Latest trends in fine stationery, custom invitations and announcements from the Stationers Guild

Thursday, February 27th, 2014

While transferring my photo gallery from one “smart” phone to a “smarter” one, I came across this delightful photograph of Prentiss Douthit and moi that was taken at the National Stationery Show in 2011.

Make no mistake, Prentiss is one of the most gracious and talented designers in the stationery industry.  After working for a couple of years with William Arthur, the smiling face of Prentiss will again be on full display with his “Everyday Collection” in partnership with The Boatman Group.

I don’t know about you, but I do plan to spend a few minutes with Prentiss catching up on old times and taking a gander at his new collection. Hint: I understand from the “powers that be” that Prentiss is also working on a Holiday Collection, so stay tuned.

Welcome back Prentiss; and a special thanks to Jane and Greg Geller for bringing this talented designer back into the fold.

Sheila P. May
Therese Saint Clair

Monday, February 10th, 2014

Several hours ago, I received this interesting note from a recent Guild reader:


Dear Stationers Guild:

Crane cards are for stuffed shirts.

Looking for exuberant cards for holidays and your blog goes on and on about Crane stationers who make truly boring formal holiday cards for stuffed shirts.

Constance Kay Inc. is a lot of fun, but I also want alternatives and I am very tired of having to purchase Papyrus Cards in emergency situations such as I am working in some god forsaken place with only – horrors – Hallmark around.

Perhaps your blog isn’t a total loss and I will find clues as to get other fun things such as diffraction grating wrapping papers.



Firstly,  I appreciate any relevant feedback from a human being since most feedback comes from spammers in Eastern Europe.

Secondly, I agree that there is a tendency to think formal correspondence (referred to as “Crane cards”) is something for “stuffed suits.”  I don’t happen to share this opinion, but clearly written correspondence doesn’t seem to resonate with the vast majority of our socially mobile population.

Thirdly, I feel compelled to tell the kind reader that I wouldn’t hold out much hope about finding information about “diffraction grating wrapping papers” anytime soon on the Stationers Guild website. It is a subject that I take as seriously as “Romancing a Snow Shovel.”

But more to the point, I think I would like to spend the next few paragraphs to defend the importance of a handwritten note. “Defend” is probably not the right word, since I know of no one – stuffed shirt or not – who wouldn’t want to receive a handwritten note rather than a banal Tweet –  Tweety Bird included!

Now Crane stationery or a unique greeting card from Constance Kay may not be the reader’s thing, but quite frankly both are far superior to the rather pedestrian greeting cards and stationery you can find at retail establishments.

The issue is generally not the quality of the greeting card or stationery, but one’s willingness to make an effort to meaningfully “communicate” with another human being. To say that “formal correspondence card” is for “stuffed shirts,” is akin to saying that Twitter is for “illiterate teenagers.”  I suspect that either assumption is probably wrong.

Making an effort to exchange a handwritten note requires a level of personal commitment to a relationship that many people feel is not warranted in today’s digital world.  I, like others, feel strongly about the importance of the personal expression achieved in a handwritten note and plan to continue the time-honored tradition of exchanging an annual paper holiday card with distant friends.

If others feel the same, write on!

Happy Valentine’s Day (a lovely letterpress greeting card from Oblation)

Richard W. May
Founding Member of the Stationers Guild

Friday, October 4th, 2013

Earlier this year, we had the great pleasure of re-establishing contact with Felix Doolittle, who is one of the best design artists in the stationery industry.  For several years, Therese Saint Clair carried his delightful stationery which simply makes you want to put away your cellphone and smell the roses once again.   Mr. Doolittle captures the details of everyday countryside life in a nostalgic and amusing way that inspires you to share his artistic designs with distant friends and family.

Now you can!

We were both trilled and honored to receive one of the first albums from Felix featuring delightful return address labels, correspondence seals and holiday motifs.    Words cannot describe the elegance and simplicity of these moving designs and it strikes me that they would make great gifts for the holidays and superb hostess gifts.  Gifts that are personalized are always more meaningful.

