Nancy Sharon Collins: Stationer Extraordinaire

My interest in beautiful paper products, fountain pens and art supplies comes close to being an obsession. 

A fan of all things engraved, over the years I have indulged in a few suites of engraved note cards and stationery.

Ages ago, my dear friend and business colleague, Charles Bumgardner, a fantastically talented graphic designer, whose fingerprints are evident throughout this web site, told me about a dear friend of his who is a renowned specialist in fine stationery.  Her name is Nancy Sharon Collins and Charles mentioned her ages ago, but I never had the opportunity to call upon her services until now.

Our daughter is getting married in December (in New York) and after making visits to numerous stationers (in New York), I called Nancy in New Orleans and introduced myself.  You must be thinking—really—New Orleans?  Does that make sense?

Not only does it make sense, I am over the moon about this decision and thrilled to be working with Nancy who is an extraordinary and deeply knowledgeable designer.

Nancy Sharon Collins spent many years in her own design firm (in New York) doing projects with companies like Bergdorf Goodman (where Charles was Creative Director), Clinique, Revlon, Curve Fragrance, Williams-Sonoma, Martha Stewart Weddings, the Metropolitan Opera Shop and the Museum of Modern Art.  She developed an expertise in the history, design and production of fine stationery and started a business working with customers who shared her passion.

Moving south to Louisiana, she began teaching graphic design and does so now at Loyola University, New Orleans, all the while expanding her stationery business, producing some of the most exquisite items imaginable.

A year before I met Nancy, I had purchased a copy of her book The Complete Engraver: Monograms, Crests, Ciphers, Seals and the Etiquette of Social Stationery published by Princeton Architectural Press. 


The Complete Engraver by Nancy Sharon Collins

Her book gives a rich and detailed history of printing (primarily engraving), the art of making paper and historical and current uses of social stationery.  It includes many detailed illustrations and examples of the engraver’s art and bemoans the loss of artisans as the electronic world has wrought change in this industry as well as so many others.

But—not to fear, Nancy has come to the rescue and has a network of the most talented craftsmen across the nation and is able to design and create the most imaginative items you could desire. Her knowledge and passion for engraved stationery goes so far that she lectures about social conventions at typography conferences and teaches classes about monograms!

Saving my pennies for a Butler’s Closet project (business cards, etc.) I called Nancy to introduce myself.  As we embarked on this project, the subject of my needs for my daughter’s wedding arose and bingo, we were off to the races.

While designing wedding invitations is not Nancy’s primary business, she had a number of examples to show us and we fell in love with a very elegant and restrained design that will be photo-engraved (more affordable than hand engraving) and will include the most delicate sheet of onion skin as a “topper” over the main invitation.

What seemed like an impractical decision—working long distance and virtually—on a project of such importance—became the perfectly correct decision as Nancy is a dream partner. 

She initially sent me samples of her work that took my breath away and once we saw the selection of designs picked one that was just perfect for my daughter and her fiancé.  Totally outside today’s trend of florid designs that are engraved or letter pressed on stock that is thick as a UPS carton, the invitation is spare with a very simple historic type-face that looks as modern as anything you can imagine.

Nancy’s web site can be found at this link: Nancy Collins Stationer.  If you are looking for the most refined and extraordinary social stationery or business suite beat a path to her door.

Read more about Nancy in an interview in the New York Times, and this older but iconic one just too adorable to not mention.