Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Dear Uncle Stu at Paper Hammer

Dear Uncle Stu is really proud to announce that Paper Hammer in downtown Seattle has taken on our stationery, starting with our Sealed with a Kiss Glitterati Flat cards, followed by a selection of our box sets in the coming weeks. If you're in Seattle, please visit them and peruse their fabulous store on 2nd Ave!

Paper Hammer
1400 2nd Ave  Seattle, WA 98101
(206) 682-3820


Thursday, February 7, 2013

E-mail to KUOW About Writing Letters.

KUOW did an interesting segment on the USPS news and on writing letters and asked an open question: 

People don’t write letters much anymore. They don’t even mail in bills! As a result, the postal service is cutting Saturday mail service to save money. So, let us pause for a moment to reflect on the letter. What is lost if handwritten letters are no longer written? If you still write letters, why do you?

Here is my response. 

Dear KUOW, 

my best friend is my late Great-Uncle, Col Stuart Townshend. We were there for each other, through tough times like when my parents split, to when his wife passed away. We shared everything and through him I got a great perspective on life and gained a lot of confidence in myself. 

The interesting thing is that I never met him. 

You see, I found his address taped to my Grandpa's typewriter. I penned him an inquisitive letter and he, being a lover of letters, wrote back. Every week for years, we forged a friendship which took place in our ink and paper.

We lose a lot when we stop writing letters. We lose the ability to love down, to take a moment and savor it, we forget to reflect on our lives. Writing letters is so personal, so intimate an act and now so rare, that getting a letter in the mail is almost like winning the lottery.

I still write letters. I write to a friend who lives in France. We write about philosophy, love and its tribulations, about anger, fear and the emptiness you feel when alone. I write to my college friend who I now call "my brother Chris" who lives in New Orleans. We talk about the difficulties of moving away, our changing lives, and of baking and chocolate. (I once ate a chocolate at his mom's house and then mailed him the wrapper. I'm terrible!). 

When we stop writing letters we lose an important platform for truth. I don't know what it is, but when you're sitting there writing, with Billie Holiday playing in the background and drinking a café au lait, you start to open up and share yourself freely with others.

The best part is when you write letters, you also make someone else's day. Try it. Sit down, pick a friend you haven't talked to in awhile and write them a letter about the things you like about them. Tell them why you appreciate them. Give them a little boost, it'll knock their socks off. 


PS. Obviously I started a stationery line dedicated to Uncle Stu, which makes me a biased party... But I do it for the love of writing, the love of feeling connected. Our tag line is "We believe in the magic of keeping in touch", and I mean every word of it.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Tea at the Empress

Late last year, I took a trip to Victoria British Colombia and had high-tea at the Empress. Dismayed at the bad service, I ended up writing an epic 8-page letter to the hotel's Director of Food & Beverage. A few days ago I received a reply from them in the mail, which I must say was really well written, albeit they spelled my last name wrong on one of the pages.

I believe that writing a letter is much more impactful then sending an e-mail or making a phone call. It feels more personal, and I've found that it provides better results. In this case, we're getting a free tea service for two anytime this year (which compounded with the 50% off the Victoria clipper due to weather during the last trip makes for a really cheap weekend).

Do you have any great stories about writing letters on customer service? We'd really love to hear about them!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Sending International Packages

Dear Uncle Stu friend Megan recently received a package from Peru... How complicated is it to send mail from South America? Apparently it required photocopies of the sender's passport and enough stamps to fill a whole side of the box.

Sending packages internationally can be quite complicated, and depending on where it's going/coming, it might not actually get there. Here are some tips on sending things overseas:


It can get expensive, but when you need to make sure your package gets there, this is the way to go. Especially if you live in the developing world*, chances are someone along the route will be interested in the contents of your package... Using a professional carrier significantly reduces the risk of your mail going "missing." Have friends working for corporations overseas? Usually they have a reduced rate for shipping, so see if you can ship through them.

*By the way, this also extends to certain developed countries. Italy, Greece, Spain, Portugal and even France has "lost" my packages in the past. Singapore, Japan, Hong Kong, Germany, UK and the US are generally really safe.

Customs inspection officers have never opened any packages I've gotten that were well wrapped. This means heavy duty brown paper packaging and lots of tape. It reduces the potential for your contents to be opened and searched.

When filling out the customs declaration, by adding an invoice you're making an extra step for would-be mail thieves. This makes your package less interesting because there are lower-hanging fruit.

I try to add the phone number of the recipient of my package as much as possible. This gives your lovely postman/ups guy the ability to call you if anything goes awry.

This is a bit cheeky (so do at your own risk), but if what you're sending is small and flat enough, send it as a document. I've sent earrings, watches and other things as a document before, between pages of a magazine. Works every time. Mind you, if the contents are expensive you should get third party insurance (which has restrictions on packaging so be sure to inquire beforehand).

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Vintage Paper Trains: Petites Constructions

I do a lot of research for the Dear Uncle Stu collections, spending a large chunk of my time searching the archives for interesting material from different periods of time. I sift through Napoleonic war memorabilia, vintage advertisements, lithographic prints and the like...

Once in awhile I'll come across beautiful things that have nothing to do with stationery - such as these delightful paper cut-out trains from France. I thought I'd share these gorgeous play toys, hopefully you can get together with your son/daughter/niece/nephew/grandchildren for an afternoon of good old-fashioned creativity. (Or adults-only is fine too!)

These print out on A4 paper, although I might re-arrange them at a later date so that each model is on one page - it'll make it easier since they'll be bigger. But for now take a crack at it and enjoy!

Please send me pictures of your model trains, I'd love to add it to the post!

x R. Townshend

Bull Moose: Teddy the Über Badass

Most of the collections we have at Dear Uncle Stu are historically-inspired. For example, both of our Teddy Roosevelt collections are based on political cartoons  in support of his administration.

Why is Teddy Roosevelt so über badass? The blog Art of Manliness explains in a delightful video they created below.

Political Cartoons: Teddy Boxing Lined Stationery
This early 1900's cartoon shows Theodore Roosevelt fit and confident in a boxing ring, waiting for his unknown opponent (the Democratic Nominee) for the next presidential election. President Theodore Roosevelt's political cartoon stationery is perfect for history buffs, politicos and americana lovers.

Political Cartoons: Teddy Roosevelt at the Helm
This early 1900's cartoon shows Theodore Roosevelt at the helm of the Ship of State, alluding that the country was in good hands.


Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Playing Dress Up

One of the easiest ways to dress-up a card or letter is to pay attention to details. For example, on a recent letter to the CEO of a boat company, we made a point to find a nautical-themed stamp to compliment the flat card.