Are You a Handwriter or a Typer?

Haha, that’s a doozy of an opener! But I can identify with this. I like handwriting and typing for different reasons—the latter when I have a lot on my mind to sort through, a lot that I just want to get down on paper (or Word, as it were) and organize, and the former when I want to ponder life a bit. When I write a letter by hand, I find my thoughts slowing down to a pace where my pen can more or less keep up.

boy with a hat


Handwriting is like making love; typing, like having sex. It’s essentially the same enjoyable activity, but the approach is slightly different.

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I love this—and have surrendered too often to my weakness for letterpress cards. It’s fascinating to get a behind-the-scenes look at the process of making them, especially when you realize just how much work goes into making something look easy. Reminds me of the Antoine de Saint-Exupéry quote, “Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.” Spoken like a true editor!

amaryllis log


I learned how to print on a letterpress yesterday. It was an awesome experience. Here’s the back story; although most of the work I do is for the corporation I work for, from time to time we do pro bono work. Almost a year ago we did a letterhead system for the Minnesota Center for Book Arts. As a thank you they allowed us to come for a day and learn to press type. It was just a small group of us, with lofty ideas. Quickly I figured out it takes a lot of time to set up type and prepare it for the press.

As you would expect, I took tons of pictures. The place is beautiful, full of old cool things including wood and lead type. There are drawers full of type and old advertising images. It was a surprise in each drawer. We probably spent the…

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This reminds me of one of Letters of Note’s most popular posts: Tom Hanks (who’s a keen typewriter collector) responding to an interview request on a 1934 Smith Corona, which was actually sent to him as a bribe to do the interview.

Story goes he once bought a $5 typewriter in Australia that cost him $85 to ship home. And he’ll pull up a cafe table in front of, say, the Eiffel Tower, then whip out a typewriter and a glass of wine and start clacking away.

I had no idea he was into this, but it just makes me love ‘im even more. :) It’s just such a cool, classy hobby…old-school. Especially in light of his prolific social media output, which leads me to believe he is fully hooked up with smartphone, tablet, etc. I mean, it’s not as if he’s a total Luddite. The typewriter is just a different, more tactile medium of expression.

More on his hobby, and for the love of electric typewriters:
• How to Bribe Tom Hanks with a Vintage Typewriter (Messy Nessy Chic)
The Quiet Cult of the Olympia Report DeLuxe Electric Typewriter (Gizmodo): “Compared to using a word processor on a PC, using the ORD was an earthy process: Hands-on ribbon changes, the smell of ink, and cranking the platen to see what you just typed,” says writer Steven Levy. Perhaps not coincidentally, it’s the ORD that gets so much play (from Greg Kinnear’s character) in You’ve Got Mail.

(photos via The Film Street JournalGawker, and Messy Nessy Chic)

Subject Obscura

With one click of the mouse, I became a collector. I bought a second typewriter.

I bought my first typewriter in October 2011.  Goodwill opened a store in the area, which my partner and I promptly checked out. It turned out to be a well-planned visit as I found a Smith-Corona Classic 12 in fine condition sitting on the shelves, waiting to be snagged by the first analog-enthusiast to cross its path. I didn’t know it yet, but I was one such enthusiast.

Over the months that followed, I would learn how to properly clean it, fix some of the keys that were stuck, and that, while the office supply store does not carry the ribbons I needed, e-commerce would make finding such things possible. Every step of the way, I was excited. I was engaging with a technology that had supposedly become outdated and loving it.

Not least of…

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Tiny star letterpress

I am a lover of paper products that can be written or created on, so of course I find these stardust letterpress cards from Pheasant Press both charming and dreamy. If I were an artist, I’d draw a spare vertical figure down the center of it, or some otherworldly landscape, and give it as a gift. Or how about a favorite short poem, nicely handwritten and framed?

If you sent it as a letter, you could seal up the envelope with one of these silvery Knot & Bow heart stickers.

Clearly, letter-writing paraphernalia still leaves me as silly-happy as when I was a kid figuring out just the right stationery to use for writing my pen pals. :)

(via Pheasant Press and Knot & Bow)

L.M. Montgomery postcards

Only a true Anne lover would understand the appeal of these postcards: 20 first-edition L.M. Montgomery covers that feature Anne Shirley, Emily Starr, Rilla Blythe, et al. (Click through to the Sullivan website to zoom in on the images.)

When I was about 10 or 11, lazing about on my summer vacation, my mom urged me to read Anne of Green Gables. At first I resisted—I was still deeply into The Baby-Sitters Club and Sweet Valley Twins—but eventually came around. And I actually haven’t stopped reading L.M. Montgomery since (as in, I still read it while eating and have a couple of the free eBooks on my iPhone for down moments). What I tend to do is return to my favorites, which alternate: The Story Girl and The Golden Road, Emily Climbs, Anne of Windy Poplars. I read them the way you sleep into a baggy sweatshirt and cuddle under the down comforter on a chilly gray day.

(via Sullivan Entertainment)

A Collection a Day

Speaking of Lisa Congdon and her project 365 Days of Hand Lettering, I also like her Collection a Day series. First became acquainted with it through 20×200, when her print Day 256: Vintage Airline Tags caught my eye.

I bought an 8×10 copy and propped it up on one of my bookshelves at work. It appeals to my inveterate love of collecting ephemera to arrange neatly in my scrapbook. Amsterdam! London! Athens! New York! Baggage tags are just slips of paper that tell whole stories of trips.

Later I discovered that Congdon also sells A Collection a Day notecards in her Etsy shop. Shelled out for series #1 (check out series #2 here); the card stock is silky soft to the touch, adding another dimension to the tactile nature of letter writing.

Vintage light bulbs, painting tubes, and sewing supplies
from Lisa Congdon’s A Collection a Day Notecard Series Number 1

Note: Everything in the shop is currently 15 percent off through Friday, July 6. But if you’re too late, be sure to check her Facebook page for future discounts.

“Collectors are happy people.” –Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Egg Press sample sale

Super-stoked to see that Portland, Oregon–based Egg Press has kicked off its online sample sale! Each grab bag comes with 10 cards and envelopes from Egg Press samples and slightly imperfect seconds. (Hey, imperfection adds character, and I love letterpress.) And each grab bag is only $10! I already ordered two. You can make yours part of the effort to Save the U.S. Postal Service by Writing More Letters.

The online sample sale is slated to run through April 27, but my guess is supplies may run out before then. Can’t wait to see what ends up in my grab bags.

(via Egg Press)