Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Crane Stationery Collections for the New Year

Just about this time every year, I get the first copy of Crane's annual boxed stationery catalog. Just a heads-up: Don't ask me for one; it's a wholesale catalog, which means that the new items displayed will be in stores and online in February.

As we're all looking forward to the New Year, I figured it would be fun to show you some of the cool designs for 2009. We'll start off today with three new collections: Lace, Tea and Safari. All three collections include folded notes, thank-you notes, boxed gift sets and imprintable invitations to create an entire stationery wardrobe.
Lace is presented in Moonstone Grey and Pearl White with delicate hand-engraved stitchery. The Tea set is steeped in jewel tones and teams with scrollwork details crafted in gold foil. Safari features exotic animal prints letterpressed on Crane's naturally neutral shades.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Vince Gets Nod for Entertainer of the Year

Wendy, the boys and I go way back with infomercials. When we gather each holiday season we compare notes on the past year's best performances and determine The Best of the Best.

I'm not afraid to admit that we do go back; back to Sam Popeil. Yup, that's Ron Popeil's father! Popeil's Pocket Fisherman, Veg-O-Matic and the "Set it and forget it" Rotisserie. And, be honest now. You all have a set of Ginsu knives in the back of a kitchen drawer somewhere. I know I do!

So, for a couple of years there really was nothing to challenge the informercial entertainment dominance of the "What Can You Do in Ten Seconds" Magic Bullet. It was, and still remains, a late-night, half-hour classic.

But with the introduction of Shamwow, a new standard was set. This, like all other infomercials, has nothing to do with the product; it's all about entertainment. And Vince gets it done!

But wait! There's More!

Move over Veg-O-Matic.

Move over Chop-O-Matic.

In the style of the elder statesman of pitch men - Heeeeeeer's Slap Chop!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Stylish Motifs Grace Letterpress Wedding Invitations

I've mentioned before that I'm a big fan of letterpress. I appreciate the subtle shadows created by type and designs in fine paper, and wish I could photograph them to better advantage.

For an upcoming magazine article, I was leafing through Crane's new Letterpress Weddings album and noticed several new designs that really flew off the page. It took me a moment to realize why - the letterpressed designs bled off the page. I thought I would share a few with you. I especially like the last.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Exclusive Martha Stewart Wedding Invitation Design

Earlier this year, Crane produced a custom wedding invitation for Liesl Menning, Martha Stewart’s assistant, for her wedding this summer in Tennessee.

The letterpressed invitation and postcard reply are a perfect combination of quality, beauty and environmental responsibility. A striae pattern is gently etched into the 100% cotton fluorescent white paper, adding texture and depth. Text is letterpressed in kona brown and surrounded by a stylish double-line frame. Coordinating response postcards are available.

The invitation will be featured in the Winter issue of Martha Stewart Weddings, on Martha’s television show and on the Style Network.

Have a look:

Friday, December 12, 2008

Christmas Dollies for Pownal Kiddos from Aunt Gert

I live in Vermont. I live in a small town in Vermont. I live on a dead-end street in a small town in Vermont. I have wonderful neighbors on this dead-end street in this small town in Vermont.

Aunt Gert, as she's been known for all the years I've lived here, is as tough as nails and as soft as a bunnie. Her family has lived in Pownal for generations, and Aunt Gert herself has lived on my dead-end street since she retired quite a few years ago. (I used to be a journalist, and obviously have grown tired of letting facts get in the way of a good story, so just let it go, OK?)

Last year, when Wendy and I and the faculty and staff at the Pownal Elementary School were collecting clothes and toys for local kids in need, Aunt Gert called up and wondered if we would like some stuffed animals.
Yup, sure would, and I'll be right over.

Well, it wasn't quite that easy. Aunt Gert is quite a collector. Down in her basement there were bags upon bags upon bags of bears, rabbits, dollies, barbies, cabbage patch creatures - you name it.

And they were there for the taking. What a joy to sift through decades of memories - not so many of mine as Wendy's - as we sorted through all sorts of little people and creatures just waiting for loving companions.

