Bon mots from Bell’occhio

Bell’occhio, whose last three syllables are the same as Pinocchio, is greater than the sumptuousness of its parts: an exquisite shop, a simple-yet-superb website, and gift presentations that have charmed recipients for over 20 years now. Bell’occhio gets lots of great press for its whimsy, but I want to show you some of its wit.

Proprietress Claudia Schwartz and calligrapher Wendy Cook are wordmistresses as well. They regularly put their heads {which often have wonderful ribbons around them} together to craft clever ephemera. Bell’occhio’s offset-printed calling card features minimal information, incomparable calligraphy and a couple of superlative swooshes. The motto: Ars longa, Vita brevis.

Postcards for Bell’occhio sales are divine. One is a rebus which begins {bell} {oak} {key} {Oh!} {sail}…. Another is très gai and très J, promising “Jaunty merchandise! Jovial staff! Jubilant savings!” With a jackelope named Jacquie on the front. On the back, he says, “Jack-up your joie de vivre at our January Jettison Jamboree.” And the pleasing prospect of personal service: “It will be over in a jiffy… but give us a jingle if you’re unable to join us, and we’ll joyfully assist you by phone. No joke.”

{The red tag is tinier than a postage stamp, using less paper than a fortune! Mini-type in the upper-right reads: REF A-02. Those French.}

I have kept every single thing Bell’occhio has ever sent me {except for the blue envelope below, which I donated to the Alphabetilately exhibition currently at the Smithsonian National Postal Museum, as a contemporary advertising cover}. The postage stamp showcases actual merchandise – the shop’s signature boxes covered in bird’s-eye-view of Paris paper. The inimitable invoice itself is still in my collection.

A recent feature in TMagazine online includes a delightful dozen little images that you can click on to read tidy snippets about some of Claudia’s favorite finds and fancies. Bell’occhio’s own website is as wondrous as falling down the rabbit hole. Bon voyage!

Photo credit: 5 – Michael Osborne.

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  1. Posted by p.s. LOVE stampede « Felt & Wire on 04.24.13 at 3:34 pm

    […] label, the loveliest in the land, bears the hand of Bari herself (who continues to be inspired by Wendy Cook, court calligrapher of refined San Francisco emporium Bell’occhio). The center envelope was […]

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