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.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Don't Miss Fall Martha Stewart Weddings

I just got my early copy of the Fall issue of Martha Stewart Weddings, and even though I knew what was coming, it was a thrill nonetheless to see things in print.

In this issue, joining the likes of Oscar de la Renta, Mindy Weiss and Sylvia Weinstock as contributors to the regular "Ask the Expert" column is Crane's own Brand Director Megan Kuntze. Megan is featured in a Q&A about all things stationery with writer Jennifer Miranda. They cover such topics as:

  • What you should look for in a reputable stationer?
  • What trends are you seeing now?
  • What if a bride wants to go "green?"
  • What are popular design elements, and
  • Why is printed stationery so important for weddings?
The column is highlighted by the photography of Johnny Miller. Megan noted that one of the most special parts of the day was getting all dolled up for her photo by hair and makeup stylist Sophie Kaspar. I spoke to Megan just after she got back from the photo shoot and she said the folks at Martha Stewart Weddings couldn't have been more friendly, courteous and professional, making her feel right at home during a long day of photography and interviews.

A second highlight in this issue is a stunning wedding invitation suite created especially for a feature article on "The Golden Touch." As you can imagine, the article focused on metallic gold as a thematic design element from the invitation to the cake. Hand-gilded heavyweight stock is adorned by a hand-drawn monogram and a regally engraved crown.

Have a look.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Weddings: The Stationery Crystal Ball

When I started posting as The Crane Insider, I promised I would bring you trends as they were emerging in the world of stationery. We took a look at correspondence cards as letterhead, explored the designs selected by writers and editors of national bridal and lifestyle magazines and, most recently, we covered the phenomenon of the social calling card.

So, what’s next? What's just over the horizon?

It’s another little piece of paper with a big impact: Within the Ribbon cards.

For those unfamiliar with these cards, here’s what Crane’s Wedding Blue Book has to say:

“Church pews (or rows of seating in other wedding venues) may be cordoned off with white ribbons or cords to indicate a special seating section. When this is done, small cards reading "Within the ribbon" are sent with the invitations to those guests who will be seated in that section. The guests then bring the cards to the ceremony, which enables the ushers to seat them in the appropriate section.”

Ribboned seating areas are generally reserved in front for the closest family and friends, and especially those who may have difficulty hearing the ceremony.

Within the Ribbon cards are nothing new; they’ve been around for generations. But just like calling cards, they are enjoying a resurgence of popularity in the 21st century. And just like calling cards, they can be as formal or fashionable as you want, to coordinate with your invitations and other wedding stationery.

Within the Ribbon cards are a great stress-reliever for everyone involved in seating guests at the wedding. And they are a respectful accommodation for those most special to you on this most special day.

Keep your eyes open; you'll be seeing more of these little cards in the future.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Lipstick Calling Card Winner

Congratulations to Jennifer Buck, our lucky winner of 50 personalized Lipstick Calling Cards. Jennifer is a fellow blogger, who operates her own calligraphy business - Graceful Expressions - near Grand Rapids, Mich. You can see her lovely work here.

Thanks to all who participated. I'll start thinking about the next giveaway.

Oops, almost forgot. Ms. Bliss is all married up and beginning her new life in the north country of Vermont. Congratulations and best wishes from all of us here at The Crane Insider.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Robert Weber, Crane's and the Legal Profession

In the early 1990s, Crane commissoned Robert Weber, the acclaimed New Yorker magazine cartoonist, to do a series of cartoons depicting the importance of Crane's papers in the legal profession. Weber's humorous twists and his wonderfully crafted drawings combined to create a very successful campaign for Crane.

As Crane's historian, I get to dig stuff up all the time, and I recently came across Weber's original drawings. Here are a few of my favorites.

And just a quick reminder, there are only a couple of days left in my fabulous Lipstick on a Calling Card giveaway. See below.

Friday, September 12, 2008

You Can Put Lipstick on a Calling Card

And it's still a calling card.

