Don’t write handwriting off yet!

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

GetBritainWriting_smlWriting by hand is becoming fashionable again, and stationery and pens have never looked so good.

There are pens, including and especially fountain pens (again) of all kinds and notebooks in all manner of funky colors and designs. And many of those – pens and notebooks – could be seen at the London Stationery Show held from April 1 to April 2, 2014.

It was – in my opinion – good to see that fountain pens are back again (with a vengeance) and paper notebooks in all manner of forms and those notebooks that are made by Castelli in Italy (and yes, Made in Italy) or Leuchtturm1917 (Made in Germany) are FSC certified and as far as Castelli is concerned all the workers are unionized and thus conditions for the workers thus are good. The same cannot be said in places where many other notebooks and such like are produced, such as in a number of countries of the Far East.

Pen and paper are far from dead. In fact both are having a revival and a ball and there is nothing whatsoever wrong with paper and using it. It does not cause the destruction of the rainforest. It is a myth that must be put to bed or better still buried. Palm oil, on the other hand, does cause serious destruction to the rainforest as do certain farming practices in Brazil and other countries near the equator.

Quality paper notebooks and high quality writing instruments, including and especially fountain pens, are in demand by the new generation of hipsters. What to the Sloane Ranger generation was the Lefax and the Filofax to the new hipster generation is the Moleskine (and similar) notebooks and the fountain pen.

Despite the fact that we are in the so-called digital age pen and paper more than have their place here and with the revelations that our online communications and things that we store there – and even on our computers – are not safe from prying eyes, the letter, the notebook, the pen and the typewriter even, have their place and are even been given a pride of importance – paper and typewriter that is especially – in the Russian intelligence and security community. And if they are concerned with their high grade of encryption I think we all should be. So, let's get back to paper and the pen or typewriter.

The London Stationery Show also had a great number of other green and greenish inventions on show such as notepads made from stone paper. The latter is made from limestone waste from the quarrying industry and thus kept out of landfills.

Just before the beginning of the London Stationery Show the National Stationery Week’s, Get Britain Writing and Get Kids Writing campaigns took off and a long list of retailers and the Post Office are standing behind this.

While one could say that to some extent all of them have a vested interest, the retailers wanting to see sales go up and the Post Office the use of the letter service again, to get back to writing properly is a very good idea indeed. We must also combine that with teaching children not just good handwriting – I can't writer properly myself by hand though – and the proper use of grammar. They are writing a letter not sending a text message on their cell phones. And when it comes to letters; there is still something almost magical about a letter (no, not a bill or some advertising) dropping through the letterbox.

I know that I am extremely old-fashioned as to the use of pen and paper and am always accused of being biased towards paper being a commercial forester by original trade. And I am also very biased towards the old-fashioned fountain pen.

Having mentioned the latter I must mention the fact that Meisenbach pens from Germany have a new rather innovative product on the market which combines the fountain pen (ink cartridge) with the ballpoint pen in one. With this one, when you run out of ink you simply replace the cheap common garden ink cartridge for a few pence and the empty one can go for recycling being made of PE.

Writing and being able to write (properly) matters, if anything more than ever in a digital age. And of course you can never have too much stationery, including notebooks and pens.

© 2014