English Lawn

As a small-time collector of vintage stationery, researching one’s ebay acquisitions can be very difficult. Trying to determine when or where a certain writing paper was made is too often a frustrating matter of the most inexact guesswork, given the paucity of ready references.

One of the best sources of information I have been able to find is a 1923 volume at the Internet Archive entitled Phillips' Paper Trade Directory of the World. Thanks to this book’s ‘Water-Marks and Trade Names’ section, I have, for example, ascertained that the box of ‘English Lawn’ paper shown above was made by the firm of G. Waterston & Sons. As it happens the watermarks in each sheet of the paper include the initials ‘G W & S’. Searching at Grace’s Guide turned up more information about the company, but little that might tell me when my paper might have been manufactured.

To my eye the packaging has a vaguely ‘Arts & Crafts’-influenced look about it which makes me think it may date back to the turn of the 20th century, but it could just as well be a later ‘retro’ design. Evidently, per Phillips' Directory ‘English Lawn’ (Lawn in this context referring to the fabric, rather than an expanse of grass) was a current or recent trade name in the early 1920s. I’d be surprised if the box were post-WWII.

Anyway, it’s lovely paper, in Post Octavo size, in this case in the form of pre-folded Post Quarto (9" x 7") sheets. It feels like fine-quality stuff, and has not discoloured in the least over time. I also have a box of matching Crown Quarto envelopes in the same shade, which can fit a sheet or two of the paper folded in half: trying to squeeze in any more in tends not to work too well. The gum on the envelopes has perished somewhat, but can still be made to stick perfectly well. I have to hope it’s more or less non-toxic!