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.

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

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!

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