Beautiful stationery, from monogrammed letter paper to coveted calling cards, is a failsafe way to create a good impression. Stationers were first mentioned in medieval times, referring to booksellers, binders and manuscript illuminators (lymners) who plied their trade from fixed stalls and shops (stationarius) as opposed to the more common method of mobile trading, practised by pedlars and chapmen. Booksellers were where people could buy letter-writing items that we would term as 'stationery' today.
In London, these stationers congregated around St Paul's' Cathedral and in 1403 they applied to the Corporation of London to be recognised as the Guild of Stationers. This was the start of a rapid growth in prominence: in 1557, the Guild of Stationers was awarded a Royal Charter, giving them command over book production and essentially the first copyright laws.
By1709 Stationers had already begun to exert a massive influence on social etiquette. Items of stationery, calling cards, monogrammed writing equipment and forms of address and response all developed their own rules and regulations. For example, no self-respecting young lady would make her debut into society without having her own personalised calling cards!
During the Victorian era, an entire etiquette developed around the use of personalised stationery. Companies such as Basildon Bond, established in 1911, were able to come to prominence and the Basildon Bond logo and watermark has now been in existence for over 80 years. Its endurance reflects a resurgence in the use of bespoke business stationery and individuals wishing to bring a personal touch back to an overly corporate world.
This is why today we still see a well presented and designed business card or compiment slips as an important expression of you and your company.