You’ve Got Mail…

There is something about receiving a handwritten letter: a small envelope which was not mailed by Barclays, HSBC or Lloyds sending depressing news about ones ability to borrow (or lack thereof), but rather a crisp piece of paper immortalising someone’s thoughts in ink; the content of which, told by a friend, family member or lover, are brought to life by the hand it was written in…


The sender has taken the time to note down their whats on their mind, seal the envelope and mail a little piece of themselves across towns, cities or continents…anticipation of its receipt in mind and heart.

Letter-writing-848x478However, it seems that the art of letter-writing has been somewhat lost and text messages, emails and Facebook have replaced the time-honoured tradition of reaching for pen and paper. But is what is being said via technology as well considered, thoughtful and well received as its physical counterpart?

If you think about it, letter writing is far more than just communication. It is contemplation, aesthetics, poetry, reflection; in short it is a highly civil and cultured past time! And all it requires is a something to write with, a stamp, a desk, a letterbox….and off you go.

Whilst the former can easily be bought at any corner shop, the latter can definitely assist in creating the right ambiance and, hence, in finding the suitable tone. So it may be concluded that it is certainly well worth considering the right furniture to set the mood!

An 18th century Chinese export black lacquer bureau

This late 18th century black lacquer bureau depicts gilded decoration in the form of figures, foliage, pagodas and imaginary landscape. It is fitted with internal drawers and pigeon holes, to store writing utensils and paper in, as well as two short and one long drawer on the outside. The bureau is set on a modern stand with faceted cabriole legs.

Lacquer is made from the sap of the Rhus Verniciflua tree, a close relative of poison ivy. Raw lacquer is resistant to water and can be applied to nearly any surface. Whilst lacquer can be found in Chinese artefacts dating as far back as the Neolithic times (10200 BC – 2000 BC), carved and painted lacquer works first appeared during the Warring States period (475 BC – 221 BC). Today, they continue to be sought after items in which both collectors and interior designers share an interest.

If this chest does not inspire you to some heartfelt scribbling, then maybe the following item will bring the romance back to the art of writing.

A Victorian country house oak letter box

This mid-nineteenth century oak pillar box with a pitched roof, brass letter flap and lock escutcheon and glazed door is set on a traditional plinth.

The Oak tree is characterised by the strength and durability of its wood. With age, its palette becomes mellow and honey coloured, as can be seen here. Although letterboxes were already common across the continent, the British Post Office started encouraging individuals to install post boxes around 1849. During the 1960s the hexagonal post box, on which this example is modelled, became the national standard. It was then that the colour red was adopted as the shade public mailboxes are still known for today.


So go on! Fall in love with letter-writing again and pic up a pen and paper, get comfortable on or at an an inspiring piece of furniture and get those grey cells to work!