I used to think I was the only one who couldn’t resist Milligram, Larry Post or Bespoke Letterpress. It turns out I was wrong.
I have often joked that I could keep a whole village supplied in stationery for six months if not a year. However, visiting my friend J. in Sydney made me realise that my obsession is small fry.
I may have enough ink cartridges to last a few years for my two fountain pens, but he has ink cartridges in a variety of colours for his ten stylographic pens. He opens toolboxes filled with nibs in various thicknesses, mechanical pencils and leads and unopened packets of Rollerball pens to show me. He wins. It’s a laydown misère in a competition I never expected to enter.
It makes me wonder about my compulsion to buy yet another writing pad; I drafted this post on a newly purchased Japanese jotter. It is gridded, not lined, and has a small diagonal cut on the bottom left corner. I wrote in violet, using the same-coloured pen that my late uncle loved. Each of these items feels gratifying to admire and hold. Yet when placed with all the other stationery supplies vying for attention in drawers or shelves, they become part of the overwhelm of ‘too much stuff.’
‘Can I offer you a pen, some ink, or a nib perhaps?’ J. asks with exasperation in his voice. He is frustrated by his own inability to say ‘no’ to his stationery obsession. I look at him with compassion because I know that temptation to buy one more item only too well. I don’t submit to it with clothes, make-up, or jewellery but I can’t resist stationery or books. It takes every bit of my willpower to walk past a bookshop and I try so hard to avert my eyes when I come across boutique stationers.
What is it about a beautiful pen or good quality paper? I am a highly tactile person and get much pleasure from feeling the way a pen sits in the crook of my hand and how it glides effortlessly across quality paper. I enjoy looking at parchment which is easy on the eye. If I had my way, all notebooks would be buff rather than glaring white.
Then there are the evocative smells. You may prefer the scent of Chanel No 5, but for me there is nothing quite like the aroma of a newly opened ink bottle or the smell of an old notebook. It turns out I am a stationery geek. And friends, there’s nothing wrong with that.