Bowersburn Princess

A box of Bowersburn 'Princess' writing paper and envelopes

A good deal of stationery, it seems, was marketed specifically with women in mind. There were sets of paper & envelopes with soft-focus photos of flowers on the box; with floral patterns on the paper itself; or in stereotypically feminine shades such as pinks, peaches and pale purples. Once upon a time, only white, off-white or pale blue paper would have been deemed ‘manly’. Judging by the remains of mid-20th-Century stationery to be found on eBay, the Scottish firm of MacNiven and Cameron appear to have been especially prone to these approaches, with their Waverley and Bowersburn brands very often dressed up in flowers & frills.

The Bowersburn Princess set shown above (“the answer to all correspondence”) is rather plain stuff, and not of the highest quality, which has been presented in a box with a floral design. It is also curiously fragrant. Some paper was sold as scented, but there is rather more of it, like this, which doesn’t boast of any particular aroma, but which nevertheless retains some vestige of perfume, whether from its manufacture or subsequent storage. D. Michael Stoddart, in his book The Scented Ape, wrote that in “…Victorian England, civet was kept in a small box in the writing desks of the gentry to perfume writing paper and envelopes”. Perhaps manufacturers or wholesalers used some similar trick to keep their stock smelling sweet.