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Finest Legacy: Inked Sentiments

Finest Legacy: Inked Sentiments

As we note the sand in the lower chamber of the hourglass being of greater amount than that which is trickling from above, our thoughts turn to notions that are either seemingly insignificant sensibilities (birds and blooms, savory fare, fine art films, books, baths and so many other creature comforts) or objective observations of our past accomplishments. Lately I have been asking myself what my legacy will be to those who will still be burying their noses in roses long after I have traded my grassy footing for clouds. Our family’s inner French Gothic roots revel in anything spiritual, with a fervent fascination with ghosts and otherworldly occurrences. This conceptual preoccupation has positioned me into a fearless existence that is convincingly channeled by the ever-present unknown. So I question myself frequently. If the Divine lured me away today, what would be my gift to humanity? My answer would be those hundreds of tediously-crafted greeting cards that I designed with our brilliant artists. Inked thoughts transcend any monetary value and remain long after the sender’s arms are crossed over their hearts.


Victorian Trading Co. fired up the presses regularly to create millions of fine art museum-caliber correspondence papers that would find themselves in mailboxes all over the world. It was an obsession of mine to seek obscure imagery that piqued the emotions and assuaged the imagination. Because there were so many trite and cutesy prints in the marketplace, I was compelled to unearth the rare and evocative renderings that would otherwise be lost. Supposedly worthless prints that clung to a nail from within chippy frames were priceless if they mustered a mood or conveyed a story. Water-stains, worm holes, tears and faded places where a century-younger sun filtered through curtain lace only served to enhance the time-honored value of these enduring portrayals…soon to grace our calendars, cards and catalog covers. Procuring the rare and unsung art was my mission.


The birth of a greeting card required a gestation period of endless hours combing through mountains of ravaged poetry books harvested from musty places. I cannot resist 19th poems and possess a library of well-loved, spineless volumes that leave paper crumbles in my lap whenever I crave a reflective thought on human nature or the allure of seasons. My heart leaps when an appropriate poem is discovered as the soulmate to art in queue for the printing press. Lastly, a verse is composed in an effort to induce a grin or joyful tear.


When I realize how many millions of our cards were tucked into our envelopes with the fancy flaps, the diligent efforts were worthwhile. Aside from four children, these paper sentiments are my greatest contribution to society. Each was issued with a kind intent and received by someone who believed themself to be assuredly valued. Not only did the greetings conjure bliss, but oftentimes a little-known laureate’s poetry was immortalized and pondered a lifetime after their passing. The same applies to the artists whose work would otherwise be held hostage upon a wall in a farm house in western Kansas. Such literary and artistic gems are worthy of sharing regardless of diminished notoriety.


Twenty-some years ago I was contacted by the widow of Richard Bright, who shared my “19th c Romantic Art Hoarding” plight. Upon his passing I acquired his precious art. She conveyed to me that he believed I would most cherish his collections that are quite possibly the most extensive repertoire of rescued Victorian era lithographs, antique gift books, correspondence papers, calling cards and exquisite German “scrap” surviving the century. He devoted his career to scouring small-town antique shops and estates and then preserved and shared his finds through his company, Gallery Graphics. Many of Mr. Bright’s coveted prints remain in our flat files and crates awaiting the next call-to-duty. Julie and I are plotting to place the imagery upon everything from tee shirts to crock pots.


Ours is an efficient and convenient era that often dismisses the process. Rituals may consume additional minutes, but much like the preparation for afternoon tea, the art of a hand-scribed letter is both satisfying and therapeutic to the sender and recipient. Therefore we have created writing papers that have been retrieved from time-worn sheet music, wedding certificates, and elaborate borders borrowed from otherwise destroyed wallpapers, mercantile advertising cards and calendars, antebellum valentines, hand- painted furniture and china painted porcelain plates. Our curated aesthetics are as exquisite as they are fascinating with intricacies and craftsmanship executed by a once-steady hand that is now at eternal repose. Yet we are providing a deserved renaissance to these antiquarian heirlooms.


In closing, I will be revisiting our countless greeting cards from the past decades and sharing them alongside their assigned poem that was once imprinted on the card back. Those of you who are members of our Kindred Circle will receive them from time to time. Others may not understand the innate yearnings of a romantic. It is our nature.


May your day be as lovely as you.



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