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There’s not much that can rival the excitement of getting actual mail—not an email, not a text message, and certainly not a DM. We’re talking about good ol’ fashioned snail mail. Unlike anything you can get digitally, handwritten letters are keepsakes. Their contents are meant to be preserved, cherished, and reread time and time again. Stationery, therefore, should be treated as an investment. It can take your letter from a note to a work of art. And, as with the thoughtful intimates it discloses, stationery itself should be just as personal.
Thankfully, there are brands out there that are making the old delicacy feel new. Tailored to any style, their designs range from traditional, playful, and even, eccentric. Long-standing names like Mrs. John L. Strong (which has been around for about 85 years), and Dempsey & Carroll (a never-failing mainstay), and newcomers (in the grand scheme) like Dear Annabelle and Rifle Paper Co., may have different aesthetics but they all have the same mission: to promote and preserve the tactile and emotional joys of real human connection.
So, here’s to preserving the art of tangible exchange via handwritten correspondence. And what better time, we argue, than now?
Launched less than a year ago, Dear Annabelle has quickly become known for its cheeky, playful designs with hand-crafted details. The brand also donates a percentage of sales to One Tree Planted, a Vermont-based initiative dedicated to global reforestation.
To buy: Price upon request; dearannabelle.com
Mrs. John L. Strong
Located on Manhattan’s Madison Avenue, Mrs. John L. Strong was founded 85 years ago in the family’s trousseau shop on the Upper East Side. Since, it’s established itself as a premier source for wedding invites and social stationery, working with clients to incorporate family crests, monograms, lettering, or logos for totally bespoke designs.
To buy: Price upon request; mrsstrong.com
Dempsey & Carroll
Dempsey & Carroll is a household name for stationery. These personalized, hand-lettered cards are made by calligraphers using black ink on white cards.
To buy : $55 for set of 10; dempseyandcarroll.com
An artist, painter, and master calligrapher, Bernard Maisner combines his skills to create bespoke stationery himself. He works directly with clients to create what he describes as only a “work of fine art.”
To buy: Price upon request; bernardmaisner.com
Inspired by the artisanal quality of Italian stationery, Bell’Invito (meaning “beautiful invitation”) marries traditional craftsmanship—by using printing press dating back to the 1800s—with the demands of modern life—by making the entire design process accessible online. The monogram shown is hand-drawn and engraved, but a flat card is also an option.
To buy: From $100; bellinvito.com
A fresh take on classic stationery design, Alissa Bell’s sets offer sophisticated font options and the ability to mix them. All of the sets are hand printed onto luxe cotton paper.
To buy: From $280 for set of 25; alissabell.com
Los Angeles–based Sugar Paper mixes elegant borders with playful envelope-liner patterns like buffalo-check plaid or splatter dots (there’s an adorable set made in collaboration with accessories designer Clare Vivier). Using antique machinery, each piece of personalized stationery is letterpress printed by hand.
To buy: $515 for set of 50; sugarpaper.com
Rifle Paper Co.
It doesn’t get much more personal than having your own portrait on your stationery. Rifle Paper Co.’s charming flat note doodles are designed from a template of hair, face, and clothing options.
To buy: $65 for set of 20; riflepaperco.com
London-based Studio Sarah’s grey scalloped notecards are decorating with gold foil bordering and lettering. The same style is also available in candy pink.
To buy: From $90 for set of 25; studiosarah.co.uk
The Punctilious Mr. P's Place Card Co.
Based out of a 1790s farmhouse in New York’s Hudson River Valley, The Punctilious Mr. P's Place Card Co. was founded by Karen and Martin Cooper (who have fashion backgrounds, linked to brands like Burberry and Belstaff) as a place card company. As enthusiastic home entertainers, “there has never been a dinner party too casual to use place cards,” they say.
Now, the brand is offering personalized note cards with a variety of detailed images (like the 'Octopodes & Conch') printed on cold-press watercolor paper. The designs are even sold singularly for $10 per card and envelope.
To buy: $49 for set of 8; mrpsplacecards.com