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The Language of Stamps + Free Printable

13 Mar

The Victorians, at least the well-to-do variety, sure did have a lot of time to pay attention to details. They devised the use of Personal Calling Cards, the selection of flowers to send a certain message, and lots and lots of rules about etiquette. Even today, we are discovering (and reviving) Victorian traditions. For letter writing and mail enthusiasts, there is one in particular that has gotten notice in the last few years: The Language of Stamps.

Special EuropeanPaper.com stamps (not for postage use)

A few special stamps we mocked up for EuropeanPaper.com

Just as it was a Victorian tradition to select flowers based upon a message you’d like to send (the red rose equating to true love still exists today), there was a tradition of affixing a postage stamp to a letter in a certain way. Upside down, tilted left or tilted right, the direction and placement of the stamp said much more than ‘postage paid.’

Perhaps the most interesting part of the language of stamps is that there were no distinct rules. An upside down stamp might have meant one thing in the southern U.S., another in the northern U.S., and another in the UK. For all intents and purposes, the language of stamps was restricted to particular groups or regions. Even then, there is evidence that individuals and couples had their own private codes they used just between themselves.

Today, this tradition has made a resurgence (albeit a small one) with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Men and women writing to spouses serving overseas flip stamps upside down or in another direction to signify things like “I miss you” and “I love you.” The ‘codes’ in these letters are generally just between the letter writer and the recipient and there is by no means a true system out there today.

There is also a section of the US population that are avid letter writers who see value in reviving traditions like these. Major newspapers and popular websites have covered this very topic in recent years which has helped to draw more interest (and participation).

Communicating an additional message with a stamp is all about details. Not only is the letter writer taking time to write a letter, put pen to paper, fold it up, put it in an envelope and mail it, but they are going the extra mile in selecting the way the stamp is adhered to the envelope.

And, in case you ever wondered, if you place your stamp somewhere other than the upper right hand corner of your envelope, it will still get delivered. (However, if you do choose to place the stamp elsewhere on the front of the envelope, the letter might be slightly delayed due to the postage machines not able to scan it normally and therefore it will have to be handled manually.) In fact, this is the reason the original process of the recipient paying for the postage of a letter changed to the sender paying the postage. Senders would affix a stamp a certain way or put some other code on the exterior of the envelope or letter, and many times the recipient would get the message and decline paying postage on the note. Needless to say, word spread and the system was abused to the point that it was changed to where the sender pays the postage.


To encourage you to partake in the Language of Stamps tradition, attached to this article is an editable letterhead document you can download and print! Click the following link for a letterhead made specially for you to download and use –> EPC-Stationery-Hot-Air-Balloon-Editable

It is a PDF and features a hot air balloon in the bottom right hand corner. This particular image was lithographed in the Victorian era and is a rather appropriate subject for the sending of ‘air mail,’ no? After you download the letterhead, open it up in Adobe Acrobat (free) and click where the text appears. You can enter your own name or details for truly personal stationery. It prints two sheets to a standard sheet of 8.5” x 11” paper. Just cut right down the middle.

Interested in more reading? Here is a selection of articles and posts on the Language of Stamps you might be interested in:

From Love to Longing to Protest, It’s All in the Tilt of the Postage [New York Times article from 2005]

Blog post with lots of vintage ‘language of stamps’ postcards [by Rio Wang]

The Language of Stamps [post by Letter Writer’s Alliance]

The Language of Stamps [article on Philatelic Database]

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Meet the Writer: Cole Imperi is a business owner and a proponent of the handwritten word. When not at Doth Brands, a Branding & Identity firm catering to the health, wellness & deathcare professions where Cole works as Owner and Creative Director, you might find her on her yoga mat teaching yoga or behind a laptop writing for Simplicity Embellished, a letter-writing and lifestyle blog.

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Monday Morning Review Round-up

12 Mar

Notebook/Planner Reviews

Recording Thoughts: Living with the Leuchtturm1917 Master Dots notebook

Plannerisms: Guest post: Millie’s Moleskine weekly notebook as journal!

