As owner of the stationery boutique The Scribbler, Ginny Hutchinson deals in sharing people’s most significant life events with the most important people in their lives. “To be trusted to help them at major life points — births, weddings, celebrations and deaths — is a true blessing to me,” she says. Through her nearly 10 years of helping clients share the joy of announcing new babies, the excitement around weddings and parties, the mixed emotions of moving and even the sorrow of losing loved ones, lots of things have changed in the stationery world, while some things, tried and true, remain the same.
“The most significant change in stationery since the invention of the envelope is, of course, the internet, with email, Twitter, texts, you name it. We love new ‘stuff’ and are creatures of convenience in this new digital world. The impact [from technology] on how we communicate with one another is immeasurable,” says Ginny’s colleague Peter Hopkins, historian at Crane & Co. fine stationery. With roots dating back to the American Revolution, Crane & Co. has printed stationery for American presidents, Tiffany & Co., Cartier, Queen Elizabeth and is even the predominant supplier of paper for American currency. Needless to say, this Crane historian knows his stuff.
We’ve teamed up with Ginny and Peter to compare old-school and new-school stationery, to see how stationery has changed over the years and how it’s stayed the same, and learn the one thing that both stationery experts agree makes a paper correspondence the most impactful and memorable.
Old-School vs. New-School Stationery
“When I got married in 1987, there was not much variety at all with wedding invitations,” says Ginny. “It was just black ink on ivory paper and maybe an embossed cross or family crest.” From metallic engraved accents and laser-cut overlays to bold colors and playful graphics, things have certainly changed.
Old-School Wedding Stationery
New-School Wedding Stationery
Rehearsal Dinner Invitation
Relatively new to the stationery world, save-the-dates are now de rigueur. The moment you are engaged, every savvy bride-to-be knows that if she wants all of her loved ones to witness her big day, she needs to set a date and send her save-the-date cards.
Post-Toast Party Invitation
Holiday cards once got their personality from the handwritten messages on them, but in this day of Instagrammable moments, our smiling mugs largely speak for themselves.
Old-School Holiday Cards
New-School Holiday Cards
Old-school moving announcements were, for the most part, subdued in style and had a stately tone. That regal air has shifted to a more familiar and humorous tone peppered with clever art and tag lines.
Old-School Moving Announcements
New-School Moving Announcements
“Sympathy acknowledgements are so personal. You’ve lost somebody, and in the South, we are so lucky. People are so thoughtful, and there’s an outpouring of people doing all sorts of things — whether they come to a service, bring food, send a memorial to the deceased’s church or donate to a cause that was important to them. Having lost really important people in my life, I believe writing these acknowledgments is very personal and part of the grieving process,” says Ginny. They are usually a bordered card or folded note with a cross or family crest at the top. The family doesn’t have to write anything, but Ginny says people will often put some sort of message on the inside that says something like, “Your gift to [the nonprofit] would have meant so much to my dad. We are blessed to be surrounded with friends like you during such a difficult time.”
Old-School Sympathy Acknowledgements
New-School Sympathy Acknowledgements
Similar to the traditional layout of wedding invitations, old-school party invites were mostly calligraphy on white. That format has blossomed and morphed into a canvas for colorful, art-forward creations, especially when it comes to celebrations marking personal milestones. These days, it’s almost as if the card reflects the personality of the sender.
Old-School Celebration Invitations
New-School Celebration Invitations
While technology has allowed for many of the great advances in stationery over the years, Crane Historian Peter Hopkins says something has been lost along the way in how we express thanks, sympathy, congratulations or plain old “thinking of you” correspondence, due in large part to emails and texting. Ginny agrees, saying, “The written word is just so very personal. In a day when we all text and rely on social media, spending time to stop and handwrite a personal note creates or continues a more personal connection.”
Peter adds, “For speed and convenience, we many times sacrifice the foundations of any lasting relationship — courtesy, respect and affection. It takes very little of each to post on Facebook or upload a photo to Instagram. What lasting impact could this possibly have on a relationship? Basically, we’re merely broadcasting rather than focusing on sincere communication. But when you take five minutes to stop your day and concentrate only on the person to whom you are writing, the impact to both you and the recipient is immeasurable. What is being communicated very clearly is courtesy, respect and affection.”
There’s also something almost visceral about seeing a loved one’s handwriting; it stirs something in our souls. Perhaps it’s the imperfections and personality of the human hand, a subtle reminder of a shared experience or of that person’s singular personality. “I have letters from my parents, grandparents and siblings, and I love seeing their handwriting and sentiments from many years ago. A text or an email just does not carry the same weight, and while I have special notes tucked in my Bible or in keepsake boxes, printing out a great email pales in comparison and will never replace the power of the written note.”
Gold confetti invitation: Bella Figura
Gray rehearsal dinner invitation with gold foil: Arzberger Stationers
Old World save-the-date (Mary Beth and Chase): Bella Figura
Photo save-the-date: The Scribbler
Post-toast invitations: The Scribbler custom
New-school holiday cards: The Scribbler
Old-school moving announcements: Crane & Co.
Bat mitzvah celebration invitation: Smock Paper
Bright aqua luncheon invitation: Arzberger Stationers
The Scribbler is located in downtown Homewood at 2919 Linden Ave., Homewood, AL 35209. Hours are Monday through Friday, 10 a.m to 3 p.m. Appointments for custom invitations are recommended when possible. For more information, call (205) 271-8135 or visit scribblerpink.com.
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