THERE was once a house in which I was a guest where an exquisitely con ceived sun-room was provided with a spotless little desk.
It was all so exquisite and immaculate that I felt afraid to soil it with the inevitable ink-spots of writing! Yes, the rose blotter was too precious an object to connect with the comfortable business of settling down, thinking and scribbling luxuriously on a piece of paper which might with impunity be turned upside down to blot its characters on a pad expressly provided for utility. And there was too much on that desk for its size! There was really only a little more than a square of free space for the folded note paper itself, much less elbow room.
What is the proper appointment for a desk? There can be only one answer—the provision of those articles, and those articles only, which serve in the act of writing itself, or give some information essential to the writer. Outside of the basic necessaries such as pen-tray, inkwell, and blotter there are still two or three other incidentals which may be called the accessories. In such a class is the stamp box, paper knife, pen-wiper, calendar, candle, dictionary and address book. But be sure you have room for
everything. Far better keep your stamps in a drawer, and open your letters with a , pocket-knife, than crowd yourself with r such articles at a small desk. The best way to avoid crowding, however, is to choose a desk that will give you room in the first place.
WHEN selecting your desk equipment, provided you have that privilege and are not merely the recipient of a set, there are points to be considered just as in any other thoughtful selection. In the matter of the blotting pad, for instance, it is better to select a pad with
rnetal corners than leather, for the reason tÉat the metal can be removed and cleaned, whereas the leather will simply become stained and shabby and cannot be renewed. The metal corners are better covered with felt if possible, in order that they do not scratch your wood. If it is not possible to find this protection, you can easily introduce bottom covers in the following manner: Take a sheet of mending tissue (secured from tailor’s jobber or wholesaler). Cover with felt, cut the exact size, and press with a warm (not hot) iron. It is better to get a real desk pad with a hard board bottom than just the corners alone, or the blotter will slip and the corners will never stay in
In the choice of the rest of the “set” do not get anything ornate. Ink flies when onè is writing no matter how careful the scribe, and it is difficult to get it out of intricate designs. Of course if you are a devotee of the- fountain pen that is another matter, but somehow one does not connect the use of the fountain pen with the writing table. Brass or glass are the two most used media for desk sets. Glass, of course, is the easiest to keep clean. Beautiful silver sets are lovely and are usually made in very simple pure design, which ,is a special recommendation.
Choosing the Desk
DESKS are likely to be selected with too little thought for their real use. Bedroom desks aire so often little better than teetering taborettes, sans drawers, sans character, sans everything. The unfortunate part of this truth is that the bedroom desk is almost invariably the one place of retreat for the woman of the house—the library one, we may be sure will be sacred to the head of the household. Yet, it is the women folk who receive and attend to the voluminous papyrus of the household accounts, who receive
and answer probably the largest part of the personal mail which comes to the family. The bulk of a man’s mail comes to his office. So the woman’s desk, whereever it may be, is one that should, be selected with an eye to real comfort and commodiousness, and not accepted as a sort of fifth wheel in a “suite” of furniture.
The selection of a desk may lead you into many an old shop, or you may strike
devoted to drawers and recesses at the back. Of such a type is the desk here shown. There would not be sufficient room for any of the desk equipment, unless this draw-leaf were provided, as so much space has been taken up by the convenient compartments at the back. For anyone with a large bulk of papers, the desk which provides for drawers down the side or straight down the front is a
upon something that exactly fits your purposes on the floor of some department store or furniture store.
One of the favorite desks at present is the “spinet” type, which is made from the inside cavity of a little old melodeon or spinet which may be in the possession of the desk-seeker. The craze for such desks, however, has gotten beyond itself in the hands of the furniture-maker. Desks are now turned out to “represent” the melodeon type, and they are the worst taste possible. Far better a simple thing that is what it is, than an attempted one
good choice. In the case of drawers down the front, the desk is so arranged that the top folds out into the writing table section, providing knee room beneath. And speaking of knee-room—that is a consideration as important as elbow-room. Any sort of shelf or rung that interferes with the feet or knees while writing is a bane!
