The Perfection of the Paper Clip


This week I want to share a great book I read last month, The Perfection of the Paper Clip: Curious Tales of Invention, Accidental Genius, and Stationery Obsession by James Ward (published as Adventures in Stationery in the UK). I originally took it out of the library but loved it so much I had to buy a copy. I knew it would be a great reference for my blog and is quite lovely as a book with creamy paper and fun endpapers.


There are chapters on paperclips, pens, paper, erasers, highlighters, sticky notes, and so much more. It reminded me of Just My Type: A Book about Fonts, another book that tackles a seemingly dull topic and transforms it through dry British humour and a refreshing curiosity about the history of things we take for granted. It is definitely part of the genre of books that take a mundane item and use it to tell a larger story. Human inventiveness and globalization are just a couple of the themes that come up. There are chapters on paperclips, pens, paper, erasers, highlighters, sticky notes and so much more.

Here is a sample excerpt: “although the shape of the pushpin means the head doesn’t lie flat against the surface it has been pinned to and so makes it unsuitable for, say, a notice board in a narrow corridor, where a careless shoulder could bring a sheet of paper fluttering to the floor with potential trial consequences”.

If you love stationery and history you will love this book.

If this book was a person, it would be James Ward.


Rhodia Memo Book

Front Back

I recently won a little Rhodia Memo Book from At 7.5 cm by 12 cm, this notebook is truly pocket sized. While I am not crazy about the orange cover, it does stand out in the clutter of my desk and I know these notebooks do come with white and black covers as well. I have previously reviewed the Rhodia graph paper so can vouch for the quality.


I plan to use my notebook during my next trip. Usually when I am travelling my days are packed so when it comes time to write a journal entry before bed, I am so tired that I just list all the things that I did. There is nothing wrong with this but I find my entries are much richer with detail if I jot down things I notice and am thinking about during the day in a little notebook. I generally just throw away these notes once I have recorded my journal entry but I  just may keep this little book with my travel journal.

If this notebook were a person, they would be definitely size small, neat and efficient with a love for being on the go.

Coming up next week:  a book review of The Perfection of the Paper Clip

Sealing wax

The use of seals goes way back into ancient times but originally these were made out of clay or, in the case of the Romans, bitumen. Wax started being used for seals in medieval times. Originally, they were a way for someone like a bishop or monarch to authenticate decrees and documents by having a distinct seal that they would press into wax. Later, wax seals were used to seal letters closed and while this is no longer necessary (just like handwritten letters), that doesn’t mean it isn’t fun. For one, it looks great, and secondly, you get to play with molten wax. While it is possible to use any kind of wax, sealing wax has been specially developed for the job so works the best.

There are different kinds of sealing wax, those with a wick (the only kind I have tried) and those without. I have also heard of a sealing wax manufacturer based in Victoria, B.C. called Kings Wax that have invented a glue gun style wax as well as making traditional sealing wax. While squirting wax on with a glue gun is no doubt easier than traditional sealing wax, there is no flame involved. Where is the joy in that?

My red sealing wax and rose seal were gifts from my daughter. Red is a traditional colour for sealing wax. I also tried my sister’s gold coloured sealing wax and seal. Her seal is a fancy capital E and has a wooden handle while mine is smaller and all brass. Although the packaging is different, the wax sticks look like they were made in the same mold as the size and design are identical. I couldn’t find a brand name or a country of origin on the gold wax package but there was a website for Nostalgic Impressions, a company based in Naples, Florida. My package said that the wax stick was made in China but the paper insert said that the company had been using the same Scottish factory for 300 years. Again, I saw the Nostalgic Impressions website listed so I am just not sure where these were made.20170506_164524

Both wax sticks came with instructions which basically are as follows:

  1. Melt wax and start dripping it onto the envelope. It really helps to use a lighter for this. It takes a bit of practice to know just how much wax to drip onto the envelope and I was too skimpy when using the gold wax. It doesn’t bother me if there are a few stray drops as I think they add to the charm.                                                                  20170430_105530
  2. Once you have a good size blob, huff onto the brass seal (a little moisture on the seal helps it not stick to the wax) and press into the molten wax.20170430_105623
  3. Send your letter on its way.

If wax seals were a person, I think they would be a wise old sage with snowy white hair and gnarly, ink stained hands.

Coming up next week: I recently won a Rhodia Memo Book from so am looking forward to discussing it.

G. Lalo Vergé de France Paper


Lalo Vergé de France paper is about as far from bargain ballpoints and ReUse Centre finds as possible. This lovely paper is intended for handwritten correspondence. It comes in different shades but mine has a soft rosy tint to it with subtle raised horizontal lines which give it a slight texture. I’ve found it works well with any type of pen, even fountain pens, with no feathering or bleed through.


The name comes from the founder, Georges Lalo, “Vergé” refers to the lines on the paper, and of course, it is from France. In fact, the company is still based in Paris. They have a charming motto, “c’est savoir se faire plaisir, mais surtout faire plaisir à l’autre, qui vous en sera très reconnaissant”.

My paper is a A4 tablet. The size of this pad of paper follows the A-series paper sizes which is defined by an official International Organization for Standardization (ISO) standard. A-series is used pretty much everywhere in the world except for the United States and those countries nearest them like Canada, Mexico and Dominican Republic. The letter size we commonly use here has archaic roots from when paper was made by hand, while the while the A-series is defined by a mathematical formula (sort of like imperial versus metric system).

I had been thinking that if this paper were a person, it would be a sophisticated French woman but then I saw a picture of Georges Lalo himself and that kind of ruined it for me. Still, I can’t bear to think of my beautiful paper as a pudgy, superciliousold white guy so I will still think of my paper as someone who loves quality, not just for its own sake but, for the joy it brings to others.

Coming next week: wax seals.

Pens vs. Caps

It is so rare to have an intersection in the Venn diagrams of topics for pen and paper blogs and hockey playoffs that I just had to do a bonus blog this week to share this funny illustration.

pens vs caps

Don’t worry, coming up on Sunday will be a fascinating post on G. Lalo Verge de France paper.