The card to the right has been in one of Crane's personalized stationery albums and has been available online for several years. I figured with all the recent blather about cosmetics in the political arena, I should trot it out for your consideration.

The calling card craze continues to mushroom in the blogosphere. At the bottom of this entry are links to recent posts.

But right now, I'd like to give away 50 personalized Lipstick Calling Cards.

To become eligible for this incredible offer, just leave a comment below. Comments will be moderated. There will be a random drawing from among those who comment.

You've got until Friday the 19th. Good luck!

Here are those links I promised you earlier.

Art of Manliness (they started this latest round)

A Good Husband

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Autumn Walks Along the Housatonic River

I invite you all to explore the Upper Housatonic Valley National Heritage Area during the seventh annual Heritage Walks program. The Crane Museum of Papermaking will be open special hours Sunday, Sept. 21, from 1 to 3 p.m. for program participants.

The Heritage Walks program will feature short walks as well as longer hikes, walking tours of towns and historical buildings, nature and birding walks, tours of industrial site ruins, and, a canoe/kayak trip on the river. Historians, naturalists, and environmentalists will help participants explore the Housatonic River, the history of the villages and towns in the region as expressed in archaeological and industrial sites, architecture, bridges, and monuments, as well as both prominent and unsung geological, ornithological and horticultural resources, and
splendid autumn foliage scenic vistas.

For more information please visit the Heritage Walks website .

I took a stroll along a short stretch of the Housatonic the other day, and it brought back some very fond memories.

Back in 2000, a ceremony was held where Zenas Crane built his first dam in 1801. The ceremony was attended by folks from Crane, local dignitaries and quite a few state officials.

The occasion was not to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the dam, but to remove the last stone in that 200-year-old dam that would restore more than a mile of the Housatonic to its free-flowing state.

Crane was the first company to decommission a dam under the Massachusetts Riverways Program, and it was a very expensive proposition. Crane wasn't forced to take down the dam; there were no regulations on the horizon that would require them to do so.

It was just the right thing to do. Here's the before and after:

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

The Wallet Pen: "Coolest Thing Ever!"

That's an exact quote from Wendy after I gave her a Wallet Pen the other day. Actually, it was supposed to be mine, but I knew as soon as I took it out of the box that it belonged with her.

I came across the Wallet Pen via a circuitous route, but one that ultimately led back to Good Old Vermont. Tom O'Brien makes these little sterling silver wonders up the road a ways in Charlotte, along the shores of Lake Champlain.

"You will see it as a grown-up hall-pass in the corridors of distinction," Tom declares, and I get his point. I can see Wendy opening her wallet and brandishing her little Wallet Pen. All of a sudden, it's all about The Pen.

There's already a Fridge List of those who will have one come Christmas morning.

Check it out.

Summer, Fall Collide in Bursts of Color

Early September is a wonderful time to be in Vermont. Summer is still with us, but the anticipation of fall is in the air as nighttime temperatures dip into the 40s. It's a time of transition, not just with the weather, but with explosions of color, two of which struck me this morning.

Tomatoes and maple leaves; from green to red. It's not every year that we get a solid crop of red tomatoes here in Vermont. But I don't believe there's ever been a year without a solid crop of red leaves.

The change from green to red on the tomato vine is celebrated over fresh lettuce, in a sauce pot, with a dab of mayonnaise, or just a salt shaker. It's a wonderful time, but we know what's coming.

The change of green to red on the trees is also celebrated in Vermont, as it's our best tourist season, the kids are finally back to school and there's an abundance of good sleeping weather. It's a wonderful time, but we know what's coming.

Here are some fall-inspired stationery sets to celebrate the bursts of color before you-know-what arrives:

Top left: Engraved Sunflower Tangerine Notes. Top right: kate spade lemon framed small correspondence cards. Bottom left: Engraved Palmetto Red Correspondence Cards. Bottom right: Raspberry Mixed Thank You Notes.