importance of handwritten sympathy notes in the digital age. Our Creative Director Leo Mascotte offers some of his insight into how to properly craft a thoughtful sympathy note.

There are few pieces of correspondence one wants to write less than those sent to express sympathy, though notes of condolence are likely to be saved and cherished by the recipient. As an essential tool of communication, they allow the sender and recipient simultaneous access and remove, crucial during difficult and often demanding times.

1) Your starting point should be informed by how well you knew the deceased and how well you know the person to whom you write.  Let the note’s opening express your emotional reaction to the news of your recipient’s loss.  This may take many forms, from the shock of reacting to unexpected events, to a sort of relief-tinged sorrow that may accompany the loss that follows a prolonged illness.

2) It is important to offer a description of your own feelings, as they will often mirror those felt by your reader.  Avoid blanket phrases and resist the urge to detach.  Offering a window into your own feelings will help to validate the flood of emotions confronting the grieving.

3) When addressing someone not well known to you, include a line indicating your connection to the deceased.  A note of this type can be thoughtfully composed with your introduction at its core.

4) Writing to those most dear can prove especially difficult.   Write an anecdote about or memory of the deceased into the heart of your note.   Ideally, your story would be new to your addressee.  The most memorable notes are often the most offhand, narratives that draw energy from the everyday and bestow ease with a voice that is familiar.  Perhaps you might recall a favor bestowed, or laughter shared.  Describe a party at which you were a guest, or retell sport, either shared or observed.   Sensory references are especially enriching.  Commend the dapper, highlight a distinctive gait, savor the pleasures of grill or garden.  Allow your telling to become a description of the way you will remember.

Etiquette requires acknowledgement of the receipt of a condolence note by the recipient.  This may take the form of boxed cards or notes, though bespoke options are also available.  Stationery printed to meet these needs traditionally uses white or ecru stock and black ink paired with classic typestyles.

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 

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!

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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Love: A History

At Dempsey & Carroll, Valentine’s Day is a particularly exciting holiday.  A recent article in People highlighted the history of this holiday, and how Valentine’s Day cards came to be, with the first cards dating back to the third century. We love sweet handwritten sentiments, but for us, what’s most interesting about Valentine’s Day is the chance to go through some of the books written and published by our founders, Messrs. Dempsey & Carroll, in the late 1800s. We have compiled some of our favorite quotes about love in honor of the upcoming holiday.

“Love is the desire that good be forever present to us” – Socrates

This quote is emblazoned on the title page of Messrs. Dempsey & Carroll’s 1883 publication “Love”, a collection of love letters and love sentiments from the ages.

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In an extract of a letter from General George Washington to Miss Nellie Custis, he advises in choosing a husband.

Love is said to be an involuntary passion, and it is, therefore, contented that it cannot be resisted. This is true in part only, for like all things else, when nourished and supplied plentifully with aliment, it is rapid in its progress; but let these be withdrawn, and it may be stifled in its growth.

We see that many of the sentiments expressed in the letters express the same passion that Washington described to Miss Custis.

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How great soever may be the bounties I have received, the joy I feel in being loved by a king whom I adore, and to whom I would with pleasure make a sacrifice of my heart, if fortune had rendered it worthy of being offered to him, will ever be infinitely greater.

– Anne Boleyn to Henry VIII, 1528

 

It is the hardest thing in the world to be in love, and yet attend to business. As for me, all who speak to me find it out, and I must lock myself up, or other people will do it for me…

…Methinks I could write a volume to you; but all the language on earth would fail in saying how much, and with what disinterested passion, I am ever yours.

– Sir Richard Steele to Mary Scurlock, 1708

 

Your letter gave me more delight than anything in the world but yourself could do; indeed, I am almost astonished that any absent one should have that luxurious power over my senses which I feel. Even when I am not thinking of you I receive your influence and a tenderer nature stealing upon me.

– John Keats to Fanny Brawne, 1819

 

Real Weddings: Suzanne and Daniel

Suzanne Schueller and Daniel Gottlander

July 25, 2015

Saint Anne’s Church

Mackinac Island, Michigan

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On a breezy Friday evening, welcome cocktails with incomparable views of the Straits of Mackinac thrilled guests on the East Front Porch of the legendary Grand Hotel. A lively dinner followed in the hotel’s grand yet still intimate Cottage Restaurant.GrandHotel_East_Front_Porch

Then, on the big day and an absolutely perfect July Saturday, Suzanne and Daniel exchanged vows in Saint Anne’s Church. Ste._Anne's_Catholic_Church_on_Mackinac_Island[1](The parish used a historic log church for over a century but the current church complex dates from 1874.) Revelry followed the ceremony at the Grand Hotel’s charming outpost, Woods. Located a short carriage ride into the wooded interior of the island, Woods, housed in an opulent Tudor mansion with Bavarian charm, proved the perfect hideaway for dinner and dancing.Schueller_Coach_WoodsSchuellerCoach

Historic Mackinac Island, located between the upper and lower peninsulas of Michigan where two Great Lakes meet, is under four square miles and has a year round population of fewer than 500 people. One of the island’s famed Victorian houses has been in the family for generations. Motorized vehicles were only briefly allowed on the island and have been prohibited since 1898. No Uber here; bicycles and elegant horse-drawn carriages are the norm.

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With Suzanne’s parents, Shannon and Dean, Dempsey & Carroll was pleased to create the most classic engraved foldover invitations, reception cards, and response card sets as well as several short stacks of lovely ceremony program booklets bound by ivory silk ribbon. For Daniel’s parents, Eva and Robert, we created an inspired rehearsal dinner invitation in our vibrant peacock blue ink. Delightful papers for a splendid series of events. Congratulations, Suzanne and Daniel!Schueller_InformationCard-web

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Photography: Sara Wright

Wedding Video: William Erwin