french letters

i have made many trips to the paris flea market and have had many successes there. here are three: beautiful pre-ww2 letterheads. to my displeasure, there aren’t many paper dealers at the paris flea market. as you wander the stalls, you also have many indoor antique malls to search, similar to the ones i frequent here in the states. there is one particular dealer i visit on each trip who is located in one of them. it’s a store really, and it has collections of countless items: books, jewelry, buttons, combs, just about everything. i am always overwhelmed by the sheer volume of stuff. what is interesting about this booth is how beautifully categorized everything is, all color coded. yellow means one price, blue another. i take this to mean little bargaining and generally higher prices. it has been five years since my last visit, so when i do have the opportunity i spend the entire day at the market, making sure i stop in to see what i can find at this particular shop. there are usually boxes of old letters and letterheads, but you have to ask to see them. so I begin there. as i mentioned, since it’s more of a store, you don’t get the same feeling of discovery. if there is a category you’re interested in, you just ask for it. it can be intimidating to ask for assistance, though the staff is always kind and helpful. i manage passable French, and often a little goes a long way. an assistant reaches for your desired category and kindly hands it over, then stands right next to you. this doesn’t make the experience as fun, as i certainly feel pressure—not necessarily to buy, but to hurry. since the price is marked I don’t worry about haggling. i select a few, note the color price category and simply pay. ten euros each for these letterheads. seems fair to me. these three examples are all engraved and rich with typographic detail. i wonder about the designer of this these letterheads. were the designs chosen from a style book? art directed by the owner of the company? did the engraver have artwork to copy? maybe the phrase “the printer did it” is appropriate. whatever the case, they are fine additions to my growing collection…though growing more slowly these days.

in a box

here’s a little bit of everything. a bit silly right? stencils. string. playing cards. packaging. labels. some things just don’t amount to much until they are accumulated. then what? one thing i always go for is dennison gummed labels. on ebay i have seen one of these little boxes go for sixty bucks. i kid you not. whenever i buy a nothing book, usually from muji, i put one of these on the cover. you’d be surprised how it changes the complexion of a simple sketch book. i also have a weakness for string, twine, cord, fishing line. weird huh. i received an email from someone, a teacher somewhere, who uses my blog as an example of compulsive obsessive disorder. glad to know i’m an example to someone. i am particularly fond of osram lighting packaging. is it the orange? the simple design is always appealing. at some point i should file, categorize or just organize these disperse items, (there are many boxes like this) then they will be something more than just an accumulation, say a collection.