BY STUART DYER
When was the last time you sent a handwritten note to someone? A thank you note, a get-well note, a love letter, a letter to someone who lives far away? In this age of technology and lightning fast communication by email, text, and direct messaging, the handwritten note is becoming more of a rarity. It requires time, stationery, stamps, and a trip to a mailbox or post office. The handwritten note can sometimes seem like a burden when there are so many faster, more efficient modes of communication. However, electronic communication will never replace the handwritten note; it lacks a certain warmth and individuality. The handwritten note requires more effort and because of this, it means more. A text or email is good for getting a message to someone promptly, but there is something so special about receiving a handwritten note. It shows that a person thinks highly of you since they have taken the time to put in some effort.
Handwritten notes mean even more these days since we receive less and less of them. Whenever I see one in my mailbox, it is the first thing I open. Not only is it tactile but it’s visceral; it contains a bit of the person who wrote it to you. It has their handwriting on the sheets of paper or card: a very individualized and personal part of themselves. We rarely get to see someone’s handwriting these days. And when we do, if it is a personal note written to you, it makes the message all the more special. I have a box of letters and notecards written to me by my grandmother who passed away about twenty years ago. There is something so special about having notes with her handwriting on them. She touched the paper with her pen. She left her own personalized mark and a part of herself behind.
There has been a recent study that shows that there is actually a psychological benefit to writing handwritten notes, specifically handwritten thank you notes. The study was conducted by Amit Kumar and Nicholas Epley and is called “Undervaluing Gratitude.” It shows that expressing gratitude with a handwritten note boosts positive emotions and well-being in both the letter writer and the recipient of the handwritten note. The letter writer benefits by expressing his or her gratitude, and the receiver of the letter benefits by receiving the gratitude.
I try to write a handwritten note whenever possible. My handwriting is not great, but I do enjoy writing the notes and it does make me feel good to send them. No surprise but because of my love of all things vintage, I also love vintage stationery. Vintage monograms and letterhead are always fun to discover as are vintage notecards and envelope liners. You can find fun color combinations or monogram styles that you have not seen before. It can be hard to find unused vintage stationery but when you do, it can be especially fun to send a handwritten note on it since it is unexpected.
I have a vintage jewelry business called Ladybug Vintage and this past fall, I was a vendor at the St. Chrysostom’s Holiday Faire. At the show I had the pleasure of meeting Jennifer Ackerman, the owner of Postscript Paper, a letterpress custom and semi-custom stationery company based here in Chicago. Our booths were right across from one another and by the end of the show, after discussing my love of vintage and her love of stationery, we thought it would be fun if we could find a way to merge our two interests. And so we did! Jennifer has created beautiful and whimsical notecards for Ladybug Vintage. The notecards are made out of a heavy cream colored stock that has been hand-pressed with gold foil ladybugs at the top of the cards and the phrase “Hey Lady.” at the bottom. The envelope liners feature sketches drawn by me of some of my favorite vintage jewelry pieces. We are so excited about this collaboration and we are hoping to keep the tradition of the handwritten note going. After all, it’s good for you!