Some people see stationary as a necessary evil, as long as the pen works and the end of it has not been chewed too much, then all is good. Then there are those who covert the clean piece of paper, the curl of wood from a freshly sharpened pencil, the cellophane covering the new pack of Post-It’s or the possibilities that a pristine cover of a Moleskine holds. If you are in the latter group; this book is for you. Each and every one of us uses stationary in some form or other, though that has fallen with the advent of smart phones and devices.
Ward has an obsession with stationary bordering on the unnatural, but that obsession has driven him to ask the questions that no one else would ask, such as: What are the 1000’s of uses for blue tack? How many pencils do Ikea supply each year? Who pays $43 for a pencil? Is there a risk when licking a gummed envelope? And where has the sellotape gone again?
He tells us just how the highlighter came into being, the evolution of the pen from quill to gel, Why the staples never fit your stapler and why one bank stopped chaining its pens to the desk. Sadly we seem to be losing the art of writing, as tapping things out on your phone seems to have more appeal. I have always liked stationary; as I look around me I have two of the black and yellow waspish coloured Staedtler pencils, one un branded pen, a Uni-ball pen (my favourite), a plastic eraser and one of those double pencil sharpeners that have a standard and a large hole. In all my years I have never used the large hole to sharpen a pencil…
This is a brilliantly quirky book about those things that we never really consider in any depth. Ward has uncovered the history behind the most mundane of objects and tells the stories of some of the characters who made the brands that we know and love today. Great stuff.