Dec. 12, 2021

45. Spiral locking into the holidays

45. Spiral locking into the holidays

EP 45

In today’s episode, we will be catching up with the latest postal bulletin, some great letter locking new and more news of letter writing and stationery coming into the holidays.

12/2 Postal bulletin 

USPS Holiday Stamps Retro 51

Letter writing for documentation of the pandemic and self-care

Mary Queen of Scots letter lock

The actual article with the full letterlock steps

Pen pal project to battle loneliness during the holidays

The actual project site (They got sponsored by Tetley Tea)

Inkvent 2021

Green Guide to Stationery

Zenzoi Bamboo Fountain Pen 

J. Herbin inks

Paperage Recycled Paper Journals

Review of the Paperage Notebook

Stationery corporate responsibility - Shared by one of our listeners, Todd!

Coral and Blue

Stationery market growth

Brick and mortar stores adapting to the pandemic

The Letter Farmer


45 Spiral Locking into the holidays


John: Welcome to episode 45 of stationery orbit, where we're all here to learn more about creative letter writing. I'm your host John West, and I'm joined by our co-hosts Evan Harris. In today's episode, we'll be catching up with the latest Postal Bulletin some great letter locking from the unlocking history team and a bunch of news about the world of stationery coming up into the holiday seasons.

So hello, Evan.

Evan: Hi, how are you doing?

John: I am doing very well. This is going to be the last time I record in the United States for quite a while. So I'm excited about the move also very nervous about the move, but I'm going to guess that the next time , we're going to be recording. It'll be me from Singapore and Evan from utah

so it's going to be a little more complex.

Evan: bill a little more complicated, but we'll figure it out though, while you're still in the states. This new postal bulletin has a lot of fun stuff in it.

John: Yeah, it's I really love the fact that they're coming up [00:01:00] with new stamps. Of course my favorite one in the whole bunch is going to be about food, which is going to be the new blueberry stamp. But the the next one behind that, just because I've been getting a lot into. Yoga tradition is going to be the love stamp, which they did a really beautiful job.

Evan: That's right there. A bunch of new stamps that are coming out next year, starting January 9th with the formation mentioned blueberry stamps. These are a 4 cent stamps. So if you have a stamp with a specific amount on it, as opposed to a forever stamp, you may want these to bring it up to a current first class rate.

I know the John. Stamps were very popular last year when he made those, with images, and now a stamp.

John: does it, do they actually call these makeups stamps?

Evan: just four, four sent to nominated blueberry stamps at one design, but you may need these to make up the difference in price for whatever reason. And they are a very nice, strong of a small cluster of.

We also have some new [00:02:00] flag stamps. Yeah.

John: yup. new waving, old glories on the new flag stamps that have been new forever stamps. And then they've got a great. New love stamp. That's coming out at us also going to be a forever stamp and it's a little more peace, love and light kind of a vibe to them.

Evan: Do you see where that one is being issued?

John: I did not

Evan: It is being issued from Romeo, Michigan.

John: that's

Evan: are a lot of fun place names in America and the postal service is one of the, is one of the organizations that really utilize this them

John: Yeah that, I don't know if that counts as proper name utilization or just dad joke preponderance.

Evan: I don't know. But all of these, including the blueberry stamp, we'll be getting first day issue. Of course, you have to send it through Kansas city,

John: Yup.

Evan: but all of them have a postmark. And there are a lot of postmarks in this space.[00:03:00] 

John: You are not kidding. I was really shocked given how few postmarks we have seen here recently. And this one is just chock-full and of course, a lot of it is because we've got the Christmas season coming up. So we've got a lot of Santas Christmas station and reindeer stamps and. Christmas wreaths and all of those kinds of vibes to them, winter Fest out of Spencer, North Carolina, and yeah, just just a ton of postmarks, which surprised me.

Evan: I believe last time I said, I wouldn't be surprised if we got a big boost to them at the end of the year with Christmas and new year's , post. , My favorite, one of all the ones that are included though is not surprisingly, it's not a Christmas one specifically. It is the borough of ships, bottom department of parks and recreation.

It is Christmas parade station, but it looks like a mug of hot chocolate standing on a

surfboard. [00:04:00] 

John: yeah, that's

Evan: that is out of ship spot, ship bottom.

