In a by gone age, men and women penned letters home when they traveled. Perhaps they used a sheet or two of the hotel’s stationery, thoughtfully provided at writing desks in the downstairs sitting room or lobby. However, many travelers brought their own portable writing desks, cunningly wrought pieces with compartments for paper, ink, wax and pens along with a fold down leather writing surface. Imagine raising the lid, pulling out the drawer, selecting a sheet of paper. Just enumerating the steps in my mind, I almost feel the world around me slowing to a different pace, a writing pace, better suited to leisurely correspondence than texting.
I still remember carrying the far cheaper equivalent — a plastic portfolio of paper and stamps that I augmented along the way with sheets of letterhead pulled from hotel desk drawers. My hodgepodge of stationery did not compare with the traveling cases of the past, especially a 1920s custom-made beauty, owned by Ruth Wales du Pont, which was designed to carry perfume, cosmetics, an ashtray, curling iron and more along with her address book, pen, ink well and sealing wax. Not only could Ruth keep in touch with her fashionable Jazz Age friends, but she could also look smashing when she wrote her letters.
Read more about the case and its wealthy owner at Two Nerdy History Girls, one of my favorite blogs.