There were so many of these little friends that we had to store scores of them for "next year." And earlier tonight, we pulled out all those bags, and were able to recall all those happy moments from last year, and anticipate many more this year to come.

So, thanks Gert, and thanks to everyone who helps make the holidays a special time for those in need.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

A Roosevelt Holiday Card We Could Use Today

From the Crane Museum of Papermaking, the 1942 Holiday card by Crane from President and Mrs. Roosevelt. Different circumstances led to their holiday wish, but the sentiment resonates six decades later.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Study Shows E-mail Opens the Door to Our Dark Side

A study presented at the annual meeting of the Academy of Management finds people significantly more willing to lie in e-mails than in communication with pen and paper, even when both are done in relative anonymity. Moreover, they feel more justified in lying.

I knew it!

It had to be true.

I've just been waiting for the study to come out.

And here it is: Being Honest Online: The Finer Points of Lying in Online Ultimatum Bargaining

"The results of our study illustrate that traditional pen-and-paper communication is indeed different from e-mail in the way it influences people's behaviors, even though both [are] text only," conclude the study's authors, Charles Naquin of DePaul University, Terri Kurtzberg of Rutgers University, and Liuba Belkin of Lehigh University.

As if that weren't darning enough, hold on to your hat:

They add: "Overall, the lower degree of social obligation found in the use of e-mail versus paper, coupled with ambiguity for communication norms and lack of formal rules, procedures, and expectations regarding e-mail, may allow individuals to tap into a sense of psychological justification for their deviant behaviors (such as deception) more easily online than in the paper mode."

Well, there you have it.



There's not much more to be said to those of you who wish to attain any level of acceptance in polite society.

Just four words: paper, pen, stamp, write.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Crane Launches Greeting Card Line in the New Year

It's like Christmas all year 'round!
Every so often, a package arrives from Crane with samples of new boxed or personalized stationery. I'm on the "advance" list, which means I get to see what's coming ahead of their introduction to the market. So, rather than be stingy with this inside information, I'll share with you some new items coming to a stationer near you early next year.
Crane is introducing a new line of letterpressed and engraved greeting cards to celebrate a host of life's events. Here are some of the designs:

Clockwise from top left: Be Happy, Happy Birthday, You Can Have Your Cake, and Happy Birthday.

Clockwise from upper left: "A little bird" Happy Birthday, "Put on your party hat" Happy Birthday, Thinking of You, and Best wishes on your wedding day.

Here's my favorite, engraved in gold and red:

Friday, November 28, 2008

Those Expensive Pens... Who is Buying Them?

Today's post introduces Glenn Marcus as guest blogger on the subject of fine writing instruments.

Glenn is an avid user of fountain pens, and enjoys the connection a fountain pen owner has with his or her pen, the selection of ink and quality of paper that maximize the writing experience. Visiting pen companies and pen stores, his web site is a directory and review of great pen stores, pens and ink. He enjoys correspondence with other pen users around the world.

As I read the current issue of Stylus pen magazine I notice advertisement after advertisement with a profile for a high-end, very expensive pen.

At my office, I hear the gasp when I tell someone that one of my pens is $500 or $600 or $900. I also hear a little voice going off in my head when I say these big numbers in terms of what I paid for a pen. So when I see advertisements for pens in the couple to many of thousands of dollar range, well it begs the question: who is buying these pens?

The pens range from classics, such as the Laban Diamond Storm — a black pen with 216 diamonds studding the body and cap, for a cool $3,000 - to the Harivamsa Victory pen at $14,000.

I have talked to a few pen store owners about the sales of the very high end pens. I am told that some models seem to fly out the door. Usually it is a specific customer wanting a specific pen. Other times orders are received by fax or e-mail. The pen is packaged and sent, but little heard back.

I am curious as to who buys the pens. I am told it is typically surgeons, lawyers and executives. For the stores, it includes repeat customers as well as the one-time purchase.

