Saturday, 3 July 2010

Stationery Store Series: Pen to Paper

When the Lanes were being built in the late 18th century, Brighthelmston had already put its fishing village past behind it and had achieved a reputation as a health resort. The medicinal use of seawater was recommended and sea-bathing was just what the doctor ordered. Brighthelmston which had been previously devastated by storms and by the decline of the fishing industry began to prosper attracting the rich and famous and by the end of the 18th century it even enjoyed royal patronage. It is known today as Brighton and can be reached from London within 52 minutes.

Brighton has piers, seaside promenades, ice cream vans, campervans, alternative fashion statements, bicycles, a gay scene, surfers, and boasts to have elected the first Green Party MP ever. All these delights and attractions aside, I had no intention of bathing (fully-clothed or otherwise) or sunbathing and drinking seawater was out of the question. Reclining on a beach is not in the list of my favourite past times. But a stroll in the Lanes, the collection of narrow alleys with their numerous little speciality shops, was just what the doctor ordered. And there it was: The Pen to Paper stationery shop.

From the outside Pen to Paper looks like one of those stationery shops that stock no-name colourful journals and notebooks and birthday cards. Nothing prepared me for what I saw. First on the right a wonderful collection of Rhodia and Clairefontaine (not exhaustive but sufficient) and of Moleskine notebooks in various sizes. Also Zap. Next, a shelf full of Herbin ink in 30ml bottles and in cartridges. The whole range is here: reds, yellows, greens, blues, purples; Larmes de Cassis, Vert Empire, Bleu Myosotis, Bouquet d’Antan, you name it.

A range of writing instruments includes Lamy Safari, Pickup and Studio; Pelikan, Cross, Waterman and Rotring. In stock also is Vergé de France paper; G. Lalo pearlescent paper and card and Fabriano blank cards and envelopes; Origami and handmade paper.

Pen to Paper has two shops one on 4 Sydney Street, Brighton BN1 4EN and on 170A High Street, Lewes, East Sussex BN7 1YE. There is also a wonderful online catalogue on which offers a nice selection of all the above writing instruments, paper, inks and more.

Purchases of the day:  J.Herbin ink Larmes de Cassis; Bouquet d’Antan; Vert Empire. Also a pack of Khadi papers, handmade paper from the Khadi mill in South India, made from recycled cotton rag.


  1. looking forward to the series! love finding stationery stores everywhere.

  2. Thank you, Carmen. I shall reveal them as I find them.

  3. Sadly, the Lewes Pen to Paper is reported to have closed in 2010 – shortly after this blog post appeared.
    The Brighton outlet, and the online store, are apparently still active and look very appealing...

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