Sunday, July 26, 2009

Gratis aerogrammes

International Girl one-speed aerogrammes

Thanks to all the business that my blog posts on the fine International Girl aerogrammes generated, Jaki of said fine International Girl aerogrammes sent me a surprise gratis package of the one-speed design. How lovely. Thanks for supporting their business, folks.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

A sad and unexpected hiatus

Grandpa with horns

I will be on a hiatus from posting for a while. I have wrestled all day with whether this grief should be private, but since I have blogged about his amazing stamp collection many times, I have decided to share with a heavy heart that I lost my wonderful grandfather this morning. (I posted about his stamps, and spoke of him in the present tense, only yesterday.) I will be joining family to attend the funeral, and I don't know how long I'll be away from blog posting. I may have internet access but at the moment I just don't have the heart to post pretty letter photos, or even to write any letters.

My apologies to everyone who is awaiting a letter from me... the delay is going to continue for a while longer. Thank you for your patience.

This photo of him is from 2002, when he was in better health. It showcases his fiesty, lively personality to a tee. He always liked to put funny things on his head, or funny hats on, and so I brought these horns to a Thanksgiving dinner in 2002. He modeled the horns with more flair than anyone else in the family.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Where DO you get all those awesome old stamps?

Vintage postal themed stamps

I am getting this question so regularly that I must do another post on a source. I posted on him a while back, but I didn't use any pretty pictures.

Jezebel card with vintage stamps, closeup

First, I should say that a great majority of my stamps come from my dear beloved Grandfather, who is 90 years old now. He worked for the post office for most of his adult life, and he collected stamps casually over many, many years. Now my mom and I share his stamp collection, and we both use them.

Vintage stamps on V-mail

Second, I do troll eBay for a few favorite stamp designs. I generally won't pay more than face value for them, which means I don't find the deal I want very often. But I've picked up some Muppets stamps, bat stamps, and a few of the peachy letter-writing type stamps that way.

Boston Tea Party stamps

My BEST recommendation, though, I will repeat from this post I made back in May. (For those of you that have already read this and given Errol your business, sorry for the repetition.)

On the Stamps post at Letters and Journals, I read about Errol Murphy (emurphy at emurphy3101 at see end of post for updated info). He sells mixed lots of older stamps in great condition for mailing, and sells them in $20 increments. You pay face value plus shipping, and the shipping for the order I just placed was a whopping 42 cents for letter rate postage. (Sorry, folks, you'll have to pay 44 cents now, since the rates went up in May.) But here's the best part: you can request a theme!! Olympics, nature, animals, politicians - I gather he's got quite a collection. I wasn't sure about buying from someone without a website, just out of the blue, but Jackie at Letters & Journals seems like a reliable gal, and she said she'd been buying from Errol for 2 years. So I contacted Errol on a Monday about a stamp order, he took me at my word that my check to him was in the mail (it was), and must have sent the batch immediately, because I got them on a Thursday. I am just as pleased as punch with the batch of stamps he sent. NOW, when folks ask me where I get all my groovy old stamps, I will point them right to Errol. To quote what he said when I asked if I could promote his services on my blog: "I'm so glad you like the stamps. I do this as a hobby and enjoy it when I can provide stamps at a reasonable price to appreciative collectors and stamp users."

So, if you're looking for a batch of old/vintage stamps for fun postage, Errol is my top recommendation.

As a side note: even the stamps that he used on his envelope to add up to the 42-cents postage were very cool!

[UPDATE: as of May 19, 2014, Errol Murphy's most recent contact info can be found on his website,]

Clairefontaine Pollen small flat cards

Clairefontaine Pollen small flat cards

My first Exaclair goodie review shall be the Pollen small flat cards. These are the 5 x 3.25 size in light grey. (The fountain pen shown is a Sailor Ballerie XF, quite a slim pen.)

Clairefontaine Pollen small flat card

I hope in this photo you can see that the envelopes have a self-adhesive closure; pull off the wax backing, and they'll seal themselves. I have no idea why they do this, but it's kind of nice. The paper weight is heavy but not cumbersome, and it's no surprise that it takes fountain pen ink beautifully. (I've not met a Clairefontaine paper that doesn't.)