Do individuals who buy the very expensive pens actually use them? Or are the pens going to be found on an Ebay listing with the notation: "never inked" or "in original box with papers?" I would hope the pen is going to be one of those writing instruments that you can see have been used; used with the care expected of a fine writing instrument, but nevertheless, used and enjoyed.

So I asked questions like: How many come back for repair? Do you get specific requests when the order is received?

It seems that very few come back for repair. If repairs are needed, it may be a case where the owners send the pens back directly to the manufacturer.

Yes there are special requests. Generally, pens sent to customers in Asia tend to be requested with fine nibs... a hint that the pen may be used, or a reflection of consideration for resale. Europeans are more included to order pens with fine and medium nibs. Pens with broad nibs tend to go more to North American customers.

So if you use one of these limited-edition, high-end pens I would be interested in hearing from you: is the pen actually used? Is it retained for a future use? Send me an email. I would be interested in hearing from you.

Monday, November 24, 2008

A Thank-You Note Kind of Day in Small Town America

Today, I'm writing thank-you notes.

Yes, Mom, I'm writing thank-you notes and you didn't have to stand over me.

I'm writing thank-you notes because I'm truly thankful. Not that I'm not thankful when I've been treated to dinner, spent a lovely weekend at a friend's home, or given a necktie for my birthday.

Today I'm writing thank-you notes because I just received the first two donations toward Pownal's Spirit of Sharing holiday program. The wonderful faculty and staff of the Pownal Elementary School, along with a bunch of us in town, are raising money, and recruiting shoppers, wrappers and deliverers for holiday packages for children of families in need.

This year, we're not relying at all on state or federal programs. There are too few of those dollars to go around. Instead, this is a very personal initiative - neighbors helping neighbors.
Long before there were state and federal assistance programs, that's what we did here in Vermont. We helped our neighbors. We understood that a community is composed of all walks of life. That some would inevitably be better off than others.

But we are all neighbors. Nobody cares how much or how little money you make when you're both holding a fire hose; when you're responding to a medical emergency as an EMT; or singing a hymn in church.

That's who we are. That's what we do.

I'm looking forward to writing thank-you notes to my neighbors throughout the holiday season.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Personal Branding 101 with Gen Y's Dan Schawbel

Insider's Note: I spend a lot of time speaking and writing about stationery; how stationery plays a role in creating and communicating your personal brand. But since you're here, you get the idea that I'm a paper-based guy who's had to learn about the power of the Digital Age. I think I've done OK. I've got a Facebook page, write a couple of blogs, use photo-sharing sites and even know how to tweet.

One of my goals in life is to turn the tables; to make web-based members of Gen Y understand the power of pen on paper.

Having said that, I encountered a young man - a member of Gen Y - who really knows his stuff on personal branding. Dan Schawbel is the author of "Me 2.0: Build a Powerful Brand to Achieve Career Success (Kaplan, April 2009)". His Personal Branding Blog® is consistently ranked in the top 100 marketing blogs in the world. He publishes Personal Branding Magazine®, is the head judge for the Personal Brand Awards® and directs Personal Branding TV®.

Dan kindly offered to write a post about the foundations of personal branding in the Internet age. Now I just have to convince all those Ys out there that pen, paper and stamp add significantly to their personal brand.

Personal branding is how we market ourselves to others. Each and every one of us has a brand because we are constantly being judged based on first impressions. Also, we are forced to sell our ideas and unique abilities to all stakeholders inside a company or as an entrepreneur. The personal branding process consists of the following steps: discover, create, communicate and maintain. By going through this process, you will be able to build a powerful brand and have opportunities come to your doorstep, instead of actively searching for them.

Ten years ago, in a Web 1.0 world, your brand was hidden unless you were an executive at a leading company or a Hollywood celebrity. Now, with the evolution of the Internet into a Web 2.0 environment, every single person has a voice that can build or destroy their reputation and that of their company in an instant. Another major difference is that you needed a lot of mainstream press years ago to make a name for yourself. Today you can start a blog and join social networks for free.

