The Art of Letter Writing

In our hyper-connected world, with its text messaging, the good, old-fashioned handwritten letter has nearly become extinct. Which is a shame because when it comes to sharing one’s true thoughts, sincere sympathies, and deepest gratitude, words traveling along the invisible digital superhighway will never suffice.

Sending a letter is the next best thing to showing up personally at someone’s door. Ink from your pen touches the stationery, your fingers touch the paper, and you seal the envelope. Something tangible from your world travels through machines and hands, and deposits itself in another’s mailbox. The recipient handles the paper that you handled and they see your personality and individuality conveyed in your handwriting.

If you are writing a casual letter to a friend or family member, quality stationery is a nice touch, but definitely not necessary. Your friend is not likely to take note of the excellent texture of your paper. But for some kinds of correspondence, only real stationery will do. If you are writing a love letter, a sympathy note, a thank you card, or a letter of congratulations, you don’t want to send such meaningful musings on paper you tore out of your spiral notebook. Quality stationery adds a weight of sincerity to your words.

Since quality stationery forms the foundation of one’s letter writing arsenal, investing in quality, personalized/monogrammed cards, papers, and envelopes is a wise decision. Your recipient will know a letter from you has arrived the moment they open the mailbox. Choose stationery with simple, classic style: white or ecru paper with black, blue, or gray ink. Having a few sets of the following types at hand will ready you for the writing of any kind of letter, both formal and long and short and casual.

Correspondence Cards

Correspondence cards are generally in the 4″ by 6″ size range, made from heavyweight card stock, come with or without a border and are typically used for brief notes. They are simply flat cards that are used for shorter correspondence. A few popular choices are as follows:

Wine Hand Bordered Correspondence Cards (3640) A full-bodied Red Wine border is hand applied to these elegant correspondence cards. Add one of our new Wine Links liners for an extra splash of color.

Craft Paper Correspondence Cards (3322) We immediately fell in love with the decisive look of these Craft Paper correspondence cards. The heavyweight paper carefully letterpresses your name, initials or monogram in rich White, Navy or Red foil. Size: 6 1/4″ x 4 1/2″ includes 25 cards and 25 plain envelopes Optional printed envelopes available Optional lined envelopes available

Monarch Sheets

Monarch Sheets, or executive stationery, generally measures 7″ by 10″ and are used for personal or business letters. Many paper and ink color choices are available, but color selection should be narrowed to the man’s general taste. Typically, personalization on monarch sheets includes the name and address printed at the top. Some of my favorites are:

Business Favorite Monarch – Plain Sheets (MSS) This Monarch stationery is for those who love to write. This is a substantial sheet that is composed of 60# text laid finish paper and measures 7 1/4″ x 10 7/8″. It can be used for business or personal use. This item is for monogrammed sheets only, no envelopes included.

Top Quality Business Stationery – Extra Plain Sheets Only (8361) This Monarch stationery is for those who love to write. This is a substantial sheet that is composed of 60# text laid finish paper and measures 7 1/4″ x 10 7/8″. It can be used for business or personal use. This item is for extra printed sheets only, no envelopes included.

Informal Notes

Informal notes typically measure around 3″ by 5″. Several personalization options are available on these as well, however most men choose to have their name or monogram printed in a masculine block font. Popular color choices are black, navy blue or grey ink on white or ivory paper

Stationery Embellishments

When purchasing stationery you will likely wish to embellish it with your name, address, family coat of arms, or some combination of these things. Basic stationery will print these embellishments in the conventional way, and are acceptable for the man on a budget. But if you’re thinking about investing in higher quality stationery or asking for stationery as a gift, you should look into printing methods which lend the embellishments a more formal and distinctive texture and appearance. There are several options for this, and you should choose the one that best suits your aesthetic desires and budget. One trendy suggestion is our:

Foil Stamped Sage Bordered Correspondence Cards (3275) Our most popular hand bordered colors are now available with your personalization hand stamped in shiny foil. Your choice of White or Ivory correspondence cards with Gold or Silver foil. Set includes 25 cards and 25 plain envelopes

Engraving

If you want to give your stationery the most distinctive look and feel possible, and you’re willing to pay top dollar to get it, then engraving is for you. Engraving, which dates from Medieval Europe, is the oldest process for creating embellishments. It is still done much like it was centuries ago. For each order, a new copper plate must be made. The copper plate is engraved with the text or design desired. Ink is spread over the plate, then wiped off, leaving only the ink in the engraving. Paper (and only the highest quality paper will suffice) is then forcefully pressed against the plate; so forcefully that the paper enters the etchings and the ink is transferred. The force of the impression leaves the lettering with a raised effect you can feel on the front of the paper and a “bruise” on the back. The result is the most handsome, formal, and sharpest possible embellishment.

Letterpress

Letterpress printing is the oldest kind of printing, and it is also enjoying quite a renaissance these days. Involving moveable type or images, it’s a process of relief printing in which a plate with a reversed, raised surface is inked, and then paper is pressed on top of the raised surface, transferring the ink. Think of letterpressing as the opposite of engraving; the resulting lettering is indented into the paper instead of being raised. A letterpress suggestion would be:

Letterpress Business Cards – Business Style (3313_B) Your business card will stand out in any stack when it is presented on our heaviest weight cotton paper. Available in a variety of Letterpress ink colors and typestyles, (Monogram not available on this item) these double thick cards create a stylish, lasting impression. For a complete set, add our Leather Business Card Holder #3329.

So here it is again:

Good stationery. You don’t need nice stationery to send a handwritten letter. A piece of notebook paper will get the job done. But quality stationery makes the experience a bit more distinguished and increases the recipient’s level of delight. Your presentation can be further enhanced by adding one or all of the following:

Fountain pen. Fountain pens are actually easier on the hand than ballpoints. And they’re just dang classy.

Stamps. This is the big sticking point. People don’t send letters because they don’t want to go to the post office and stand behind a bunch of old ladies to buy stamps. Thankfully, the USPS has entered the 21st century and sells stamps online.

Seal. Not needed, but certainly lends a boatload of panache to your envelope.

Designer Self-Seal Envelopes – Grey Basketweave (6478_7) Our tried and true self-seal privacy envelopes combine convenience and sophistication in every detail. Choose from a variety of new designs and colors. Personalization printed in coordinating ink.

Approach:

You probably know the technical form of a letter: date it in the right-hand corner, start off with “Dear____”, and sign off with “Love, sincerely, respectfully, etc.,” depending on the level of intimacy with the recipient. Once you get the technical form down, to write memorable and enjoyable letters follow this one rule:

Write the way you would talk. A letter is but talk on paper. Just as you would in real life, adjust the style and formality depending on your intimacy with the recipient. If it’s a business contact, maintain a more formal tone. If it’s your girlfriend or an old buddy, be as informal, intimate, and breezy as you would be if they were with you in person. Your goal is to have your voice reading your letter to them in their head. It’s much easier to create that effect if you write how you actually talk. Just as you don’t over think when you talk, don’t over think when you write a letter.

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