The Art Of The Letter

March 10, 2014

The Art of the Letter - Vicki Archer

Is there anything better than receiving a letter or even a postcard in the mail?

A rare occurrence these days… and one I miss.

Letter writing is an art… for a well-written letter not only imparts information but also allows the reader to have a connection with the sender… whatever the purpose of the dialogue.

~ ~ ~

Writing to each other hasn’t diminished… it is even more prolific than ever…  it is the way we write that has changed.

We now communicate in ways that we could never have imagined… written lives are global and in terms of our ability to “chat” with each other… it’s a small, small world.

For that I am extremely grateful.

We message, we text, we post images and we email…

Email is the new thank you note, condolence letter and business opportunity rolled into one.

A date or a break-up… I suppose that they can be orchestrated by email too.

~ ~ ~

Email format stays rigidly the same, despite the content.

There is very little personalisation…except for the ‘signature’ at the end… in most cases the last few lines are more about practicalities and social media than individuality.

Letters were about more than words… letters were about paper and scent… about design and creativity.

Letters were about penmanship…

They required forethought… and time. Instant messaging was left in the hands of the post office and delivered by telegram.

Short cuts and capitals meant nothing more than grammar. Gratification was in the planning, in the execution and the delivery.

~ ~ ~

I don’t feel the same about emails as I do about letters… I appreciate their practicality and directness…yet I regret my lack of pen on paper.

My very poor excuse is time and the lack of it… When did that ever count as an acceptable reason?

I have become lazy and too quick to hit, “new” or “reply”.

I truly miss letters and when I do receive a handwritten note I am so delighted…

~ ~ ~

I want to write again… letters and cards…

I want to play with paper and get my fountain pen moving again… I want to see the ink flow, I’m itching to exercise my fingers and watch my hand glide across the page…

That’s what I will be doing next week…

Check back… because I will be writing to you and sending hand written wishes…


In the meantime… have a glorious weekend…  xv


The Art Of The Letter

write notes not type notes with coco chanel on the mind

send a vintage parisian postcard from cavallini & co


 cards for all occasions in one beautiful boxed set

spoil yourself with personalised stationery from smythson… the ultimate aid to beautiful letter writing

have fun with their colourful correspondence cards


and write your note with the most fabulous calligraphy pen from lamy



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  • Melinda says:

    Thankyou notes – such a small gesture that I hope are very nice to receive.
    I really try to send them wherever possible.
    So much nicer than a text/email and a good excuse to have a stock of lovely stationary.

  • Yes, I completely agree!! I try to keep the epistolary art alive and write letters whenever I can…although that’s not as often as I’d like. One of the things I love to do is to make a ritual of it — I use an antique dip pen and inkwell, which is so much fun to use, and I make it a point to use beautiful, good-quality French paper. And I’ve been fascinated with beautiful penmanship ever since I was a child — I remember we used to have a set of encyclopedias at home when I was a kid and I actually learned to handwrite by studying and copying the photo of a letter by Abraham Lincoln, haha! And I still write like that!

  • Sally says:

    I completely agree with you Vicki..I still love my fountain pen as much as ever and always ivory stationery. Nowadays I can personalise it myself!

    I went to a lovely party last weekend, the 40th birthday of two great friends. I wrote a handwritten letter to each friend to say thank you.
    I hope that letters become a keepsake of friendship..

    • Vicki says:

      That is so true Sally… I keep every letter and card that I receive and love to look through them… they are precious and will become even more so…

  • Anita Rivera says:

    Good morning, Vicki.

    You have beautifully articulated a subject that has run past me from other friends, and one that is near to me. Since childhood, I enjoyed writing letters to pen pals across the country and even to my half-sister who just lived a few blocks away. She was older than me, married already with children, but as a little girl, I knew that I enjoyed writing to her.

    Before our technology became as such, I wrote letters, cards and anything I could put in an envelope to send to a friend. I even wrote to our President of the USA once and got a reply from the White House!

    But even I have succumbed to the rapid messaging of our time, but you have inspired me. In my studio where I type and even do a little art work, there is a French writing desk in the corner. It is lovely, neatly arranged with style, but it’s missing one thing: the usefulness for which it was intended: to sit down and write a letter.