Everyone - from hiring managers to admissions officers and even talent agencies - is scrubbing the Internet, either in search of their next hire or as a background check. According to, 22% of managers screen their staff using social networks like Facebook, and Kaplan says that 10% of admissions officers verify potential students using social networks. There is a massive opportunity for you to position yourself as an extraordinary brand and be recruited based on your passion.

Our brands are held in the minds of others, yet we have the ability to shape their perceptions by coming to terms with who we really are and letting our personal attributes shine through. If you fail to realize what your personal brand is all about, by way of first impression, someone will brand you based on what’s observable. The need for personal branding will continue to grow as competition for jobs heightens, the war for talent rages on, globalization prospers and job security diminishes.

The best bet you have is to start thinking and acting like a brand today!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Holiday Gift Guides Make Seasonal Recommendations

Every year I get calls from magazine editors asking for samples or photos of Crane stationery and accessories for their holiday gift guides. I was mulling over if there might be some trends over the years, but struggled to find any. But then it occured to me that I was taking the wrong perspective.

These editors are the arbiters of taste and style for their readers. They are mostly young, having grown up in the computer age, and they recognize that fine stationery, printed and written invitations and complementary lifestyle accessories are important to them and to their readers. It's not just pretty pictures. It's good solid advice from those in the know.
I was away for a few days and upon my return, there were several magazines in the mailbox featuring Crane products. In this batch there seems to be a preference for kate spade products.

Here are the most recent:

Philadelphia Style magazine with Crane's Cartography Notes.

Canadian House & Home magazine with, clockwise from top, kate spade word place cards, kate spade vintage cocktails invitation, Crane's Aqua Squiggle Printable Invitation, Crane's Regency Stars Thank You Note, and kate spade lobster printable invitation.

Lucky Magazine and kate spade playing cards.
Scottsdale Magazine and top, kate spade letterpressed elephant calling card; bottom, kate spade letterpressed awning stripe calling card.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Coasters from Crane's New Letterpress Weddings Album: A Transformational Design Challenge

I love letterpress. I love its three-dimensionality. I love the images sculpted in fluffy, bulky cotton paper.

Crane has just launched its new Letterpress Wedding Invitations album, which I will write more about shortly. It's beautiful stuff, and I hope all you nearlyweds out there will include this album in your deliberations.

When I received my samples from the album I noticed something new; items not found in other Crane wedding albums - coasters. Coasters personalized with letterpress. Here they are:

Now, I have been known to use a coaster on occasion for its intended purpose, but seeing these I began to wonder what else they might become. How else might they be used in a wedding celebration? How might they arise from beneath a wine glass?

All you Martha Stewart fans - and I count myself among them - have seen such transformations as she employs her creativity, imagination and vision. Now it's your turn.

Here's the challenge: Create something to personalize a wedding using these coasters as your starting point. I can't send you all actual coasters to work with, so here's a link to my Photobucket page where you will find images. In real life, they measure 4 inches across.
There are two ways to send in your entries: via e-mail (jpegs or pdfs under 5 megs please) or if you prefer, you may mail your entry to me at:

Peter Hopkins
Crane & Co., Inc.
30 South St.
Dalton, MA 01226

Entries will be accepted until midnight on December 8. That gives you a month to play around. The winner will be announced just before Christmas, and the present will be 50 engraved social cards as well as the fame that accompanies the announcement of your victory here at The Crane Insider, of course.

If you have questions, and I'm sure you will, please leave a comment below and I will respond so that everyone will have the benefit of the answer.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Crane Paper, My Paper Crane

I spend a lot of time on Google using their various tools, but especially their keyword search functions. I've got to be up-to-the-minute on all that's happening with "Crane Paper."

Whenever I do a search for "Crane Paper," I get all these references about "Paper Cranes," a universal symbol of peace. And I also get lots of hits for "My Paper Crane." Finally, after several years of seeing My Paper Crane crop up in my searches, I decided to see what My Paper Crane was all about.

