Verto comes from the Latin ‘vertere’ meaning ‘to transform / change’.

We see these cards as helping transform the interactions between people. To bring more quality into the way we recognize and celebrate each other. We also see Latin as the essence of English and like how it harkens back to the beginning of language and writing and books.

Verto was co-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 Robert used for his freelance photography assignments. Although they only interacted during these visits, they soon included each other on their Holiday Card List after discovering how much they each love a great card and that they both loved creating their own cards from scratch.

The two lost contact when Robert’s new digital cameras stopped his visits to the lab. They did, however, each continue to receive a holiday card from each other and for years this was their only mode of interaction.

In December of 2012, when Robert received that year’s card from Mark he thought it was one of the best he’d ever seen. A beautiful old book for the front and back, with an amazing book-like interior. Sound familiar? In those first moments of appreciation, Robert also glimpsed a whole line of these kinds of cards celebrating books, great craftsmanship, awesome design, and simple sentiments. After talking about it for a couple years and creating a few initial designs, this past Spring the two committed to the vision with the goal of “8 cards… on a rack… in a bookstore!” They met week after week as the designs and back-end pieces came together step by step. Leading to this very moment.

“We love this. One of the reasons we’re doing this is to help create meaningful experiences for as many people as possible. 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 being able to bring great cards to others is really satisfying and special. We’re also thrilled how the cards bring together our love and appreciation for old books, quality craftsmanship, and vintage design. 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 hope to as soon as possible. We’re now in the midst of just getting things going and are still figuring out the printing, inventory, hand-assembly, fulfillment, wholesale, shipping, etc. As soon as we dial all this in we’ll make it possible to buy directly from here. So stay tuned. For now, please visit the (ever-growing) participating vendors to buy individual cards directly.

We already starting on the next card, which will be one for the holiday titled Joy to the World.

After that, we’re thinking Just Because  and You Are A Great Thing and one beautiful cover without any title.

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