John: Yeah. I did see that one as well. And then of course I have to go with the miners hall museum station for theirs out of Pittsburgh, Kansas of all places. And 

Evan: Yep. There's Pittsburgh, Kansas east Pittsburgh, Kansas is where lodge cast iron. Originally saw east Pittsburgh. I'm like, oh, it's near, I have a lot of family in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Oh, it's near family. No impact in Kansas.

John: Pittsburgh Kansas. Yeah we keep coming back to food. I think we're going to need to go eat after this episode.

Evan: Yep. I've been on the mountain most of the day, so I'm a little.

John: Yup. So yeah, and then we've got the color postmarks. Which is Evan had previously mentioned. The two new stamps that are coming up with the new us flags and the new love stamps are going to have, there are color postmarks available [00:05:00] for those.

Evan: Yeah. The blueberry stamp seems to only have a black and white first day she postmark. So I would probably skip that one. The flags is a nice one. The love is going the same design as the stamp. And I think it looks nice as a colored postmark. None of them are the huge variety like you did for your star wars.

That's fair.

John: Yeah the droid series, it was a serious piece of luck to be able to get that particular series to do that. With , the envelope experiment. Yeah, I was very fortunate in that one. So we're going to get along here into some more articles.

Oh, sorry.

Evan: I just realized there's something that's not in here. One more, a holiday themed thing for the postal service. Have you seen this? As I put it into the show notes from a company from another company, we like retro 51.

John: Oh, no 

Evan: it's not one I'm going to be getting, but I know it's been very popular.

On [00:06:00] fountain pen slack. There's a new retro 51 USP S edition. That is there Christmas stamps, technically again, because you have United States, post office is government entity. They at least pretend to be relatively non-religious. These are all Christmas related states, but these are the holiday stamps.

The holiday stamp collection has been placed onto these body of Eretria 51 rollerball

John: I think honestly, the, my favorite part of that whole retro 51 is the package.

Evan: Oh, absolutely. No. If they did it with just some sort of standard, like non Christmas stamp, would that package it'd be buying it? If they do a hanukkah ones, that'd be buying it as well, because I have me.

John: I honestly, I think even if they just did the retro 51, red, white, and blue with the big us postal service mark on it,

Evan: Oh,

John: same way they did the packaging. That would look really good. Wouldn't it?

Evan: That'd be really good. Or if they did just a bunch of like historic postmarks on the body, the the found the pen at it found fountain pen or retro [00:07:00] 51 when we thought retro was going away with all of the finials.

John: Oh yeah,

Evan: postmarks, that would look really cool.

John: Oh, yeah, that would be something else, man. Pick out some of the better postmarks from the last couple of years and throw that on there. That'd be fun.

Evan: you SPS. You want us to do that for you? Let us know.

John: Yeah, just a small charge involved. So yeah, so moving along and getting into. Some of the letter writing and stationery news that's out there. And this one comes out of Pennsylvania and there is a historian there that is working through the baker mansion history museum. And her name is Catherine Beck.

And I, I apologize to miss back F I slaughtered her first name there, but Ms. Beck it has been. Advocating for letter writing and her [00:08:00] advocacy comes from two different positions. The first being, being historian, she wants people writing letters so that historians later on have personal perspectives for how people dealt with the pandemic.

And then the other side of it. The self care side of things in which writing about how you have been affected by this pandemic is self-care and allows you to get that stuff out of your head and out of your psyche so that it's not harming you as much anymore. So it's a little bit of both.

I thought it was an interesting article and wanted to toss this one in here.

Evan: Yeah, I think it's a really interesting article though. I have some history background as a minor. , It is not as convinced as some people that. For historians to be able to see it. It needs to be in a [00:09:00] letter. A lot of modern public media is stored historically by various reference libraries.

But I think the second part of it and that you are frequently much more candid and thoughtful in a letter than you are on. Say, Twitter, what. Where every tweet is is archived by the library. Every public tweet is archived by the library of Congress, which is one of the world's major reference libraries.

And that is a huge part of history about seeing what's going on in the world. Which I think is a good thing, but I think so, but being able to see an individual's thoughtful perspective is hard letter writing and journaling. It's very useful. And I like, I keep obviously both let write and journal. 

