Verto was founded by Mark Dong and Robert Bengtson. The two met over a decade ago while Mark was working at a photo lab in San Francisco where Robert took his freelance photography assignments. Their interactions evolved into sending each other their homemade holiday cards after discovering how much they both love a great card.

Face-to-face contact ended, however, when Robert ‘went digital’. Both, however, continued to send and receive holiday cards year after year, and for a long time this was their only mode of correspondence.

Forward to December of 2012 when Robert received that year’s card from Mark and thought it was one of the best he’d ever seen.  A beautiful old book on the front and back, with an amazing book-like interior. Sound familiar? In those first moments Robert also glimpsed a whole line of cards celebrating books, great craftsmanship, striking design, and simple sentiments. They talked about it for a couple years and created a few initial designs. Then last year the two committed to the vision of “eight cards… on a rack… in a bookstore!” They met week after week as the designs and back-end pieces came together, step by step, until their mantra became reality.

“We love this. We love great cards. We love using cards to create meaningful experiences for people. Greeting cards are ideal because they’re still the most popular way people tangibly recognize and celebrate each other. If we can contribute to even a fraction of that, we can have a lot of impact.

“Another reason is because a ‘great card’ is at the heart of our friendship. So being able to bring great cards to others is really satisfying and special. Our hope is that they contribute to positive, beautiful, life-affirming exchanges between people everywhere.”

Generally speaking, an antiquarian book is a book that is valued as a unique physical object. Dictionaries often says something about it “pertaining to antiquaries or antiquities”. Basically, old stuff of quality!

To us, beautiful old books embody great human qualities. Great design. Great materials. Great craftsmanship. Most of the books used to create the cards are over 100 years old.

We also just love beautiful, old books with great design. We love the tangibility. We love the longevity. And we love how as cards they bring all these great qualities together in a way that can easily and directly touch people’s lives, particularly in our ever-digitized world. More than ever we long for things that are beautifully-made and made-to-last, and where daily life offer tangible, physical, meaningful connection with the world.

First step is to find great books that have great covers, backs, spines, endpapers, borders, and/or decorative elements. We contact antiquarian book sellers, go to book fairs, and look at on-line auctions. (If you have any great books that you think could add something to a future great card, let us know / send it our way!)

Once we find a book with great elements we photograph them and then Mark applies his Photoshopping Magic / Secret Sauce to rework the titles and assemble the pieces into a Verto creation. Then we tweak and we tweak until the card tells us she’s done!

We want to have a positive, life-affirming impact on as many people as possible, and see Verto as a journey of bringing great products into reality that inspire the human spirit.

Specifically, we see Verto products being sold in thousands of book stores, libraries, and retail spaces all around the country and world. We see dozens of different greeting cards. We see box sets of Thank You cards. We see journals with antiquarian book covers. We see re-publishing public-domain (pre-1923) books that bear repeating / celebrating. And we see publishing contemporary new titles, eager to stand the test of time.

While there are so many ways to give back to Mother Earth, we both love trees and see them as the perfect way to recognize this amazing planet as part of this creative process. They also seem ideal given the paper-centric aspect of greeting cards. Our hope is that by using 100% recycled, post-consumer, fsc-certified paper for the cards and envelopes and then planting trees we become “+1” as a creative entity.

Earth is a closed system. We need to recognize this. Everything we make needs to be regenerative. There’s a limit to landfills. Everything needs to be a part of everything for everything to keep moving. 

Thank you Earth.
Thank you Trees.

‘108’ is connected to meaningful aspects of human history / ceremony. It also makes interesting appearances in our physical world. The following is a partial list associated with this number:

  • The diameter of the Sun is about 108 times the diameter of the Earth.
  • The average distance from the Sun to the Earth is about 108 times the diameter of the Sun.
  • The average distance from the Moon to the Earth is about 108 times the diameter of the Moon.
  • The masculine and feminine characters in the Sanskrit alphabet total 108 (54 + 54).
  • Hindu deities have 108 names.
  • There are said to be 108 energy lines (nadis) converging to form the heart chakra.
  • Mathematicians of Vedic culture viewed 108 as a number of the wholeness of existence.
  • Astrologically the 9 planets travel through the 12 houses, i.e. 9 x 12 = 108.
  • The number 108 is used in Islam to refer to God.
  • Yogis do 108 sun salutations on solstices and equinoxes.
  • In Japan a bell is chimed 108 times to celebrate a new year.
  • Zen juzus and Shiva malas are composed of 108 beads.
  • The angle 108° defines a sacred geometric pentagon.
  • Many consider “1” as the Sacred Individual, the “0” representing Everything, and the “8” a symbol to represent infinity / the eternal nature of existence.

We always have about 4-5 cards on the burners. Selecting the next book/card is an inscrutable but welcomed challenge.
One will be Amor Et Lucis translated from Latin to Love And Light .
Another is Joy To The World for the holidays and another Happy Birthday.
Bon Voyage may be in the works although we’re still kicking this one around.
And we are on the look out for the perfect Mother’s Day card.
If you have any suggestions, or access to any great covers or end-papers, let us know! : )

Since we couldn’t do it alone we’d like to offer special thanks and appreciation to the following.

     John Windle Antiquarian Bookseller (Happy Birthday #2, This Moment Matters)

     Brick Row Book Shop (Thank You, Happy Birthday #1)

     Korey Cayetano-Smith (Congratulations)

     Watermark Press