The Taos Cards journey began in the late 1920s when Ralph Pearson, a noted etcher from Chicago, founded the business while living in Taos. When his partner, Joe Foster, a Chicago newspaper and advertising man, took the helm between 1923-1931, the company became known as Vancil Foster Christmas Cards and featured designs from various Taos art colony artists including Barbara Latham, Holling C. Holling, Manville Chapman, Helen Travis, Ila McAfee and Madeline Kroll. After its sale in 1931, the business was in storage for more than three decades until it was resurrected by Rick Yaple in 1966.
Rick and his wife, Lynne, who had an impressive history in newspapers, including a scholarship from the Inter-American Press Association to study and travel in Latin America, rebuilt the business under the name, Taps Cards, starting in 1970, eventually opening up a studio/retail space on Fourth Street in Albuquerque to produce and sell the handmade greeting cards. Lynne’s background in newspapers and her accolades from the Inter-American Press Association and a Fulbright scholarship, made for a perfect marriage with Rick and Taos Cards.
The more than 1,000 images represent Victorian Christmas and Southwestern and California themes. The etchings are printed in the time-honored tradition of the intaglio printer. All coloring is done by hand. Most of the images are by two well-known Taos artists: Ralph M. Pearson (1883-1958) whose work is in the permanent collection of the Art Institute of Chicago, the Library of Congress, the New York Public Library and the Rochester Art Museum; Barbara Latham (1896-1987) represented in the permanent collection of the Library of Congress, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
The creation of each card that is an etching or a reproduction of an etching involves more than 65 processes, including all the type set by hand and printed on a century-old, Chandler Price letterpress onto fine, imported papers. The production of handcolored cards printed from zinc linecuts and woodblocks has 47 hand operations to complete each card. At one time, the cards were available in museums, high-end stationery stores in the Southwest and Sak’s Fifth Avenue stores nationwide.
When Rick passed away in 2010, Lynne eventually closed the shop and put the business back in storage, but she knew that Taos Cards was only dormant ... awaiting its next life.