And so I think both are good things for both yourself and for people in the future to see.

John: Yup. Yeah. To me, Allowing for historians to look back at more [00:10:00] in-depth and more thoughtful letters is one thing. But really, to me, the self care part of it is a lot more important because we need to allow everyone that room mentally, that, that space psychically to get the stuff out of their head and. Help improve their mental health and do that. That to me is the important part.

Evan: Yeah, absolutely. I've there's no doubt about that. I think both letter writing your journal and serve that effect. And one more behind on letter writing the journal at the moment. They're both things that I do.

John: So dealing with a certain level of mental health and letter writing this was not probably the most mental health appropriate thing to be doing, but Mary queen of Scots when she was locked in the tower of London was writing one of her last letters.

The unlocking history team got hold of this one as a letter locking example. And boy, [00:11:00] what an example it is.

Evan: absolutely. And for anyone who hasn't heard us talk about them before we are big fans of Jana Dambrogio and the rest of the unlocking history. At MIT and that's where we do a lot of letter locking stuff. That information comes from them. And this is really needed as a letter, apparently signed on the Eve of her execution in February of 1587.

And it's due Ching only the third of France,

or we do 12. I'm trying to remember my high school friendship leave. That'd be all leaders.

John: okay. Yeah. And this was a spiral lock that was used, and this was also a letter locking tech. That was used by Elizabeth, the first, as well as Mary queen of Scots. The reason for that being that. Spymaster that was for the British court [00:12:00] at the time was sir Francis Walsingham and he apparently taught the Royal court that which included Elizabeth and Mary.

So I think that was where that particular letter log came from, but they were saying that due to the handwriting and her signature and where she was at that this actually was letter locked by.

Evan: Absolutely. And so we're looking at several articles about this, including , the 50 plus page academic paper about this with many citations. Wonderful that will read in full later. But there's a video on the letter laughing channel about this specific lock. It is not one that is going to be accepted by the post office based on its size.

Unfortunately, however, if you're sending a package or you don't mind putting it in an envelope, you can do that. And it's a very complex letter latte.

John: Yeah. When Evan says this is complex, this is [00:13:00] at least 30 different steps. It looks like. Multiple accordion folds, multiple incisions, multiple routing of a thread and paper back through the actual letter on the edge, and then adhering it on the outside. This is a hugely complex.

Evan: So just the tongue, it's not a separate piece, but just the tongue of paper that you thread through you thread six times.

John: Yeah. And then fold it over the top and see.

Evan: Yeah. And so one of the things I really, I actually really liked about the paper itself, that the academic paper is that because you're using. Old-style shellacked as opposed to modern waxes. So to seal it with a ton, what you're actually doing is you're pouring the slack, putting the tongue on top and then pressing down with the seal.

And they actually use some advanced imaging to correlate the image on the seal to ensure that is in fact what they were looking for, which at the time Mary queen of Scots with not a vet, she had been using [00:14:00] her own, but would have actually been using Catherine demeta cheese.

I don't remember exactly why, but that's another. And so you could see them showing out well, here is the entire thing is not an attack, but the center of her seal is intact with the coat of arms of Catherine. And including the verdict, Fluer de Li, and some of the dots from the other parts of the.

John: Evan's exactly right. This paper. They really break it down, just blow by blow every little piece of evidence, every little mark that's on the paper. That's on the letter they've actually gone through and digitally enhanced some of the imagery so that you can see if it's a mountain fold.

If it's a valley fold where they did the actual adhesives, where the locks were playing. , It is really in depth. Again, it is 50 pages long, so it's going to take you a little while to chew through it, but it is really worth, it is [00:15:00] a really great article.

Evan: There are images. So that speeds up the article.

John: Yes, it does. Yep. And we're going to go back into some more articles. Pen pals. And some of the projects that are out there helping encourage pen pals, and this one's actually out of Australia. And so the folks from down under they have really been hit hard by the pandemic lockdowns. And back in 2020, they ended up with a. Initiative called the letterbox project and encouraging people to write letters to strangers and connect with them and become pen pals with them. And this is all done through a group of people that will actually review the letters, make sure that they're appropriate, make sure that they're sensitive, those kinds of things and get those passed along and.