Clairefontaine Pollen small flat cards

Since the marketing copy on the envelope notes that stamping is one of the intended purposes, I thought a rubber stamp was in order. This went to a cat lover, so of course I got catty with it. Indeed the card did take the stamped image beautifully. The ink shown is Private Reserve Blue Suede (riding in the Ballerie that you saw above), which is normally a very smeary, slow-drying ink. I am pleased to report that it dried more quickly on this paper than on my beloved Clairefontaine standby, the Triomphe writing tablet. The Pollen is not as smooth as the Triomphe, but I'd hardly call it toothy. I'd say this is great stuff for stamping. I didn't photograph it for a review, but in using the larger Pollen notecards, I stamped those with a different stamp, and it also did quite well.

Clairefontaine Pollen envelope

I hope this photo of the envelope can show you a fairly accurate portrayal of the light grey color, in contrast to the white border on the Memo stamp. (Yes, Memo is another one of my cats.) Actually the color is my biggest complaint here. Normally I am a grey fan, but this grey is just kind of boring. Instead of having any color tones or depth, it looks like a dingy cream. I swear to you that the back of my package says "light grey," but in the Pollen color listing on the Exaclair page, I see no light grey - only pearl grey, dark grey and silver. I think this must be pearl grey, it says 88 next to that color name and the label of my package also has an 88 on it. The dark grey looks too dark for me, so I can only hope the silver is a little more interesting. But I think the only colors I would choose would be ivory or white; I prefer to show off the color of a fountain pen ink and not let the color of the paper get in the way. Oh yes, this cat rubber stamp is an Edward Gorey cat.

Clairefontaine Pollen envelope

The back of the envelope sports a second impression from the same Gorey cat stamp inking, plus a photo sticker of my cat Magic making one of her many charming faces (and sticking out her little pink kitty tongue). I do like the cut of the envelope, or the fold, or the pattern - whatever you call the way the pieces fit together in the back. And this envelope is certainly sturdy; again, not unwieldy, but should stand up well in any postal service handling.

Also, the paper and envelope are both sturdy enough to stand up to some interesting crafting options. I wouldn't hesitate to use glitter glue, spray glimmer mist, or do things a bit more hearty or "wet" to it.

Overall my impressions of this are quite positive. I enjoy writing on it, and am pleased that it takes ink so well, but is thick enough never to show through. Granted, I used an extra-fine nib to write, so if I have any bleeding or different results with a medium nib, I will be sure to report that... but I really doubt I'd ever see bleeding on Clairefontaine.

Oh yes - the retail price is $5 for 5 flat cards and envelopes - not a bad deal at all, I'd say.

Exaclair samples, many reviews coming

Exaclair box-o-goodies

The Bastille Day offer on the Quo Vadis blog, an opportunity for their blog readers to request and sample any red or blue J. Herbin fountain pen ink, seems generous, oui? So I said, what the heck, I'll probably never buy one but I'm up for sampling the Eclat de Saphir blue ink, after it looked so nice in Biffybeans' review back in October. (I've seen it in a few letters, too, and thought the color looked pretty groovy.) The very generous Karen at Exaclair offered to put together a nice package for me including some papers to review, since they were sending me the ink anyway. She even asked for, and honored, my color preferences - waaaay cool. But man, I didn't expect such a boon in a box! I am not going to do the math on this, but this is a lot of money's worth in some very fine stationery.

As you probably know if you've been reading my blog for a while, or reading my letters, I am already a big fan of Clairefontaine and G. Lalo papers. Good stuff. But Karen did a fantastic job of sending me some of their products that I haven't tried before.

As the lovely Miss Soda must be present for any unpacking of a glorious cardboard box, she joined the photo shoot to help display these products. (I can't help noting that her loveliness is sitting next to my hands, just in front of my keyboard, purring melodiously as I type. I love this cat.)

Soda inspects Exaclair samples

I promise, when I actually review each of these items individually, I will get their names right and provide full links. For the time being, I'll tell you that from Clairefontaine we have some Pollen stationery in grey, in two sizes (a larger notecard and a smaller flat card), and a little red wire-bound spiral notebook. From J. Herbin there is the promised Eclat de Saphir blue fountain pen ink. From G. Lalo, a tablet of Verge de France paper in ivory with matching lined envelopes (the cover of this tablet is what is glittering gold in the top photo of the items still packaged in a box - cooool; I capture glitter totally inadvertently), Mode de Paris boxed flat cards, small blue flat cards with lined envelopes, and green-bordered flat cards with green envelopes.

Exaclair goodies: the Soda test

Now I'm just shamelessly showing you more photos from different angles, just to show off how cute Soda is when she inspects my new stationery items. (Oh yes - that's my happy gin and tonic in the corner.)