So, there are desks and desks. If you are sufficiently interested in getting just what you want, you can go to any good cabinet maker in your neighborhood—or indeed even a good carpenter—and have the body of it made. It can then be
which only too obviously fails in being what it yearns to be.
A good type of bedroom desk, and a safe one for the filing of personal papers, is the fold-out variety. The table portion of the desk folds up when the writer is finished, closing the writing cavity completely, and may be locked. The open-face desk, which is hardly more than a table with pigeon holes arranged on a small back-stand, is at its best when equipped with a leaf which may be pulled out to extend the depth of the usable surface. In this way more room may be
painted or lacquered any shade which your room requires.
And the Stationery?
IT IS one of the unfortunate results of modern promotion of everything and anything that personal stationery has taken a turn for the worse instead of for the better in the matter ot production. For writing paper, like men’s evening attire, is a matter of very definite and very conservative convention, and is perhaps more indicative of breeding and
good taste than any other accessory to social life.
There is absolutely no elasticity in the matter of its choice. The moment anything “fashionable” or “novel” is introduced into writing paper, you may be sure that it is beyond the pale. For here at least is one instance where there can be only convention. You may beware of very definite danger signals in this respect, and they are usually to be found m connection with the envelope.
Beware of an envelope with a queer shape. Anything which is not square, or squarish oblong is incorrect. A long thin envelope (either horizontally or vertically) is one of the attempts at novelty in writing paper manufacture which, being dubbed “fashionable” by the enterprising merchant, is at the same time branded as execrable by all the standards of good taste.
Beware of an envelope with a contorted flap. Flaps should always be plain and pointed. There is nothing distinguished in a slash from top to bottom, a curve, or a bow point. A perfectly straight across flap is .not taboo, but it is not so good as the point, and if used at all should come almost to the end of the envelope itself. A short straight flap is by way of being one of those hopeless “novelties.”
Beware of fantastic color. Blue and gray are the only permissible deviations from white or cream. A buff may be used on business stationery or professional letter heads, but is not recommended for personal use. The only adornment in the way of color is the tissue lining which may be very effectively introduced into fine envelopes. This is quite permissible— chiefly because it has its foundation in good sense and usefulness. A lining makes discernment of the contents of a letter practically impossible.
Beware of borders—they are only indicated in mourning stationery. Beware of the sheets of note paper with the “turned down” corners. You may be told that they are “the latest thing” and “very smart,” but that very recommendation should turn you away from them. There is no “latest thing” in stationery. Its form is an unchangeable law unto itself.
The Proper Embellishments
WHEN you have selected your stationery, the next step is either the embossing or pressing of your address. On personal stationery, the proper inscription is the address only, or the monogram only. Only on professional stationery should the name and address be given. Many stationers carry the little personal “pressing” apparatus, with which you can impress your address on your own paper. They cost $7.50, and are imported from England. If you know that your address is to be permanent, there is no more inexpensive way of introducing it on your notepaper. Printing is permissible, but not really the best taste. If you can possibly afford it, either emboss or press your paper. Good stationery is not one of the places where one should be grudging.
The use of the personal seal—either a monogram or crest—is a little touch of personality that distinguishes the writer who takes pride in his form. Sealing wax is a fascinating subject—there are all sorts and colors, and they are open to your personal choice. The traditional seal, of course, is the legal-looking lacquer red, and this wax may be procured in long everlasting sticks at almost every stationer’s. However, the more intriguing sorts are to be bought for the most part in attractive little sets, such as that shown in the picture accompanying this article. The colors range all the way from dark blue and crimson, to green gold and purple silver. In connection with your sealing wax, a colorful candle on the desk is useful as well as ornamental.
It is in such ways as these that personality can be expressed in writing paper. There is a wide range of choice in the fabric of the paper alone. A faint plaidish or cross-bar design in paper is permissible, and is particularly effective in the thinner linen sheets. The heavy vellum is always rich and well-chosen, while the glazed or rough linens are always in good taste. It is only in shape and color, as well as the departure from the formal conformation of the envelope, that you must restrain your choice.
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