For Eleanor Tatttersfield, owner of the Clerkenwell stationary shop Marby & Elm, nothing says it better than a letter. “We rented a gorgeous house in Eastbourne last year through a friend of a friend and I received an email from the owner asking if we knew about some broken champagne glasses. I was mortified. I also knew nothing about it! It was causing me sleepless nights so I wrote the family a letter. I received a phone call a couple of days later from the husband who said how nice it was of me to write and that it was probably the cleaner being a little vociferous with the best glassware in the dishwasher. You may misinterpret this as the very definition of a first world problem but you must understand that it would have ruined Christmas for ever if we’d never been allowed to rent the house again. And I didn’t break the glasses! A letter was the only way to solve the problem.”
To receive a letter is a wonderful thing and writing a card with a sincere message is a heart felt way to convey ones feelings. A “New Home” card or a “Thank You” note from someone who came for supper is far more suave than a quick drunken text on the tube on the way home. We may all live in a fast paced, hecticly scheduled world where we barely have time to get sick let alone write a card to say “Get Well” – surely an email from work will suffice. Well, we think not. Laziness will not be tolerated at our house and a hand written letter to say thank you for a birthday present (even if it is another awful pair of socks) will be how we communicate from now.
Marby & Elm is the Mecca to a letter writer. Eleanor has created an old-school stationary shop with a very modern twist from her garden shed with and old letter press she bought on eBay. Letterpress printing is in her blood. Her father, a lettering artist encouraged Eleanor and her two siblings to make cards when they were children and little did he know that one day he would be providing designs for her to sell to the likes of Jamie Oliver, Cath Kidson and lots of lovely people who pop into her shop on Exmouth Market, Clerkenwell.
After the garden shed Eleanor moved operations to a studio in Hampstead, then came the likes of Liberty who wanted a piece of her flamboyant cards and cheeky notelets, so bigger premises were need. Mary & Elm’s first stand alone shop was in Clerkenwell and you would find Eleanor’s sister on the shop floor and Eleanor printing bespoke small batches of letters and cards for customers while they waited.
Marby & Elm’s designs are a mixture of vintage type and her own (and her father’s) hand drawn motifs. printed in vibrant fluorescent colours. For the typography geeks out there Eleanor prints using an Adana 8×5 and an Adana flatbed Q H with metal and wood type ranging from 6 point Gill Sans to 72 point Caslon Old Face type. The letterpress printing process is a time consuming but highly rewarding one. It involves setting up movable metal or wood type, inking them and then pressing the letters to force an indentation in the paper. The result is a de-bossed impression which when you run your fingers along it feels and looks very different to mass- produced digital print. Each piece of card or paper is hand –cut, printed with hand- mixed ink and hand-fed into the letterpress printer to create a uniquely crafted piece of stationery.
The shop is in Exmouth Market, where it neighbours some of London’s coolest restaurants, street food stalls, artists and shops. Eleanor and here little shop of goodness is right at home.
53 Exmouth Market, London EC1R 4QL