Issue 14 Doubles Summer 2004
Inventory / Meta-greetings
“Inventory” is a column that examines or presents a list, catalogue, or register.
I haven’t found a definitive name for the cards in greeting card displays that meet your glance, guiding you to the right section (“SYMPATHY” or “BIRTHDAY”) within moments. The American Greetings Company sometimes calls these cards “locators,” but let’s call them meta-greetings.
Maybe a sexy name will take them a step closer to the “thingness” that evades them. As far as I can tell, meta-greetings, by any name, are unrecognized by both the collectors’ marketplace (e.g., eBay “ephemera” listings) and the marketplace of ideas (e.g., Maurice Rickards’s eye-opening Encyclopedia of Ephemera).
Because they are often more poetic, funny, and beautiful than the greeting cards they promote, it’s sometimes fun to use meta-greetings as greeting cards. Their size and paper stock make them perfect mailpieces; one side is always blank, ready for postcard-style writing; and clerks are often willing to give them away in moderation, like empty cardboard boxes.
Presented here are some of my favorite meta-greetings from the past seven years. The range of words and phrases is wider than you might expect. I rarely leave a Hallmark store or a supermarket without something new.
Brian McMullen is managing editor and graphic designer of Cabinet.
Cabinet is a non-profit organization supported by the Lambent Foundation, the Orphiflamme Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, the New York State Council on the Arts, the Katchadourian Family Foundation, and many generous individuals. All our events are free, the entire content of our many sold-out issues are on our site for free, and we offer our magazine and books at prices that are considerably below cost. Please consider supporting our work by making a tax-deductible donation by visiting here.
© 2004 Cabinet Magazine