A couple of years ago I picked up a copy of The Smythson Guide to Everyday Stationery, a useful reference book on the art of correspondence by Smythson of Bond Street. I originally purchased my pink leather bound edition shown above as a gift for someone else but loved it so much I ended up keeping it for myself!
The book mainly focuses on etiquette and style but is also is a primer on stationery in general, covering such topics as watermarks, paper textures, typefaces and the appropriate paper weights for various types of correspondence.
Most useful, in my opinion, is the book's musings on correspondence etiquette which I think any traditionalist would appreciate. Covering everything from how to correctly address an envelope and the proper wording of an invitation to the basic rules of thank you notes, this book is a must read for anyone who loves stationery as much as I do. Smythson is a brand grounded in tradition so the book is written with a tone of propriety that carries on the old-school philosophies on correspondence observed by British high society back in the late 1800s when the brand was founded. For example: "The great hostesses of the past would be revolving in their graves if they could see invitations going out without any prefixes, family names or titles, but increasingly that's the way it goes."
With the rise of technologies like email and text messaging, I think the simple art of the hand written note has fallen by the wayside. In our current "age of speed" it's effortless to fire off a quick email but actually taking the time to write a note to someone conveys a certain level of thoughtfulness and is a gesture that people will really appreciate. The Smythson Guide articulates it well: "Everyone enjoys finding a hand-written envelope amongst the bills and junk mail on the door mat."
So next time you're thinking of sending a thank you email or an evite, get out your stationery instead and express your sentiments on paper. If you're not sure what to say or don't have the time to put too much thought into it, follow this wisdom from the Smythson Guide:
"People worry about writing stylish or witty letters but in the end, the intention is simply to express a sentiment, good or bad, to another person. The more sincerely you express it, the better, and the more attractive it looks, in terms of hand-writing and stationery, the more memorable it will be."
The Smythson Guide To Everyday Stationery is available at Smythson of Bond Street.