Post Script: J. Saunders, Crane Stationery Director of Operations

J. Saunders likes organization. He listens to Podcasts on the subject. He has “medium term goals.” And he was just hired as Crane Stationery’s Director of Operations. The Maine native is in the process of moving from Kennebunk, Maine — where he managed William Arthur’s amending and boxed product manufacturing — to North Adams, Massachusetts, where he will be in charge of all manufacturing. Which, of course, will require a lot of doing what he enjoys: organizing.

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Post Script: Letters from Lauren’s Lauren Kay

Lauren Kay will write you a letter: All you have to do is ask. The New York resident has penned requested missives to her childhood sitter’s daughter and a high school boyfriend’s little sister, just to name a couple, as well as unrequested — yet very much appreciated, we’re sure — ones to her own friends and family. One can read about her correspondence escapades — and request one of his or her own — on her few-years-old site, Letters From Lauren. Here, Nora Ephron’s biggest fan talks big zip codes, love letters and her favorite scene from When Harry Met Sally (hint: it doesn’t take place in a diner).

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When did your interest in the epistolary world begin?
It all started with box of Crane & Co. engraved ecru stationery, a gift from my grandmother. I was nine. It came with a fancy pink pen, which I was only allowed to use for proper correspondence. In hindsight, it was all a ploy to get me writing thank-you notes (I grew up down south where manners were practiced with emphasis). But it worked! And I’ve been writing letters ever since.

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Post Script: Dan Morgan, Typesetter Extraordinaire

In a previous life, Dan Morgan worked in a photo lab. Now, the Donaldson, PA, native is the one taking the pictures — his website shows off his stellar work — and uses his keen eye for detail during his day job as a typesetter in our stationery factory.

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How did you end up at Crane?
I was working at a photo lab at the time and actually saw the job in a Valpack ad for a typesetter position.

What exactly does a typesetter do?
A typesetter’s job is to make a customer’s stationery design work for what they want — even when they may not know it’s what they want. For example, we have requests sometimes to “please use your discretion and make it look good.” I love those types of jobs, because I can use my creativity and tweak the layout or sizes to make it look great. I write those job numbers down and check after a few weeks to see if they’ve returned the proof and what comments they had about the design I came up with.

Do you have a favorite or memorable design?
Well, every job is special for somebody — we all want to make our mark — but I did enjoy working on an order that featured an engraved Redskins helmet logo, because I’m a football fan.

engraved redskins cardSince you’re looking at type styles all day, do you find yourself critiquing them when you’re not working?
[Laughs.] I do. When I’m driving, I’ll notice the fonts on highway signs.

Have a question for Dan? Email our Crane Concierge at concierge@crane.com.

Post Script: ThxThxThx’s Leah Dieterich

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Leah Dieterich is gracious every day. It isn’t that she is regularly showered with gifts or good deeds, but rather the thxthxthx.com founder is just thankful for the little things: Tote Bags (“for being gender-neutral purses”) and a New Longboard (“for allowing my afterwork exercise to be considered play”), to name just a couple.

Her notes of gratitude can be followed on Twitter and read in her new book. Here, Dieterich talks with us about long distance letters, being a lefty and why a signature is her favorite part of the writing process.

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Post Script: The Elements of Style’s Annie Dean

Peter & Annie Xmas Card 2012 blogAs a child, Annie Dean’s grandmother would encourage her granddaughter to practice handshakes and such polite phrases as “How do you do?” So it was inevitable, perhaps, that this month the 27-year-old Manhattan-ite launched The Elements of Style, a blog celebrating “etiquette, entertaining and everyday glamour.”

There, purveyors of all things proper will find everything from classic cocktail recipes to cleaning tricks. Here, you’ll find more interesting tidbits about Annie, such as why she favors unlocked doors and why there isn’t an etiquette rule she wouldn’t break.

When did your interest in the epistolary world begin?
My mother required me to send thank you notes since before I could sign my name. In the beginning, I would dictate. I also loved receiving letters from my grandmother even as a very little girl, but I could never read her cursive! The funny thing is my handwriting looks just like hers now. 

Why do you enjoy writing correspondence?
I love to write. And I love the good things in life. Stationery and letter writing add loveliness to life for all types of people in all types of situations. When you take the time to write a letter you take the time to share something genuine of yourself, which isn’t that common.

What is your favorite step in the process of written correspondence?
Dropping it in the mailbox!

