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.

In the Mail: A “When-to” for Wedding Invitations

The beginning of a new year marks the beginning of a new wedding season.  Dempsey & Carroll’s Austin Ackles answers some of the frequently asked questions about the most optimal timelines for ordering and sending wedding invitations. 

Congratulations! You’re getting married, you’ve locked down your dream location, and now you need to spread the word. Here are a few tips for a wrinkle-free work flow that will result in perfectly timed wedding paper.

 

When is the best time to send Save the Dates?

Save the Dates are usually sent anywhere between six and twelve months before the event. Consider sending them out on the early side if your wedding is in a location with limited flights and accommodations such as Aspen or St. Barts. If the wedding is located in New York City, six months ahead is usually fine. Be sure to include the hotel block information with the Save the Date and not later with the invitation because that’s when guests need it most. If everyone is invited to Friday night festivities and Sunday brunch, call it a “Save the Weekend” so that your lucky guests will know to book a longer weekend.

 

OK, my Save the Date is in the mail! When do I need to start the wedding invitation process?

Trusty sources say that invitations should be posted between six and eight weeks before the wedding, but here at Dempsey & Carroll, our clients generally prefer eight weeks out. Working backwards, producing fine engraved papers with hand finishes takes about six weeks and calligraphy of the envelopes takes  a minimum of two or three weeks. For design time, allow about three weeks. Faster results are certainly possible when required, but to get the most enjoyment out of the process, come to see us at least five months in advance of your big day for a stress-free, luxurious experience of a lifetime!

 

And what about the paper I need for the day of?

We usually start working on menus, welcome notes, ceremony program booklets, escort cards, and place cards right after we send the wedding invitations to print. All the paper then has a congruent feel for a perfectly polished wedding!

 

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.

Letter Writing Day 2016

The art of the handwritten note is something that we have cherished here at Dempsey & Carroll since our founding in 1878. In celebration of December 7th being declared “Letter Writing Day”, we wanted to share our thoughts on what inspires us to write letters.

Megan: “To send a letter is a good way to go somewhere without moving anything but your heart.”  – Phyllis Theroux width=

Carolyn: I love seeing other people’s handwriting! It’s your very own style–no one else can write the same way–To me, that’s one of the coolest things ever!

Austin: Perhaps my favorite thing about receiving a handwritten note comes years later when looking through a shoe box filled with them and having a special moment come back alive.

Ariel: I have always cherished the art of the handwritten note as it serves as a means to make sentiments tangible. Every letter I receive serves as a keepsake that I will forever appreciate.

Emma: There’s a wonderful quote by Haruki Murakami that speaks to my love of the handwritten note: “How wonderful it is to be able to write someone a letter! To feel like conveying your thoughts to a person, to sit at your desk and pick up a pen,
to put your thoughts into words like this is truly marvelous.”

Umara: For my contribution, I join Megan in citing the wise words of Phyllis Theroux: “To send a letter is a good way to go somewhere without moving anything but your heart.” In a day and age where technology has taken over and everything is done instantly, the art of taking the time to write a letter is something that really does require deep thought and care from one’s heart.

Marina: Hand writing letters brings back some of the fondest memories of my childhood. I loved sitting at the dining room table with my mother, eating snacks while she wrote letters to our friends and family overseas while we discussed what to write.

Chandra: With all of the alternative forms of communication that exist today, it’s easy to think that letter writing may eventually become a lost art. On account of that, I’ve found the significance of written correspondence has increased, becoming that much more unique, genuine, beautiful and appreciated.

Leo: My father and I spent an afternoon in the store selecting these note cards for him. It was great fun not least because they suit him perfectly and were hardly a first choice. Notes from him on these cards will always remind me how much I admire him.leo

We now invite you to reflect upon your favorite things about handwritten notes. Please feel free to share your own anecdotes with us on social media and be sure to tag our accounts!

Instagram: @dempseycarroll

Twitter: @dempseycarroll

Facebook Page: Dempsey & Carroll

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.

Reply Cards Made Easy

Dempsey & Carroll’s Austin Ackles discusses the many forms that reply cards have taken on as modern wedding etiquette has evolved. We invite you to explore our wedding site to view our inspiration gallery and learn more about our offerings. 

Response cards are a relatively new addition to wedding suites. In the past, those invited would know to respond and would do so on their own engraved stationery.

 

Generally, reply cards come in two varieties.The simplest and most classic reply card might only have “The favor of a reply is requested” engraved along the bottom though most of our clients add a date, resulting in something like “Kindly reply by June 8th.”

 

Next, there are those reply cards that are more form-like with check-offs. Disliked by some, preferred by others who consider them more fail-safe, these cards typically have a minimum of four lines of text: The “M” serves as a prompt for the would-be guest to write her name, a line each to select “Happily accepts” or “Regretfully declines.”The last line usually includes the “reply by” date. reply-card-1

Depending on the arrangement with the caterer, a host may need to have check-offs for meal choices. If there are other events, separate lines may be needed for indicating attendance to those as well. At Dempsey & Carroll, we’ve done reply cards with over a dozen possible selections.

Keep in mind when hosting, the simplest reply card will get you the most novel responses back and they will make wonderful keepsakes. If you have creative friends, all the better!

Now It’s Your Turn To Reply?

Always remember that you’re addressing the host, not the guest of honor.

bermuda-reply-1For example: “Dear Mrs. Wilcox, I deeply regret that we will not be able to attend your daughter’s wedding but will most certainly be toasting from afar. Warmly, Helen Schlegel”

When replying, there are just two essential things you’ll be communicating: who you are and whether you’re coming or not. Consider using a tone that is consistent with the invitation design and wording. While you are obligated to reply, you do not have to give a reason if you cannot attend.

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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