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Yours sincerely …

Books and notecards by Janice MacLeod

I should make it clear right away that I do not advertise on my blog.  When I mention a product –  a particular nail polish or chocolate,  a book I have read or a perfume I enjoy wearing – I do so because I enjoy sharing that enjoyment with others.  Indeed, I do not have adverts on my blog (which I believe is called ‘monetizing’). That is not what my blog is about; it is a totally advert-free zone, but a the same time I want to be able to talk about things I like and so today I am going to talk about stationery. Not the full range of stationery which includes files, paper, envelopes and so forth, but notecards, postcards and correspondence cards.

I first came across Janice MacLeod’s book Paris Letters in 2015 and enjoyed it so much it became my go-to book for sending as a present to friends, or if someone simply needed cheering up.  I loved Janice’s book and this year, her second book, A Paris Year, has been published and which I posted about recently.

Janice has now produced a wallet containing twelve lovely notecards and envelopes entitled Paris Letter & Art, Paris Post. I lost no time in buying this collection of notecards and it arrived yesterday.

Janice has chosen six designs of old postcards in this collection, i.e. two notecards of each of the six designs.   If, like me, you are reluctant to part with the prettiest of your stationery items, you can now use six of them and perhaps keep the other six! (This is one of two sets of notecards that Janice has produced; the other has scenes of Paris.)

They fit neatly into the pretty pale pink wallet

I have always loved stationery.  Perhaps being brought up in my parents’ newsagents’ shop made me aware of it, even though there were only two main kinds of writing paper in those days in our shop (smarter establishments would’ve had similarly smarter papers) – pads of Harley Bond and Basildon Bond.  There were cheaper writing pads (as they were called) but these tended to have  ‘ruled’ pages, and even as a child I thought these looked declasse: designed for those who had never learned for form their letters correctly.

Indeed, when I was at my grammar school, our English teacher (who just happened to be Head of English in the school) was very sniffy about ruled paper.  She said we must always use plain (un-ruled) paper, in white, cream, pale blue or pale grey, using black or blue ink (‘coloured’ inks were beyond the pale, although I had a phase, as many teenagers do, when I used green ink) and if we couldn’t write in a straight line, we must use the guide sheet provided (this was a thickly ruled sheet of paper which was slipped beneath the page on which you were writing, so that you might keep your lines of writing straight.)

For my 12th birthday my parents (as well as my desk, which I still have) bought me a box of personal stationery.  The smart, dark brown box contained Doeskin Deckle paper. Deckle-edged paper doesn’t have a smooth edge, is if cut on a guillotine, but instead it has a ‘nibbled’, rough edge.  It was heavy cream paper with a watermark, and on the top right hand side was my address and on the left hand side my initials, all in brown ink.  The envelopes were similarly made of smooth cream paper, with dark brown tissue linings.  I thought it was the most beautiful paper I had ever seen.

In 1960 I was part of a group of Devon teenagers who participated in a student exchange with a similar group in Luneburg, West Germany (as it was then styled, because this was long before unification.)  While there I bought some writing paper and I kept one sheet with one of the envelopes.

I apologise for the areas that once held sticky tape, as I’d stuck these items into the diary I kept of that visit more than 57 years ago.  The lining shows an artist painting at an easel. I even like the asymmetrical slant of the envelope.

Over the years I have included mention of the paint and wallpaper company, Farrow & Ball in some of my writing, and they have kindly sent me small gifts, such as the above box of postcards with envelopes. These are promotional items, highlighting their latest designs, but they are so attractive that I’ve not been able to bring myself to use them, only as bookmarks!

 A Farrow & Ball postcard for my Nancy Lancaster book

More recently I have bought a box of 50 postcards, Botanicum (which I mentioned earlier in the year) but which, again, I think I will find too beautiful to use for their intended purpose and simply keep them to enjoy as miniature works of art, or as bookmarks.

Just eight of the lovely postcards in the Botanicum collection

As well as the lovely Paris Post notecards by Janice MacLeod, I like the personalized correspondence cards from www.madebyellis.com

There are several designs including flowers and butterflies, but I like this simple design of pen and ink, a little arcane in this day of computers (but a stylised design of a computer on an item for handwriting just wouldn’t be right, would it?)

Do you love stationery, or do you simply use sheets of A4 or a writing pad?  Do you hoard lovely postcards, as I do, unable to part with them?  I’ll bet few of you have notecards dating back to 1956, such as my set of Japanese Ladies, four of which I kept from a box which my mother gave me and which I had framed. These now hang above my desk where I am now writing this post.

Until next time.

Coming soon:  Follies


About Margaret Powling

Margaret Powling
Margaret’s main interests are her husband and family, her friends, her home, her garden, writing, literature, architecture, décor, social history, photography, historic houses and gardens, and towns, villages and the countryside. She writes about the things she enjoys: flowers, scent, fine soap, monthly style magazines, and other such small indulgences, such as afternoon tea or simply enjoying her summerhouse with a book. She invites you to enjoy this virtual visit to South Devon, England.

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  1. simpleliving31.blogspot.co.uk

    Beautiful stationery Margaret, It is nice to keep a good supply in, shame the cost of a stamp is pricey as I think most people email these days, I do write to a few people still, letter writing is a dying art now sadly.

    • Margaret Powling

      Yes, postage can be very expensive these days, thank goodness for email! I do write some letters, though, to some friends who do not use computers. But I’m delighted with the new notecards from Janice MacLeod, they really are pretty.

  2. Everything you have is so lovely and so carefully looked after. I particularly like the Botanicum postcards, such lovely colours. I don’t think I could bring myself to use any of it although nowadays I do try to use things rather than just save them, otherwise they often just disintegrate in storage and then no-one enjoys them.