    I think I’m simply going to clean out the drawer and fill it with stamps and stationary. With only that in the drawer, I have to get back into the practice of handwriting.

    Thank you Vicki, you are such a voice of inspiration. Anita

  • Dolores Veshka says:


    You hit the nail on the head with this. For many of us handwriting and composing a real letter is lost and cursive is not even taught in school. I appreciate script as an art form and remember how beautiful my parent’s penmanship was. I should use my “Little French Desk” as well for more than storage.

  • Although I don’t write letters, I do always send a written heartfelt thank you note even though I have thanked the hostess or giver in person. I know I love a “walk to the mailbox” and then find a handwritten envelope inside….a tiny little surprise that can make your day. I also make my invitations to a social event at my home. I love it and hope the receiver does too. Have a wonderful weekend Vicki. :)

  • The wonderful “La Contessa” sent me a card recently and I had the hugest smile on my face seeing her extravagant script peeping through the stack of bills and such. In its rarity, letter-writing has become such a truly personal act of caring in our very impersonal world.

    Thank you so much for this post. It is a reminder for me to send something to my loved ones, just “because.” To give them that same smile that La Contessa gave me…

    Hope that you are outside enjoying this amazing weather!
    Bon Weekend,

    • Vicki says:

      In and out… isn’t it glorious?? It must be the most beautiful day of the year…
      I think “sending” is so much fun… even more than receiving… it’s such a thrill to know that our friends and family can have that pleasure…
      My father hand wrote letters to my children up until the age of 97… until he could no longer… I have kept every one… Such precious memories for all of us… :)
      I am rather letting the side down… I must get on it!

      • That is amazing. Those letters must be some of the very most precious items you own. And what a lesson for your children as well in the Art of Living Dept.!

        Enjoy the sun…Heading out to walk the wild animals. ;)

  • hopflower says:

    Penmanship is not even taught in schools anymore. What a shame. It seems like texting and emails are the thing now. I don’t own a cell phone, and really do wish not to see everyone around me on their phones all the time. But I think except for the few people like ourselves around who appreciate written correspondence, those days are unfortunately over.

    • Vicki says:

      Don’t say that! It’s a sad thought… but part of me fears you are right… :(
      I suppose I have a foot in both camps… I couldn’t live without my mobile phone!
      Having said that… I don’t like using them when I am in company…

      • hopflower says:

        Well, if it is true, it is not because I said it! I am not against cell phones if used responsibly; but so many end up being the cause of accidents, and even deaths. On a lighter note, it is not even that amusing to be in a restaurant and see everyone at the table on one, or their ipods or ipads, etc. What is the matter with the company they are with?

  • Ann M. Smith says:

    I agree, it is so wonderful to receive a handwritten letter. I was taught cursive handwriting in second grade and it is unfortunate that it is no longer taught. My nephew is in high school and has terrible handwriting – and this is printed schoolwork. Hope everyone buys stationary and postage this weekend!

  • Cathy says:

    Hand written thank you notes – one thing that I always insist that on. My 17 year son sends thank you notes out for every gift he receives. Sometimes it takes a little nudging. I always make sure I have a selection of more neutral colored or less feminine notes for him to chose from and he always takes the time to make it personal. I hope he passes this on when he has a family. A mother can hope.

    • hopflower says:

      I think that is one of the most charming things I have ever heard. Thank you for teaching your son to behave civilly in a very uncivilised world. I, for one, appreciate it!

  • I encourage my students to write personal Thank You notes…it shows a special attention and can position you away from others in the marketplace. I also believes with friends…it shows you care. I love the Coco notepads from Nordstrom!

    • Vicki says:

      Me too… I shall be trying to find those in Europe, Pam… :)
      I agree about the personal note… it’s a great skill for students… that little extra attention to detail can make all the difference….

  • Hallie says:

    I’m so happy to read about letter writing as it’s something I love. I recently heard from an old college friend and I have her card on m y desk so that I purposely respond in writing. I also keep a small box of pretty cards on the desk to remind me that it only takes a few minutes to write and there’s a sensual pleasure to it. There’s tone in writing, in the swirls and crosses that we lose in typing.
    Keeping stationery on your desk is a reminder. It also helps to have lovely pens which make the physical act enjoyable.
    To those of us afraid of it all disappearing—I say look how instantly digital notes disappear! They may say everything is stored somewhere in the universe, but try to find it if you aren’t NASA! Maybe our books will become rare and collectable for that reason. No e books for me unless I can’t carry them which is not 99% of the time.

