Thursday, January 05, 2006


While sorting through old letters I had written in the 1960s and 1970s, I realized that in those days, I used interesting stationery, and I recall the pleasure of choosing a new box when I'd used the last sheet from the old box. I tended to favor a thin, pebbly kind of paper, tinted in pale colors. Not for me the letter sheets with pictures of cute kittens or bouquets of flowers.

Of course, these letters were all hand-written, usualy in ink with a fountain pen. Following the example of an aunt who wrote letters in distinctive green ink, I mixed green and black to achieve a kind of Loden green, a popular fashion color at the time --- no common blue or blue-black for me. The ink came in glass bottles with a dipping resevoir molded into the rim.

My reason for going through the old letters was to photo-copy them in preparation for transcription into digital files. It was not possible to use the sheet feeder of the copy machine since the sheets were different sizes and different kinds of paper, so I went through the tedious task of placing the sheets on the glass, one at a time. I realized that nowadays we all use 8 1/2" x 11" ( or A4) paper. We've been standardized by the computer and the copy machine. Even legal-size paper (8 1/2" x 14") is uncommon; lawyers no longer use it, and it's almost impossible to find binders for this longer paper.

If you have a sophisticated printer, look at the settings for different paper sizes: letter, legal, executive, monarch, and index cards, as well as European sizes in metric measure, and Japanese sizes with exotic sounding names. Then stack the paper feed with good old 8 1/2" x 11".


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