[00:16:00] It's looks like a really sizable project and they even got a sponsored by Tetley tea. 

Evan: Very much within the Commonwealth. I We've talked a lot about letter locking in times of, or not their locker. We've talked a lot about letter writing and pen pals in the times of the pandemics and the lockdown. Let me just that, being stuck inside is part of what inspired me to write as much as I did early on.

And it definitely helps with loneliness. Hopefully. Pen pals will be slightly more responsive to me and much more responsive to Mary queen of Scots at this point.

John: Yeah, it's funny how people back in the 15 hundreds are all dead. 

Evan: It happens that way. I have some letters that are almost ready to go out. It didn't want to send them out in the snow.

John: Yeah it's not a bad idea. One of the things I wanted to point out in the article, because we'd have this linked into the show notes is in addition to the actual news article about the letter writing initiative, they also have a [00:17:00] little spot in here that has a bunch of different mental health.

Resources inside of Australia and I'm including a lifeline, a kids help line a men's help line, a suicide hotline Headspace reach out with Australia and was this care leavers Australia network. So I won't pretend to know what a few of those things are, but any time I see something with a mental. Tools a big coming available to people. I like to point that kind of stuff out because that's a large part of what the letter writing is and large part of what I've tried to build into stationery orbit. As Evan pointed out, getting locked in a really turned a lot of people on to letter writing, but getting locked in also is. Jolted me into starting this [00:18:00] podcast. And a lot of this has been around mental health as well as self care that comes out of letter writing. So yeah, very important stuff. And I also have a link in here , to the actual letterbox project, which is part of connected, a U for Austria. And then our next item on our show notes, and this is all a lot happier and a little more timely is diamine ink vent 2021 part one by mountain of ink. And thank you so much, Kelly, for putting this article together, the ink vent missed last year, but it was a huge deal in 2019. When it first came out.

So I was really excited to see what they had done this year. I didn't buy the ink vent. I didn't buy the first event, but it is really fun to see the social media posts about this stuff.

Evan: Yeah, I've never bought a fence either. It seems to, as of recording, it is [00:19:00] available still at both van ness and Penn chalet. If anyone wants to buy one a lot of interesting colors.

John: Yeah. To me, especially in the way this was presented on mountain of ink. The one that just confuses me is the Tempest ink. When she's writing with it on normal paper, it looks like a dark blue, black, but when she swapped it on a. Colorings. It's like a green, black color. It is such a divergence.

Evan: it's a green, black with legit, almost the gold. It looks like it has gold shimmer in it,

John: Yeah. Yeah. It's

Evan: I don't think it's a shimmering ink.

John: she did say something in here at the very end of the article about some of these having not shimmer, but she.

Evan: Oh, you didn't know it, but look, the sheen behaves almost like a [00:20:00] shimmer, but it looks almost more shimmery than she needs. So if diamine releases that in a full bottle, because I love my blue inks and I'm probably going to buy another one this weekend, different blue ink. Off south trade, but if diamond release a full bottle of this, I may have to get it because that looks beautiful.

And when written, especially if you put that down with a larger nib or a somewhat flexible knit, but would probably be beautiful. 

John: I'm not going to guess I'm going to go ahead and let you actually name your favorite out of these first.

Evan: oh, it's Tempest. No question.

John: Yeah, I figured that, but I wanted to have you actually say that one out loud to me. I really dig the Garland, especially the way it came out. It looks the same way in the swab and her writing example. It's got a red sheen to it. It's blue and green. And when I say it's blue and green, it comes out blue and green. As you're writing with it, even it is that one's a [00:21:00] spectacular looking color.

Evan: one is that one also seems to vary a lot based on the paper. The Ash looks a lot like the trio Noto, number seven, in my opinion.

John: Yeah. I agree with that.

Evan: And I, that, that is not a bad thing. I have a bottle of that in gray of the. Right here. I love this. It's a beautiful ink.

John: Yep. And then the the harmony is a solid purple color, the seize the night. That, one's an interesting one. That one also looks like a dusky red in the writing sample, and then it comes out more brown, bronze on the swab for it. So yeah, definitely some interesting colors. I don't want to go too far along into this.

