Archive for October, 2009


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.IMG_8961aweb

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 daysIMG_9003awebWe 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?


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We are throwing a Wayzgoose this year. It’s going to be in my shop in Fort Bragg on First Friday, November 6th, starting at 5 pm. Several people may ask the question, What’s a Wayzgoose? In the olden days of printing, it was a printers party; the print shop boss would take his crew out into the country for a big picnic or feast to celebrate, around the time of Saint Bartholemew’s Eve, marking the time of when they would have to start printing by candlelight.

Here is a quote from the OED: “Carriages were chartered, an enormous quantity of eatables and drinkables provided, and away we
went, a regular wayzgoose or bean-feast party.”

The Cruise of the Cachalot, by Frank T Bullen, 1897

And here is another quote about Wayzgooses:

“It is also customary for all the Journey-men to make every Year new Paper Windows…; Because that day they make them, the Master Printer gives them a Way-goose; that is, he makes them a good Feast, and not only entertains them at his own House, but besides, gives them Money to spend at the Ale-house or Tavern at Night. These Way-gooses, are always kept about Bartholomew-tide. And till the Master-Printer have given this Way-goose, the Journey-men do not use to Work by Candle Light.”

Oxford English Dictionary

A Wayzgoose has a long tradition in the history of printing. The first time we heard the word we had to look it up in the Oxford English Dictionary. Then, we proceeded to throw a whole series of Wayzgooses, with different themes each year.

These days, a Wayzgoose is more often a dinner where letterpress printers gather to talk about the art they love, and believe me, that is some talking. A keepsake is often printed to commemorate the occasion, sometimes printed up right at the affair, & there can be entertainment as well. Always ready for an excuse to throw a party, Studio Z Mendocino long ago adopted the idea, turning it into an appreciation of our customers & an opportunity to show off the beautiful craft we still get to practice.

When we saw the part about the “bean-feast,” we had to look that up in the OED too. It actually means a feast, but we decided that it meant beans, and that is what our tradition became. A bean-feast with actual beans, and we would spare no creativity in serving beans from every corner of the world.

Everyone was very, “Oh, ho ho, beans and champagne!” but then they would just eat the whole feast up and drink up all the champagne, even though it was quite cheap champagne (which is what we serve instead of giving out money to go to the Ale-house), and a regular Wayzgoose was had by all, in Fort Bragg. Somehow, with all the printing and designing and whatnot, we let our Wazygoose tradition go by the wayside, but for our Twenty-fifth Anniversary, how could we not revive it? We won’t be making paper windows, nor printing by candlelight at the Studio Z Mendocino Wayzgoose, but there might be a lagniappe to take home, if all goes well. We certainly look forward to seeing you here on November 6th, to showing you our recent work, to serving champagne and beans to you and to ushering in our next twenty-five years. We hope to greet you at our party.

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