in partnership
Rose and June Press owner Lyndsey Baldwin has kept 21 years worth of letters from her grandmother. (Image: Tonya Mosley / Seattle Refined)

The lost art of letter writing

Dear Reader,

I was one of those peculiar kids, obsessed with collecting. For some it was baseball cards or stamps. For me, it was stationary.

During the summer months, when other kids were outside doing "outside kid stuff," I was pleasantly content indoors, organizing my stationary collection by color. I would wake up every morning anxious for the mailman to deliver the latest batch of letters from my dozen or so pen pals. Those letters carried with them stories of adventure, as well as the mundane details of daily life. Sometimes if I were lucky, a picture or two would fall out of the envelopes.

It was kind of like Facebook, before Facebook.

This all sounds familiar to Rose and June Press owner Lyndsey Baldwin. She's a collector too.

"The process of writing is special," says the Seattle printmaker, who fell in love with putting pencil to paper thanks to her grandmother. The two started writing each other when Baldwin was 5 years old and continued for 21 years, up until her grandmother's death.

"It's almost a personal journal of our relationship," says Baldwin. "Part of the beauty of writing, is finding a beautiful sheet of paper, using materials that have significance. It heightens the significance. I often write in pencil. I love the way the pencil feels and sounds on the page. It's an experience."

It's that personal relationship Baldwin hopes to cultivate for others through her campaign called "Write More Letters." Last fall, Baldwin secured more than six thousand dollars through Kickstarter to help fund the project. The money helps keep her letterpress named Herman - a 1913 Baldwin 8x10 Chandler & Price, up and running.

Funders of the project will receive one of a kind two-way letterpress stationary. "With the digital age and shooting off emails and text messages, it's that handwritten note that has the personality and the passion," says Baldwin. "It's the mark of someone's touch."

That lure of the personal touch has held steady in the Pacific Northwest, with shops solely dedicated to those who love taking the time to write a handwritten note.

Below is a short list of independent stores that carry unique stationary designed and printed from around the world, as well as in our own backyard:

Silberman Brown Stationers offers classic and timeless stationary, pens, wedding invitations and office needs. Located in Seattle's Fairmont-Olympic Hotel, Silberman Brown is a "must experience" for those looking for top of the line in quality, along with sales people who know the world of quality paper.

Silberman Brown Stationers
417 University St.
Seattle, WA 98101

Paper Delights is the new kid on the paper store block, opening its location in Wallingford in 2008. Owners Kathy Perkins and Alicia Olsen's bright space offers fun goodies that accent an array of card stock, wrapping paper, thank you cards and wedding invitations.

Paper Delights
2205 N. 45th St., Seattle, WA 98103

By boutique store standards, de Medici Ming Fine Paper has been around a long time. Inspired by Marier Papier in Paris, the store opened on First Avenue in 1983, almost exclusively selling letter writing materials. Since then, it has grown to providing papers from around the world. The folks who work here know their stuff; I like to call them "the paper experts, expert."

de Medici Ming Fine Paper
1222 1st Ave., Seattle, WA 98101

Pike Street Press is located underneath the Pike Place Market which means, if you blink or get swept up by the crowd of tourists, you just might miss it. This shop offers wedding invitations, business cards and textured pressed paper, designed in house. They call the press "The Iron Beast," a 1960's Heidelberg Letterpress." Grabbing some fish from the market? Take the time to head downstairs, it's worth it.

Pike Street Press
1510 Alaskan Way
Seattle, WA 98101