A Desk Book on the Etiquette of Social Stationery/Chapter 1
The Lady of the Desk A WOMAN is known by the stationery she uses. Paper talks. We read between the lines, along the margin, and across the envelope, the story of good or bad taste which speaks in tone, texture and design.
It's the paper on the desk, not the desk, or the handwrought paper weight, which gives side lights to character and marks the fair scribe as genuine, distinctive, charming or the reverse.
The Reading of the Paper The absent button and the misconnected belt line talk loudly of their owner, but the rustle of her note paper is still more potent.
A woman's stationery opens up a new field to the student of human nature.
One reads the ultra person in the bright blue correspondent, and the careless disregard to daintiness in the page of poorest texture which takes the writing like a blotting pad. Again the modish woman, tasteful and with well-bred charm, trips across the surface of a fabric-finished page toned to softest pearl or ivory, while she of strength and enterprise speaks quickly from the heavy masculine sheet and envelope.
Fads and Fashions Fashions in stationery rise and fall, differ and turn as do the curves of milady's hat brim. The seasons are marked by many changes in texture, shape and size, often within the realm of good taste, but the fads and fancies of the moment, which run to exaggerated tone and design, are shunned by the woman of refinement.
Stationery Standards This little book aims at the best in stationery. Within its pages one may cull many authentic informants, who quote of social usage and the gentle art of etiquette.
The Paper on the Desk The paper on the desk is our first consideration. Three sizes—Lucile, Stockton and Winthrop —are at milady's disposal for social correspondence; for men, the Gladstone, Curzon and Signet sizes. All these and other sizes are shown on the diagrams in the pocket inside of back cover.
First Size The smaller of the three sheets (Lucile) claims notes of a few lines only, congratulations, regrets, and condolences.
Second Size The second size (Stockton) is for all social notes, the informal invitations, or the hasty line which requires little space.
Third Size The third or letter size (Winthrop) is, as implied, for general correspondence, for the good talking letter to one's dearest friend, and because of its manifold uses should be kept on hand in double quantity.
Selection A high authority states:
"There is one fashion which has never changed the most perfect of all styles good, plain, thick, white note paper, folded square and put in a square envelope."
On the other hand, we have the word of an equally eminent stationer, who declares that "The people will have what they want."
Many women of excellent taste select one style of stationery, and regardless of existing modes hold to it for years. This is distinctive, but a glance at the charming varieties of the stationer's art tempts one to endless modifications, and the trial of one's own ingenuity in motif, monogram and inscription.
Newest Papers The newest papers show a fabric finish such as Crane's Linen Lawn. Two others, popular for a slightly rough surface, are Crane's Fine Chain Laid and Crane's Distaff Linen.
The color of these papers is that white which is known as Dresden White.
These papers are smooth to the pen and firm, without any gloss, and they are to be had in two thicknesses.
Notwithstanding the fact that the fabric-finished papers are more popular and therefore more fashionable, many people prefer the smooth-surface papers, from which there is an equally good choice. Among them might be mentioned Crane's Kid Finish, Crane's Early English and Crane's Satin Finish. Crane's Bond is best liked by those who prefer paper of a light weight and is especially popular for foreign correspondence on account of its strength and excellent character.
Envelopes Envelopes vary in size and shape and follow no strict rule. A new design is large and almost square, and there are matching sizes for the smaller sheets.
The oblong envelope is, however, considered more generally correct, although a square one in medium size is always in good taste.
Envelope Linings The thin-lining envelope of contrasting or darker tone is a late fancy. This idea originated for foreign mail and the transparent envelope, but has been taken up generally by stationers with extremely pleasing results.
Many of these linings are quite distinct from the envelope proper, closing separately with a narrow fold. The contents are thus doubly secure, and the writing concealed.
Violet is a favorite tone for the lining envelopes, combining well with the palest shades of gray or champagne. Two tones of blue are also good, and a russet lining with an ecru paper is most attractive.
In decoration, one may also choose from many modish forms. For instance, the tiny Forms of Decoration Italian border of color, just lining the edge of sheet and fold of envelope, is most attractive. Daybreak Pink or Baltique Blue with a small monogram in self-tone is in pleasing taste, the monogram appearing again on the envelope if not obtrusive.
Quarter-inch borders of a darker shade than the paper are set a half-inch inside the edge. The pastel colors are extremely dainty treated in this way.
All these variations from the simple unglazed white note sheet in its square-cut envelope are, although quite correct, entirely a matter of individual taste and but hints for the interested. There is no better or higher form, however, than the kid-finished paper, unruled, unglazed, of firmest texture and showing but a tiny crest or unobtrusive monogram.