Verto Publishing 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 film (that’s right, this was still the days of film) from his photography assignments. They soon began sending each other their homemade holiday cards after discovering how much they both loved creating / sending / receiving great cards.

Their lives parted, however, when Robert’s professional work ‘went digital’. They both, however, continued to send each other  their holiday card each year, and for many elipses around the sun this was their only mode of interaction.

It was 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? It was also in those first moments that Robert glimpsed a whole line of cards embodying the beauty of the book with great craftsmanship, fabulous design, and simple sentiments. They talked about it for a couple years and even created a few initial designs, however it wasn’t until the Spring of 2017 that the two actually sat down and 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 this mantra became reality in partnership with the Book Passage Bookstore in San Francisco’s Ferry Building.

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’re currently in the midst of our first Mother’s Day card.
So stay tuned… hopefully in time for this year. : )

Also, if you have any suggestions, or have access to any great books or end-papers for future cards, let us know!

Special thanks and appreciation to the following.

John Windle Antiquarian Bookseller 
Brick Row Book Shop
Whitmore Rare Books
Riverow Bookshop
Korey Cayetano-Smith
Samantha Cairo-Toby
Andresen Printing