  • Sue M. says:

    I love this topic…I used to love hand writing notes and lettersl; just don’t seem to do it as much. I still write the long letters but only to my elderly Aunts. I have so many lovely notes and favorite pens to write with…you inspire me to pull them all out and start taking the time again to write more. Oh, and receiving them is wonderful too… I was a lucky winner of one of your vintage post cards of Paris and the anticipation of receiving it made me feel like a kid again. :-)

    • Vicki says:

      I do love hand writing once I get in the mood… it’s such a pleasure…
      Next week… I am writing… and sending… :)

  • “what a beautiful extravagance” letter writing can not be dead or a beautiful extravagance + love it too much + need to do more of it now.

  • Linda says:

    How lovely to think about writing letters . . . and receiving them! I’ve been thinking about this quite a bit myself lately. In fact, for Lent, I decided that I would send a letter out to someone special in my life each day. It’s early in the season yet, but I’m doing a good job so far! I hope to bring a little piece of joy to those who find a note from me in their box.

  • Gina Diamond says:

    Agree totally. I find that people don’t regard e-mail in the same way. How many e-mails go ignored, not answered, not read? I think it is very rude. As you pointed out, e-mail is a great form of communication and people should apply some basic acknowledgement to them.

    • Vicki says:

      I agree Gina, it does drive me crazy when people don’t respond in good time to an email…
      On the other hand… the problem with emails is that they can be overwhelming and relentless… just too many.
      I think emails can encourage chat when sometimes there doesn’t need to be… the kind of thank you for the thank you in reply to the thank you… :)
      Know what I mean?

    • hopflower says:

      Heartily agreed.

  • So agree Vicki. I always hand write my thank yous and its more reason for me to buy pretty stationery. There is nothing as wonderful as receiving a beautifully handwritten note of any kind…..glad I am not alone:)

  • La Contessa says:

    I always write THANK ~YOU notes and occasionally a note or postcard just because I too love the art of receiving in the mailbox.I think I wrote you VICKI a letter a few years back after I read your books and discovered Carla’s postcard in FLORENCE of the church I was married in SAN MINIATO AL MONTE!I feel we have to keep the POST office open…………….it will be a sad day when everything is done by computer!I have the postcard you sent me of the PANRAMA des TUILERIES sitting right here on my desk!!!!

    • Vicki says:

      Viva, viva…
      It will be sad and we must fight to write!

      • Pamela says:

        What a wonderful church to be married in! It’s spectacular! All the lovely memories you have of such a beautiful place.

        When travelling, in addition to sending email postcards to the family, I buy beautiful local cards for my grand-daughters, sometimes postcards, and then hand-write special messages on them and address the envelopes to them individually. They love getting letters and cards through the mail addressed to them.
        And they write such beautiful messages to me too. My little Christmas card from one of them said “Dear Nonna, I wish you a very Merry Christmas and loads of prezzies. I love you very much and hope all your dreams come true.” Then she drew a heart and under it wrote her name. I was so thrilled! Pamela

  • Millie says:

    MOTH dropped me in the early stages of our relationship & then immediately regretted it. However I’d already headed off overseas for a conference, so he couldn’t contact me. Needless to say I was none too pleased & sniffled all the way on the plane to my destination. After checking in to the hotel, I went up to my room & found a hand-written note on the hotel stationary shoved under the door. ‘I love you & want to be with you forever, forgive me xxx.’ It may have been written by a complete stranger but the words were mighty powerful. 20 years on I still have it tucked in my wallet, couldn’t do that with a text!
    Millie xx

    • Vicki says:

      Who would have thought that MOTH was such a romantic… ;)
      Quick thinking too…
      I love that you still carry it with you… that is one powerful and beautiful note…

  • Deborah McKenzie says:

    I do miss receiving a letter. They have the excitement of something from another place. Most importantly in that place someone took the time to share something of themselves we me. A fond memory is the wonderful letters my Great Aunt Virginia would write to me. I was a girl in California and she a million miles away in South Carolina. She used words that were wonderfully strange and different. She also added a funny story and what birds she could see through her kitchen window that time of the year. She always included a little something about the great pie or supper she just made and wished I could come visit so we could visit. She passed this year at 94. She gave me the example of sharing in words, paper and ink what a gift receiving a well intended letter is. I hope we do not lose the handwriiten page, ink or postage stamp.

