- THE JOURNEYThe 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, Taos 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 hand colored 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. THE BUSINESS IS FOR SALE either as a whole or in part: the printing equipment or the designs or both.
- THE NEXT STEPAlthough the business is once again in storage, it awaits a grand next step in its journey. It has been a labor of love. It is time to pass the torch.
Lynne envisions an exciting future for the old platen presses and early twentieth century imported typefaces from England and France with interest from vintage printing technology connoisseurs, art history buffs, collectors and entrepreneurs.
But, it is the designs themselves—over 1,000 in all—that may be the sleeping giants . . .
The potential is there, using an imaginative combination of today’s technology and yesterday’s time-honored traditions, to make a twenty-first-century product that results from a collaboration of forward thinking with a desire to hold a piece of the past. Bits make today’s century a place of creativity, efficiency, possibilities and speed. The tools of a previous century let us truly touch one another through paper rather than depend on the impersonal abstract tone of what flies through the Internet.
- OUR DESIGNSSouthwest DesignsArchitecture and Landscape of NMTaos Cards' Southwest line are the most popular category of designs, boasting original designs from local artists that capture the art, architecture, and landscape beauty of New Mexico.California DesignsSomething moreThese images capture a nostalgic glimpse of a golden California of endless possibilities before freeways, pollution, subdivisions and natural disasters came to define the state.Christmas DesignsCirca the Turn of the 20th CenturyWIth both Christian and secular holiday designs, Taos Cards' Christmas line was the best selling line in its heyday.
- THE PROCESS:ETCHINGS AND ZINC LINE-CUTS
Etchings. The process used by Taos Cards involved each etching being printed by hand, one at a time, by the same laborious and painstaking process as that used by Rembrandt, Durer, Meryon, Whistler and Pennell. Etchings are made by drawing with a blunt needle through a blackened wax ground on a polished copper plate. The lines on the plate thus exposed are then bitten or etched with acid. A proof is pulled by covering the plate with etching ink and then skillfully removing it from the surface by hand, leaving ink in the lines and wherever a tone is desired on the print. Finally, the plate is covered with a dampened paper and run through a hand press.Zinc Linecuts. Zinc linecuts start out as a black and white drawing by an artist. It is then photographed. The negative is exposed to a zinc plate covered with a light-sensitive material. The lines of the negative are sensitized by light on the zinc. The sensitized area is covered with a waxy substance, and what remains outside the lines is then etched away. The lines of a zinc line cut tend to be of the same thickness and contain many more curves and angled lines than are possible with a wood block or engraving.