For those that are looking for something a bit more substantial, I would suggest some of Felix Doolittle’s superb stationery.  With talented artists like Mr. Doolittle continuing to share their inspiring creations, the world is certainly a better place.

While many of Mr. Doolittle’s superb designs are online, it is always best to shop for personalized stationery at a bricks-and-mortar store in your neighborhood.  If you happen to be near Greenwich, CT, do drop into see us and tell that that Felix inspired you to get off the beaten path and have an “encounter of the first-kind” with fine stationery.  We think you will be glad you made the effort.

We look forward to seeing you.

Sheila P. May
Therese Saint Clair

P.S.  For stationers interested in carrying Felix Doolittle, give him a ring and see if he has any spare albums so you can properly represent his work in your market.

Saturday, August 31st, 2013

Deborah Needleman in a recent The New York Times Style Magazine editorial comments that “Living in an age when most things are both digital and disposable creates an even more intense longing for physical objects that speak to you and will remain in your life.”

I quite agree with Deborah, the transitory nature of our digital universe seems to place an added value on “real” objects that trigger an emotional response each time they manifest themself in one’s life.

Thinking about the “value of things”, I was talking to a gentleman earlier today who had had some unsatisfying experiences buying personalized stationery online. He wisely decided to buy his personal stationery at a store so he could actually see and touch the finished product. He preferred this solution rather than “run out and buy a sympathy card or thank you note every time I need one.”

While I have always admired the spontaneity of buying greeting cards – and we have a lovely selection – this gentleman got me to thinking about the “value of things.” Sure, a greeting card is special, but how about a hand-written note on your own personalized stationery. Now that is truly unique!

More importantly, the cost of engraved or letterpress stationery runs about $2.50 to $3.50 per card and envelope – far less expensive than a mid-grade greeting card priced at around $4.95 a card!

Personalized stationery is versatile, it works well for wishing a couple well on their anniversary or for that sad task of sending a condolence note.

Better yet, you are cutting down on carbon emissions by buying your stationery in bulk rather than running down to CVS or the car wash to pick up a greeting card each time you need one.

As for those that buy into the hype of “saving a tree,” most fine stationery is printed on 100% cotton paper – a renewable crop. How’s that for going green?

In short, there are many good reasons to buy personalized stationery rather than greeting cards. Maybe, it’s just seeing the “value of things” in a somewhat different context.

Richard W. May
Therese Saint Clair

Sunday, April 7th, 2013

A prominent executive from a very well known Public Relations (“PR”) firm walked into our store a couple of weeks ago looking for new corporate stationery. This had the potential of being an attractive and mutually beneficial relationship. Since he was launching a new company, we spent about an hour designing an invitation and announcement for the new firm.

Several days later we received a very nice letter indicating that his firm wanted to give us all of their stationery business “as long as our prices were competitive.” I am sure that many of you have heard similar nonsense and, perhaps, some of you have scrambled to come up with something that is both tasteful and price competitive – at least in your mind.

While it is possible to have an intelligent conversation with your client to evaluate the various price/value tradeoffs, I have personally found that most business executives don’t have the time or interest to consider the tradeoffs. With the exception of a few legal firms, some designers and a handful of financial services firms, most executives are more concerned about functionality  than taste. It’s funny, but firms will spend tens of thousands of dollars on their corporate website or a logo and buy their business cards from Kinkos.

There is no easy way to deal with these clients (sorry about stereotyping), so I generally ask them whether they want their corporate stationery to be “White Castle” hamburger “price-competitive” or something closer to Daniel Boulud’s Burger Royale which clocks in at $99. This generally gets their attention.

I then quickly follow it up with something in their own business sphere: “If I were interested in developing a 5 year advertising program for our business, would your firm be the most price competitive?”Clearly, there is no simple answer to that question.  Likewise, there is no simple answer to what makes personalized stationery or custom invitations “price competitive.”  It depends on what you are comparing them against.

