Surely you’re not surprised that I, your analog ombudsman, love personalized stationery cards. I send cards all the time. I send them to friends, clients — even total strangers. During the pandemic, personalized stationery cards let me reach isolated friends in a way that was more tangible, more tactile than an email or a thumbs-up emoji. These friends taped my cards to the wall over their desks. They wrote back to tell me how much it meant to them — how this real thing received from a friend kept them going for a few days.
Develop Lasting Bonds With Nothing More Than Paper and a Pen
I’m not bragging or anything, but I may have saved lives with personalized stationery cards.
As I’ve mentioned, sending a card is a personal thing. It’s intimate. A physical card creates a unique space for you and the recipient. That space is private. It’s cloistered. The words on the paper have traveled from the writer’s pen to the recipient’s hands without passing through a server. There’s a kind of magic in that moment, a surprising joy. It may be low-key, it may be brief, but for the duration of the words as you read them, for the time you see that card propped up on your desk for the next few days, you’re reminded that someone considers you worthy of 10 minutes of their undivided attention, a bit of expensive paper, and the ink of their favorite fountain pen.
That goes a long way in the new normal.
Hybrid office work and remote offices keep employees isolated. Hell, it’s in the title: They’re remote. A brief material message existing in the actual is a connection to the team. Office managers and human resources supervisors take note. Sending a card to your distant team is a billion times more effective than an email.
Five Personalized Stationery Cards, From Moderately to Obscenely Expensive
1. Smythson Bulldog Motif Correspondence Card
These are the luxurious notecards other luxurious notecard designers send to their friends. They’re made of white wove paper and engraved with a bulldog motif. The matching envelopes with tissue. The whole experience of writing on Smythson’s paper is swank. They’ve been around since 1887 when Frank Smythson of Bond Street was commissioned to provide the stationery for each of Queen Victoria’s five residences (Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle, Marlborough House, Balmoral, and Osbourne). So they know what they’re doing. Their custom correspondence cards are just personalized stationery cards with an accent. But what can you do? We’re helpless in the face of fine British luxury items.
2. Crane Stationery Blake Card
Remember when I said Smythson was the notecard that other luxurious notecard designers send to friends? Well, the people at Crane probably don’t do that. Their personalized stationery cards are the Cadillac Coupe DeVilles of personalized stationery cards. All cotton rag, ecru paper with a matching envelope. The custom signature at the top is printed as raised thermographic type. Crane makes Smythson look second-rate. The impressive thing about Crane cards is how they feel. They are creamy and soft, yet sturdy and strong. They take ink with perfect clarity and no bleed or feathering. These are the cards you’ll keep in a drawer until you die. They are heirloom-level.
3. Rifle Paper Co. Personalized Flat Notes
Rifle Paper Co. started as a husband-and-wife business. Anna Bond is an artist and former freelance illustrator. The bold colors and style you see on their personalized stationery cards are all Anna’s work. Rifle Paper is based in Winter Park, Florida. This may be part of what inspires Bond’s designs and colors. (Having lived up against this posh central Florida town for years, I can confidently report Rifle’s brand is pure Winter Park.) The company has grown since 2009 to add 150 employees, a warehouse, and a design studio in New York.
4. Mrs. John L. Strong Custom Stationery Standard Size Cards
Mrs. John L. Strong, which has made handcrafted stationery for presidents and the royal family, started in 1929 in New York. Their technique hasn’t changed much since. Strong makes by hand the most handmade old-school stationery you can find. Their artisans hand bevel envelopes. They hand mix their varnish inks, line the envelopes by hand, with their hands. Strong even makes its own paper. They use a formula from the original Mrs. Strong for their signature color, Strong Vanilla. They made stationery for Bette Davis and Jackie Kennedy, as well as the Astors, the Rockefellers and the Vanderbilts. Pretty much any billionaire American snoots you see on HBO’s “The Gilded Age.” The cards are expensive, but you’re traveling through time when you use their products. So, worth it.
5. Mount Street Personalized Letterpress Notecards with Header and Footer
What isn’t evident in a lot of these cards is the time that goes into the typography and design. As my editor will tell you, kerning matters. Font choice matters. Look at the design of the Mount Street card. The distance from the edge of the paper is perfect. The flattened monotype is stylish. The sans-serifness and the studied absence of punctuation make the appearance of this card deeply thoughtful. Even if you can’t touch the fonts or feel the kerning with your fingertips, you feel it with your eyes. And though you may not know much about the science of typography. The way such design is employed in the design of Mount Street cards somehow makes you feel elevated.
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