Alison McQueen


Crazy About Stationery

Wherever I go in the world, I cannot help but go searching for stationery shops. Bookshops too, naturally, but stationery is the big draw. I also help myself to every scrap of hotel stationery I can lay my hands on. It’s an addiction that has gone on for as long as I can remember, and I have absolutely no intention of changing my ways. Letters are a dying form and we are all much the poorer for it. I write letters every week, even if it’s just a brief note to someone I am thinking of. I use a proper pen that leaks ink all over the place but I don’t care. I like ink. Ink changed the world.

Some years ago, I had some wonderful personalised stationery made by the lovely people at Gee Brothers. The quality of everything they make is utterly superb. To my horror, I realised the other day that I am running out, so now I am faced with the dilemma of whether to order a reprint of the same or to go a little bit mad and have something more unsual made up.

My dear friend Jayne West, a superb arts photographer and cultural observer, is also a stationery addict. Sometimes we have coffee together and spend hours poring over favourite letterhead designs, like the 19th century example above for a printing company in Philadelphia. It’s just one gem from the fabulous website Letterheady, which features the personal notepaper of some late greats like Houdini, Groucho Marx, and Batman creator Bob Kane. I expect the very idea of email would have them all turning in their graves.