Post Script: Laura Brown, Author of ‘How to Write Anything’

Meet Laura Brown, author of the newly published book, How to Write Anything, which is a guide to exactly that. From composing everything from a research paper to a recipe, it’s a necessary addition to any proper writing desk. Here, the well-seasoned writing instructor of more than 25 years talks to us about pen pal-ing with Shakespeare, fountain pens and a truly memorable A-. 

laura brown and book

When did your interest in writing begin?
It started when I was small. I wrote little stories when I was a child, and then when I started having to write at school, I found I really enjoyed it. I was lucky to have some truly inspirational teachers who encouraged me, partly by giving wonderful assignments where we could stretch our wings as writers. I’ve always felt a kind of flow with writing, being in the zone, and that’s very pleasant.

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Post Script: Letters from Lauren’s Lauren Kay

Lauren Kay will write you a letter: All you have to do is ask. The New York resident has penned requested missives to her childhood sitter’s daughter and a high school boyfriend’s little sister, just to name a couple, as well as unrequested — yet very much appreciated, we’re sure — ones to her own friends and family. One can read about her correspondence escapades — and request one of his or her own — on her few-years-old site, Letters From Lauren. Here, Nora Ephron’s biggest fan talks big zip codes, love letters and her favorite scene from When Harry Met Sally (hint: it doesn’t take place in a diner).

lauren-kay

When did your interest in the epistolary world begin?
It all started with box of Crane & Co. engraved ecru stationery, a gift from my grandmother. I was nine. It came with a fancy pink pen, which I was only allowed to use for proper correspondence. In hindsight, it was all a ploy to get me writing thank-you notes (I grew up down south where manners were practiced with emphasis). But it worked! And I’ve been writing letters ever since.

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How To Write the Perfect Valentine’s Day Love Letter

engraved premium note card crane and co.Love is in the air. And, hopefully, on paper. Dozens of the finest roses and boxes of the most decadent chocolate can’t top a beautifully crafted love letter. Here’s how to create an amorous ode that’ll capture her heart forever.

Be Sincere
It may seem obvious, but don’t write a love letter unless you’re, oh, in love. If you’re not in that point in your relationship yet, don’t force it — better to share your desire for a romantic trip to Paris when you actually want to take one.

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Post Script: Pen & Envelope’s Andreia Mateus

Andreia Mateus found solace in writing letters when, at the age of 10, her family moved from her native Portugal to Switzerland. Fast forward a decade, when Mateus decided to launch her Pens & Envelopes Tumblr, on which she posts delectable correspondence-themed images in hopes of inspiring others to take pen to paper. Here, the devoted Pen Pal talks to us about her letter writing lists, what she looks forward to getting in the mail each week and why a memorable letter isn’t always the most eloquently written one.

When did your interest in letter writing begin?
It began when I was about 10 years old. My family had decided to move to Switzerland, and being it a country with a whole different language, I was having a hard time making new friends, and I was missing the ones from Portugal quite a lot. So I asked my mother for paper and envelopes and started writing to my friends. That was around 1999, and ever since then I haven’t stopped exchanging letters.

Why did you start Pens & Envelopes?
I started it mostly to see if there were any other people from the Tumblr community that shared the same interest. With instant messages and social networking, people have forgotten about the old ways of communication. I was hoping that posting images of letters would remind people how it feels like to receive a letter that was written by someone just for you.

Why do you enjoy stationery & correspondence?
Correspondence mostly because it is how I manage to relax from the everyday stress. It helps me to keep my head clear. As for stationery, well, some girls like to spend their money on brand new clothes and shoes; I like to spend my money on pretty stationery! A letter is so much more fun if you use colorful and visually appealing stationery.

What is your favorite step in the process of written correspondence?
That would be creating a list of the things I want to mention in the letter. It helps me to keep my writing organized, and it is also fun to think back of the important and significant happenings that I wish to share with my pen pals.