If you could be pen pals with anyone in history, to whom would you write and what would you say?
Probably Mozart. I’d ask what it sounds like in his head. Does he hear the instruments one at a time? Or is it a symphony right from the start? Is it loud? Does he hear it in spurts? I’d like to talk to a lot of people, though. I have a lot of questions.

To whom do you most often write?
Well now, to my readers on The Elements of Style. But in terms of handwritten notes, I send thank you notes to all sorts of people all the time. Many notes of thanks for dinners or little gifts (we entertain a lot so we receive many). I probably send two per week.

Describe the most memorable letter you have ever received.
My husband and I met because we were both tenants in the same building (our doorman set us up!). At that time I was in law school and always in and out, and had a tendency to leave my apartment door unlocked. In the first month that we started dating, Peter rushed out to buy Crane stationery (he thought it was the most classic!) and a calligrapher’s pen and practiced writing script. I found the scrap paper with a cursive alphabet! He would write me little notes and leave them in my apartment, sometimes with flowers or little presents. I know I should have locked my door, but after that I just couldn’t bring myself to make it a habit!

What makes a particular letter stand out from a stack of cards?
Oh you can tell right away when it’s a ‘real’ letter, can’t you! A ‘real’ letter on true stationery is a heavy enough weight that you can’t see through to the contents inside. The paper is much nicer than the rest of the envelopes and junk mail stuffed into your mailbox. It isn’t loud or trying to grab your attention. And so you notice it in an instant.

Do you have a favorite stamp or stamp series?
I’m a sucker for anything that features a President or a First Lady. There is a Miles Davis/Edith Piaf series out right now that I adore.

What makes your correspondence distinct?
I’m not a “Dear David, Thank you! Love, Annie” kinda gal. I really like to spend the time to write a real letter each time I send out something in the mail. I also have a very specific way of signing the return address on the back of each envelope, using a signature of my husband’s last name and our address printed in capital letters.

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What do you think classic correspondence will look like in a decade or two?
I think that as we move into a more overtly digital world, tangible luxuries will come into greater favor. I couldn’t live without the Internet, but there is something so special about buying stationery, thinking about a note, writing a letter, signing it. I think more and more people will connect with writing things in ink as time goes on. We’ll be desperate for permanency.

What is the one etiquette rule you will never break?
Rules are made to be broken. The purpose of etiquette is to learn how to break them with grace.

Have a question for Annie? Email our Crane Concierge at concierge@crane.com.

Post Script: Pen & Envelope’s Andreia Mateus

Andreia Mateus found solace in writing letters when, at the age of 10, her family moved from her native Portugal to Switzerland. Fast forward a decade, when Mateus decided to launch her Pens & Envelopes Tumblr, on which she posts delectable correspondence-themed images in hopes of inspiring others to take pen to paper. Here, the devoted Pen Pal talks to us about her letter writing lists, what she looks forward to getting in the mail each week and why a memorable letter isn’t always the most eloquently written one.

When did your interest in letter writing begin?
It began when I was about 10 years old. My family had decided to move to Switzerland, and being it a country with a whole different language, I was having a hard time making new friends, and I was missing the ones from Portugal quite a lot. So I asked my mother for paper and envelopes and started writing to my friends. That was around 1999, and ever since then I haven’t stopped exchanging letters.

Why did you start Pens & Envelopes?
I started it mostly to see if there were any other people from the Tumblr community that shared the same interest. With instant messages and social networking, people have forgotten about the old ways of communication. I was hoping that posting images of letters would remind people how it feels like to receive a letter that was written by someone just for you.

Why do you enjoy stationery & correspondence?
Correspondence mostly because it is how I manage to relax from the everyday stress. It helps me to keep my head clear. As for stationery, well, some girls like to spend their money on brand new clothes and shoes; I like to spend my money on pretty stationery! A letter is so much more fun if you use colorful and visually appealing stationery.

What is your favorite step in the process of written correspondence?
That would be creating a list of the things I want to mention in the letter. It helps me to keep my writing organized, and it is also fun to think back of the important and significant happenings that I wish to share with my pen pals.

If you could be pen pals with anyone in history, to whom would you write and what would you say?
There are a lot of people I could think of, but I’m going to choose Fernando Pessoa, a Portuguese writer. His works are studied in our high schools, and I got really fascinated by his books. He is also mostly known for his complex personality, and I always wondered what he was really like. I probably would send him a casual letter, asking him if life turned out as he had planned, and if he was happy with his achievements.

To whom do you most often write?
To one of my closest friends, who had to move to another city. We exchange letters every week, which I’m quite thankful for. If I’m having a bad mail week, I know for sure that there is going to be at least one letter.