I want you to get all, go check out her article, which is going to be LinkedIn in the show notes, but yeah, really cool colors cannot wait to see what the rest of ink Fent looks like.

Evan: Exactly. I'll be interesting. [00:22:00] I believe in the past, diamine did release full bottles of some of their ring fence from 2019. So I. We get to see some of those again this year.

John: Oh not only did they rerelease their ink vents into full bottles, that became their blue series, which were those fun little bottles with the feet on

Evan: Oh, that I forgot. That was that. Yes,

those were, I believe one in in the episode we did with Figboot, I talked about the Golden Sands. I believe that was originally an ink fence. I only had a sample of it, but it's.

John: Yeah. Yeah. I've got a couple of them, including the Jack Frost from the original set. So yeah, that was that's cool. Yep. And the next article we have for those of you that are out there that are amongst the. Green or sustainable variety. We actually have an article in here from tree hugger and it is her green guide for stationery lovers.

[00:23:00] And couple of interesting things in here about some of the different stationery. She definitely calls out fountain pens as being a sustainable item. The one that she had called out on this for a bamboo. Vintage styled fountain pen. It ends up linking out to Amazon and it's not quite the pen addict kiss of death, which was the Pin that Mike Hurley bought that part of their Kickstarter was them signing like a birth certificate with this pen, but they do have a picture of a couple signing, a marriage license with these pens, which is borderline on that kind of pen addict, kiss of death, mark.

Evan: so these are bamboo bodied, but they are not quite, but nearly kit style pens. I do think over a very long period of fountain pen can be greener than a ballpoint. The biggest reason is that you don't throw out the ballpoints halfway [00:24:00] through. If you fully use a ballpoint, the amount of use you get out of it is significant compared to what you get out of a single fill of a fountain pen.

So how exactly how green it is do use a fountain pen, to be honest, I'm. Fully convinced. I would probably not buy that bamboo pen though, because I don't think it's going to be any greener

John: It's not any greener if you ink it up twice and then throw the thing out.

Evan: than that. Exactly. No. So with a bow, if you fully use a ballpoint, that is not very much waste compared to have a full bottle of fountain.

John: Yep. So her next suggestion on this definitely gets my , thumbs up approval. And that would be the inks from her. And

Evan: I would agree. Jay, her bone has had a lot of incredible things.

John: yep. And I, including the 1670 inks which started the shimmer. A revolution with Emerald of Shavasana and several of the other ones that were [00:25:00] in there. And then they went into the 1798 that had the a Canaanite DePaul. And I haven't seen the 350th anniversary inks very much. They've got the vert and I haven't seen that one.

Evan: I have seen a bottle of it at the fountain pen store near me. I've not used it though.

they're th there, even their general line of banks are wonderful. I'm a big fan of ILS, the tech which they're T called.

John: Yep. Yeah. And the exactly, yeah their main line of anx is the really solid colors. But I think at least currently they're well known within the stationery world for their shimmering links.

Evan: Absolutely that is.

John: Yep. The next suggestion from the tree. Is a paper age lined journal. Again, this one links out at least eventually to a page on Amazon and as much as I love Amazon and as much as I want to try to [00:26:00] trust their reviews, which they've got 2,794 five-star reviews I have to go take a look at someone else within the stationery.

To see what they think of this whole thing. And I found Natasha Miller's letters and she's a bullet journaler that went through and did a review of several different bullet journal style journals. And this particular one came up as one of her biggest surprises and it is a hundred GSM paper journal, but.

The paper quality. She said was really good to a point where she thought this might even be an overall best notebook for what she was reviewing. So that's a great.

Evan: Yeah. And that review overall has a lot of really neat stuff in it. As I mentioned before the show , that Leutchtermm journal was not in there. Cause that's what [00:27:00] I use for my work journal.

John: Yup. The thing that she actually wrote in here that gave her entire article credence, would you like to take.

Evan: Uh, I'm not sure

John: She bashed the mole scheme.

Evan: that is incredibly.

John: Yes. Yeah. She absolutely bashed on the mole. And so that, that gives her a, the rest of her review credence to me anyway.

Evan: I would agree with you.