Pen/Pencil Reviews

From the Pen Cup: The Pilot Acroball 3

Well Appointed Desk: Lamy Studio Brushed Stainless Steel & My Vintage Esterbrook Fountain Pens

Multi Pen Dimensions: Lamy Tipo Rollerball Aluminum Pen

No Pen Intended: Pilot Hi-Tec-C Slim Knock Gel Ink Pen

Note Booker Esq.: Tombow Object Rollerball

Stamp Reviews

365 Letters Blog: Beautiful Stamps & National Postal Museum celebrating women

Mailbox Happiness: Texas Brags Postcard-Texas Size!

 

Monday Morning Review Round-up

20 Feb

Ink Reviews

Gourmet Pens: De Atramentis Wine Series Scented Merlot Ink

Peninkcillin: Noodler’s Kung Te-Cheng ink review

Peaceable Writer: Writing Down the Ink: A Daily Blue

Seize the Dave: Rohrer and Klingner Scabiosa

Notebook/Planner Reviews

Stationery Review: Behance “Action Book”

Life Imitates Doodles: Bleedthrumanade in Moleskine & Review of the Moleskine Squared Notebook

Pen/Pencil Reviews

FPGeeks: Noodler’s Ahab Flex Fountain Pen

A Penchant for Paper: Stabilo Pen 68

East, West, Everywhere: Pilot Hi-Tec-C Coleto

From the Pen Cup: Fisher Space Pen

Lost Scribe: Smencil, the gourmet scented pencil

The Pen Thief: Zebra Makes a Fountain Pen

Quo Vadis Blog: Fisher Space Pen

Rhonda Eudaly: The Pentel Tradio Stylo Fountain Pen

Stationery Review: Crayola Twistables Crayons

Tiger Pens: Artline 204 FaxBlac 0.4mm Review

No Pen Intended: Schrade Tactical Fountain Pen / Rollerball Pen

Stamps

The Pen Thief: Danny Thomas

Letter Writers Alliance: Love Stamp Release

 

Monday Morning Review Round-up

13 Feb

Notebook/Planner Reviews

Gourmet Pens: Miquelrius Red Soft Bound Journal

Plannerisms: Holborn Zip personal size Filofax

Stationery Review: Typo 2012 Calendars – 15cm X 15cm

Pen/Pencil Reviews

Peninkcillin: Cheap Nib Flossing Tool

From the Pen Cup: Zebra Surari 4-Color Emulsion Ink Multi Pen

Well-Appointed Desk: Zig Letter Pen Cocoiro & Uni Style Fit

Stationery Review: Papermate Kilometrico i-Colours

No Pen Intended: Zebra Arbez Piirto Ballpoint Pen

FPGeeks: Aurora 88 Large Fountain Pen

Pens, Paper, Whatever: Featured Pen – Waterman 42 Safety

Pocket Blonde: Kaweco Classic Sport Ballpoint Pen

Multi-Pen Dimensions: Muji Gel Ink Ballpoint Pen Hexagona

 

Monday Morning Review Round-up

6 Feb

Ink Reviews

PenInkCillin: Noodler’s #41 Brown Ink

Notebook/Planner Reviews

Well Appointed Desk: Leuchtturm1917 Pocket Plain Notebook

East, West, Everywhere: Miquelrius Eco Notebook

Ms. Logica: Field Notes Memo Book

Life Imitates Doodles: Semikolon Mucho Spiral Notebook

Plannerisms: Signature Gutenberg Notebooks by Daycraft

Pen/Pencil Reviews

FPGeeks: Lamy Studio Fountain Pen

Notebook Esq.: Lamy Studio Rollerball – Stainless Steel Finish

A Penchant for Paper: Pentel Fluorescent Marker

No Pen Intended: Noodler’s Ink Ahab Fountain Pen Lapis Inferno Flex Nib

Multi Pen Dimensions: Tombow Object Rollerball Pen Matte Black

Stamp Reviews

The Pen Thief: John H. Johnson Stamp

 

10 Letter Writing Tips

31 Jan

Writing a letter might seem like an art that no one follows anymore, like speaking Latin or doing the jitterbug (and where else can you find a comparison between those activities but here at EPC?), but there are many enthusiasts still out there. You’ll recognize us if you look closely. We sit in coffee shops with pens and paper in front of us instead of laptops. We walk into office supply stores and head over to the fountain pen ink refills instead of the printer ink refills.  We know how much an extra ounce costs, the price of an international stamp, and how much we can squeeze into a first class priority box before it explodes.