Describe the most memorable letter you have ever received.
A letter from my grandmother and my now deceased grandfather. They both didn’t know how to write (not very well), yet they had made an effort to scribble down a few lines. It was simple letter, but it meant so much to me. I still have it.

What makes a particular letter stand out from a stack of cards?
The decoration of the envelope and the penmanship. It is usually the first thing I notice, and it always gives so much out about the person who sent it.

Do you have a favorite stamp or stamp series?
My favorite series so far is the Europe 2009 Astronomy series.

What do you think classic correspondence will look like in a decade or two?
Hopefully there will be more people opting for traditional correspondence. There is just so much beauty in picking up a paper and a pen and writing a letter. Even with online communication, I don’t think any other form of correspondence will be able to substitute the sentiment a personal letter gives you.

Have a question for Andreia? Email our Crane Concierge at concierge@crane.com.

Post Script: Etiquette Expert Diane Gottsman

With a degree in sociology under her belt, Diane Gottsman knew teaching etiquette was a logical career path. She started out teaching abused and neglected children the art as a way to empower them, then moved on to helping the professional sector. As if to emphasize her love for the cause, she now boasts her own line of stationery (welcome to the club!). Here, the purveyor of all things proper talks stamp love, Amelia Earhart and the etiquette rule she’ll never break.

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How long have you been teaching etiquette and how did you end up doing so?
I’ve been teaching etiquette for 15 years, starting with children in the beginning and later evolving into the corporate and university arena. I was shocked at the number of successful professionals that I interacted with daily that were truly gifted in business but lacked social skills.
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Post Script: The Gracious Girl

Mindy Lockard, aka The Gracious Girl, can’t remember a time when she wasn’t interested in etiquette. The former finishing school graduate began spreading the gracious gospel professionally nine years ago, pontificating on everything from dinner party manners to interview poise. Here, she speaks to us about her college pen pal, e-mail formality and why she’s always touchy-feely with her paper.

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How did you end up teaching etiquette?
It was just after I had my first daughter, Elle. A friend — who knew I had gone to finishing school as a child — asked if I would teach her daughter. At first I declined, but then after I thought about the life lessons I wanted to give my own child — confidence and kindness — I knew that spreading the word about manners was exactly where I wanted to focus my attention.
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Post Script: Donovan Beeson

Donovan Beeson loves a good ka-thunk: that sound one hears as the mail drops into the postbox. As the co-founder of the Letter Writers Alliance — an organization dedicated to, among other things, providing letter writing tools as well as pen pals — she hears that sound quite often. Here, Beeson talks to us about “goodie boxes,” her motley crew of pen pals and her position on supermarket stamps.

When did your interest in the epistolary world begin?
I’ve always loved sending and receiving mail. I can remember my maternal grandmother sending what she called “goodie boxes” to our house at every holiday. They were simple collections of candy and small toys, but everything was magical because it was wrapped up special and came in a box. Now, I’m the one who sends the boxes of goodies and I like it just as much being the sender as being the receiver.

How did the LWA come to be?
My business partner Kathy started her stationery business 16 Sparrows in 2003. I came on to help with production when she started graduate school, and together we evolved the business into something less like a business and more like a lifestyle. In 2007, we started the Letter Writers Alliance because the most common statement we would receive was that people loved our stationery but “no one writes letters anymore.” We decided to create a network so that all of those letter lovers would be able to write to each other and no mailbox would ever go hungry again.

What do you enjoy most about your job?
The people — I have met so many different, interesting and thoroughly engaging human beings through letters. In my return pile right now is an active duty soldier, a 12-year-old equestrian, a retired engineer, a teacher returning to work soon and so many more. I get to see slices of life that I would know nothing about, direct from their sources. I love it.
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Post Script: Stationery Trends Founder Sarah Schwartz

Next year, Stationery Trends magazine will celebrate its fifth anniversary, a statement to the perseverance of the people who cherish the art of handwritten correspondence. For the magazine’s founding editor, Sarah Schwartz, stationery and letters were a natural extension of a feisty, book-fueled imagination. Here, the former summer camp letter writer extraordinaire talks about pen pals, lunch box notes and why we should think of Abraham Lincoln the next time we’re angry with someone.

stationery trends founder sarah schwartz

When did your interest in the epistolary world begin?
To me, writing letters and corresponding is a natural extension to the world of reading. From the time I learned to read at age four, I have loved entering and creating imaginary or past worlds. A great letter is just that, really — a little glimpse into another very personal world.

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