December 24, 2009

On Holiday.


My apologies for the infrequency of December posts, first it was my final exams, and now I'm on a brief holiday visiting family in Minnesota. But, I assure you, Everyday Correspondence will be back up and kicking in the New Year. There are a lot of exciting things on the horizon.

Of particular interest is the new zine that will be published, with collaboration from members of the Everyday Correspondence community. Submissions are due on January 9, 2010, and I'll be working hard to produce a final product just as soon as possible.

Additionally, I've received a number of vintage letterhead images from members of the online letter writing community that I will begin "refurbishing" for addition to the archive just as soon as I'm back home.

And, I'll have time in the New Year to begin tinkering with my newest printing press (my first platen press)!

To those of you that are Christians, I wish you a Merry Christmas! To those of you that celebrated, I hope you had a wonderful Winter Solstice. And, to everyone, I wish you a very Happy New Year!

Very truly yours,

James

December 20, 2009

Cultivating Good Correspondence in the Modern Age


I heart correspondence etiquette. As such, several weeks ago I ordered a 1920s desk book on etiquette, measuring smaller than a 3" x 5" notecard. After losing it, and then finding it, I finally gave it a good read. I was struck by a section in the introduction, which stated that:
There is nothing more indicative of good breeding and refinement of taste than correspondence; and today, when the expert assistance of stationers, engravers and authorities on the etiquette of correspondence is readily placed at everyone's disposal, there is no excuse for the mistakes sometimes seen.
Aside from the implication that good manners are somehow tied to one's genetic disposition, I took interest in the insistence that given the innovations of the early 20th century, there were no longer any excuses for poor correspondence and bad manners. Drawing that insistence out to the 21st century, one would think that, with internet access to "authorities on the etiquette of correspondence" and the presence of a printer in most every home, that the correspondence of the modern day would be frequent and flawless. Yet, somewhere between the publication of this little desk book and the publication of this post, good correspondence has gone from a baseline expectation from any lady or gentleman to an indication of especial care on the part of a friend or business contact.

I suppose that with the innovation and access to "authorities" also came increased informal access and communications with social contacts. But to me, that only decreases the expectation of formality, not necessarily the quality of the correspondence. My little desk book also notes that:
To be a really good correspondent is truly an art, perhaps first of all a gift, to be cultivated and developed
While I don't think that the qualities of a good correspondent are a gift in the same sense that I think one's ability to create a Michaelangelo from a block of marble is a gift, I do agree that it is a talent that develops through practice with the intent to improve.

I, myself, make no claim to be a good correspondent, yet. But, I do hope that I am improving. And, wouldn't you know it? I'm using the internet to access the "authorities" and the good advice of stationers. Hmm... maybe my little desk book was on to something.


Quotations are from A Desk Book on The Etiquette of Letter Writing and Social Correspondence in General, published by the Eaton, Crane & Pike Company in 1927.


December 18, 2009

December 17, 2009

George Bateman & Son Brewers Vintage Letterhead


In the spirit of the holiday party season, I bring you the George Bateman & Son Brewers vintage letterhead. The image is now available for download in the Vintage Letterhead Image Archive.

Enjoy!

December 16, 2009

Carrier Appreciation


I've been finding a lot of great posts over at the Letter Writers Alliance blog. And yesterday, when I was sifting through my Google Reader for all the good stuff that I'd put off reading during my recent exam period, I came across this post about seasonal gifts to letter carriers.

Inspired, I made an inquiry with Maurice, the one postal carrier that I know, about his position on gifts from postal customers. According to Maurice, gifts from customers are common from customers whose mailboxes he has served for many years, but they are never expected.

Despite USPS policy against gifts of money, Maurice says that money is the most common present letter carriers receive, whether it be as cash or gift cards. More interestingly, Maurice says that the second most common gift he personally receives are bottles of liquor. One postal customer has given him a bottle of Jack Daniels every year for the last six.

