La Petite Papeterie Française

Unfortunately, the high quality French stationer La Petite Papeterie Française has announced their closure.

This blog hasn’t formally featured any Petite Papeterie products yet, but a couple have appeared on the Instagram feed. I first learned of them via the Toronto retailer Take Note. Petite Papeterie design and manufacture standard office supplies with high quality materials and strong designs. They’re having a final sale where you can find many items marked down. I suspect this is not the last we’ll hear from them.

Pencils – not historically important?

Two weekends ago, I had the privilege of viewing the British Library exhibit Writing: Making Your Mark. I was fortunate to learn about this event via a post at Bleistift just a few days before my trip.

British Library Making Your Mark
Yes, it was raining.

The exhibit had a wealth of historical artifacts, and traced the written word from Hieroglyphics through to Emoji. Clay tablets, typewriters, ballpoint pens, and word processors were all explored. Accounting was cited as being a key motivator behind the development of written characters.

One thing surprised me – the graphite pencil was missing! The original Biro and modern Bic were both deemed worthy. So was the lithograph. And two or three typewriters. But not the pencil. There was a small display of lead (actual lead, not “lead” as a euphemism for graphite) pencils dating from around the the year 1400, and these no doubt served as a modern pencil forerunner and inspiration.

I though Henry Petroski’s The Pencil had established the pencil’s role in history. But, I’m not a professional curator or historian. I’d love to know why pencils didn’t make the cut.

Andrée Jardin Brosse de Bureau

Andrée Jardin Brosse de Bureau

If you like pencils, you may have found that their capacity to be sharpened and have their marks erased can result in some unwanted detritus in the form of wood shavings and eraser crumbles. That’s where a desk brush comes in handy. It is a nice accessory for keeping a work area tidy.

Andrée Jardin Brosse de Bureau

This particular desk brush is from Andrée Jardin, and designed by Amaury Poudray.

The brush has the unexpected quality of being balanced so that it can stand on end. The handle is oak and the bristles are Argentinian horsehair.

Andrée Jardin Brosse de Bureau

The packaging is simple but appealing:

Andrée Jardin Brosse de Bureau

This particular version with a graphite colour dipped handle is a limited edition, but a number of varieties are available from Andrée Jardin.

Andrée Jardin Brosse de Bureau

Fruit Sticker Album

A pencil talk Instagram post that got some direct queries and interest featured the Fruit Sticker Album.

This very interesting small book was picked up on my London Trip at Choosing Keeping. For £5, it is a bargain. As specialized as oh – a pencil blog – might be, the well of ephemeral interests run even deeper. Someone has published a book for collecting fruit stickers!

Here is some more information on fruit stickers. And even documentation – “9” means organic!

So about the book – there is a cardboard cover, translucent overlay page, then 24 right hand pages that hold 15 stickers a page – allowing one to accumulate 360 stickers.

Fruit Sticker Album

Fruit Sticker Album

Fruit Sticker Album

Fruit Sticker Album

Fruit Sticker Album

The copyright notice indicates that we can give thanks to Carl Middleton for this small joy!

Mark+Fold 2019 Wall Planner

An exciting item from British Stationer Mark+Fold just arrived – a limited edition 2019 wall planner.

The planner arrived in a tube with Mark+Fold’s signature label:
Mark+Fold 2019 Wall Planner

The planner itself was encased in some very nice kraft paper, which I will not be discarding.
Mark+Fold 2019 Wall Planner

The planner brochure claims it is “50 x 70 mm”. A typo? It looks they meant cm. The paper would thus be almost B2 size.

Isn’t it beautiful? The paper is described as 175gsm, printed by Evolution Print in Sheffield.

Mark+Fold 2019 Wall Planner

Mark+Fold 2019 Wall Planner

The kit includes some very special index tabs and sticky tabs for wall mounting. I’ll be flattening it and putting it on the wall very soon. I will share a picture.

Toronto Pen Show 2018

Let’s end the blog’s lengthy recess with a report on a recent event. Scriptus, the Toronto pen show, held their 5th annual show last weekend. It was my second visit to this show, and I enjoyed my time there.