    • Vicki says:

      How wonderful to have those letters and memories… A great story … and a great letter is in the detail… making the distance disappear and the stories so imaginable…
      We won’t loose these traditions of we follow them ourselves… that’s why this has been in my mind… I don’t want to stop handwriting letters and notes…

  • Pauline from Phillip Island says:

    I so agree with you Vicki. I love to receive a handwritten note or card. I was especially thrilled to receive one from you when I was the lucky winner of one of your vintage Parisian postcards. Thank you so much for taking the time to add such a personal touch. I have it displayed on the pin board in my office so I see it every day. It really shows how much those few handwritten words can mean to the recipient.

  • Love this post Vicki, I recall a prompt from one of your earlier posts to try writing with a Lamy pen. I now have three sitting in the wings.

    It is funny how you get particular about little things like the feeling of the grip, the colour of the ink and fineness of the nib. It has to be just right..or I can not write at all.

    Unfortunately, my writing is loopy, curly and sprawling. I write the way I think and speak, too fast for comfort. The pen slows me down and the Lamy pen actually makes my writing look a whole lot better.

    Wise Vicki…you have done it again. Thank you..xx

  • Ivy Lane says:

    Such a great reminder to “connect”! I too love to receive notes and cards, letters in the mail. Writing out “thank yous” is a big part of my business. I do not write enough personal letters or cards to friends and family… Spring is a good reason to do so! When I was young, I had a pen pal who lived out of state. I remember how much fun it was to think up topics to write to her about and then the anticipation of receiving a response. Was so fun!

    Happy Weekend to you and yours Vicki…


  • Kate says:

    This wonderful post reminded me to dig out and reread my precious collection of every letter and card my parents had sent to me over the years, beautiful memories and with this collection were also their saved letters from me, now tied together with ribbon. The hand written word brings back something so special that nothing else can. You can hear that person speaking. Kate x

  • Hello Vicki

    Like you, I treasure letters and handwritten cards and have a collection of my mother’s letters to me and of family members who are no longer with us. I write to my brother, who has a hearing issue and he writes to me. The international stamps bring joy too
    Thank you for this reminder to put pen to paper

    Helen xx

  • miss b says:

    I absolutely agree. I’m always excited to receive a handwritten letter or postcard. I also like to send letters but I’m afraid it’s not as often these days but I always have lovely stationery and a couple of very special fountain pens, one of which belonged to my Grandfather. The advantage of email and text messages is that we do tend to communicate more often as it’s so easy. Having an instant response is also very helpful at times. I still have a few treasured letters from the past including a few early ones from my French penfriend (we email nowadays!) and the ones from my parents when I was living in France, long before mobile phones! Great post and one which has reminded me to take out the writing paper again!

  • D. A. Wolf says:

    Letters are tangible and engage our senses. Nothing electronic can compare…

  • Anne says:

    I started having Handwritten mail to me a few years ago ,first one for a lady in Norway and since then I have received postcards from all over the world. I also send them , if you would like to receive one. I think it is a super and I blog about the cards and sender too. Drop me a line if you would like a card,:-) I would love to be a recipient of a one of your handwritten cards , xo

  • Virginia says:

    I adore writing letters. It is a love I have happily passed on to my children, so much so that one of my daughters now has her own stationery / etiquette business, aptly called French Navy! Her website is and while I am biased. I do think it is a bit lovely.

    Virginia Blakemore

  • Christen Walden says:

    How could we have a handwritten letter exchange? I would be in for sure. Would be fun to write for none other than beauty’s sake.

  • Jeannette says:

    I so agree – the written note is fading by the wayside which is so sad. I am trying hard to put pen to paper more often as I love to get hand written notes.

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