Without a frame of reference (i.e. other paper samples and/or identical printing processes) there is no way to determine whether your recommendations are price competitive.  If you proceed down this slippery path of trying to find “competitively priced” business stationery for your client without a clear guidelines from your client, you are only negotiating against yourself.  My advice:  Don’t waste your time. A sure sign that you are being played is if they don’t have a budget.    Don’t share your expertise with someone a fact-finding mission.

For instance, there is a world of difference between a letterpress wedding invitation from Elum and the dreary wedding invitations offered by Crane on the Paperless Post website.    Is it simply a matter of cost or does style and good taste play a role in an individual’s purchasing decision?

I think the consumer is wise enough to sort through the cost benefit analysis if they are given the proper information.   Sadly, the internet is not the vehicle to display the craftsmanship that goes into making fine stationery:  It’s simply a two-dimensional world of low-resolution images.   While the brand name is important, if it is stacked on the same internet shelf with “Brand X” invitations that look similar, why expect the consumer to pay premium pricing?  Why a 200 year-old firm wants to compromise its acclaimed craftsmanship and elegant design to bottom fish for a “new audience” is simply incomprehensible to those who treasure fine stationery.

Richard May
Founding Member of the Stationers Guild

Wednesday, April 3rd, 2013

You have to sit back and scratch your head and wonder what the folks in Dalton (or is it really NYC?) are drinking.  In a series of  initiatives that began last December  to “re-brand” the Crane line, outside consultants (who probably can’t even spell stationery) and Crane’s new iPad management team seem intent on bringing one of the most prestigious paper brands in the world to its knees.

Crane’s competitors must be rejoicing, but there is certainly no joy in Mudville as dealers throughout the United States struggle to pick up the pieces as loyal Crane clients can no longer get the same stationery that they have been using for years.  Indeed, “mighty CRANE has struck out!”

The latest bombshell is from Katie Lacey, President of Crane Stationery, who announced that Crane will be launching a retail relationship with Paperless Post.

“This week we will be launching a retail relationship with Paperless Post, who will be selling on their website a limited selection of their own custom designs that Crane will print. As part of our plan to celebrate and build demand for the high quality, printed stationery and invitations that we provide, this partnership enables us to introduce our products to a new audience.”

Quite obviously, Katie doesn’t sit around and read my silly “thought-pieces” on Paperless Post, but doesn’t it strike one as bizarre that Crane would trash its bricks and mortar retailers (and their clients) who have been loyal to the Crane brand for decades “to introduce our (sic Crane) products to a new audience?”   Call me dumb, but this has to rank as one of the silliest new marketing initiatives in recent memory.

Note to Crane:  There is no NEW audience – it’s the same audience using different vehicles to communicate or express themselves.  Crane is simply giving 200 years of BRAND loyalty to an online marketing platform.  This is a great deal for Paperless Post, but a silly one for Crane.    Why doesn’t Crane hire some programmers in the Philippines to build a clone Paperless Post app under the Crane logo?

It is clearly evident that Crane is a rudderless ship that has lost its way in a big sea of digital nonsense.  If Crane’s management doesn’t value the Crane brand anymore than partnering with Paperless Post, why should its dealers?

Richard W. May
Founding Member of the Stationers Guild

Wednesday, January 16th, 2013

Arzberger has become the new “go-to” resource for engraved stationery and custom invitations.  Currently, Arberger is overwhelmed with new business now that Crane & Co. has decided to implement their recently announced “back to basics” strategy.

Stationers across the United States are still reeling from Crane’s decision in late December to significantly reduce customization options, ink colors, paper stock and envelope linings in an effort to reconfigure their business.  Many in the industry had expected that Crane’s acquisition of  William Arthur in November signaled a major push by Crane to dominate high-end fashion stationery and custom invitations.   This is clearly not the case.

While Arzberger’s printing business has increased, I was informed by a spokesperson for the company that they still welcome new business from stationers and clients who seek quality and time-tested printing and classic designs.   I was reassured that Arzberger has more than enough printing capacity to fill the vacuum left behind by Crane.