I'm glad I did. Heidi Kenney and her plushy creations make me smile. They are cute. They are clever. They are cuddly. Now I'm an addict. I have to stop by at least once a month to see what Heidi has come up with.

From Heidi's FAQ, here's what inspired her:

"The first time I tried origami, I was making a paper crane. When I was finished I was so amazed that a simple square of paper could be turned into something so beautiful! The name My Paper Crane tries to embody that thought, the idea of taking something simple (whether it be fabric, paper, etc.) and turning it into something amazing."

You should stop by. You'll be glad you did. Here are some of my favorites:

Clockwise from top left: Happy Banana, Burnt Toast, Surprise Mushroom, Cinnamon Roll, Used Tissue and Fortune Cookie.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Philately Will Get You to the Smithsonian

The Smithsonian National Postal Museum is celebrating its 15th anniversary with a special exhibit entitled "Alphabetilately."

ALPHABET + PHILATELY or Alphabetilately is the alphabet of philately.

Each of the 26 letters stands for some aspect of the collecting of stamps or the sending of mail. The stamps, ephemera, and artifacts exhibited in Alphabetilately graphically document the spectrum of the American experience, from historical subjects to popular culture, from actual events to important ideas. Be sure to follow this link to the Museum's site for a clever Flash treatment. Click on each image and it will enlarge and come into focus.

From all accounts (I haven't been able to visit yet) Alphabetilately is an appealing exhibition and a lively educational experience for visitors of every age. It provides an extraordinary showcase for selections from the Postal Museum's unparalleled collection of American postal and philatelic history.

Crane & Co. was a major sponsor of the opening reception in September, a double philatelic festivity with a definite designer twist.

Each of the 26 topics was presented with its definition, accompanied by a cinderella (a label that looks like a stamp but is not valid for postage) created at a different design firm in the San Francisco Bay Area in 1997. Almost 2,000 items vibrantly filled the 26 cases: stamps, envelopes, and 3-D objects. Crane sponsored the Correspondence Salon inside the Post Office at the Museum, providing guests with an array of Crane 100% cotton envelopes and notecards.

The newest Crane envelope size, A-9 was the big hit of the salon, since it could hold the largest quantity of vintage stamps.

The exhibit will be open at the Museum until October 2009, so there's still plenty of time for you and me to get there.

Here are some scenes from the opening reception, courtesy of my West Coast friend Alyson Kuhn, who provided writing and editorial direction for the exhibit:

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Paper Airplanes Not Stationary with Crane's Thesis!

Well fold my wings! Who knew that a 100% cotton paper specified around the country for college and university thesis reports would have a secret second life.

According to Howard Fink, paper airplane expert and competitor in this Saturday's Milennium Paper Airplane Contest, to build a quality paper flyer, you should start with Crane's Thesis Paper.

Really; I don't make this stuff up! Here's a link to the event in Time Out New York.

And should you still be in doubt, here's Howard:

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Statue of Liberty debuts on Crane Stationery

On this day in 1886, the Statue of Liberty was dedicated by President Grover Cleveland. As with so many other notable events in American history, the invitation was presented on Crane paper.

Here is one of several invitations held in the Crane archives. I bet you didn't know the full name of the Statue of Liberty.

Disney Stationery Collection Brightens a Day

Let me set the scene for you. It's 41 degrees and pouring. There are still leaves on the trees and there's a Nor'easter on its way. I can't finish stacking the four cords of firewood because my back is killing me. I could go on, but you get the picture.

I'm cranky.

But Walt Disney makes me smile. Even today.

Crane is launching the new Walt Disney Signature Collection on its website today, and flipping among the designs is just a happy thing to do. It recalls the launch at the National Stationery Show and how well the collection was received by the media. It brings back fond childhood memories.

Walt Disney’s legacy has lasted more than 80 years, and his life inspired generations to be innovative and creative. The Walt Disney Signature Stationery Collection celebrates Walt and his creativity with three distinct and elegant lines including: The Executive Collection, Sleeping Beauty Collection, and Fantasia Collection. In order to authentically interpret Walt Disney’s brand essence, designers from Crane were provided special access to artwork from the Disney archives.

