The phone call likely went something like this:
“Crane Customer Service, how may I help you?”
“Well, we’re putting together an order for a wedding and need some advice.”
“Okay, is there something special you need?”
“Well, the papers will be engraved, but they need to be embossed as well.”
“That’s fine, we can do that. Do you need us to make an embossing die?”
“No, we have the die.”
“Well, you can just ship us the die and we’ll put it together with the rest of your order.”
“It’s Thomas Jefferson’s die.”
If you stick around long enough, events can tend to occur in circles, or at least loops. Since Crane has been around since 1801, loopy things happen quite often.
During the presidential terms of George Washington, young Zenas Crane made paper at his uncle’s Liberty Paper Mill in Milton, Mass., at his brother’s mill in Newton Lower Falls and at Isaiah Thomas’ mill just outside Worcester.
During the term of John Adams, the Thomas mill had been sold to the Burbank family, and Zenas made his first trek west to find the perfect location for a mill of his own.
When Zenas began making paper on the banks of the Housatonic, Thomas Jefferson was President of the United States.
Back to Customer Service. After much deliberation about shipping and insurance and such, the die was sent on its way by next-day service. There were more than several people – both in North Adams and Virginia – who spent the next morning in anxious anticipation of the die’s safe arrival. And there were more than several ooohs and aaahs as the package was opened and the die inspected.
Once all the pieces of the wedding order were assembled, it was off to the engraving press. I remember a conversation with engraver Ed Boudreau during production. His remarks went along these lines: “This is really an honor. I’ve engraved stationery for lots of celebrities and several presidents, but this is really really special. I had to take a deep breath to settle myself down before I started. Imagine…Thomas Jefferson once held this die.”
And so it goes, in circles, or at least loops.