The Power of Putting Pen to Paper

Whilst TikTok and Instagram provide an instant visual snapshot into the modern-day zeitgeist, and email is ideal for instant communication, particularly business – they pale into insignificance when viewed against the power of putting pen to paper.  Firstly, a handwritten letter or card needs no electronic device to enable you to read them.  Secondly, digital communication is unlikely to leave a lasting record for future generations.  The digital generation consumes information at such at rapid pace that much of what is read is then instantly forgotten – and deleted, from their digital files.

This is why handwritten notecards and headed writing paper remain so important.  They provide a permanent snapshot in time; a tangible, physical record that can be left to posterity – a footnote outlining events in a life, however trivial, that are harder to bin than something arriving in an inbox on your mobile or laptop.  In addition, these analogue style documents can be easily stored and retrieved to be re-read, and enjoyed, at your convenience. 

We are all too aware that by their very nature, digital communications and social media platforms don’t encourage the reader / viewer to linger over their content.  They are designed for conveying a message, a soundbite, a brief thought or image, as quickly as possible; only for it to be just as quickly forgotten.  It’s a form of communication that usually demands less time and thought than sitting down and composing a letter.  The later, encourage a more in-depth, far more profound and personal level of communication.  And the greatest joy is that the results can be examined, touched and enjoyed time and time again.  As an historical record, paper is the ideal place to record promises, frustrations, joys and gratitude. 

That’s because a personal stationery, is the perfect medium to physically SHOW someone how much you care.  Writing one requires your undivided attention; it demands you switch off all external distractions, so readily available today.  After all, committing thoughts to the medium of paper is the ultimate way to communicate your feelings.  This is because the finished result can never just disappear at the touch of a button into electronic oblivion!

There are so many different reasons to put pen to paper – from committing your innermost feelings to the permanency of paper, regaling the recipient with general chitchat about your day-to-day activity, to letters of thanks or those of complaint.  The wide selection of letters, available for us to peruse, from the past, right up until today, demonstrates the continuing fascination of and power of putting pen to paper.  It is a medium that has lasted thousands of years and will surely outlast the digital superhighway revolution.  After all, can a social media post, or email, give the same satisfaction to a recipient?

Don’t believe us?  Let’s take a look at some historical letters penned by very well-known names in a variety of fields, that have been saved for posterity.  It’s always fascinating to see the type of paper that has been used by the sender, as well as the penmanship and that’s before we actually read the words they’ve chosen to write!

We hope you enjoy this selection of examples throughout the ages:

A handwritten note and sketch from Vincent van Gogh to John Peter Russel

Vincent van Gogh, Letter to John Peter Russell. Courtesy of The Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation / Art Resource, NY.

Not only does this handwritten note from Vincent van Gogh feature an eye-catching sketch – surely worth a few bob! - it also includes fascinating, insightful titbits into his everyday life.  Imagine if email had been around in Vincent’s lifetime!  There would be nothing like this left for future generations to ponder over and enjoy.
letter headed paper from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

We love the precise penmanship of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle; although we wouldn’t expect anything less from the Sherlock Holmes author!  It’s also interesting to see how little the style of personalised letter headed paper has changed over the decades.

Now let’s take a look at two examples of romantic communications – but very different specimens of the genre!  One is a casually drafted missive ending a brief encounter, whilst the other is a heartfelt outpouring of thanks and love for a long-lasting marriage.  

Firstly, we have a hand written note from Marlon Brando, sent from The Savoy Hotel and drafted to an airline stewardess who took his fancy, mid-flight, in 1966.  It comes complete with crossings out and seems hastily scribbled on a rather scruffy piece of standard A4 notebook paper.  It’s a fascinating insight into the seduction manoeuvrings of a Hollywood titan!

a scrawled note from Marlon Brando, written on a torn out page of lined yellow paper

Fastcompany.com

This is in complete contrast to the beautifully composed love note, which is written on engraved headed paper, from then Governor of California, Ronald Reagan, to his wife, Nancy.  This is a clearly well-thought through composition, with beautiful writing and elegant sentiment.  No wonder this letter was treasured by its recipient.

a beautiful example of engraved headed letter paper, written by Ronald Reagan to his wife Nancy

Then we have a range of letters of thanks – because, even the rich and famous know that a handwritten note outlining their gratitude, is not only the polite way to behave, it also gives greater pleasure to its recipient.  It makes no difference how short the note is, the fact that each is personal and handwritten, makes all the difference. 

From Elizabeth Taylor, Kourtney Kardashian and Snoop Dog, to JK Rowling, Alyssa Milano and Victoria Beckham, no star is too big to understand the value, and power, of the personal touch.

personalised headed writing paper from elizabeth taylor to Andy Wharhol

Mental Floss magazine

a personalised note card from Kourtney Kardashian@Boppy

a personal notelet from Snoop Dogg to one of his friends for christmas

Daily Mail

JK Rowling uses an engraved owl motif at the head of her writing paper

Alyssa Milano uses a CND motif at the head of her personalised notecards

Hollywood swagbag

personalised notecards from Victoria Beckham showing a distinctive modern font

Hollywood swagbag

Whether you’re writing on a scruffy piece of notepaper, or crafting an epic epistle on a sheet luxurious, die-stamped headed letter paper, the power of paper and pen remains the same.  This is because nothing puts a smile on the face – even in our modern times – like receiving something handwritten through the post.  And that is the true power of personalised stationery and what’s written on it – the writer, and their effort, will always be appreciated and remembered in a way that a dashed off email or social media post can never hope to emulate.  Paper and pen will always equal something to be both savoured and saved.