Monday, January 7, 2008

1925 Stationery

A lot of people seem to enjoy the physical description of Papa's diary that I posted a while back, so I figure a little antique stationery porn might be in order before I start posting Papa's letters. Let's take a quick look at what he used for most of his letters to my grandmother in 1925:



Papa mailed many letters in 6 1/2 X 4 1/2-inch envelopes, like the one pictured above, with his return address (94 Attorney Street) pre-printed in the upper left in an all-caps, sans-serif typeface.


It looks like my grandmother opened most of them from one side rather than from the top.

His 5 1/2 X 8 1/12-inch letter paper also has his return address in the upper left. Below it and to the right appear the words "New York" followed by a blank line for the date:



The dateline, in case it's not clear from the picture above, is pre-printed for the 1920's:



Both the envelope and letter paper are printed on relatively lightweight stock and are a light blue-gray color. It's all held up pretty well over the years; the envelopes show some signs of yellowing and brittleness around the edges, but most of the letter paper still feels strong and pliable. This surprises me, especially considering that these letters have been sitting in a well-ventilated suburban attic, with regular seasonal environmental swings from hot and humid to cold and dry, for the last several years. (I'm also surprised at how well Papa's diary has held up over the years, but perhaps I've just underestimated paper's staying power.)

Papa had only lived in his apartment at 94 Attorney Street since February of 1924, so he must have had this stationery printed at some point around then. The form his correspondence took was obviously important to him -- as we'll see, he occasionally apologizes for writing on regular paper or informal stationery in some of his letters -- but it looks like 1925 and some of 1926 were the only years in which he used personalized envelopes and paper.

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Update:

If you want to see Papa's letters in their original size, click the thumbnail images on the right side of any page featuring a letter. A full-sized image of the corresponding letter will pop up in a separate window.

3 comments:

  1. Remembering my own first personalized stationery, I would guess that it seemed a very proper thing to have, along with his new apartment. It was perhaps the easiest way to let people know the new address.

    But mostly I would bet that he invested in the stationery because one of his district brothers was in the business. Sometimes it's as simple as that; I'll buy your product, maybe someday you'll buy from me.

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  2. Rosalieeby@gmail.comJanuary 29, 2009 at 4:01 AM

    I don't know how I came across this site as I cruise the internet looking for interesting pieces to read. It is wonderful to read these letters. I have no letters from my ancestors to read over and keep like you have. It is a treasure. I am going to click on your site as a " favorite" place to go and read. I live outside of Atlantic City and regreat not keeping a diary on working in the casino industry since 1983. So much to be said about hospitality and food service and guests. God Bless you and your history of your family.

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  3. Just a thought for Matt and anyone else with family documents -- paper is delicate -- as we all know from watching antiques roadshow. If possible you should put paper ephemera in archival boxes and if you frame any of it get the item professionally framed with an eye towards preserving it for future generations.

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