Stationery Street: Rue du Pont Louis-Philippe

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2019 seems like it was eons ago, not just last year. Stationery and material things don’t seem so important right now as we continue to face this pandemic. I hope you’re well, and that it might be cheerful to hear about a bona fide stationery destination.

I’d like to write about a remarkable street that I visited twice last year. I had heard about it from multiple sources, though I wasn’t sure what to expect.

Rue du Pont Louis-Philippe is a small street in the historic Le Marais neighborhood of the Paris’s 4th district. It runs north from Pont Louis Phillipe, a bridge from the charming Ile Saint-Louis. (Very close to Shakespeare and Co. and the Notre Dame cathedral.) A brief walk along the street will take one directly to the Picasso Museum. Ile Saint-Loius, the smaller of the two islands in the Seine, has beautiful views and is very nicely preserved.


Westward view

I don’t know the whole history, but the street is often noted as a stationery location, with Calligrane (no. 6), Papier Plus (No. 9), and Melodies Graphiques (No. 10) having storefronts. Melodies Graphiques in fact has two storefonts, so depending on how you count – there are three or four stationers on this single block. These stores all date from the 1970s or 1980s, so their presence is established.


Calligrane – No. 6

In the order one will see them walking northward – the first stop is Calligrane. It is well beyond offering office supplies. Calligrane is an incredible temple to the art of paper. There is nothing mass manufactured or branded in their store. Everything is a visual delight, all hand made by artisans (mainly French or Japanese) with high quality materials. They have loose paper, from business card size to A2 or larger formats for artists. They have some notebooks, though I would not say that is their specialty. They sell paper for writing and art, and paper objects which are themselves art forms.


Calligrane Interior

Founded in 1979, I would say that this a global stationery destination worth a special visit. I found it to be a very satisfying experience.

Next is Melodies Graphique. They are a traditional stationer with an emphasis on calligraphy and handwriting. They have vintage school essay books, and a comprehensive nib and ink section. I saw a delightful Herbin notebook which starts the pupil with a sample letter to be copied. They have an adjacent second storefront devoted to wrapping paper and decorative items.

If you like vintage ink bottles, nibs, and highly traditional stationery emphasis, this store is a bit of heaven. They have an adjacent second storefront with an emphasis on wrapping paper and cards. They were founded in 1986.


Melodies Graphiques – No. 10

If you know the elite brand Soumkine – this is (or was at the time of my visit) Soumkine’s sole retailer in the entire world!


Melodies Graphiques – additional storefront

On the other side of the street is Papier Plus. It is the only store that I noticed having significantly changed between May and November, diminishing the presence of global brands. They do still stock some mass appeal brands (e.g. Lamy) but their emphasis is on their own paper/notebook and photo album brand, and products from boutique Paris artisans. If you like swatches of colour, they have many of their notebooks in over two dozen colour choices. They date from 1976.


Papier Plus – No. 9

Overall, it was a special pleasure to visit these three exceptional stationery boutiques on the same street, and recommend a visit. There are multiple places in Paris where one can find typical arrays of commercial stationery, but the emphasis of these shops on local and artisan created products was particularly distinctive.

I was enroute to another destination, so I didn’t want to overfill my suitcase. But, I did pick up a few very special items.

From Calligrane, a hand bound accordion album. Unfortunately it is currently residing in my too nice to use archive.

From Papier Plus, an Armorial gold edged pad. Incredibly nice!

From Melodies Graphiques, a Soumkine notebook:

I hope you enjoyed this mini tour.

…and another!

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Best wishes to The Graphite Store. They are a new pencil specialty store who opened this past weekend in McKinney, Texas.

Their website (I’m not sure if it reflects their brick and mortar store) suggests they are less focused on just pencils than CW Pencils, and more of a general stationer.

There is a pencil store…

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Seeing is believing. There really is a dedicated pencil store.

CW Pencil Enterprise

We’ve heard about other pencil stores – the famed Gojuon in Tokyo’s Ginza district, Fancy Pencil Land in Chicago, and wasn’t there another novelty store a few years ago? Also, the boutique stores of the pencil companies. But CW Pencil Enterprise (CWPE) is probably the first to stock mainstream woodcase pencils from multiple brands and offer them in a retail environment.

I learned of CWPE some years ago, but having lived in either San Jose or Toronto since they opened, it never seemed accessible to me. The past weekend did afford an opportunity to visit New York City (my first real visit, apart from meetings/passing through).

CW Pencil Enterprise

The store (larger than I expected) is in a neighbourhood that may not be familiar to many visitors. The many photos I’ve seen did make it seem familiar.

CW Pencil Enterprise

The store is a visual delight. Lots of pencils of course.

CW Pencil Enterprise

Drop by if you get the chance.

The Secret Stationers of Toronto

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A goal I’ve set in reviving pencil talk is to talk more about all things local – products, retailers, and more. And for me, local now means Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

One of the things I’ve been trying to do is reacquaint myself with local stationers – and I’ve noticed something I find really odd. Stationery stores are hiding themselves. Not all of them, but these two stores are situated such that walk by traffic must be near zero. They are in out of the way destinations, and hard to locate. You basically have to learn about them, then plan a trip.

Perhaps some readers with retail knowledge can comment. Your insights would be appreciated.

First, Wonder Pens. You may have heard of them – they have a major social media presence. This store is on a side laneway of a warehouse building on a former industrial street that has largely been converted to offices and housing. There isn’t much retail around that I observed.

Though they do have signage, I couldn’t even find the front door at first – I entered an unlocked utility entrance that led to a series of locked doors. (The door on the left in the photo. The “main” door did not initially look like the store entrance to me.)

Photo of Toronto's Wonder Pens

Wonder Pens is great, and worth a trip if you’re visiting Toronto. They’re conceptually the opposite of more traditional stores that store product in locked glass cases. You can try many fountain pens freely, and just being able to do this is already a difference that makes the products much more accessible.

They have a formidable paper selection, with many products from European and Asian companies that I’ve previously only seen online. I’ll be featuring at least one item in a future post. Unfortunately, there wasn’t anything of much interest on the pencil front.


So, if Wonder Pens is off the beaten path, I Have a Crush On You is in witness protection. It is located in a former warehouse and factory district that has largely been converted to tech offices. The store is on a side street of this area, one with no retail. Further, they are accessed via a wooden stairwell in a parking lot area.

The store is unexpectedly good. I believe I’ve been to the major stationery stores in Vancouver, Toronto, Montreal (and Northern California), and I am pressed to name another retailer with so much original and creative material that comes from local sources, or from the store itself. There is a very high proportion of items in this store that you’ll find only there.

Photo of Toronto's I Have A Crush On You

And, it isn’t just a store. It is a gallery, and a working studio and production centre with live letterpress equipment in use.

They have a lot of cards and paper items, notebooks, “hotel keys” with Toronto neighborhood names inscribed. Not so many writing implements.

Even the non-local items struck me as really interesting. They had a necktie made of something called sonic fabric.

I had just seen Evan Holm’s WaterTable at the San Jose Museum of Art, and I found it striking how cassette tape is being artistically explored in 2017, and not just as decoration, but the core sound reproduction properties. The store is definitely in tune with trends.

I like both stores and want them to stay around! I hope they know what they’re doing with their chosen locations!