Mail-order catalogues are a unique source of information on the writing instruments and stationery available between 1880 and 1940.

Since letter writing is above all an intellectual act and engages both the mind and the senses, writers must surround themselves with objects and instruments to express their thoughts, even if it is only with a bit of paper and a pen.

What writing instruments were available in Canada between 1880 and 1940? Where and how could they be obtained? Lovell's Montreal Directory for 1880-1881 (Montreal, John Lovell & Son) mentions shops in major urban centres that specialized in the sale of writing instruments. According to the directory, writing instruments could be purchased at "Booksellers and Stationers," who placed ads in various Canadian periodicals to promote their products. Such directories provided an overview of the market in a particular city. Outside the major centres, people relied on the mail-order catalogues they received by post.
by Bianca Gendreau

© Canadian Museum of Civilization Corporation

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