G. Lalo Verge de France Correspondence Sets on EuropeanPaper.com

G. Lalo Verge de France Correspondence Sets

Yes, I am one of them (and proud of it!), and I write hundreds of letters every year. My free time is spent with pen in hand talking with friends near and far. When I walk out to the mailbox every day, I know more than bills and advertisements are waiting for me.

Of course, to GET letters, you have to SEND letters. So, here are the 10 best letter writing tips I know, based on hundreds of letters written (and received) every year. These tips refer to both personal and professional correspondence.  The first six tips are must-do’s; the second four are options to consider.

  1. When you are going to write a letter, make sure you have enough time to do so. A rushed letter feels like a rushed letter, and typically, handwriting takes longer than you remember. If you aren’t sure you can find a free half hour or hour, combine your writing with other activities like watching a movie, waiting for the dryer to finish or sipping that morning cup of java.
  2. As you begin writing, refer to your last visit, conversation or letter with that person. Mention where you were, something that was said, or another statement that reconnects the two of you.
  3. Date the letter. I know that might not seem very important, but when the person reads the letter, re-reads it, and keeps it for ages, that date is very important. I recently dug through some old boxes and found all of the letters my mother wrote me while I was in college. She is no longer living, so these letters are truly precious to me. I organized them in the order she wrote them and put them in folders. The dates were essential.
  4. Write legibly. I know, I know. Duh, right? But you wouldn’t believe how many people have almost illegible handwriting. They either try to be fancy or they simply haven’t dusted off their penmanship skills in a long time.  If you have trouble with cursive, print. If that doesn’t work well, type. Make it easy on your reader.
  5. Ask the person questions.  A letter that just tells a person all about you-you-you and then says goodbye at the end is not much fun to read and often very difficult to respond to. Ask the person questions, such as: How is work? How are the children? Where have you traveled? What are you reading lately? They can be as simple or complex as you want to make them, but obviously keep your reader in mind regarding the type of personal questions you may ask. This will inspire the person to want to sit down and write back to you.
  6. Follow the simple rules of good writing. Always double-check that you spelled their name correctly and make sure you have the right address for the envelope. You aren’t being graded here, so you don’t need topic sentences and appropriate transitional phrases between paragraphs (yes, I used to be an English teacher!), but make sure you aren’t writing in such a manner that others can’t understand what you’re saying.

Those were the “must-do’s” of letter writing. Here are four more tips to consider implementing as you write more.

  1. Click the image to buy this product on EuropeanPaper.com

    Mudlark Eco Hayden Leigh Memento Boxed Note Cards

    Use attractive paper and cards for your letter. The European Paper Company carries many lovely options, including boxed notecards, a wide selection of eco stationery, and much more. Sure, lined notebook paper is nice, but it can be dull. A letter on fine stationery is often much appreciated, but if all you have is lined notebook paper dress it up a bit to make it special.

  2. Include fun little tuck-ins. Getting a letter is fun – getting a letter with surprises tucked inside it is even better. It can be photos, newspaper clippings, comics, bookmarks – whatever you want. These little extras can make letter writing even more enjoyable.
  3. Respond to letters quickly, but not TOO quickly. If your letter is in response to one sent to you, don’t let it sit around for more than two to four weeks before answering it. If too much time goes by, the person may forget what he wrote or think you have decided not to respond at all.  If I haven’t heard from someone in more than a month, I also send a quick postcard making sure all is well with them. On the flip side, it might sound crazy, but I wouldn’t recommend responding to someone the day or day after you get a letter. That might be so quick that it makes the receiver feel pressured.
  4. Finally, if all of this sounds wonderful but you’re stumped on who to write to, do some homework and check out organizations. If you don’t have family and friends that would be interested in writing letters, go to the The Letter Writer’s Alliance and The Letter Exchange online. They both offer wonderful connections to other crazy letter writers like me. EPC also lists web sites for letter writers to connect (check out the blogroll in the right column of this blog). Believe me—we are out there and waiting by our mailboxes. Write!

