Beautiful and bizarre things to buy: From Train sets to Copper fountain pen
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Serious toys: Train sets by Meccano
Frank Hornby set up Meccano in England over a century ago and made train modelling cool. Today these vintage sets are available on online auction sites like eBay. The best thing is that you can find and replace numbered parts. After all, it’s easy to lose a track when it’s being passed down generations. Prices vary.
Eco love: Herb pack by Sprout World
First you write down your thoughts with it, then you plant it and let it grow, literally. American company Sprout World makes pencils with a seed capsule. When just the stub is left, put it in soil, water it and watch it grow. At Sproutworld.com; $11.99 (around Rs770) onwards, plus shipping.
Wearable Art: Charms by Pandora
A tiny camera, a starfish or an engraved heart? Pandora, the Danish company, is known for little trinkets that one can keep adding to a bracelet or necklace. It’s a gift you can layer with the years. At Pandora.net; prices vary.
Table Top: Clayheads by Claymen
Each of these ceramic sculptures by artist Aman Khanna represents an expression or an emotion, “or a choice we make”. Clayheads can be bought together, or one at a time. The artist has, so far, sold 500 Clayheads, and is now beginning a numbered series, starting from #501.
At Claymen.in; Rs2,500.
Write Instruments: Copper fountain pen by Y Studio
Taiwan-based Y Studio’s Fountain Pen—with the German-made nib from Schmidt—is made of copper and white maple that acquires a patina over time. At Thehouseofthings.com; Rs10,700.
By Invitation: Vanities
An ode to things you don’t need but must have
This week: Smythson’s letter paper and envelopes
In my personal opinion, messaging applications such as WhatsApp have completely assaulted the dignity of life, especially with wedding invitations being sent over them. Add to that, the complete torture of grammar and basic writing etiquette by gruesome acts such as “dat”, “GBU” and “Congo”.
Mercifully, I have been unmolested by the traumas of technology. My table has my fountain pens, my Monocle brass letter-opener, an inkwell in sterling silver and my J Herbin ink. And yes, I do write out thank you notes and letters.
Paper, thus, is of utmost importance in my scheme of things. I can tell a person by the paper they use.
I only use paper from Smythson of Bond Street. Specifically, I use their watermarked Nile Blue A4 paper. The 100-gsm paper is quite lovely. You see, paper and ink have had a complicated relationship for the longest time. Cheap paper breeds “feathering”, whereby the ink spreads out uncontrollably across the paper. Cheap paper also encourages “show through”, whereby traces of your writing are visible on the other side. The paper needs to be coated so that the pen and ink can tango easily on it. Finally, there is the critical factor of “drying time”. Good paper takes longer to dry.
I like my stationery to be personalized. Smythson is splendid on that score as well. It has a great choice of fonts and colours.
I match the paper with some wonderful envelopes and no, I don’t lick the gum area. That is plain pedestrian. Instead, I use the paper glue from Labour And Wait. You gently flick some with a brush, with the air of a ballerina drawing cat eyes with her eyeliner. And then you run it on the envelope. The glue has a marzipan aroma, which almost serves as a fitting dessert to this meal called letter writing.
(A box of Nile Blue Letter Paper costs £16, or around Rs1,370, for a box of 50 sheets. And a box of 25 Nile Blue envelopes costs £18. All from www.smythson.com)
Swapan Seth is CEO, Equus.