Less frequent gifts have been t-shirts, homemade goods, baked goods, and the one item Maurice never consumes, fruit cake.

With all of this information, I wondered what ever I should gift to my letter carriers in appreciation for their great year of service? According to Maurice, I shouldn't bother, because my building is not a full route, so multiple carriers serve the building on different days, making a gift a reward for one carrier, leaving out the others. Maurice's argument makes sense... but still, there's gotta be a way to make this work... ideas?

For a rundown on the regulations regarding the gifts postal carriers may receive, see this article from Associated Content.

December 15, 2009

blotter paper: Second Call for Submissions!


blotter paper is still accepting submissions for its inaugural issue! The theme for the issue is "Correspondence as..."

Please use this form to request a submission packet. The deadline for receiving submissions is January 9, 2010.

EDIT: New deadline is January 21, 2010.

December 6, 2009

See You Soon.

Dear Readers,

As some of you already know, I am a law student, and, for me, December means final exams. As such, in the interests of not failing my courses this semester, I will not be updating Everyday Correspondence until at least December 15th. I will, however, be posting links to good reads and giveaways that I come across on the Everyday Correspondence Twitter Feed, as a boy needs to procrastinate somehow, right?

I do hope that this first half of December treats all of you well.

Very truly yours,

James

December 2, 2009

Ink Review: Levenger Fireball


This has been the most difficult to photograph of all the reviews I have done. In the pictures (and I've taken many many pictures using different camera settings, lighting, etc.), Fireball comes off as a bright orange. And, while Fireball is orangy, it is much deeper and more saturated, so that at first and second glance it is a conservative red ink. As a friend put it, it looks like a weathered red, or a hot ember minus the glow.

Not wanting to scrap the review altogether, I have decided to post the pictures with the above comment. And, at the end, I have placed a color corrected photo, which although still not perfect, is a more accurate representation of the color in Levenger Fireball. Now, without further ado, the review:

Click for a larger, higher quality image.

I really put the steel toed boots to Fireball for this review. While I gave it the smoothest of roads to drive on, I gave it one of the poorest vehicles in my collection, a Parker 15 "Jotter." The Jotter has a tendency to thin my inks, leaving them shadows of their bottled selves. It also scratches from time to time. But, Fireball managed to rise to the occasion.


The name "fireball" for this ink is a bit of a misnomer. While the color is indeed a red-orange, I wouldn't say that it's the brightest of inks, hence why I called it a "conservative red." Aside from that, however, I found Fireball to be a very nice ink. It's well behaved in even my most troublesome fountain pen and has complex color.


Fireball flowed very consistently from my nib, writing well in a pen that has a tendency to thin my inks. As a result, however, there was a tiny bit of feathering on even the nicest of papers, in this review Clairefontaine 90 g. However, the feathering could be the result of the nib, which, as I mentioned before, can be scratchy at times.

I offer you my most sincere apologies for the inaccurate color representations in the above photographs. I have employed some very basic color correction on the below photo to offer a more accurate representation of Fireball. For what it's worth, however, you can take from my troubles that Fireball really is a complex color.


NOTE: I just found out that some time this year, Levenger discontinued Fireball ink. I got this bottle on the sale counter at the Levenger store in McLean, Virginia... there were none left. If you find a cache of it somewhere, please leave a comment to this post letting readers know where to pick it up.

December 1, 2009

Market Watch: 15% Off at Pear Tree Pens


This week, December 1-7, Pear Tree Pens is offering 15% off orders when customers use the promo code holidays1209! The promo code may be used once per customer, so Pear Tree Pens recommends customers check their lists twice before completing check out.

For those of you unfamiliar with Pear Tree Pens, they're well known for their ink samplers. Four 1 cc samples normally cost $4.99. So, if you're itching to try some new colors or explore some new brands, this is a great opportunity.

I have no relationship with Pear Tree Pens, I just like a good deal.