Our company is all about creating meaningful stationery and invitations, so written correspondence comes naturally to us. I’m particularly fascinated by handwritten correspondence of historical figures of yesteryear since sending mail was (gasp!) their primary way to communicate. So when the Field House Museum in St. Louis asked me to be its guest speaker on the topic of letter writing, I was happy to oblige.
Here’s what has stuck with me since giving that speech earlier this year.
Working for Kate and Andy Spade in my early 20s had a transforming effect on my career. I may not have started my own company without first experiencing their passion and hard work not to mention Kate’s love for correspondence. I was fortunate enough to help design the company’s first wedding stationery line and the overarching mantra I remember most is that every invitation must trigger delight. We have more ways to communicate today, but a handwritten note is still the most powerful way to show our deepest, truest emotions to those we love. As Kate Spade said best, “It’s uplifting to get a letter – like an ‘Ooh!’ in your mailbox!”
I don’t think we’ll ever stop using stationery to share our feelings, like this famous letter that President Reagan wrote to First Lady Nancy Reagan. However, the everyday stories that we now share through email and text may not be left for posterity like they once were.
For instance, in 1923, Babe Ruth wrote a one-page letter thanking a Chicago sportswriter for voting him Most Valuable Player. It sold for $88,780 in a 2017 auction. The Great Bambino would probably now tweet his thanks to the reporter! P.S. Who knew he had such great handwriting!
I love this intimate note that Princess Di dashed off to a friend. It’s part of a collection of her letters, many on her Kensington Palace letterhead, which sold for 15,000 pounds (about $19,000). It’s easy to imagine that she simply would’ve emailed that message today.
This post isn’t about making you feel guilty for texting and direct messaging! You can’t send a letter to the gymnastics studio asking for its class schedule for kids or send a letter to your husband asking him to pick up the dry cleaning on his way home from work! Our communication options have expanded over the years thanks to computers and smart phones.
But after looking through countless historical letters for my speech, my hope for you and for all of us is that we simply save the special handwritten letters we do receive and that we carve out time to write meaningful notes—they don’t have to be lengthy! Preserving these little handwritten treasures will take you one step closer to the sender and to a specific moment in time you might have otherwise forgotten. So don’t #konMari any of them! Because as much as I love our CBP notecards, they can’t reach their full potential until you put your mark on them.