Exaclair samples: Soda approves

It's official: Soda approves. (That's her "I'm so happy I'm purring with my eyes closed" smile, which is kind of freaky in photos because it makes her eyes look like they disappear.)

Stay tuned - each of these fine stationery products will get a review in the coming weeks. I'll give a spoiler already and say I'm liking the Eclat de Saphir a lot better than I expected.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Claw retractor

Claw retractor

Here's another of the designs from the Catwoman fold-and-mails by Chronicle Books. I have left it unlinked here because I do believe they're now discontinued. But I've still got a lot of 'em, so they'll keep hitting the mail routes.

Catwoman red

I just love her hippity-hop whipwork. Badass.

This just in: Big Chronicle Books sale!

Thanks to a tip from an anonymous commenter, I must share this news with you! The info comes from a secret newsletter, so I couldn't find it on their site, but I am pretty sure it's legit. I haven't tried it yet, but... I'm about to browse. I'm not sure whether it's free shipping for any order amount, or just above $35, but... I may have more info on that shortly. ;-)

FYI, Chronicle Books sells the Unicorn Wishes stationery I just blogged about recently, as well as most of the fold-and-mails I use. Oooooooooo....

Update: Okay, no news on the free shipping bit because my cart was above $35. Chronicle books also has some incredibly awesome postcards, too. (Yeah, I'm into postcards again. I might as well admit it.) Don't forget to put in FRIENDS under promo codes for checkout, and you'll get the goods.

Giddily pleased with 3-color gel pens

Edward Gorey: She danced on the sands Giddily

Here we have a recent Edward Gorey postcard I sent, called "She danced on the sands Giddily" from "The Glorious Nosebleed," an Edward Gorey postcard book from Pomegranate Books. I am posting more about the embellishment than the postcard itself. Look closely, or view large, and you'll see I added some "color" to the ends of her scarf, her turban and the tips of her feet. (Yes-yes, I know, I'm not terribly creative or artistic, but it was fun.) I did this just for an excuse to play with my new Zebra Super-Marble 3 Color Changing Gel Ink Pens from JetPens. They're gel pens filled with 3 different colors, so you never know what blend of the three is going to come out of the pen. It's a heck of a lot of fun. Take a look at the JetPens description to get a view of the Blue-Purple-Red pen (scroll down for full effect and photos), which in my opinion is more of a pink-purple pen in practical application.

Showing off those 3-color gel pens

I have 3 of these pens, and above you can see each used differently for writing (or underlining, in the case of "Giddily"). These puppies are SO much fun, and they look different on light and dark papers. For a buck-fifty each, I'm hooked.

And hey - for once, I'm not taking about fountain pens!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Another attempt to photograph glimmer mist

Glimmer mist, can you see it?

Here I go again, trying to photograph the subtleties of glimmer mist.

You might have to view large to see the effect. I think it kind of shows up better on the dark areas of the stamps.

Can you see it?? I promise, it's better in person, preferably in direct sunlight.

[EDIT on 7/23: One of my astute readers just pointed out that I've not explained glimmer mist. That link will tell you more, but basically it is a non-aerosol glitter spray made for scrapbooking. It's water-based, acid-free and non-toxic... but it IS a bit messy, so I always spray outside or in the icky basement. It comes in a bunch of colors and is really great fun to use: Learn more about Tatterd Angels Glimmer Mist.]

Unicorn wishes! + Cornify

Unicorn Wishes stationery

I'm not sure how I learned about this stationery, but I found out about it before the release date and was actually eagerly anticipating its availability. Presenting Unicorn Wishes! from Chronicle Books. Unicorns + rainbows = nostalgic kitsch & happyland for me.

I confess: I did succumb to the unicorn craze when I was a little girl. I loved 'em. I still kind of get a giggle from them. (If you want a SERIOUS giggle, check out the super-kitschy, "the #1 unicorn and rainbow service." Go ahead - you know you want to.)

Unicorn Wishes envelope

Only the little mushroom sticker on the back of the envelope came with the set; the sparkly hearts and combo unicorn/rainbow pegasus (wtf?) came from my own private collection. I think they add a whole new level of cornification here.

Again the Chronicle Books website rather fails us, because you only get to see the back of ONE of the lovely stationery sheets (shown on the Unicorn Wishes! page here). I should photograph this in more depth soon - it is full of splendid wonders. Who knows - maybe YOU'LL get a unicorn wish in your mailbox.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

More stuff on my cat, this time with doughnuts

Stuff on my cat fold and mail

Just some more Stuff on My Cat fold & mail stationery from Chronicle Books. Look closely in the color stripes: those are little poodle silhouettes. Nutty.

