Antony and Cleopatra. Romeo and Juliet. Scarlett and Rhett.
We love a good love story.
But our favorite is that of Pen and Paper.
Thus, we were delighted to pick the brain of Rick Propas — a specialist for Swann Auction Galleries, where he directs the newly created Department of Fine and Vintage Writing Instruments — whose first pen was given to him more than 50 years ago.
Rick Propas, lefty.
“In the Jewish tradition, it’s customary to give a boy a fountain pen at his bar mitzvah,” Propas explained. “I didn’t get one, and when I complained to my dad, he pulled out his own pen and gave it to me.”
Propas has been collecting vintage pens ever since.
Normally, torrential Monday rain would make us yearn for one more day to don pajama pants ’til noon. However, despite the need for an industrial-sized umbrella and clunky rubber boots, we were quite excited to get to our booth and let the National Stationery Show goodness begin.
And so, we went on a mission to piece together the history of engraving. There is, we found, quite a bit of information available on the engraving of images, which goes back a long, long time: cavemen did it; so did the Egyptians.
But we were more curious about that point in history when someone thought, My, wouldn’t this piece of paper that I’m sending look so much lovelier engraved?
Ladies and gentlemen, your grammar lesson for the day:
She remained stationary as a matter of principle. She gave stationery as a gift to her principal.
Homophones can be tricky. But while one should always strive to use the proper form for all words sounding the same yet meaning different things, the one nearest and dearest to our heart is stationery versus stationary.
Stationary, according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, means “standing still” or “not moving.”
Stationery, according to the same source, means “writing paper” and “writing materials, as in notepads, pens, pencils, paper and envelopes.”
One shouldn’t feel too bad about confusing these two common words. In fact, they were once the same word and shared the same spelling. In the 1700s, “stationery wares” were sold by “stationers,” i.e. booksellers who did not travel all about, but stayed in one place to sell their wares. They were frequently booksellers who also sold writing wares. Somehow, the spellings diverged into stationery (meaning writing ware) and stationary (meaning fixed and unable to move).
A common school house trick for remembering the proper spelling is to remember that station-ery means pap-er.
Have more questions about etiquette? Email our Crane Concierge at firstname.lastname@example.org.
As with the clothes you wear, the stationery you use makes a statement. When you create and assemble your “stationery wardrobe,” keep in mind the impression you hope to make. Your stationery should reflect both your personality and the type of correspondence you’re sending.
With that in mind, there are three questions you should ask yourself when creating your perfect stationery wardrobe. Let’s dive in, shall we?