I have been a stationery addict for as long as I can remember.
During my school and college days, I enjoyed nothing more than heading on over to WH Smiths or Staples at the start of each term to purchase a whole bunch of exciting new stationery. My love of stationery has continued into my working life as a lawyer, and a long working day is always made that much more tolerable by the reassuring sight of quirky and pretty items of stationery scattered all over my otherwise despicably drab work station.
The term “stationery” can be dated back as far as the thirteenth century, where various tools and equipment were used in the production of hand-written manuscripts, and later, the Guild of Stationers of London, evolved over the following centuries to reflect the technical developments relating to the written and printed word. Today, the world of stationery has become a funked-up and fashion-driven industry, and there really is something out there for all tastes, personalities and budgets.
To mark National Stationery Week 2014, I thought it would be a good opportunity for me to present to you all my current Top Ten stationery items (I am always on the lookout for the next funky item, of course, meaning this “Top Ten” is in a state of constant flux!), with the hope that others will soon succumb to this wonderful affliction, and embrace it with gusto!
SPACE MONKEY STATIONERY TOP TEN
1. “Laugh it up, fuzzball” – Vintage Han Solo, Star Wars Pencil Case
The release of the Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope in 1977 brought with it the start of mass movie merchandising. From action figures to Frisbees, the franchise thrived on the fan-frenzy that ensued. I do love this pencil case, for primarily nostalgic reasons: to start they just don’t make pencil cases like this anymore. There is something about the materials used, its smell, and how annoying the small insert of foam was when you tried to get into the case (although, as I got older, I soon realized that this little piece of foam was a crucial part of the case, and helped to keep the pencil case in as pristine a condition as possible when considering how well-used these things were). The new plastic pencil cases, just aren’t the same.
2. High Society – Smythson, London
Smythsons is the pinnacle of high-end stationery, and the London establishment certainly lures patrons in with its vivid array of colourful, leather-bound delights. Whilst most of the Smythson collections come with a hefty price tag, there is no denying the quality that you get in exchange. However, it is worth keeping an eye out for the sales they have from time to time, as the cute idiom notebooks, in particular, are often available for a far more justifiable price at these times.
Some of my favourites are shown above, including the wonderful personalised pink Bond Street organiser (which I tend to use as a note book, as I also have their stand-alone canary yellow diary), pencil case, and the fabulous “White Christmas” notebook that I keep with me at all times to keep track of inspiring festive ideas that pop into my head at random times throughout the year. I also have a selection of gorgeous note paper and note cards (worthy of a separate entry below, I must add), which are also, usually available during the sales season at a more reasonable price. If your budget allows, however, I would certainly recommend investing in at least one item from this gloriously elegant and timeless stationer – you will not regret it.
3. T-Minus – Space Shuttle Habitat Notebooks
Habitat’s disappearance from our high streets was a particularly distressing time for me. It was my home interior store of choice, and they could always be relied upon for the odd piece of quirky stationery, amongst the more usual items. These were a star buy for me about 5 years ago, and were released at about the same time that Habitat had its VIP Buzz Aldrin Moon range in stock, as well as other space related accessories for kids.
I have about four of these, and I have now almost run out of pages, but I hope to use the covers for new booklets when I finally get to the last usable page.
4. Welcome to Miami – South Beach Pencil Holder
Florida is possibly the most Kitsch of the American states, and is teaming with all sorts of tacky-tourist-tat Americana. We even went to one restaurant, the Bubble Room, on Captiva Island, that was decorated in an array of vintage Xmas stuff – even though we visited in April! It was a brilliant place, and the cakes were to die for, if you ever get to visit. However, I also found this wonderful pen-holder, full of floating flamingos at one of the stores just off Ocean Drive in Miami, and it cheers me up everyday when I look at it.
5. The Eagle has Landed – Vintage Portmeirion Apollo 11 Mug-Come-Pen-Pot
This is one of the little gems that I inherited off my late grandmother last year, which was originally purchased for her by my dad. My dad has been instrumental in fostering my keen interest in all things space, and as this commemorative mug shows, there was never any chance that I would turn out any differently! Whilst not an official piece of stationery, it has been a wonderful and fitting holder for my Paperchase star pencils.
6. Me, Robot – Smythson Notecards
I was particularly excited when I came across these bad robots when browsing the Smythson website last year – I mean, Robot Stationery!? What a fabulous combination!
When trying to think of something interesting to say about robots, I found out that the first use of the word “Robot” was in a Czechoslovakian play by Karel Capek in 1921. Interestingly, the word derives from “robota” meaning “drudgery” in Czech and “work” in Slovak, and ties in with the overarching view that robots have been created to serve us. I love robots, and love science fiction about robots. I, Robot, by Isaac Asimov is a classic short novel, and Silent Running and Batteries not Included are two of my favourite robot movies.
7. War-on-error – Soldier Erasers
Whilst not the most practical erasers, these are just pure fun, and I just had to buy them when I saw them!
8. “We drink because it’s what men do” – Stainless Steel Waterman Pen
This wonderful stainless steel Waterman pen was given to me by my sister when I was promoted at work last year. It is such a lovely pen to write with. Here I have displayed it with the equally tasteful Dorothy Thorpe-esq Umbrella Old-Fashioned that glasses I have, and a lovely lead crystal decanter given to us by some good friends for our wedding back in 2009.
9. Honky-Tonk Parade – Piano Calculator
How wonderful is this?! As a pianist myself, I was immediately drawn to this at a very stylish interior design emporium in Bruges. Again, as with many pieces of quirky stationery, it took some time to get used to the layout of the numbers, but once you got the hang of it, it was great. It certainly makes billing time a little more interesting!!
10. “Nothing very bad could happen to you there” – Tiffany & Co Address Book
I have had this fabulous Tiffany & Co Address Book since 2008, and bought it at the flagship store on New York’s Fifth Avenue. I love the movie Breakfast at Tiffany’s, and it is just lovely walking into the ground floor area and knowing that it has hardly changed since the movie was filmed there back in the early 1960s. My good friend, Boo, has recently reviewed Truman Capote’s original novella, which, for those of you who have read this classic will know, has quite a hue to its Technicolor counterpart. Boo’s post is available at : http://www.bloomingboo.com
“A pencil and a dream can take you anywhere.” - J.A.Meyer
P.S. This bright pink Kate Spade note book was also a strong contender for the Top Ten – The idiom “Eat Cake For Breakfast” is fab, and the tiny thin rainbow ribbons are an absolute delight!! Another fantastic import from the U.S of A!