July 14, 2024

A short history of stationery

Stationery lovers, walk with me through a short history of stationery. We love stationery for its sensory enjoyments: the feel of smooth, crisp paper; the sound of the pen as it glides through words; the many pleasing visual designs. Stationery is actually a technology that’s thousands of years old.

Embossed thank you notes from Embossed Graphics

We can trace stationery’s roots to ancient civilizations, where early humans used simple tools they found in nature. Cave paintings and stone etchings are all the evidence we have of those first modes of communication. They’ve stood the test of time, but rocks are not easily moved– either attached to a cave wall or lugged around–so as written language developed, new technology needed to be invented.

One of the most important inventions happened in Egypt around 2900 BC. People discovered papyrus, a plant native to the Nile Delta. They wove the fibers into sheets perfect for writing. Finally, people had a portable and durable surface to record information. Egyptians also created writing instruments from reeds, laying the foundation for our modern way of writing.

With time, people created more sophisticated stationery. The Greeks and Romans used parchment made from animal skins, a smooth and more sturdy writing surface. Around 100 AD, the Chinese innovated still further, making paper from used rags. They gradually improved the process, moving to bark, hemp and bamboo.

During the medieval era, monks developed an art form by painting religious texts onto vellum, a finer-quality parchment. They used quills crafted from bird feathers. Still, paper was not widely available, and literacy was not widespread.

The history of stationery really changed during the Renaissance era when Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press. With time, more people could own and read books and other written materials. This is when the idea of personalized stationery took off. Wealthy people and scholars sought paper adorned with intricate watermarks and personalized seals.

Stacked Monogram Folded Note from Embossed Graphics

The factories of the 19th-century industrial revolution helped to make stationery more affordable to the average person. The invention of the fountain pen in the 1880s catalyzed writing as well.

In the 1900s, we saw the rise of ballpoint pens, stickers, memo squares and many other innovations. Stationery has developed into a wonderful means of self-expression, allowing people to showcase our sophisticated tastes and preferences. We now have an exquisite array of luxurious papers and beautifully crafted notebooks.

Stationery has gracefully evolved right alongside us, leaving its mark on history with an elegant touch.

Please buy local! Use our store locator to find and visit your nearest Embossed Graphics retailer. Shopping small keeps people employed and contributes to local taxes. Your purchase of Embossed Graphics stationery not only enriches your lifestyle, it enriches your community.

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