Of all life’s small pleasures, surely amongst the very nicest is the sending or receiving of personal correspondence via post. Opening one’s mailbox to find an envelope addressed by the hand of a dear friend or loved one is sure to spark delight. There is something at least as fulfilling about sitting down to put pen to paper in order to send greetings of your own to another. Imagining her delight when she spies a creamy envelope enticingly peeking out from a stack of advertisements and account statements is a gift to oneself.
In times gone by, when relationships were maintained and business dealings, as well as household management, were conducted through letters, most people would invariably have a supply of stationery, ink, and pens at hand to make jotting a note to the butcher or penning a newsy missive to one’s far-flung relatives a thing of ease.
The ritual of opening the morning post over a cup of tea and a plate of hot, buttered toast seems so civilized—and, indeed, a tradition that might be easier to revive than one might at first imagine. After all, the expectation when one receives a letter is to respond with a note of one’s own. Surely the best way to enjoy the pleasure of a lively correspondence is to simply begin sending off letters and cards.
It is not nearly as daunting as one might assume. A little planning ahead ensures that the venture can proceed with ease and pleasure, but even the planning stage could provide enormous fun. Purveyors of charming stationery products are readily available to suit a range of tastes and occasions. Which leads very nicely to pens, where much the same can be said.
From rollerballs to flexible felt tips to fountain pens, there is a weight and nib and flow of ink to suit every preference. Taking the time to discover one or two that fit well in one’s hand and which aid in improving the writer’s penmanship is well worth it.
Not only is a well-crafted pen a joy to use, it is a pleasure to look upon. It is remarkably easy to discover vintage pens for sale at antique shops, in tag sales, and through specialty stockists offering to send purchases through the post. If fountain pens are of interest, there is a whole world of inks and nibs to explore. From richly colored inks infused with heady scents to shimmering inks that change tone as the light shifts, there is a myriad of options available.
Nibs for such pens are most often interchangeable, so it is possible to alter the appearance of one’s writing by a simply swapping one sort of nib for another whilst employing the same pen barrel. Some occasions call for the precision of an extra-fine, smooth nib, while others would benefit from the use of a wide italic stub to add a bit of flourish.
Nothing provides a finishing touch to a personal note like a wax seal affixed to the flap of the envelope. A bevy of options for adding a signature seal to one’s correspondence also exist. Wax sticks with a wick like those in candles, as well as wax beads meant to be melted in purpose-built pots, come in a wide variety of colors and sheens. Once a blob of wax has slightly cooled on the flap of the envelope, a seal, a signet ring, or even the decorative side of a seashell can be pressed into the wax to personalize the letter and to help ensure its contents arrive to the recipient entirely intact.
Finally, keeping a variety of decorative postage stamps at the ready will ensure popping completed letters in the post box is simple to accomplish. There are so many lovely designs available that choosing which to purchase may be the most challenging part of the whole process!
All the essentials for a session of letter-writing are easy to keep on hand in the cubbyhole of a desk, a lap desk, or even a kitchen drawer. A zippered folio can be stocked with the same items for those correspondents who find themselves often away from home.
I hope you will consider spreading the pleasure of a handwritten letter to one of your loved ones. After all, it only takes a few minutes, and it might very well be the high point of your own day as well as theirs.
Jessica Ellicott is the author of the Beryl & Edwina Mystery series, including Murder in an English Village, Murder Flies the Coop, Murder Cuts the Mustard, and Murder Comes to Call. She loves fountain pens, Mini Coopers, and throwing parties. She lives in northern New England, where she obsessively knits wool socks and enthusiastically speaks Portuguese with a shocking disregard for the rules of grammar. Visit her at www.JessicaEllicott.com.
Jessica Ellicott’s witty historical mystery series, taking place in the lean years following World War I, follows the adventures of brash American Beryl Helliwell and prim-and-proper Brit Edwina Davenport as they solve murders and crimes in the charming, quiet English village of Walmsley Parva. The two couldn’t be any less alike, but as sleuths in an England recovering from the Great War, they’re the perfect match to form a private inquiry agency to make ends meet—hoping that crime does indeed pay!
The first book, Murder in an English Village, introduces readers to the sleuths as legendary adventurous Beryl Helliwill arrives on her long-lost school chum Edwina’s doorstep, with no intention of returning stateside until America comes to its senses and repeals Prohibition. The women are drawn into Walmsley Parva’s hidden sinister side and decide to set up shop as private inquiry agents to help Edwina make ends meet and satisfy Beryl’s thirst for adventure. In the fourth—and latest—installment of the series Murder Comes to Call, a series of burglaries seems to culminate in murder, and it’s up to Beryl and Edwina to solve the case.