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 Meet the Writer: Tamra Orr is a full time writer and has written more than 300 books for readers of all ages. She is also mom to four and writes an average of 50 letters or more a month.

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Monday Morning Review Round-up

30 Jan

Ink Reviews

Seize the David: Rohrer & KlingnerVerdigris

East, West, Everywhere: Caran d’Ache Storm

Notebook/Planner Reviews

East, West, Everywhere: Mood Journal

Stationery Review: Clairefontaine “Life. Unplugged” – Duo A5

The Gear Locker: Rite in the Rain Notepads

Plannerisms: 2012 Moleskine Bakin weekly planner

No Pen Intended: Daycraft 2012 Signature Diary

Pen/Pencil Reviews

Does This Pen Write: Sharpie Stainless Steel Pen!

East, West, Everywhere: Pelikan M205 Duo Review

FPGeeks: Monteverde Invincia Stylus Fountain Pen – The Awesome Review

A Penchant for Paper: Pentel Superb and Wow Ballpoint Pens

Grease Monkey Hands: Namiki Sterling Dragon

Multi Pen Dimensions: Zebra SK – Sharbo + 1 2 Color 0.7 mm Ballpoint Multi Pen + 0.5 mm Pencil Black & Zebra B2A1 2 Color Multi Pen

No Pen Intended: Parker Reflex Fountain Pen & Palomino Blackwing Wooden Pencil – 602 Model

Economy Pens: Sharpie Pen – Stainless Steel

PenInkCillin: Jinhao X750 fountain pen review

Pocket Blonde: Sheaffer Craftsman Touchdown FP & Waterman Hemisphere Agnes B Fountain Pen

Gourmet Pens: Pilot Precise BeGreen Liquid Ink Roller Ball Pen & Parker-Compatible Gel Ink Refills – Water Tests

Rhonda Eudaly: The Pelikan School Fountain Pen – Right Handed, Fine Point & The Monteverde One Touch Ballpoint Pen

Economy Pens: Alvin Draft-Tec Retrac .5

Stamps

Delphine: 2012 USPS Postage Rates for Wedding Invitations

LWA: U.S. Stamp Rate Increase and Stamp Releases

Pen Thief: Sojourner Truth

Piccadilly Post: The Wild Stamp Chase

Missive Maven: New U.S. Postage Rates

 

Friday Blogger Tuck-ins

30 Dec

1 –> Read all about the postage rate increase over at Missive Maven’s blog. Basically though, before January 22, you may want to use up those international and postcard stamps you currently have.

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2 –>  You’ve still got time to submit your snapshot or scan of your own Library Hand. Read our post Penmanship & Calligraphy: Library Hand + Call for Submissions for more details. The last article in the Penmanship & Calligraphy series will be in two weeks!

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3 –>  In typewriter news: a typewriter you can eat over at Letter Writers Alliance, plus a fantastic tale of typewriters over at Good Mail Day.

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4 –> Ink/Pen/Pencil Review Round-up:
Converting Monteverde Refills to Fit Retro 51 Tornado by GourmetPens.com.
The Uni-ball Signo Bit 0.18mm by Rhonda Eudaly.
New Iroshizuku Inks by Julie at Pen Paper Inks … Whatever Blog.
Uni-ball Style Fit Mystar 5 Color Multi Pen by No Pen Intended.
Ohto Multi Pen Hexagonal Barrel 3 Points by Multi Pen Dimensions.

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5 –>  Misty (a.k.a. the Pen Thief) also has a great post on what to do with your used and unwanted postage stamps. Read her suggestions here.

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6 –> 

What do you think of the new image for international stamps for 2012?

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7 –> And to end on a flourish, have you seen the World’s Most Expensive Pens? Oh my heart be still ;) Thanks to Margana at Inkophile for posting about it first!

This is the last Friday Blogger Tuck-ins of the year! We’re thinking for 2012 we’ll split out the pen/ink/notebook reviews for another weekly post since there are so many! Thoughts? If we do, which day would you like to see it posted on?