The lost art of writing letters… Well, it isn’t quite a lost art yet, but it’s definitely getting there. People like Mary Robinette Kowal, with her Month of Letters every February, are trying to keep letter writing alive, and there are some postcard projects, but using letters as the primary form of long distance communication is pretty much gone. This week’s Bristol Box will help you obtain the tools to do justice to some old fashioned letter writing, keeping the art alive.
First, you need paper. Good quality, letter writing paper. Stationery. Remember stationery? If you’re a girl anywhere close to my age (43) or older, likely you received many boxes of the stuff as a child. But if you don’t have any of that left, get fancy, and obtain some thick writing paper. Or use whatever you have on hand, depending on your budget and your tastes.
Next, you’ll need a writing implement. You can go really old fashioned and use a quill and ink. Or perhaps you’ll be a bit more modern and use a fountain pen. I think I’d bleed all over the paper with either of those—though I do want to try them—so I generally just use a ball point pen.
Third, select a recipient. Older friends and family who haven’t embraced computers yet are a fantastic choice. Otherwise, just pick someone who is likely to write you back, by hand, in kind. Locate their mailing address, and then sit down to write.
When you’re done, if you’d like to be fancy, fold the letter and seal it with some sealing wax (no, not ceiling wax). You don’t need many tools for this. You can do it with just some sealing wax, a lighter, and a wax seal. Or you can get a melting spoon to melt little bits of wax for the seal. There are also some kits which come with everything you need to seal a letter. Or, choose your own personal seal or set of seals. This is a great way to customize your letters. The seals come in many designs, such as letters of the alphabet, trees, compasses, flowers, bees, words, dragons, a Hogwarts crest, just about anything you can imagine. Any way you like to do it, sealing a letter with a wax seal gives an air of formality and officiality.
If you’re not sure the form of a proper letter, or perhaps what to say in it, here are some handy resources that will help you along.
- First Person History – They are not sealed in wax, but I am chronicling my great grandfather Arthur’s letters to my grandmother, all written in 1946, when he was over in Germany working with the government, on my First Person History blog. They are magnificent representative samples of relatively modern but still vintage social letters. His learned personality, dry wit, and particular place in history makes these letters a fascinating snapshot of an important time.
- Brain Pickings: How To Write Letters: A Vintage Guide to the Lost Art of Epistolary Etiquette from 1876
- The Art of Manliness: The Art of Letter Writing
Who will you write a letter to this month?