If you could be pen pals with anyone in history, to whom would you write and what would you say?
There are a lot of people I could think of, but I’m going to choose Fernando Pessoa, a Portuguese writer. His works are studied in our high schools, and I got really fascinated by his books. He is also mostly known for his complex personality, and I always wondered what he was really like. I probably would send him a casual letter, asking him if life turned out as he had planned, and if he was happy with his achievements.

To whom do you most often write?
To one of my closest friends, who had to move to another city. We exchange letters every week, which I’m quite thankful for. If I’m having a bad mail week, I know for sure that there is going to be at least one letter.

Describe the most memorable letter you have ever received.
A letter from my grandmother and my now deceased grandfather. They both didn’t know how to write (not very well), yet they had made an effort to scribble down a few lines. It was simple letter, but it meant so much to me. I still have it.

What makes a particular letter stand out from a stack of cards?
The decoration of the envelope and the penmanship. It is usually the first thing I notice, and it always gives so much out about the person who sent it.

Do you have a favorite stamp or stamp series?
My favorite series so far is the Europe 2009 Astronomy series.

What do you think classic correspondence will look like in a decade or two?
Hopefully there will be more people opting for traditional correspondence. There is just so much beauty in picking up a paper and a pen and writing a letter. Even with online communication, I don’t think any other form of correspondence will be able to substitute the sentiment a personal letter gives you.

Have a question for Andreia? Email our Crane Concierge at concierge@crane.com.

Post Script: Etiquette Expert Diane Gottsman

With a degree in sociology under her belt, Diane Gottsman knew teaching etiquette was a logical career path. She started out teaching abused and neglected children the art as a way to empower them, then moved on to helping the professional sector. As if to emphasize her love for the cause, she now boasts her own line of stationery (welcome to the club!). Here, the purveyor of all things proper talks stamp love, Amelia Earhart and the etiquette rule she’ll never break.

etiquette expert diane gottsman

How long have you been teaching etiquette and how did you end up doing so?
I’ve been teaching etiquette for 15 years, starting with children in the beginning and later evolving into the corporate and university arena. I was shocked at the number of successful professionals that I interacted with daily that were truly gifted in business but lacked social skills.
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Post Script: Donovan Beeson

Donovan Beeson loves a good ka-thunk: that sound one hears as the mail drops into the postbox. As the co-founder of the Letter Writers Alliance — an organization dedicated to, among other things, providing letter writing tools as well as pen pals — she hears that sound quite often. Here, Beeson talks to us about “goodie boxes,” her motley crew of pen pals and her position on supermarket stamps.

When did your interest in the epistolary world begin?
I’ve always loved sending and receiving mail. I can remember my maternal grandmother sending what she called “goodie boxes” to our house at every holiday. They were simple collections of candy and small toys, but everything was magical because it was wrapped up special and came in a box. Now, I’m the one who sends the boxes of goodies and I like it just as much being the sender as being the receiver.

How did the LWA come to be?
My business partner Kathy started her stationery business 16 Sparrows in 2003. I came on to help with production when she started graduate school, and together we evolved the business into something less like a business and more like a lifestyle. In 2007, we started the Letter Writers Alliance because the most common statement we would receive was that people loved our stationery but “no one writes letters anymore.” We decided to create a network so that all of those letter lovers would be able to write to each other and no mailbox would ever go hungry again.

What do you enjoy most about your job?
The people — I have met so many different, interesting and thoroughly engaging human beings through letters. In my return pile right now is an active duty soldier, a 12-year-old equestrian, a retired engineer, a teacher returning to work soon and so many more. I get to see slices of life that I would know nothing about, direct from their sources. I love it.
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Post Script: Nancy Sharon Collins, Author of “The Complete Engraver”

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.)

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In Celebration Of: The Pen

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.

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Crane & Co. Goes Back to School

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.

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Post Script: Samara O’Shea, LetterLover.net

Samara O'SheaSamara 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.

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