The show’s venue, the Toronto Reference Library, is a special place. I am old enough to recall the predecessor location, which is now the University of Toronto Koffler Student Centre. The old reference library was a grand Carnegie library (one of a number in Toronto, all very nice) with a giant reading room and all the books behind a counter. Patrons had to fill out a form to request a book. (That’s also how the provincial liquor store used to operate. I’ll have to ponder the connection.)

Koffler Student Centre
By SimonPOwn work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

The new library represented a remarkable shift. The books were out in the open! For the first time, the public could see and touch the reference books without a gatekeeper. The building was also like no other library the city had seen. It seemed to have no walls. Designed by Canadian architect Raymond Moriyama, the floors were concentric wavy circles, and the whole building seemed like an open vessel. For better or worse, I spent many hours of my teenage years there.

Toronto Reference Library
By Raysonho @ Open Grid Scheduler / Grid EngineOwn work, CC0, Link

The pen show is in one of the areas not regularly open to the public. A theatre, there are some interesting views of downtown from the windows. They also offer quality programming. For example, you can hear John Irving speak next month.

The show is free, and consists mainly of display tables that are rented by vendors. The show was crowded – much too crowded for my taste – but better than 2017.

Vintage pen dealers seemed to use the most space, followed by new pen dealers, often occupying several tables. Then people selling pen accessories, journals, notebooks, and various organizations. I found almost no woodcase pencils at the show.

I did find a number of craftspeople, including people with professional bookbinding skills. I bought a small distressed leather book from Don Taylor Bookbinder. It contains Tomoe river paper. While I now wish I’d bought more, I think the small book will offer a good chance to see if I like the paper and to learn how the binding performs over time.

Don Taylor Bookbinder

Stephanie Raudsepp from Montreal was visiting, and she makes thoughtful notebooks that aren’t just recycled – they are chlorine-free and made with wind power. I bought three, with the idea that a couple of them may become gifts.

Stephanie Raudsepp Notebook

Stephanie Raudsepp Notebook

I also bought a Taroko Design Breeze Notebook, whose packaging was quite professional looking.

Taroko Design Breeze Notebook

All the paper vendors allowed visitors to try their paper. And these weren’t just “staff” – the actual artisans were there in person.

Where did all these skills come from? I enjoyed visiting the table of the Canadian Bookbinders and Book Artists Guild. I bought a very small $2 kit from them, and got some back issues of Book Arts magazine.

Canadian Bookbinders and Book Artists Guild

Oh, I said there were no pencils – but there were pencil sharpeners, courtesy of an antique dealer.

Vintage Pencil Sharpeners

Vintage Pencil Sharpeners

And some more about the library itself – exiting the show, I noticed that the library now has 3-D printers, a print your own book machine, notices about an entrepeneur in residence, and other new features on the main floor. That floor used to house core reference materials such as dictionaries, enyclopedia, directories. I’d like to explore that print your own book offering!

Toronto Reference Library Brochures

And – there is a small retail area near the main exit with a coffee shop and a small bookstore. All food and drink (possible excepting water) used to be forbidden from libraries, and a bookstore (not just a small gift shop) inside a library seemed odd. But the businesses are not run by the library – they are tenants in the retail area. And the bookshop has Faber-Castell Document pencils and oversized 870 and 871 Castell marking pencils. These are super rarities of the modern catalogue – and there they were.

The Loot

Some other notes. The event, free and set in a library, could have been accompanied by more education (other than just “retail education”) about pens. I recall being taken to a coin show as a child, and it had lectures, displays, etc. – not just a retail bourse area. I also met other stationery bloggers in person for the first time. The event had various pre-events, and I thoroughly enjoyed meeting Ana Reinert from The Well-Appointed Desk and Brad Dowdy from The Pen Addict. Hard to believe this took so long. I thought I’d meet another pencil blogger first. I wonder if the show could support a pencil table?

In comparison to buying a handmade notebook or a vintage item online, a show like this is a much better experience due to the ability to test and handle the products in person. Talking to the person who made the product makes it even better.

Have you gone to a pen show? What did you think?