Azberger has produced finely crafted wedding, personal and social stationery for customers throughout the United States since 1922.  From design to shipping, everything necessary to produce your stationery is done by us in our facility in Charlotte.  Just because we have been doing this forever does not make us boring or dreary; to the contrary, it makes us one of the only companies in this business that has consistently been getting it right.  For more information on their philosophy (which most quality stationers share), please visit their website.

For those searching for a world-class printer and design company that can easily fulfill the needs of your current Crane clients and to establish an ongoing relationship for future custom business, please acess the attached contact information for Arzberger.   I will be providing additional information in later posts, but I have been overwhelmed with requests from dealers across the United States seeking alternatives to fill the vacuum left behind by Crane.  Based on my initial conversations with Elizabeth Edwards, I am confident that Arzberger is more than capable of meeting the expectations of your most demanding clients.

Richard W. May
Founding Member of the Stationers Guild

Tuesday, March 27th, 2012

Today thru April 2nd, Crane & Co. is offering good cost savings on all customized stationery sales and customized invitations. Select 75 or more units from Crane and receive 25 absolutely free.

If you are shopping for new stationery or have just become engaged and should post a save the date invitation or wedding invitations. Today is the right time to buy your stationery or invitations and benefit of this exceptional promotion. Crane’s sale is easily available to you through authorized Crane retailers in stores close to you or at Crane’s website. Shop locally with the help of a skilled stationer to view the wide selection of Crane’s personalization options and printing methods or check out Crane on the web.

Crane & Co. has been manufacturing high-quality stationery and custom party invitations for well over two centuries. This Dalton, MA firm is known for its exceptional engraving, hand-painted edges and great assortment of 100% cotton cardstock. Now through April 2nd you can shop for Crane’s stylish stationery and save yourself money at the same time. Please don’t wait and visit a Crane store in your community or shop online. You will be glad you did so.

Saturday, March 17th, 2012

William Arthur has been crafting high quality stationery and custom party invitations for well over three decades. This Kennebunk, Maine firm is best-known for its exceptional designs and styles showcasing Vera Wang, Rita Renning and William Arthur’s own exceptional fashion styles. William Arthur’s wedding designs are most well-known with bridal couples and offer a vast array of diverse printing and customization possibilities.

At present through April 2nd you can purchase William Arthur’s fashionable stationery and save yourself money while doing so. Buy 75 or more units from William Arthur and receive 25 free of cost. You shouldn’t wait and visit a William Arthur dealer in your town or see other online wedding invitation and stationery options. You will be happy you did so.

Maybe you are shopping for new engraved stationery or have just become engaged and should post a save the date card or wedding invitations. Today is the time to purchase your stationery or invitations and take advantage of of this exceptional deal. William Arthur offer is available to you through authorized William Arthur dealers in retail stores in your town or at William Arthur’s online shop. Shop in the area with the help of a qualified stationer to check out the wide choice of William Arthur’s customization alternatives and printing alternatives or check out William Arthur on the web.

Wednesday, February 29th, 2012

Today thru April 2nd, Crane & Co. is giving you great savings on most customized stationery sales and custom invitations. Buy 75 or more units from Crane and receive 25 totally free.

Crane Stationery and Invitation Promotion

Maybe you are on the lookout for new stationery or have just gotten engaged and will want to send a save the date announcement or wedding invitations. Now is the right moment to order your stationery or invitations and take advantage of of this fantastic promotion. Crane’s promotion is easily available to you through listed Crane dealers in retail stores in your town or at Crane’s online storefront. Purchase in the area with the help of a seasoned stationer to see the extensive range of Crane’s personalization options and printing alternatives or check out Crane on the internet.

Crane & Co. has been producing exceptional stationery and custom wedding invitations for well over two hundred years. This Dalton, MA firm is well known for its exceptional engraving, hand-painted borders and great range of 100% cotton papers. Now through April 2nd you can buy Crane’s fashionable stationery and spend less money as well. You shouldn’t hold back and visit a Crane dealer in your community or go shopping online. You will be pleased you did so.

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