Last spring, in the middle of one of those dreary late snowstorms, a stunning vellum envelope appeared in our mailbox just when we needed it. To our delight, it was a ‘Save the Date’ request, delivered with as much ceremony as used to be reserved for an invitation to a State event. Several weeks later, we were delighted again with an even lovelier and larger envelope that included the formal invitation in several pages. With its gorgeous typesetting, kerned to perfection in a style (Opti York) exquisitely chosen to pair with its message, the invitation seemed created to be delivered by an angel. I was transported to a time when watermarks were embedded into top-quality papers as signatures for uncompromising craftsmanship.
Months later, when we arrived at the wedding, I was further delighted by the programs at the ceremony and touched by the writing inside them. The whole sense was graceful and unhurried, well bespoken for the occasion, each piece finished with a matching pink ribbon. These missives of devotion were created by talented souls with great thought and care. It struck me–a gigantean shift has happened. It reaffirmed for me that the art of print is not in decline, it is ascending. When I arrived at the wedding reception, a table in white linens greeted us inside the foyer with luscious name tags, print directions to our table, and lovely Arabic numerals on print placards gently guiding us to our chairs. Now this was presentation as art. For this single event, it seemed that at least two dozen separate pieces of correspondence had been fashioned. I have savored them all.
Suddenly internet correspondence–so infamous for its lack of endearments (even the greeting ‘Hi’ is getting scarce), its disturbing lack of privacy, its impossible-to-confirm claims, its suspect motivations, its buzzing pop-ups, its ‘exclusive’ gates with passwords, and finally its use of monetizing for its raison d’être (I could go on)–has become lackluster and humdrum, ready for the delete button. An e-mail or text message? So what? But when a special something arrives in the mail…
Highly crafted print products–a quiet shelter from the noise of the internet–are not just announcing but actually making the special occasion.
Even more so in Portland, which has always been a revolutionary city for the print business. This came home to me recently when I got a call from long-time friend John Hatcher. “The Adam Leighton house has come up for sale on the Western Prom.”
Visions of color postcards danced before my eyes. Adam Leighton pioneered and developed the world’s color postcard industry in the late 19th century. (See our House of the Month story in this issue, p. 93) Adam Leighton, Mayor of Portland, 1908-1909, was the father of this breakout new international postal art form that would define tender (Wish you were here is synonymous with picture postcards) visual correspondence. His son, Hugh C. Leighton, would build on this so that today, when you see a vintage tinted halftone postcard or genius chromolithograph, you have the Leightons to thank.
As another tangible form of correspondence, we at Portland Monthly would like to thank you for picking up this magazine and spending your time with us. Love of reading and writing is at the heart of our business plan. Like an interdimensional postcard, we strive to be a lift, a shaft of sunlight, coming your way in the mail. To have and to hold.