Next month, graphic designer and engraving expert extraordinaire Nancy Sharon Collins will publish The Complete Engraver, an informative and elegant homage to the classic art. Seeing as how said classic art and our paper go together like Fred and Ginger, we thought Collins a perfect addition to our Post Script Q&A series. Here, the former New Yorker (and current Louisianan) shares stories of her parents’ notes, a New Orleans estate filled with paper and a small stack of treasured love letters.
When did your interest in social stationery engraving begin? 1976 during graduate school at the Hartford Art School. I was introduced to Lehman Brothers in New Haven and I fell in love with commercial engraving: going on press knocks my socks off; I love the smell of ink and paper and the sound of small presses (metal against metal, fly wheels, iron and steel.)
“Once a little boy sent me a charming card with a little drawing on it. I loved it. I answer all my children’s letters — sometimes very hastily — but this one I lingered over.
I sent him a card and I drew a picture of a Wild Thing on it. I wrote, “Dear Jim: I loved your card.”
Then I got a letter back from his mother and she said, “Jim loved your card so much he ate it.” That to me was one of the highest compliments I’ve ever received. He didn’t care that it was an original Maurice Sendak drawing or anything. He saw it, he loved it, he ate it.”
Every once in awhile, we get invited to do something truly special for the community. Last month, that something special was visiting Weisenberg Elementary School in Allentown, PA, where we visited Ms. Holmes’ third grade class to teach them how to write a Thank You Note.
One of our stellar retailers, The Paperbag, set everything up and off we went.
Owner of The Paper Shop in Winter Park, Florida, Ellen Prague has been in the stationery business for more than 30 years. Her love for beautiful paper, however, goes back much further than that. Here, the former New Yorker waxes poetic about vintage stamps, Jackie Kennedy and the fancy 5th Avenue store that inspired her own boutique’s name.
Ellen Prague, with Boutique Greeter Nikki, at The Paper Shop.
When did your interest in the epistolary world begin?
Watching my mother write thank you notes and letters on her beautiful pale blue stationery was my first glimpse of the elegance of communication. When I went to sleep-away camp at age 8, I was expected to write at least a letter every day and I would run to mail call to receive my daily letter from mom, and sometimes from dad and/ grandparents — it was the highlight of my homesick first summer at camp, and remained so all the years at camps and away at schools.
Samara O’Shea has loved to write and receive letters for as long as she can remember. So it wasn’t surprising that, in 2005, she launched letterlover.net, a letter-writing service that eventually turned into a book as well. “I write letters on behalf of any person who feels he doesn’t have the words,” O’Shea said. Thankfully, she has plenty of words to share about everything from a 1930s pen pal to why summer camp has a special place in her heart.
When did your interest in the epistolary world begin? I don’t remember. I remember passing notes in class and writing letters to boys I had crushes on, and I decided I didn’t want that to go away in a world where most communication is digital.