There's a lot to look at and admire in this collection, but I can't do justice here to the beauty and elegance of my personal favorite - Fantasia Fairies. The images on these cards and notes are stunning. In my opinion, they represent the height of the art of engraving. You'll understand when you see them in person.

Here's a look at some other highlights of the collection:

And though the new Mickey Mouse Initial Notes are not officially part of the collecton, I think they're pretty special and will be very popular this holiday season.

Oh, almost forgot. Check out the "Buy 75, Get 25" stationery sale.

And finally, Ms. Bliss (she's keeping her maiden blog persona) is back from her glorious honeymoon, nesting away in northern Vermont. On Friday, she posted a link to one of my favorite things I need to avoid: chocolate peanut butter cupcakes.........

Thursday, October 23, 2008

The Ties Between Fashion and Stationery

One of the aspects of blogging I enjoy most is getting to interact with a wide range of people with whom I never would have come into contact without the blogosphere. There is a certain affinity not just among bloggers, but among those who blog and those who follow blogs. I do both.

I had one of those "out-of-the-blue" encounters recently with Stuart Hotchkiss, who started his neckwear business - Capital Ties - in 2005. Based in Washington, DC, as you might imagine, Stuart has rolled out the "Nick Hotchkiss" collection of ties in honor of his great uncle, Elmore "Nick" Hotchkiss Jr. (1883-1947).

Nick Hotchkiss was a member of an old Southern family and long prominent in business and social interests in Richmond, VA. He was a former president both of the Commonwealth Club and the Country Club of Virginia and had for some years been secretary of The Richmond German. He was was also a close friend of golf legend Robert Tyre "Bobby" Jones and was invited by Mr. Jones to become a charter member of Augusta National Golf Club on May 16, 1932.

Upon perusing the Nick Hotchkiss Collection, it dawned on me that, in this instance as with many others over time, there is a very close relationship between fine fashion and fine stationery.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Business Lessons from the Great Depression

A very interesting and timely article was posted this afternoon on Business Week Magazine's website.

I was called by writer Stacy Perman earlier this week, asking if Crane could provide guidance to other companies experiencing serious financial downturns for perhaps the first time. Because Crane has been around since 1770, it has seen more than its share of historic downturns. So why is Crane still here, and how does it continue to be as relevant in the 21st century as it was before the American Revolution?

As Crane's historian, I was happy to help with some historical perspective, but most notable is how the Crane family continues to view its business, as told by Crane CEO Charlie Kittredge, a seventh-generation descendent of the family's first papermaker:

"Our company has the luxury to think and plan for the long term, so that when the hard times come, we don't feel required to slash the workforce or make all sorts of cuts [that] diminish the value of our company over time. We feel we can keep our people employed. We care about our community and employees and think about how a downturn impacts them."

You can read the entire article here. Enjoy!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Politicians: Do You Think We're All Brain-Dead?

I'm about as apolitical as a guy can get, but I like to be informed. So I watch the local and national news; I check out Wolf Blitzer and what's happening in The Situation Room; I tolerate Lou Dobbs for a few minutes; and I always tune in to what Ali Velshi has to say.

And, of course, wanting to be the informed citizen, I turned on the tube last night to watch the final debate.

This was my reward for wanting to be an informed voter:

I'm ready to be a Good Vermont Woodchuck and crawl down my burrow until November 4.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Steam Roller as Letterpress on Crane Paper

In late September, Crane was the sponsor of an annual street event in San Francisco called Roadworks, put on by the San Francisco Center for the Book.

The Center "is a place where you can learn about the many arts and crafts of the book. Through workshops, exhibitions and public events, the SFCB promotes both knowledge of traditional book arts and exploration of experimental book forms."

