The lure of luxury paper

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The Independent Online
DESPITE THE wonders of e-mail, Britons still have a strong appetite for tissue-lined envelopes and high-quality watermarkedwriting paper bearing personal motifs.

Smythson of Bond Street, the Queen's stationers, believes that modern modes of communication have in fact boosted the popularity of upmarket stationery. The handwritten letter has become all the more special, and people mind about the quality of paper they write on.

Kristin Altern, manager of Smythson's bespoke stationery salon, said yesterday: "Our sales and orders are up significantly. We have a lot of customers in their 20s and early 30s who want something a bit different but special."

Smythson, founded in 1887, has produced a millennium collection including calfskin-bound notebooks in which to plan your party and millennium resolution notebooks. It also has a "millennium bug" range with a special scarab logo die-stamped in silver. A set of 10 correspondence cards and envelopes costs pounds 22.

Henrietta McCausland, director of The Grosvenor Stationery Company in London, caters for the aristocracy but also has a growing clientele of middle-class professional customers who "like to look good at all times".

She said: "The way Bill Gates talks you would think the hand-written letter had already died a death. That's far from the truth. Good quality paper, hand-made envelopes and elegant printing still have an enormous appeal."