London Calling: a trip report

A small trip report. It was a privilege to visit Glasgow and London in September. I loved the trip, and felt very much at home. I was fortunate to meet a Scottish writer and actress who is creating a film project with a strong postal element, an English author and Savile Row tailor, and tour Gordon Ramsey’s kitchen post-dinner, but this report is about stationery.

My first pencil: After taking Virgin Trains from Glasgow to London, my wife and I decided to not plan, fearing we would be quite knackered. We were right. We randomly found Smith & Whistle, where we enjoyed a surprisingly pleasant dinner. To my amazement, there was a small post-cheque treat: a lollipop, a themed calling card, and a pencil! I’ve never heard of a restaurant pencil treat, but it set me up nicely!

Art galleries and museums were delightful. Gift shops typically had branded pencils and notebooks – but usually without attribution to the manufacturer, or recycled pencils, etc. Readers of this blog may imagine that over time – I have enough of this stuff, and declined to purchase these.

These shops excelled in their book selections – super interesting, curated, engaging. I am or have been a member of several museums and art galleries around Southern Ontario and Northern California – and the bookstores at the Tate Modern and Design Museum seem to be a level above.

The Design Museum had an exhibit focusing on the industrial designs of four companies – Apple, Braun, Olivetti, and Sony.

Here is some of the Braun collection:

Braun exhibit at the London Design Museum

They had the famous Sotsass Olivetti Valentine in red, but also blue and white:

Olivetti Valentine typewriter
Olivetti Valentine typewriter
Olivetti Valentine typewriter

As to specific stationers, we found time to visit three. I’ll mention the two worth special trips:

Present and Correct is an internet powerhouse. Their Instagram account may be the most popular stationery account in the world! I was really surprised that the store is the size of a postage stamp! It is chock full of stationery goodness (and also has a great book section). I met another stationery pilgrim who asked me if I knew of her favourite, The Regional Assembly of Text. (I do!)

Present and Correct, London, UK

Choosing Keeping has an exemplary pencil selection – the Bosco Woods side by side with the Lothar Faber anniversary pencils. And they know the field. I enjoyed hearing their perspective on the industry.

Choosing Keeping, London, UK

They are also an exceedingly tiny store.

Did I buy anything? Yes. I hope to feature some purchased items in the future.

Savile Row