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The Best Little Stationery Company in the Berkshires

Rural Intelligence StyleIt would be easy to walk or drive by Museum Facsimiles on North Street in Pittsfield without thinking to stop in. But that would be a serious lapse in judgment if you’re the sort of person who still writes thank you notes by hand or sends birthday and holiday cards to friends and family via the U.S. Postal Service. For this local company makes luscious (and often winsome) stationery at a factory a few blocks away. At its outlet store, you can buy everything at wholesale prices:  a pack of ten letter-press notecards is $8 and individual greeting cards are just $1.75.  Museum Facsimiles is more than a great card store. It’s a custom frame shop, too, which did much of the framing for the current M.C Escher: Seeing the Unseen exhibition at the Berkshire Museum. “We have a long history with museums,” says Ken Green, who owns the company with his wife, Laurie. “We started the company in 1992 by buying a warehouse full of art prints and high-quality postcards that were sold to places like the Whitney and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. But when the museums figured out how to make them much cheaper, we had to go to Plan B, which is how we got into framing fine art prints.” They started bringing their ornate frames to gift shows and developed relationships with retailers like Kate’s Paperie, Neiman Marcus and Rizzoli Bookstore. “We got into making large mirrors for furniture stores like Domain, too.”

Rural Intelligence StyleFor many years, the Greens ran the business out of their house. “My front door was the shipping room and we made frames in the basement,”  says Ken. A few years ago, they moved to an old textile plant downtown. “We used to have an outlet store at the factory, but then we wanted to be part of the North Street revival,” says Ken, explaining that they added original art and locally-made products such as Robinz Candles to attract more customers.

The Greens have done what seems impossible today: They’ve figured out an economic model that allows them to manufacture their letterpress and silkscreen stationery locally on American-made vellum and paper from Mohwak and Strathmore, using two vintage presses:Rural Intelligence Style a Heidelberg windmill from 1950 and a Kluge from 1900. “There is nothing like the feel of letterpress cards and stationery,” he says. Museum Facsimiles’ offerings include a wide range of Christmas and Hanukah cards as well as a plethora of music-themed cards for the Tanglewood crowd. “You can buy a card that sings and moves at CVS for $4.95,” he notes, “but it will never be as elegant or as heartfelt as one of our handmade cards.”

Museum Facsimiles
431 North Street, Pittsfield; 413.499.1818
Monday - Friday noon - 5 p.m.
Saturday 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.

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Posted by Dan Shaw on 03/16/11 at 06:50 AM • Permalink