Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Beautiful Crane Stationery

I received some very beautiful stationery from Crane & Co. A little bit of research showed me that the company is quite fascinating, so I sent a few questions to Peter Hopkins, Media Relations Consultant and Historian for Crane & Co. He was very kind to answer them all in detail.

Peter has a blog called The Crane Insider. Right now, he's blogging about the National Stationery Show.

Here is the Q&A interview with Peter:

1. What type of products does Crane & Co. offer?

Crane offers a wide variety of boxed and personalized stationery for everyday use, thank-you notes, and for announcements and invitations. Crane makes its 100 percent cotton papers from fibers recovered from the textile and garment industries - not trees. Crane stationery can be personalized by lithography, thermography, engraving and letterpress, but the best form of personalization is with a pen.

2. Can those products be ordered online? Are they sold in stores, too?

Crane products are available online at www.crane.com or through a network of more than 2,000 stationers across the country. There is a "Find a Retailer" function at crane.com.

3. What does "fine stationery" mean and what does it mean to personal

I don't think there's a dictionary definition of "fine stationery," but certainly there are distinct differences in the levels of quality found in stationery. For Crane, it can take several forms, such as cotton-fiber papers, hand-lined envelopes, fine-line engraving, hand-brushed borders, gilded and beveled edging, substantial envelopes and personal attention to every step of the personalization process.

4. Tell me a little bit about the history of the company.

Gosh, how much space do you have? Crane traces its roots to 1770, when Stephen Crane and his two partners took over what had been the first paper mill in the Boston suburb of Milton. This was just two years after the British occupation of Boston and less than 10 miles away, so you could guess their political leanings, as they named their business The Liberty Paper Mill. The ledger book from The Liberty Paper Mill reads like a who's who of revolutionary patriots, including Isaiah Thomas, Henry Know and Paul Revere. Not only was Paul Revere a paper customer, he pastured his horses there in case he needed to take a ride......

Stephen's youngest son, Zenas, worked for the great printer Isaiah Thomas at his mill in central Massachusetts for a few years before striking out on his own. In 1801, Zenas found the perfect location on the banks of the Housatonic River in Dalton, Massachusetts.

The company still calls Dalton its home. Crane now manufactures fine stationery, industrial and technical papers, and paper for United States currency and international banknotes. The company employs 1,300 people worldwide. It is still owned and managed by members of the Crane family.

5. Is Crane & Co. environmentally friendly? How?

The most obvious environmental attribute Crane demonstrates is the make-up of its papers. Crane stationery papers are made with 100 percent recovered cotton fibers. United States currency paper is made from recovered cotton and linen fibers. I recently wrote a booklet called "America's Greenback: An Environmental Perspective," which describes Crane's environmental profile in more detail:

6. Tell me aout Crane & Co.'s role in U.S. currency. Is Crane & Co. the only company that makes currency paper?

Crane is the only company that makes paper for U.S. currency. Crane first won the contract in 1879, and has been fortunte to have won the bid ever since. The first currency paper the Crane family ever made was in 1776 for Paul Revere. In addition to being a silversmith, Revere was an engraver, and he purchased paper from The Liberty Paper Mill to engrave Massachusetts colonial currency to help finance the American Revolution. In addition to making the paper for U.S. currency, Crane makes paper for international banknotes both at Dalton and at its paper mill and printing facility in Tumba, Sweden.

7. What is your favorite Crane & Co. product?

My favorite has to be "calling cards." These little pieces of paper were once a staple of Victorian society, used within a very strict code of social conduct. They pretty much disappeared for a while, but have made a significant comeback with the advent of e-mail and cell phones. That probably sounds counterintuitive, but when you realize that there are no cell "phone books" or e-mail directories it makes sense to have a convenient and stylish was to pass along contact information. Calling cards are the fastest-growing segment of personalized stationery at Crane. Here's a link to lots of examples:

8. Do you think letter writing is important? Why?

Of course, I'm biased, but letterwriting is indeed important. Especially when you think about the quality of personal relationships. Yes, we can easily keep in touch with e-mail, text messages and tweets, but these forms of communication are necessarily shallow and fleeting. Has anyone ever saved a tweet for posterity? Has anyone ever cherished an IM? Once they're read, they're gone. Letters, on the other hand, require a certain amount of focus; focus on the person to whom you are writing. Letters show great respect for the person so whom you are writing. There is meaning to your words as they play out on paper. Writing a letter is an intensely personal experience. And it is equally rewarding for the writer and the recipient.

9. What can letter writers do to make their letters better?

The great golfer Gary Player has said: "The more I practice, the luckier I get." Just like so many other things in life, the more you write the better you get at it. I think the best advice I can give to anyone is first to have the necessary materials at hand: stationery, pen and stamp. My favorite letters to write begin with: "I was thinking about you today." What a wonderful introduction. And what an easy way to make your way into the second and third sentences. Pretty soon, you've written a letter

10. Do you have any advice for new letter writers?

In addition to the "I was thinking about you today letter," the way to get under way is with thank-you notes. Sincere and timely thank-yous make lasting connections with friends, family and colleagues. They only take three or four sentences; they only take a few minutes, but they are a great way to get started.


LisavVi said...

Thanks for the information on The Crane Insider blog by Peter Hopkins. I read through some of his past posts and am in awe of Crane's window displays at the National Stationery Show. I'm really in love with the one where cards are falling from a mail slot. Beautiful! Thanks!

Chrisy said...

Beautiful stationery and sounds like an ethical quality oriented company!

Jackie Flaherty said...

Thanks for the great article on Crane. I enjoyed it very much.

Stephanie said...

I disagree with his specifics in #9 - I cherish IMs all the time. But I get what his point is, and agree there at least.

George Lovely said...

As a resident of Milton, MA I want to point out an intersting piece related to the Crane Paper Co. at the 6/1/09 post of one of my favorite Blogs:


It sheds light not only on the Crane Co., but also Penelope Russell, one of the company's early customers, who is said by some to be America's first female publisher.

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