Progressive Greetings March 2019

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World’s Oldest Valentine’s Card PG’s Jakki Brown successful bidder for historic card Old love conquered all on 14 February when ‘the world’s oldest Valentine’s card’ went under the hammer and fetched £7,192, way over the expected selling price. The successful bidder was Jakki Brown, co-owner of Progressive Greetings, who held her nerve as a flurry of escalating bids came in from all over the world to Hansons Auctioneers in Etwall, Derbyshire. “I can’t tell you how happy I feel to know that this significant greeting card, which is such a wonderful example of an enduring British tradition, will remain within our industry,” she said. Jakki also owns the first ever commercially produced Christmas card, published by Sir Henry Cole in 1843.

The historic card, which dates back to the reign of Mad King George III, may be simple in format, but it carries a deep declaration of love and poignancy. In keeping with the types of messages that would have been sent during the Jane Austen era, the front of the message features the word ‘Love’ above sketches of hearts and a dove carrying a sealed envelope. The inside includes a handwritten verse.

The card, which was folded prior to being posted, was sent to ‘Ann’ who lived at Hartwell House in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire. This special Valentine’s card was among a collection of over 200 mainly Victorian and Georgian greeting cards, which belonged to the late Lawrence Randle, a keen philatelist and card collector. As soon as the news broke of the sale of the world’s oldest Valentine’s card the global media interest went into overdrive resulting in a mass of coverage in over 100 different newspapers, on diverse radio stations and a host of newsfeeds, as well as special interest websites. “I’m delighted the story has received exceptional coverage as I know Jakki [Brown] wanted to remind people of the importance of sending greeting cards,” said Jill Gallone, head of media at Hanson Auctioneers who masterminded and instigated the all-encompassing PR campaign. Above: The delicate Valentine that dates back to 17901810 that is now owned by PG’s Jakki Brown. Above left: Hansons’ auctioneer Rick Alexander keeping up with the bidding on 14 February.

Windles launches Kard Klasp Citing it as an ‘evolution in greeting card packaging’, greeting card printer Windles has launched Kard Klasp, an alternative way of publishers offering unwrapped cards. Having worked closely with Woodmansterne to develop the publisher’s close-seal solution – which enables the publisher to offer retailers an unwrapped card that remains secure with an envelope - greeting card printer Windles has now launched Kard Klasp, a variation on a Above: A mock-up of the Kard Klasp in use. theme which is a shaped, printable, peelable mechanism. “The term ‘naked cards’ has been a hot topic in the greeting card industry - as people and businesses wish to eradicate single use plastic where possible. We set about working with the naked cards phenomenon some 23 months ago, focusing on how best to retain the symbolic features of the beautiful greeting card product,” states Bruce Podmore, md of Windles. Kard Klasp is a paper-based, recyclable peelable label that can be printed with a publisher’s logo. Details can also be printed on the reverse of the Klasp.

Hallmark signs distribution deal with P&G Cards Hallmark is to strengthen its presence in Ireland by making the brand available through a distribution agreement with P&G Cards, as well as through the publisher’s dedicated sales force. P&G Cards is a well-established family business, founded by Pauline and Gerry Naughton back in 1988. Their two daughters, Michelle Daly and Aisling Naughton are now heavily involved in the day to day running of the business as deputy managing director and operations director respectively. Roscommon-based P&G Cards has built up a strong customer base, notably in the convenience sector, for its portfolio of products, which includes cards it publishes as well as those it distributes from other publishers. Its activities have also included publishing a range of own brand cards for Aldi.

Above: P&G Cards’ founders Gerry and (second right) Pauline Naughton with their daughters Michelle Daly (left) and Aisling Naughton.

The signing of Hallmark adds another string to P&G’s bow while giving Hallmark the opportunity for incremental sales in the Republic. Explaining the rationale, Ciaran Leonard, Hallmark’s head of sales for UK & Ireland said: “P&G Cards have a longstanding, trustworthy reputation in the trade and are focused on providing the best solutions for their customers, which is something we at Hallmark value greatly. We are confident P&G will be great custodians of the Hallmark brand and we are looking forward to a long and successful partnership delivering a great proposition for their customers”. Ciaran assures that Hallmark will continue with its own dedicated sales force in Ireland. “We are doing well in Ireland and have 27 Gold Crown stores there. Our sales force will continue to develop our brand’s presence, especially with the specialist card retailers.” Commenting from P&G’s perspective, deputy managing director Michelle Daly believes that “Together we are well positioned to grow and compete in the greeting card market. We will be able to offer a broader range that will enable our customers to capitalise on their greeting card business”.