140 Years of Dempsey & Carroll

In honor of Dempsey & Carroll’s 140th Birthday, our CEO, Lauren Marrus, wanted to share a few words on how we are continuing the legacy of our founders while making traditions modern. Cheers to 140 years! 

140 years ago today, two men, John Dempsey, a talented engraver, and George Carroll, a savvy businessman came together to found Dempsey & Carroll.  Their mission still remains at the core of our business today:  to provide luxury writing papers along with advice on etiquette and proper decorum in a variety of social settings.  To the founders, the social institutions of correspondence and etiquette were inseparable, and they saw Dempsey & Carroll as the ideal marriage of the two.

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Today, we celebrate both how far the business has come in these 140 years, and how dedicated we remain to our craft – many of our presses from the early 20th century are still in use today.  And, while, we are no longer on 14th Street in Union Square, we still call New York City our home.

Our team today uses the core values that John Dempsey and George Carroll put in place over fourteen decades ago to work together with our clients to make traditions modern.  The calling cards of John Dempsey and George Carroll’s time meant to announce a visitor are now used to share Instagram handles.

Formal dinners, once a regular event, are now more relaxed and seating arrangements and place cards are more about lively conversation and table adornment than matchmaking and social status.

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The impression of the handwritten note on the finest engraved paper has never been more meaningful.

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We thank you for being a part of our history and we invite you to join us in making traditions modern for many years to come.

— Lauren Marrus, CEO of Dempsey & Carroll

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!

In 1883, Messrs. Dempsey & Carroll published LOVE

LOVE’S POWER

Then, more than blest I fondly swear,

“No power can with Love’s power compare!

None in the starry court of Jove

Is greater than the god of Love!

If any can yet greater be,

Yes, my Neaera! Yes, ‘tis thee!”

Nott.

LOVE Book

An Invitation that Speaks a Thousand Words

Sometimes the key to unlocking our own history is found in the unlikeliest of ways. For California resident Mark Harrison, a beautiful discovery led him to a deeper understanding of his heritage and how it contributes to the person he is today.

A few years ago, Harrison discovered an invitation created by Dempsey & Carroll in 1888 at his aunt’s home for a party hosted by Harrison’s great-great grandfather. The party was held at Russell’s barn for the sole purpose of entertaining his close friends in his social circle.

The original engraved invitation for Russell's  celebration at his barn.

The original engraved invitation for Russell’s celebration at his barn.

Harrison’s interest in his genealogy led him to read his great-great grandfather’s autobiography, The Romance and Tragedy of a Widely Known Business Man of New York at his grandmother’s home in New Jersey. With the turn of each page, Harrison dove deeper into the world of his great-great grandfather, William Ingraham Russell, a successful metals broker in the late 19th century.

Russell, a beloved member of his community and a self-made man, wrote of his hard work, his devotion to his wife, and his life in the Millburn and Short Hills community located in New Jersey. He owned a large property on Knollwood, where he built a lovely home and barn designed by the architectural firm Lamb & Rich. Harrison was always fascinated by his great-great grandfather’s barn, which housed Russell’s horses and carriages and was later transformed into an inn in the 1920s.

Drawing of William Ingraham Russell’s home and barn in Millburn

Drawing of William Ingraham Russell’s home and barn in Millburn

 

The invitation to Russell’s barn dance is referenced in The Romance and Tragedy of a Widely Known Business Man of New York:

Excerpt: “My combination carriage-house and stable was architecturally a very handsome building, and in its interior every detail, useful and ornamental, had received careful attention. The building cost me about seven thousand dollars, but judging from its appearance and size my neighbors thought that my investment was larger. As it approached completion I suggested to my wife the idea of giving a barn-dance, something unique in the annals of Knollwood. We immediately went into a committee of two on plans and scope and as a result evolved an evening of surprise and delight for our friends. The invitations, engraved in usual note-sheet form, had on the upper half of the page a fine engraving of the front of the stable, and beneath in old English, “Come and dance in the barn.” We received our guests in the hall and drawing-room, fragrant with blooming plants. From a rear piazza a carpeted and canvas-enclosed platform extended across the lawn to the carriage-house. The floor had been covered with canvas for the dancers. Brilliantly illuminated, in addition to the permanent decorations, a life-sized jockey in bronze bas-relief and numerous coaching pictures, was the work of the florist. The large orchestra was upstairs surrounding the open carriage trap, which was concealed from below by masses of smilax.”

Harrison, whose middle name is Russell, believes that his given middle name is symbolic of his great-great grandfather’s work ethic and his commitment to being a contributing member of society. Russell’s invitation is a reflection of the responsible, thoughtful, and sociable man he was and who Mark Harrison is today.

 

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