Stuff on my cat fold and mail: doughnut surprise

Mmmm.... doughnuts. (They're felt.)

That's my cat Memo stretching his arms on the cat photo sticker.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Hammerpress card with UK Fairies stamp

Hammerpress envelope + UK Fairies stamp

So I read about the release of the fantastic UK Mythical Creatures stamps from the ever-informative and delightful Letter Writers Alliance blog. I have been in awe of these stamps since their release - even contemplating paying international shipping for the very expensive Stamp cards of these gorgeous images... and then one of my pen pals from Scotland sent me a gorgeous letter with one of them! I was so excited to see one of these up close:

UK Fairies stamp

But the loveliness doesn't end there. This Scottish gal often uses lovely stationery, and this letter was also my first glimpse of the Hammerpress cards from Chronicle Books. (Sorry for the general link - I'm not sure if these are the Correspondence Cards or the Notecards. Chronicle Books, if you're reading my blog posting - your descriptions and image varieties on your website leave much to be desired.)

Hammerpress owl card

This card included more of the silver-ink highlights of the envelope, and had a green theme with a fantastic owl.

Hammerpress brown paper envelope + silver

Even the back of the envelope was lovely - I'm really charmed by the use of silver ink on the brown paper envelope.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Vintage letterheads: free download!

James of Everyday Correspondence has kindly offered some wonderful downloadable vintage letterheads. I just got a letter that uses them, and they are very, very cool. Go check 'em out!

Helping PostMuse with the Orphaned Postcard Project

Helping with the Orphaned Postcard Project

PostMuse coordinates a wonderful adventure called the Orphaned Postcard Project. She has collected postcards from all over the world for years, and has a really great database of them all. If you're willing to participate in her project, you find a location on her database from whence you can send one of her postcards. The idea is to get a postmark from the postcard location. She'll mail you the postcards, addressed to her and with postage already on them, and you simply mail them back from the location of the desired postcard. Since she had some orphans from Newport, RI, I said I'd be happy to participate - and got some lovely postcards to mail, seen above. They were all contained in the shown envelope with awesome stamps, along with the "Lethargy Lodge" notecard.

The postcard on the top, a generic Rhode Island postcard from one of the not-so-distant US stamp issues, I forgot to take an individual photo. You get the idea.

Redwood Library and Athenaeum, Newport RI

Here we have the Redwood Library and Athenaeum. Nice statue, eh?
From the Pomegranate Postcard book "For the Love of Libraries":
This is the oldest circulating library in the country that still operates in its original location. It was built in 1748 by Peter Harrison, the architect of Newport's Touro Synagogue, the oldest surviving synagogue in America. Readers may sit in a cozy corner, surrounded by an important collection of portrait paintings, busts, eighteenth-century furniture, and a book collection with major strengths in the arts and humanities, most of which circulates.

Touro Synagogue, Newport RI

Next, the abovementioned Touro Synagogue. This postcard is rather old (50s or 60s?), but Touro still looks pretty much the same today.

I am quite embarrassed to admit that I have been to neither of these grand tourist attractions in my own city. And I'm even Jewish!! One of these days I'll make it to both places...

1983 Olympics airmail postcard

In return for her fun letter in the card with the postcards, I sent PostMuse this 1983 Olympics airmail postcard (presumably for the 1984 olympics).

Have a look at the Orphaned Postcard Project, folks - it's fun to participate, and to top it off, PostMuse is a fine correspondent and will surely send you a passel of interesting postcards if you continue to correspond with her.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Home again, home again, hippity hop

Hello gentle readers,
No photo now, just a tired note to say I have returned from a wonderful escape into nature. I don't have any pictures of my letter pile, but I do have a count: 37 pieces of personal correspondence awaited me today upon my return. I think about 8 or so were postcards, the rest letters. I've just read them all, in my leisure hours after unpacking. The letter-stream will resume tomorrow (though I did send out 20 postcards & 1 letter while I was in a cabin by a lake), and I'll be back with regular photo-posts tomorrow, too.
Thanks for all your comments while I was away, and your continued loyal readership!

Friday, July 17, 2009

A calligraphy letter


I was so delighted and impressed to find this beauty in my mailbox! It looks to me like one of my blog readers is a professional calligrapher, because this work is just gorgeous. I love the sense of humor of orange ink matched to the Homer Simpson stamp.

