A Matter of Definition

Stationery V Stationary

I see stationery and especially printing of said stationery as something which brings genuine meaning, warmth and excitement to my life. Call me a geek, call me what you will. I genuinely love stationery. My love of stationery will never be stationary, I will always keep moving this thing forward! So on my recent trip up north to visit a family of fine art printers with the key to the most magical workshop of delights I have ever seen (I mean, unbelievable riches, the printing presses, the proofing presses, the ink, the knowledge, the library WITH A MINSTRELS GALLERY!)…well, funnily enough I got to thinking about stationery…again!


Above: The wondrous, beautiful North. Home of some truly amazing people. Also home of Curio Prints,* of whom more later

It’s a common gripe, the confusion caused by the two spellings of stationery/stationery. I like to generously believe that it’s always the spell checker’s fault. Or gosh-darned auto correct! But the confusion persists and as I sat and bathed in the warm glow of stationery and print conversation, I wondered to myself how the question ‘do you know where the word comes from?’ would be received. Sadly (I jest) a second bottle of rioja was uncorked, and the moment passed. I know anyway. I suppose, being the only person present without a formal training in the dark arts of printing, I just wanted to feel accepted (insert ‘ROFL’ emoticon right here!). Haha, or maybe I was dreaming of showing off. Who knows?

I’m almost as keen on etymology as I am on stationery. Yup, I am a geek. I take no offence. Hundreds of years ago, most sellers – peddlers if you will – travelled, moving their wares from town to town, village to city, market to market. There was a notable exception. Because literacy was low, writing was expensive and time consuming and not many people could do it, those who peddled wares pertaining to reading and writing tended to stay put. Maybe they were near monasteries, maybe they were outside the castle, perhaps in the city. So the people who traded in the tools of this remote trade of literacy - communication through the written word – were STATIONARY. And their goods became known as STATIONERY.

Stationery v stationary

So I forgive the spell-checkers, the auto corrects, and everyone who gets a little confused by those two words. They are related and the relationship runs deep.

Here endeth the lesson for today. You’re welcome! XOXO Dragonfly

**Curio Prints is a lovely little business created by my friend Rachael who can literally just do it (and printing at this level is NOT EASY!). Curio - based in Mickleby, North Yorkshire - prints and sells greetings cards and prints, produced from original engraved copper plates and carved wooden blocks. Very special pieces. Pop on over and take a peek here. We also stock a limited selection of Curio greetings cards in our Hoylake Studio. I'm sure you will be hearing more about Curio Prints over the next few months...