The organization holds "hands-on" classes on letterpress printing and bookbinding throughout the year and also has exhibitions of various subjects relating to books, of course. The Center is well know among the graphic artists in the area.

Participants created letterpress linoleum prints and large posters by closing off the street by the facility and renting a steamroller. Several artists created linoleum cuts that were poster size that will be auctioned off at a fundraiser in October ( last year several posters went for over $1500). They also had clients of the Center make smaller prints of their own. Vendors included local artists selling items from tee shirts to letterpress prints and greeting cards. The day-long event was well attended by several hundred patrons of the arts, books, and letterpress printers.

I love San Francisco, and this is just another in a long list of reasons why I've got to find an excuse to get there. Thanks so much to Chuck Schmidt from Crane Business Papers for the photos and write-up. I think Chuck had fun.......

Thursday, October 9, 2008

The Junior League: Manners to Achieve a Mission

By Guest Blogger Mindy Lockard

As an etiquette consultant, I have the privilege of working with a wide range of people from the fifth-grade boy who doesn’t know how to use his fork to professionals wanting to give back to their community! Recently, I had the honor of speaking to the members of the Junior League of Portland, Oregon, to help them kick off a new year by focusing on applying manners to their mission.

The Junior League is more than ladies of leisure sipping tea in white gloves and pearls. It is an organization of women who have been actively working in the trenches of their communities, providing relief and education on behalf of the underserved for 107 years. The mission of the Junior League provides a fantastic glimpse—for everyone, not just women—of what it means to volunteer and the impact that every man, woman, or child can make on his or her community.

“The Association of Junior Leagues International Inc. (AJLI) is an organization of women committed to promoting voluntarism, developing the potential of women and improving communities through the effective action and leadership of trained volunteers.”

As an etiquette consultant, I have witnessed firsthand the benefits of using manners to achieve a mission. Here are a few manners to think about as you serve or if you are thinking about getting involved:

Brag a Little! Yes, this is an etiquette consultant telling you to “flaunt your philanthropy!” Since so much of our volunteer service goes on behind the scenes, you have my permission to inform everyone what you’re up to and how much fun you’re having as a volunteer. Humbly and with good manners, tell your neighbors, friends, cousins, and the barista at Starbucks—anyone who will listen. After all, your enthusiasm is contagious, and we all need to catch a little of the giving-back bug!

Keep It Up! Let’s face it, we’ve all had days when we wake up late only to fall behind schedule or spill coffee on our best white button-down and the last thing we want to do is encourage someone else, but do your best to stay upbeat and uplift your fellow volunteers. You’ll add cheer to their day—and yours! Lend a helping hand if a fellow volunteer seems to be overloaded. Take the time to share gratitude verbally at a meeting or over the phone, and never underestimate the value of a handwritten note of thanks or acknowledgment.

Give Your All! Before you take on a volunteer position, investigate whether or not it is a good fit for you. Once you have committed, you must follow through. Don’t discount the importance of your work because a paycheck isn’t attached; the organization that you have committed to depends on your service. Show them respect by arriving on time and returning telephone calls and e-mails in a timely fashion. Speak up when you have taken on too much, and ask for help if you don’t understand.

Aside from the fact that giving back is good manners, the futures of our communities depend on us doing so! When we use our manners and abilities to improve our communities, our giving back makes a difference—and we receive far more than we give!

From Peter: Many thanks to Mindy for stepping in while I try to get rid of something that closely resembles the flu.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Inc. Magazine Profiles Crane & Co.

The October issue of Inc. Magazine contains an extensive feature on Crane & Co. as told by its CEO Charlie Kittredge. Charlie was interviewed by writer Adam Bluestein earlier this year for this recurring feature. I got in a quick snapshot of Charlie during a photo session at Crane.
Here is Adam's introduction:
Everyone knows we're moving toward a paperless world, right? Well, not so fast. One of the oldest names in papermaking, Crane & Co., best known for its high-end stationery, is literally printing money. The company, based in Dalton, Massachusetts, and run by the same family since its founding in 1801, has a lucrative contract to manufacture currency paper for the U.S. Treasury and print money for countries such as Sweden, Saudi Arabia, and India. And by adapting papermaking technology to create a range of new products, it has moved into markets as diverse as energy, environmental services, and office furnishings. CEO Charles Kittredge talks about Crane's 200 years of winning bets and his strategy for the next hundred.

