Thursday, June 18, 2009

The Delicacy and Intensity of My Calling Cards

By Sarah Schwartz
Stationery Trends Magazine

One of the things I love about stationery is that it is intimate yet relatively inexpensive. What is more personal, after all, than what stationery conveys: our thoughts and sentiments, the details of our milestone events and the parties with which we celebrate them, not to mention our very handwriting? Printed and hand-written missives — the physical kind, not e-mails or IMs or texts — travel from hand to hand to be cherished and admired, usually across space and often, across time. What else is out there you can say that about?

I’ve had the pleasure of covering the stationery market as a trade editor for over a decade now, and I’ve always greatly enjoyed the perks of the job. Practically speaking, that means my office is crammed with journals, notecards, photo albums, greeting cards, notepads and what have you. I keep what I can’t live without, and share the rest with friends, family, charities and my daughter’s pre-school.

Topping my list of “what I can’t live without” are my calling cards from Crane’s. They are a Kate Spade design, edged in first a thick, then a thin pink line, with my name, e-mail, and cell letterpressed in brown at center. Made of thick cotton paper, they are much tougher than their delicacy suggests: I have carefully smoothed out wrinkled ones left in an evening bag on more than one occasion.

I love everything about them: their diminutive dimensions, the way they look stacked in my card holder and, most of all, that they represent me in paper form. A calling card is really a little piece of the owner’s identity, shared with a select few. They travel with me, to be bestowed upon acquaintances and friends — very favored acquaintances and friends, I might add.

Because, crazy as it sounds, there are actually four types of cards tucked in my card case: my business cards, declaring me editor of Stationery Trends; my mommy cards, meaning they have my daughter’s first and last names, with my first name and contact info beneath, to be given to the parents of her friends for potential playdates; and enclosure cards, which just have my name printed on one side with plenty of space for whatever I want to write on back.

All are meaningful and quite precious to me in their own ways, and the last two always garner a rather surprised compliment, but it is the Crane’s I like to give out most. I might add, too, that I love stumbling across situations they fit into, when I find just that right person to whom I really want to give one. And I must admit, there is always a long pause while the lucky recipient takes it in; for though they’re small, they’re also rather intense.

So while in some ways the ever-diminishing pile of cards in the sturdy, leaf-green box they came in makes me sad, I like to think about where the others went, if they were pocketed, then tucked in an address book perhaps, or saved in a box with other people’s cards. Even if they never call or e-mail me, I do hope they save them.

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