Old Fashioned Letter Writing

I was thinking the other day about how I had not written a letter with pen and paper in years and years. In fact, I may not have scribed such a message since I was a child. I realized that I rely completely on email to communicate with friends and family. Of course I still use that archaic device, the telephone, from time to time but pretty much send electronic mail whenever I want to reach out and touch someone.

Truth be told, I realized that I barely write in cursive any more. Whenever I have to write on paper, I always print. I only ever use cursive to sign my name and, as my wife will gladly attest, no one could possibly read my signature. So I experimented a bit and tried to write a few sentences in cursive. This endeavor was sort of successful. I can still write in cursive but it takes me about 12 seconds to write a 7 letter word.

So I got to thinking about other “lost arts” related to writing. My wife was telling me that when she was a little girl, they still used little bottles of ink. I have never seen one of these little bottles of ink. If I try to visualize a little bottle of ink, I inevitably see it on a desk next to a quill pen wielded by Benjamin Franklin. Does anyone write with this type of ink now? My own preferred writing utility is a Velocity Gel pen.

Which got me thinking about calligraphy. When Ahu and I got married, we had a poster made up which listed all of the names of our wedding guests. The list was done completely in calligraphy. I thought it was a very elegant touch. It was amazing to me, though, that it was so hard to find a calligrapher. The whole art of calligraphy is practiced only by a handful of creative individuals, it seems. Nowadays you have to hire someone to truly generate a worthwhile “John Hancock”.

Which reminded me of a little shop I ran across while walking to the Bergisel in Innsbruck, Austria. There I was, walking from the hotel to the ski jump when I passed by this little writing tools shop. I had never seen a shop dedicated to only writing tools so I had to take a look. They had all kinds of interesting pens and inks but they had one display which had something I had never seen in person and seen only in the movies - wax sealing tools.

I decided then and there that I would start sending real paper-based letters again. And I would seal them with wax! And I would brand them with a special monogram! Anyone can send an email. There’s nothing special about email. But sending a hand-written letter, in such an elegant fashion, that’s a great way to let someone know they are special.

Pretty soon, once we get moved into our new house, I’m going to start sending letters. So if you have a strange letter delivered someday, and it’s sealed with wax and branded with a big “S”, you’ll know who it’s from!