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.

annie-and-dean-return-address

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.

Ask the Crane Concierge: Your Etiquette Questions Answered

Our Crane Concierge fields quite a few queries about everything from personalized stationery suggestions to wedding invitation etiquette. It is her job, after all — one she quite likes.

Below are some of our favorites, some that we get often and some might just want to tuck away for future use. (After all, you never know when you might need a formal font suggestion.)

From Meghan:

“I would like to order some personalized stationery for three of our executives. I would love to have a system where they could use the same envelope for a note or a thank you card… (they don’t want to think about which envelope to use with which item).”

Dear Meghan,

Thank you for your query and for considering Crane & Co. for your personalized stationery. I would suggest choosing Monarch size letterhead for their sheets, which would use the same envelope as a monarch flat card.

Love & Letters,
The Crane Concierge

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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.

etiquette expert diane gottsman

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.

mindy lockard the gracious girl
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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In Celebration Of: The At-home Card

at home card personalized wedding stationeryThere was a time when the honeymoon was a grand adventure that often involved steamer trunks, dressing for the dining car and plenty of newly acquired couples’ stationery to keep in touch with friends and family from afar.

We like to think the latter accouterment is still in favor, even though the honeymoon has become a less extravagant post-wedding affair for most newlyweds. Whether a couple indulges in a two-week African safari or a weekend getaway to the Vineyard, there is one piece of wedding stationery we still find quite charming: the at-home card.

Traditionally, a couple would send at-home cards before leaving on a honeymoon that would keep them away oftentimes for a month, sometimes longer. Even though honeymoons are shorter today, an at-home card is still a lovely way to make family and friends aware of your new address.

Included with the wedding invitation or marriage announcements, at-home cards are small enclosure cards that match the card stock, lettering style and ink color of your invitations. They alert people of the address at which you will be residing and the date after which you will be there (most couples use the date on which they return from their honeymoon). Many couples now include their phone numbers and email addresses on their at-home cards.

The wording for at-home cards sent with announcements is different from the wording for at-home cards sent with the invitations. At-home cards sent with announcements show your names together as “Mr. and Mrs.” Since you are already married when they are sent. When sent with invitations, your names are not used since you are not yet married and cannot use “Mr. and Mrs.”

While the principal purpose of at-home cards is to let people know your new address, when sent with announcements they can also let people know that you have chosen to continue to use your maiden name. Your name appears on the first line, followed your husband’s name on line two. The remainder of the card reads as it normally would. Since you could have presented yourself as “Mrs.” bud did not, it will be assumed that you are still using your maiden name.

At-home cards are not gift-request cards and should never be interpreted as such.

Instead, think of at-home cards like the change-of-address cards you might send when you move. They simply announce your new address and are a great convenience for anyone who wants to keep in touch with you — which will certainly give you a chance to use that new personalized stationery.

Have a question about correspondence etiquette? Email our Crane Concierge at concierge@crane.com. 

Wedding Etiquette: At-Home Cards

at home card personalized wedding stationeryThe original purpose of the at-home card was to let guests know when the newlyweds will be back from their honeymoon (often a grand tour of Europe) and at which address they will be residing.

Couples still use them for such a purpose, but they are also used today to communicate new contact numbers and email addresses. It is also a lovely way to present a bride’s new name.
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How to Leave Your Calling Card

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Calling cards were originally made for the nobility to hand to a footman when paying a call or to leave at the home when the person called upon was absent. When making a social call, you left a calling card for each adult on whom you were calling. Never, however, exceeding three cards.

Though the calling card is now primarily used in lieu of a business card at social occasions or for the social mother to plan play dates, we quite like the idea of adhering to the conventions of calling card etiquette. Below is a collection of actions, taken from The Complete Engraver, one may apply to this classic form of correspondence when making a social call.

Have more questions about etiquette? Email our Crane Concierge at conciege@crane.com.

Post Script: Nancy Sharon Collins, Author of “The Complete Engraver”

Next month, graphic designer and engraving expert extraordinaire Nancy Sharon Collins will publish The Complete Engraver, an informative and elegant homage to the classic art. Seeing as how said classic art and our paper go together like Fred and Ginger, we thought Collins a perfect addition to our Post Script Q&A series. Here, the former New Yorker (and current Louisianan) shares stories of her parents’ notes, a New Orleans estate filled with paper and a small stack of treasured love letters.

When did your interest in social stationery engraving begin?
1976 during graduate school at the Hartford Art School. I was introduced to Lehman Brothers in New Haven and I fell in love with commercial engraving: going on press knocks my socks off; I love the smell of ink and paper and the sound of small presses (metal against metal, fly wheels, iron and steel.)

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Post Script: Mrs. Lilien

We’re adoring fans of Mrs. Lilien and her fancy finds. So we were delighted to hear she was coming out with a book. We were even more delighted when we found out it was a book titled “Mrs. Lilien’s Cocktail Swatchbook,” a collection of 50 classic recipes that have been updated with a modern twist and fashionable accoutrement.

Because one good hostess quality (serving stellar sips) deserves another (sending stellar stationery), we thought it made perfect sense to ask our new favorite dinner party guest about our favorite fancy subject: correspondence.

When did your interest in all things fancy begin?
August 10th, 1979. There hasn’t been a day in my life that I haven’t been possessed by my love of all things fancy!

Why do you enjoy writing about letters and/or correspondence?
Because it’s ladylike + because it’s FANCY!

What is your favorite step in the process of written correspondence?
Probably signing my rather gargantuan and rather flamboyant signature.

If you could be pen pals with anyone in history, to whom would you write and what would you say?
Cleopatra, Queen of Egypt — without question. In my fantasy she begins each letter with “OMG…”

To whom do you most often write?
Love letters to Mr. Lilien.

Describe the most memorable letter or postcard you have ever received.
A wildly amusing ditty from my friend Mr. Adler regarding my gifted urn (aka: my final resting place).

What makes a particular letter stand out from a stack of cards?
Fine, thick paper and subtle yet extravagant detailing, such as embossing, letter press, color edging. These pieces always get opened first!

Do you have a favorite stamp or stamp series?
I’m always a fan of the silver screen actresses of yesteryear. Nothing screams class quite like a little bit of Audrey Hepburn on the upper right hand corner.

What makes your correspondence distinct?
Inside of every Mrs. Lilien correspondence that I send, I always sprinkle just a few gold sequins into the envelope for an added touch of glam!

The one etiquette rule you never break?
Be a lady in all things — while this is vague, it covers vast no-no’s that I find abhorrent.

The quote you live by?
“Go big or go home!”

P.S. If you’re in NYC Thursday night, please stop by what is sure to be a fabulous cocktail party at Jonathan Adler’s SoHo boutique to celebrate Mrs. Lilien’s new book.  Kindly RSVP here.

Etiquette: How to Use QR Codes on Your Stationery

letterpress bar mitzvah invitation with qr codeRecently at the 2012 National Stationery Show, we dedicated one of our storefront windows (prime real estate!) to QR Codes and how to incorporate them into social stationery. Wedding invitations, letterhead, business cards: Why yes, there is a way to include one and still keep that classic aesthetic & craftsmanship Crane & Co. is known for.

In case you’re curious how to do so, we’ve put together this handy QR Code Etiquette Guide. Technology never looked so luxurious.

Have more questions about stationery etiquette & style? Email our Crane Concierge at concierge@crane.com.