Stationers vie with each other in offering their customers paper of perfect texture in delicate tones of colour and ornamented with monogram or initial surrounded by some suitable device. Every woman of taste provides herself with her own special die, and chooses a tint - the word colour seems too strong to apply to anything so soft - which soon becomes associated with her by her friends. The beautiful linen papers for which there is so much demand just now are in strong contrast to the very thick, heavy, cream-laid notepaper that was the top note of luxury in the mid-victorian era. So thick was this paper that three sheets in an envelope of the same substance sufficed to exceed the one-ounce limit of weight covered by a penny stamp in those days.
The Modern Linen Paper
The linen papers are as thin as they are strong - as a matter of fact less easily torn than the very thick paper of those days. The aim of the manufacturer of modern papers seems to be to combine strength with an appearance of refinement that might be thought incompatible with that quality. Linen paper is made in white, in grey, in lavender, in pale blue, in apple green, and in mauve. New shades are brought out every year. Some time ago there arose a curious fancy for bright scarlet, but this did not last long. Still more extraordinary was the short-lived mode of black paper, on which the writing was in white ink. The edges were sometimes made white. This was an example of eccentricity such as shows itself occasionally in every matter connected with our surroundings.
The Desire for Novelty
Royal blue is the most emphatic tint in demand. Wedgwood is softer in tone, but is not so new. Novelty is the desideration with many. A tender buff is liked, and there are thousands who prefer white or cream to tinted paper, however delicate.
There is a royal azure "scarcely deeper than white. A beautiful countess uses this paper, and has her coronet and address engraved on it in green, an artistic contrast. A lovely notepaper is in the tint called "sea-blue." White linen is so perfectly imitated from the fabric after which it is called that one can see the fine lines of warp and woof.
Connaught paper, with its faint stripes, is the latest and also the most fashionable (in 1911). It is made in grey, blue, and lilac, and in various sizes suitable for a lady's correspondence.
There are many who prefer a certain roughness in paper, offering a slight resistance to the pen. To them the " rough grey wove" is admirable. Much heavier than the linen, it is liked by men, who find their wives' notepaper too ornamental in quality.
Some styles of notepaper affected by society. Linen papers of the most delicate tints, with small coronets or monograms of exquisite but Simple design, are popular. Square flap envelopes are used for invitations, and others with long pointed flaps for correspondence
Hand-made papyrus is still very fashionable and is likely to continue to be so. Not even a desire for novelty can efface its excellent qualities, smoothness of surface without much gloss, and strength without thickness. The tint is a soft cream.
The Question of Size
The sizes of paper for correspondence now include the "Princess," smaller even than the Albert or the C-size Clarence, and intended to be placed in an envelope exactly taking it without folding. For very short notes, invitations, and replies to invitations, it is found useful. The "Clarence" is almost square, and in the C size can be enclosed in a larger square envelope without being folded.
Envelopes of the wallet shape are still the favourites. There are several kinds of patterns combining paper and envelope; the latest of these is called the express despatch, and folds in three under a flap, the sides being secured by corners that fold under the well-gummed flap. They are sold in blocks of fifty, and dainty French morocco cases are also provided to take these blocks.
The lettering on notepaper shows a surprising variety. Many women like the embossed kind, uncoloured, and sometimes not very easily read. Others prefer very large lettering, in such decided tints as black, brown, red, or royal blue. There are others who cannot have their address in characters too minute.
One can guess at the disposition of one's correspondent from her notepaper. A few indulge in much colour in address and monogram. Pink, gold, and green are combined in those of a well-known society woman. Another, equally well known, has all her addresses almost indecipherably small, whether she writes from town or one of her country houses. The shortsighted find these very small characters trying.
The monogram or initial is usually encircled by a small medallion surmounted by a true-lover's knot. But there are styles more severe, and the accompanying illustrations show a small selection, including a monogram and coronet.
The Value of Individuality
Those living in the country have their nearest post town and telegraph office printed on their notepaper in addition to the address, and sometimes also their telephone number, if they are living near enough to a town or station to enjoy the advantages of a telephone in the house. Everything that can assist the persons addressed in replying is at once politic and polite.
For those who cannot afford to follow every change of the fashion, even if they should wish to do so, it is well to choose, once for all, a moderately priced sort of paper and have it stamped with the address in any style they may prefer, abiding by their choice; their correspondents soon learn to distinguish their letters from those of other friends, and that there is some advantage in this few can doubt.
One's letters lay bare much of one's individuality; by one's postal communications one is judged, perhaps unconsciously, by friends. It is well, therefore, to be circumspect, for bad taste in small matters often implies the absence of good taste in big matters
A curious distinction has come up recently - the preference for square-flap envelopes for invitations, and for the long, pointed flap for letters.
A few more designs showing the correct way of making use of the monogram on notepaper. These little ornaments, it should be remembered, do much to reveal the disposition of the correspondent