    I try to tell myself not to keep things for best because as you get older your chances at “best” diminish and you haven’t had the pleasure of them. Better to enjoy them now 🙂

    • Margaret Powling

      You are right, things that aren’t used are simply stored away. I have a whole collection of greetings cards, still in their cellophane from more than 20 years ago, paintings of interiors by Stephen Darbishire.
      You are quite right to enjoy things and not save things ‘for best’ as we were often taught as children as these days the occasion for ‘best’ seldom comes; we might as well look good (or try to!) all the time.

  3. I love the look of stationery but it seems few if any people write cards or letters anymore. A pack of ten stamps lasts me a long time. Bills are paid on-line and it’s only grandchildren’s birthday cards that are mailed. They still get excited about receiving their own mail.

    • Margaret Powling

      I do still write notecards and letters to a few people (my letters are printed, mind you, after typing them on my computer) but I just love having a clutch of pretty notecards for when the occasion presents itself, for example if I like a book and I can find a reasonably priced copy on Amazon or Abe, I will then order it and send it to a friend (I don’t mean the same friend over and over again!) and pop a notecard inside. I enjoy sending presents, just little inexpensive ones, without any real reason. It’s so lovely to receive a present, even a few chocolates, or a paperback book, when it’s not your birthday or Christmas, when people they have to give you something!

  4. Beautiful stationery is so special. I recall how wonderful it was, in my teens (1960s) to have special notepaper and envelopes. What a treat! Our postie now only comes every 3 days, so I suppose it’s actually twice a week. The thrill of receiving mail seems gone. I keep special cards from birthdays, and on Mothers Day, two of my grand daughters wrote the most wonderful things in a card, to me. It has pride of place in my home.

    • Margaret Powling

      Isn’t it lovely when grandchildren make or send cards? Our little grandson is only four, but he’s already made cards for us, and in the kitchen I have a calender he’s also made.
      Our Postie comes around every day, but of course, he mightn’t have post for us each time. But you are right, beautiful stationery is special, that is why, I think, we all tend to like it so much, and treasure lovely cards.

  5. Eloise. (thisissixty.blog)

    I love this post with its pictures of fabulous stationery, especially the Paris Post notecards and the printed Luneberg envelope. My mother always taught me that to write letters on lined paper was simply not done. I remember that she used Basildon Bond in a pale grey. She used blue-black ink by Quink. I love to write with my fountain pen too and like to send thank you notes. I was once gifted a set of thick cream notecards which had envelopes lined with brown tissue. They were really quite beautiful.
    I know just what you mean about the pleasure of sending an unexpected gift for no reason. When I was in my teens both my friend and I loved the book Daddy Long Legs. Years later, probably in our late forties, I came across an old copy and bought it for something ridiculous like a pound. She said that when she received the parcel out of the blue, it could have been worth much, more for the surprised p,erasure it gave her.

    • Margaret Powling

      Your mother was quite right, only plain paper, unlined. Oh, and Quink! I used that at school, and Stephen’s Ink, too. Oh, and blue air mail paper, thin as onion skin. Such memories of writing when I was a girl. And you had some brown-tissue lined envelopes, too!
      How lovely to have found that book for your friend, I’m sure she has treasured it.

  6. I could have written this post! I have Janice’s latest book and love it. I also have a collection of her letters which I loved receiving each month in the post. Your collection of postcards is wonderful and notecards are one of my favourite things to purchase even if I don’t use many.

    • Margaret Powling

      Hello, Pieta, and how lovely that you also enjoy Janice’s books and monthly illustrated letters. Yes, notecards and postcards are lovely, but oh, it is sometimes difficult parting with them. When were in Saltram House recently (which I posted about) I bought four more poscards (as if I didn’t already have any of Saltram from my many visits, but there is always a different view of the various rooms!) as I wanted to send them to some special friends, but they are still here on my desk!

  7. I adore nice stationery and can become completely lost in a newsagents store or even better – any of the larger bookstore – cum – stationers in the large cities, such a Dymocks in Sydney. I always send postcards to a few family members when on holidays, even if just a long weekend away, but choose the cheesy cards which show local wildlife or landscapes. And I love birthday cards – sending and receiving them – and will often buy a card months ahead of the event (birthday, christening, etc) if I happen upon just the right card.

    I, too, mourn the passing of writing and reading letters. No one does it anymore, it’s all just emails and texts – and it’s not like you save those in a pretty box in the spare bedroom, is it. When my husband and I were first dating – 10 years ago – we lived some distance apart and he sent me some beautiful text messages. That mobile phone has since died and the text messages with it. In another decade or so no one will ever have heard of a love letter, will they.

    I think it’s nice to appreciate such nice things. I have always loved pens, pencils, etc and even as a child took care of my pencil cases, bulging with textas and so on. Fragrant smelling erasers which were shaped like lollies or soaps – which never erased very well at all but were pretty to look at – were a real treat 🙂

    • Margaret Powling

      Oh, how lovely it would be to keep all the important text messages and emails forever! I have the photos of our little grandson in hospital when he was born on my ancient mobile but I’ve no means of removing those photos … well, none that I know of. I might if I go to some store selling mobiles and then they might remove them for me so that I can download them into my computer and then print them. Some things are good, instant photos, some things not so good – means of keeping important messages unless we print them right away, and few of us do that, I think.
      Yes, I loved my pencil case as a child, too. And I had a special book with a roll-top lid that held coloured pencils, too. They were very popular in the 1950s. And I also buy nice cards when I see them, even if they for a person’s birthday months ahead.

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