Last month, we received an email with the subject “A special request.” It was from a woman named Jana about her mother-in-law, an avid letter writer named Annabelle.
Our iconic Signet Collection is inspired by classic symbolism. While the words you provide will certainly inspire, one should never shy away from stationery with a story.
Pineapple: A symbol of hospitality, the pineapple was once considered quite the commodity. Had you been a member of the New England elite or a sailor home from duty, the exotic fruit was often displayed proudly at home. We like to think it still is — in the form of a thoughtful note to the gracious hostess or new neighbor.
Wheat: A symbol of bounty and prosperity, a bushel of wheat is often referred to as ‘giving grain.’ While it is said that the giving of such grain was the impetus for the wedding cake, a message coupled with such a motif is certainly appropriate for any occasion. Frosting excluded, of course.
Palm Branches: A symbol of victory, palm branches were often given to winners of prestigious games and military battles in Rome. Thus, such an image is the perfect accompaniment to a note of congratulations for a diploma or promotion well deserved.
Gingko: A symbol of strength and longevity, the gingko tree has rightly earned such notoriety by its ability to often live for 1,000 years. Thus, a note to a friend in need of an encouraging word is surely the perfect pairing for this spirited motif.
We’re quite proud of the fact that we’re an American company making products in America. It’s what we were founded on and what we hope to continue to do for centuries to come.
It isn’t uncommon, then, to see lovely and plentiful displays of patriotism as one wanders through our factories. Below are just a handful of such displays we think you might enjoy perusing, especially as we go into Memorial Day Weekend. Go ahead, hum “You’re a Grand Old Flag” while you do…
1) Red, White & Blue With a View
The Great Gatsby premiered this past weekend, and so in honor of all the glitz, glamour and oh-so fashionable wardrobes that came with it, we present our favorite vintage Crane & Co. ads from one of our favorite eras. We think Daisy and Jay would approve.
We like to think this is the kind of note Daisy would have written to her cousin, Nick, enticing him to return to New York for an evening (or evenings) of Champagne and boisterous banter into the wee hours.
This post is the first in a new series we’re calling “From the Archives.” We’ve been the choice of stationery for presidents and princes, dignitaries and duchesses, starlets and CEOs. We like to think this is the case because not only have we been making fine papers since 1801, but also because of our commitment to classic craftsmanship and attention to detail. As we like to say, when it’s Crane, it’s right.
Many people don’t know that we have often printed the stationery, invitations and announcements for the White House. So we thought we would highlight a selection of our favorites here. Take a look, and feel fee to envision yourself receiving one of these in the post box. We know we did.
- A Presidential dinner invitation
Being around for more than 200 years will build quite an archive. It’s an absolute delight to sift through old engraving dies, ledgers and, our favorite, advertisements. We had advertisements geared toward the “Business Man,” the “Presidents of Savings Banks” and, of course, brides. Ones highlighting the fact that our paper is made from cotton rags. Ones highlighting how great it is to use with a typewriter. And ones about what using Crane says about you (hint: really good things).
Below are some of our favorites…
1. For your paper trousseau: This ad from the 50’s spoke to the classic bride, suggesting the kinds of papers she should use for her wedding and beyond. “Assures correctness… confers distinction” is the tagline, assuring her that choosing Crane is both proper and special.
2. Wedding gifts by telephone: This print ad from 1924 plays to the aspirational woman and her desire to make the most proper impression. No well-bred girl would do such a thing, the ad suggests of acknowledging wedding gifts by telephone. She also wouldn’t type her wedding invitations, send a “dowdy letter of acceptance” for a party or write a letter on “the only paper you could find,” and instead lives by this ad’s tagline: “Style is a greater social asset than beauty.”
3. What does the letter say, Jean? The dialog in this ad — printed in The Ladies’ Home Journal in 1921 — is between two girlfriends or sisters, discussing a letter the one has just received. When asked what the letter said, the recipient’s response is that the letter says the writer has “good taste” and “a fine appreciation of what is correct.” Of course, the punchline is that the recipient is referring to what the paper (Crane, of course) says about the sender, ending with this mantra: “Writing paper tells much more than many people think.”
4. Stationery should reflect station: We love the angle this 1926 ad takes when appealing to the “Business Man.” The copy sets the scene, a meeting between the Business Man and his lithographer. The latter suggests Crane, suggesting that one’s stationery should reflect one’s station in life. The former balks at paying more for his letterhead. The lithographer’s pitch: A company should take its paper “out of the classification of office expense and put it in the advertising and selling budget.”
5. To the Presidents of Savings Banks: This ad from 1936 is one of our favorites because of how well it represents a time very much in the past — a time when relationship between banker and bank account customer was more than just the Customer Service contact on a website. The ad suggests using Crane to send letters of welcome to “new depositors” as well as to keep in touch with old customers, as “no other paper lends so much dignity and distinction to correspondence.”
Care to see more of our vintage advertisements? They’re all available to peruse on our Pinterest board!
Give Us Liberty
More than 200 years ago, Stephen Crane decided to make a statement. And it wasn’t with his fashion forward breeches or well-groomed mutton chops. It was, rather, with the name of a paper mill he opened in 1770. He called it the Liberty Paper Mill and, for purveyors of our American heritage, was named so just two years after the British occupied Boston. – and just five miles away. A tres bold move, if we do say so ourselves.
Without the help of many outstanding women, Crane & Co. wouldn’t be the esteemed company it is today. She hand-borders personalized notes and cards with meticulous care. She speaks with customers to make sure each and every order is exactly what they’d hoped for and more. They letterpress. They design. They crunch numbers.
In honor of Mother’s Day, we asked our female staffers to recall their favorite quotes from their own mothers, grandmothers & even great-grandmothers. What transpired were missives on everything from fellows and fashion to dreams and decorum.
Enjoy, and Happy Mother’s Day!
- “When you educate a mother, you educate a family.”
- “Attitudes are more important than facts.”
- “On a galloping horse, who’s going to notice?”
- “If two people agree on everything, then one of them’s not necessary.”
From Gayle: “In all my years, I never got a card or letter from my grandmother (Merle Bottoms) on behalf of herself and daddy Jim (my grandfather) that didn’t end with the phrase ‘We love you and are so proud of you.’
This has sustained me and many members of my family during times good and bad. A few years ago, after she died at the age of 97, I scanned an old letter and printed the phrase (on Crane paper, of course) and framed it for my siblings and cousins so we can be reminded of their love for us.”
Whether one considers a handwritten note or invitation a nostalgic luxury he or she refuses to give up, or simply a staple of any proper stationery wardrobe, all would agree that engraving is the grande dame of printing processes.
And so, we went on a mission to piece together the history of engraving. There is, we found, quite a bit of information available on the engraving of images, which goes back a long, long time: cavemen did it; so did the Egyptians.
But we were more curious about that point in history when someone thought, My, wouldn’t this piece of paper that I’m sending look so much lovelier engraved?