A calligraphy letter

In fact, the entire fine letter is in calligraphy, and he praises his wax seal from Atelier Gargoyle. Cool stuff.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Vintage stamps on green envelope

Vintage stamps on green envelope

I chose these stamps to be a nice variety on this lovely green envelope (which contains some more fine vintage Muppet stationery that I've yet to photograph). My favorites are the Credo Lincoln stamp ("Those who Deny freedom to others Deserve it not for Themselves") and the America's Libraries stamp.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Into the woods

Into The Woods

Dear readers, it is time for me to disappear for a little while.

I will be happily ensconced in the wilderness, away from my mailbox (sad) and away from the internet (happy). I am not going to turn off comments, you'll just have to wait until I get back to internet-land for me to approve them (and ergo for them to appear). If I am really organized today, I'll get some posts set up to happen automatically in my absence, but please don't be alarmed by my lack of response, either to comments here on this site or to snail mail letters. I'm going to have a bit of a backlog again! Thanks for your patience.

In the meantime, go write a letter!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Soda pop and poodle skirts

Soda pop

I enjoyed the sticker theme on the front and the back of this envelope.

Poodle Skirt

There is some subtle texture and glitter in there that, of course, I couldn't quite photograph.

The irony that neither the sender nor I were alive for the original poodle skirt phase is not lost on me.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Edward Gorey: The Glorious Nosebleed

Today I share with you two postcards from Edward Gorey's "The Glorious Nosebleed." The book illustrats adverbs, so each postcard (a page from the book, I assume) has a bizarre statement with a capitalized adverb.

He ran through the hall Maniacally:
He ran through the hall Maniacally

This one went to the gal on Sendsomething (which appears still not to be working) who sent me the awesome Bat Lady Postcard I blogged about yesterday. I thought it needed a spot of color, so I gave him a gold star on his nightdress.

He looked out the window Hopelessly:
He looked out the window Hopelessly

This one went to Andy for his lovely postcard blog, My Real Wall, aka "A REAL wall displaying REAL posts by REAL people (BETA Version)". If you're looking to send a postcard to a mail aficionado, I do recommend sending him one. His address is on his blog page. Then he'll post a photo of your postcard on his wall. As for the postcard, I love the poor little teddy bear in the corner. So Gorey.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Bat lady postcard

Bat lady with Princess Leia hair

Hooray for! I got this wonderful surprise bat postcard through that lovely service last month. Pretty cool bat lady with Princess Leia hair.

Batty Sendsomething postcard

She even treated me to lots of batty stickers on the back.

[One caveat with Sendsomething is that it is in beta form, and it is occasionally down. It's not functioning right now as I post this, but I hope it's back up and running whenever someone who's actually interested in checking it clicks the link.]

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Flowers from a bean

Flowers from a Bean

I got a lovely hand-decorated envelope from the amazing Biffybeans! Lucky me!

Do check out her blog, Spiritual Evolution of the Bean. She posts truly fantastic (and detailed, and USEFUL) ink and paper reviews, not to mention you get to see her great artwork.

Singapore stamp spectacular

Singapore stamps

More fabulous Singapore stamps. I maintain that they must all be simply gorgeous, or this correspondent chooses them with particular care.

I am so taken with those Cinema Theatres of Yesteryear Stamps. The Cathay theatre shown here in 1939 reminds me of something in Miami Beach.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Warthog Love

Warthog love

This lovely warthog postcard came from a Letter Writers Alliance pen pal, and it's her own photo, all the way from South Africa.

The stamp, too, is awesome:

South African stamp

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Goddesses, bat caves, and crabs, oh my!

hand-drawn border

This envelope only begins to hint at the glories this letter holds. I warn you, this is going to be a seriously photo-heavy post.

Possibly my favorite part:

bat cave

The bat cave! Ah, a pen pal after my own heart... You gotta view this one large, folks. You have to see full size to appreciate the detail. The one in the bottom left corner is even going after an insect! Fabulous!

delicate tail

Then we have some wonderful illustrations to descriptions of hermit crabs.


I love that the crab is sighing.

horseshoe crab loves me!

Horseshoe crab loves me!

faint ghost bat

... a ghostly corner bat ...

She also sent an awesome bonus sketch of Kali, in response to the Sanjay Patel stationery representing the Hindu goddess Kali that I sent her. Her Kali is the KICKASS Kali! I'd want her on my side, folks. Since it is a signed piece of artwork, though, I don't want to mess with it by blurring out her signature, so I'll let you link over to her own great blog and read about it/see it there.

The sender also blogged about this letter she sent me, but I wanted to show off even more of her awesome little doodles, which she probably takes totally for granted.