I just read somewhere that the week that has just finished was stationery week. I’m not sure why such an everyday thing as stationery needs a week, or what that week is meant to do for stationery or for us. Nothing, I expect. It’s meant to do something for the people who sell stationery. Having looked at the success of Hallmark in grabbing great swathes of the calendar for their products, the stationery sellers are doing the same. Mind you, I don’t suppose many people noticed, or even if they did, I don’t suppose they rushed out and bought reams of writing paper, boxes of paper clips and pencils by the gross.
It did make me think about stationery, or more specifically writing paper, though thankfully I have an adequate supply and don’t need to buy any more this week. I get through a lot of writing paper, always did. At one time I used it in correspondence with friends all over the world but that gradually wound down. I still write the odd letter but comes via the keyboard and printer these days, lasered onto the ubiquitous printer paper that we all have in great quantity now.
What I use writing paper for these days is testing pens and producing writing samples. For the former purpose almost any paper will do, so long as it’s cheap and doesn’t bleed or show through. A4 Drawing Pads do the job well and I grab them whenever I can. Each pen’s try-out takes up a page or more – more still if repeated adjustments have to be made – so as you can imagine, each pad doesn’t last very long.
For writing samples I need paper that doesn’t alter the line that the pen lays down. Lots of otherwise decent writing paper is useless for this purpose because it allows a slight expansion of the line as the ink sinks into the paper. Fine for writing billets doux to your favourite auntie, no good for exemplary writing samples. It also has to photograph well and for that reason it’s best if it isn’t glaring white. After much trial and error I settled on Basildon Bond Ivory. It does the job, and it pleases me that they’re a company with a long and honourable history, who once upon a distant time produced the estimable Croxley pens.
I do, occasionally, allow myself the luxury of using other papers. If you dig deep in ebay, you can sometimes find writing paper of yesteryear, when it was all made to be suitable for writing with fountain pens. There are some wonderful old papers around that cast modern offerings into the shade.