John: All right. Moving along into more stationery and we have got one of our listeners Todd to thank for this link, because this comes out of his backyard out of Saratoga Springs, New York, and there is a stationery line called coral and blue, and they are a stationery company. She's taking on some social responsibility, corporate responsibility in [00:28:00] her work.

And she is going to be working with children in Africa and getting local churches to set up donations and collect those donations and get the stuff out to them so that they have more room to write more room to draw on. And part of her. Initial inspiration for coral and blue is because she didn't think there was enough kid-friendly stationery on the market.

So I thought that was a neat little thing.

Evan: That it is, and it seems that they have both a girls' collection and they boys collection. No sort of other collections at the moment, but they have plenty of options for both. It seems, and it is kid friendly, stationery.

John: Yeah, absolutely. And I've got a link to both the news article and to the coral and blue website in the show notes. If you're interested to see that and the. Item on here, since we're talking about stationery companies is we've got [00:29:00] two articles here that kind of come at it a little bit differently, but come up with the same general outcome, which is the stationery world is still growing.

I don't think we've hit peak stationery and neither do the business analyst.

Evan: That is correct. They talk mostly about the big companies, which of course you have access to everywhere. Your hallmarks they've mentioned , which is worldwide, very popular Shutterfly. Mitsubishi. Pencil, which is Mitsubishi. In addition to being everyone's favorite car slash truck slash airplane slash industrial equipment.

Supplier mates, pencils.

John: Yep. Not only does Mitsubishi pencil make pencils Mitsubishi, pencil owns Uniball which creates the great majority of the pens that are on the market right now as well. So yeah, I thought that was very notable that they had Mitsubishi pencil.

Evan: And Mitsubishi as a company is a [00:30:00] giant multi-industry company as a, but jokingly said they literally produced the majority of the Japanese defense forces aircraft, as well as, all the electronics you're familiar with and every.

John: . And the other. Article that we have in here. The notable thing to me about this is that they are actually forecasting that the consumer stationery market is poised to grow by $7 billion over the next four years, which blows my mind, man. That's amazing.

Evan: yeah, it is going to be huge. A ton over the next few years. And we've, hopefully some of that growth goes to some of the companies we've been able to talk with an interview, including places like musubi, but overall.

John: a lot of the letter press shops. 

Evan: Yeah.

And a lot of press shops is very much though. [00:31:00] I feel like historian to be a rising tide that lifts all ships.

John: Nice love that. Quote, man. Love that quote.

Evan: Sometimes it's accurate.

John: It is in a lot of cases and it's gets back into that abundance mindset that I think is so important for our world right now.

Evan: I would agree.

John: so the next article we have in here, this is going to close things out for us. They're actually this is an article out of the UK and they've got a stationery store over there then. In addition to the stationery growth that we're going to be seeing over the next few years, a lot of these brick and mortar stores have really had to pivot hard, setting up websites, setting up. More online alternatives for their customers to be able to pick up this stationery. And they've also set up a lot of [00:32:00] curbside delivery in order to try to overcome the impact of the pandemic.

So in addition to the growth, we're also seeing a shift in the way our stationery is being delivered to.

Evan: Absolutely. Of course there are many great online retailers, but being able to go in person. Try many of these products this is an analog hobby is wonderful when you can and making sure your local store survives is very useful.

John: Yep. And one thing I didn't put in my show notes, but I was just a. Nudged by it mentally here in Colorado, which I won't be here for much longer, but here in Colorado, we actually just had a group move in to the area called the letter farmer and I'll make sure I put a link in. The shownotes for them.

They've got a really unique model. They actually have a stationery shop set up in a sprinter van. [00:33:00] So curbside delivery on steroids, they will bring the entire stationery shop to you.

Evan: That sounds wonderful. If they ever happened to be in the salt lake area, have them reach out to me because I want to go,

John: Yeah I'll definitely I'll get a link up in the show notes on that for the letter farmer and I've actually had a chance to meet those folks up in Boulder wants just after they moved into the area. So really good people. And think that I was going to do it for us. Oven.

Evan: I believe so.

John: All right. Thank you all very much for tuning in. We'll see you again in two weeks. Just about for Christmas. Hey, look at that and get some letters out in the mail and be proud of your snail mail.