Shawna Noel, thank you Darling, for sending us these photos of your Studio Z Mendocino letterpress printed stationery.
Back in the day, as they say, most people had what was called a Stationery Wardrobe. It was part of every civilized person’s accoutrements, like cravats and hope chests, hoop skirts and snoods. You know. So, the Stationery Wardrobe contained all manner of things to help said civilized persons get along socially and correspond in a civilized manner. There were “calling cards” of course. That would be a little card with just one’s name on it. No phone number (no phones), no URL (no computers or internet), no cell (what’s a cell?), no blog, Facebook, Flickr or Twitter info (ditto ditto ditto ditto), and no address either, even though surely these people had homes.
When one called upon an acquaintance, a Calling Cards was given to the maid, probably on a silver salver, though I was not there at that time so I am not sure about this detail. The maid would take the salver or card up to her mistress so the mistress might get up and go to the drawing room and greet the visitor without having to guess if it were the Jehovah’s Witnesses or the Fuller Brush Man calling. We have all seen this scene in every period movie ever made. Perhaps it was the Vicar. Perhaps it was the Earl from next door who wanted to ask her hand in marriage. Perhaps it was the ladies arriving for tea. I don’t really know. It was somebody calling and that somebody had a Calling Card and that is what we are talking about here.
The Calling Card of course has morphed into the Business Card and we all know what that means, full of extraneous information besides the name engraved in severe, unrelenting black ink (see more Business Cards in previous blog posts here), and surely they are used for more than calling nowadays. Never mind the dirth of silver salvers and maids to carry them around. They are a little portable advertising power houses, but never mind that right now. We are talking about Stationery Wardrobes in the Olden Times so I will try to concentrate on that right now.
If the civilized person were invited to a grand party, a Calling Card was handed over so the name could be announced in a loud voice to the already arrived crowd. “Sir Blahbbedy Blah!” and everyone would have to look up and case the costume and hairdo and start gossiping about him.
The rest of the Wardrobe consisted of various sizes and shapes of writing papers. In your specially made wooden box you had to have a range of formal papers, from monarch (personal size is still7.25″ x 10.5″ sheets and their matching envelopes, lined or unlined) for letters; Correspondence Cards (usually 7″ x 5″) horizontal flat cards for shorter notes and thank you messages; Informals (5.5″ x 4.23″ folding note cards and envelopes to match). Informals came in several ways: one with the woman’s first and last name, one with the couple’s two names, like “John and Jane Jones;” and one with only the husband’s name. You could also have stationery for your house, so that your house guests could write letters while visiting at your manor. I want a manor, don’t you? And there were various sizes, starting with a 5″ x 3.5″ note on up. And that was just the personal stationery. There were also several kinds of business stationery, of course. And there might be other things … for instance, personalized place cards, note pads for lists and such, gift tags, and of course your own letterpress printed book plates, which were an artform all their own. I am surely forgetting something here, but as you can see, those were the days that really kept printers busy.
When I worked for Al Moise, we used to do a lot of that kind of printing, personal informals and it was a yearly shopping spree for many ladies on the Mendocino coast. Maybe we would change the ink color year by year, but we would probably keep their type set up in the morgue and just reprint as the orders came in, doing up enough to last a year of invitations, thank you notes, condolence, notes, letters to relatives, and notes about why Johnny couldn’t make it to school yesterday.
You might think this is excessive, since emails are so much quicker and cheaper, but may I just say that having stationery to fit many occasions somehow makes one WANT to write more often, and not just an email or a Facebook post. You might find yourself using a more florid form of your own handwriting, hunting down the latest and most attractive matching stamp to put on it, thinking of poetic metaphors and wondering whom else you might want to thank. In other words, writing a note has become an occasion, and it is one of life’s little pleasures. People who receive these missives, I must tell you, find them awfully appealing. Oh!! Not a bill!!! Not another bid for a donation to a good cause!! A letter!!!!! It’s so extravagant. It’s so civilized.
Shawna Noel has what I would call a modern, slimmed down version of the Stationery Wardrobe, and we are doing more of this type of order these daysWe made Business Cards, Buckslips (also known as Script Cards) and Envelopes for her, using her already designed, three color logo. The Calling Cards…I mean Business cards…were printed in three runs on 600 gsm Cranes Lettra. We put her Script Cards on 300 gsm Lettra, and used Cranes square flap envelopes to finish off her set.
Script cards, we find, are the perfect modern alternative to a zillion sizes and shapes of stationery. At 4″ x 9″, they fit right into a #10 envelope, which, when you need it, is also good for an 8.5″ x 11″ business sized letterhead, sending a check or request to pay up.
It all looks awfully good in tones of orange and warm gray on Flourescent White stock. Don’t you think?