Here's a link to the online version.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Crane Acquires Nanotechnology Firm

You'll be seeing this news in fairly short order, so I thought this would be a good place to break it.

Crane has signed a definitive agreement to acquire Visual Physics, a subsidiary of Nanoventions, based in Atlanta, Ga. The transaction gives Crane exclusive control and management of MOTION® (the micro-optic security technology used in the manufacture of banknotes), and ownership of the entire suite of Unison® anti-counterfeiting technologies.

The Visual Physics acquisition represents a major step for Crane and its Currency Division, adding significantly to the services it offers its global clientele. Crane has made a string of substantial investments in recent years, including the purchase and complete refurbishment of the banknote paper-making facility in Tumba, Sweden in 2001 and the creation of the world’s most modern banknote design and printing facility at the same site in 2007.

“The strategic investment in this standard-setting technology for the future of banknote security is a strong symbol of our long-term commitment to the currency market,” said Charles Kittredge, Crane CEO. “It also demonstrates our determination to become the clear market-leader in banknote quality and innovation.”

Crane Currency pioneered the use of micro-optics in banknotes in 2006 with the introduction of the MOTION technology to create a unique and innovative range of security features. Crane’s research has found that micro-optic security features not only appeal to the public because of their striking and engaging optical effects, they also provide a new standard in counterfeit resistance.

According to Bill Westervelt, division president of Crane Currency, the acquisition of Visual Physics will enable Crane to control key proprietary technology, expertise, materials and intellectual property rights. “This means we can guarantee supply chain integrity and ensure that the range of security features emanating from the Unison and MOTION technologies will be controlled and managed by us,” he said. “By controlling the complete technology and supply chain, we can assure central banks and issuing authorities of absolute process, materials, and feature security and integrity.”

The central banks of the United States, Mexico, Sweden, Denmark and Paraguay have selected MOTION as their primary security feature both for new banknote designs and upgraded banknotes.

Here's how Doug Crane explained the new technology to Bob Siegel in an interview with National Public Radio last year. Doug is vice president and general manager of U.S. currency products, and is a seventh-generation Crane papermaker.

According to Brian Martin, president & CEO of Nanoventions, “Crane & Co., Nanoventions, and Visual Physics have enjoyed a very close working relationship since 2004. Crane’s global presence, combined with a leadership position in the banknote industry, will allow the controlled and strategic introduction of an entire suite of micro-optic and micro-structure technologies. The good news for our employees and the entire community is that Crane will maintain a presence in the Atlanta area. Additionally, the planned acquisition of Visual Physics represents a first step toward the realization of Nanoventions’ Corporate Vision. Nanoventions will continue to develop new technologies for use in other industries such as life sciences, solar, and telecommunications.”

Monday, September 29, 2008

Making Money Via The Voice of America

Through my daily keyword searches, I came across a very cool story about how U.S. currency is made at the Bureau of Engraving & Printing.

The story is told by the Special English program of the Voice of America. This program was begun in 1959 as an experiment to communicate by radio in clear and simple English with people whose native language was not English. I first read the transcript of the broadcast and then listened to the radio version. Two very different experiences. Here's how the Voice of America describes its Special English program:

It has a core vocabulary of 1500 words. Most are simple words that describe objects, actions or emotions. Some words are more difficult. They are used for reporting world events and describing discoveries in medicine and science.

Special English writers use short, simple sentences that contain only one idea. They use active voice. They do not use idioms.

Special English broadcasters read at a slower pace, about two-thirds the speed of standard English. This helps people learning English hear each word clearly. It also helps people who are fluent English speakers understand complex subjects.

Perhaps more of us should try this approach!

Have a look and have a listen.