To keep myself connected to distant friends and family members during the pandemic, one thing I’ve been doing has been to send them actual, handwritten correspondence. A bit old-fashioned in the era of Zoom meetings and video chat, but it gets me away from the computer, and the firehose of awful that comes with it. Since I’m me, I was interested in finding map-themed postcards, notecards and stationery that I could use when writing to friends and colleagues who shared my interest in maps. It turns out that there is some out there.
This post is a roundup of what map-themed stationery for correspondence I’ve been able to find. It can serve as a gift guide, if map-themed stationery strikes you as a good gift; the holidays, after all, are coming up. As usual, I link to stores selling the stuff; I get a small cut of the income from qualifying purchases.
We’ll start with postcards. Cavallini’s vintage map postcards, which came out in 2012 and were reviewed here in 2016, come in a stylish metal tin that contains 18 cards, two each of nine designs. They’re printed on heavy, non-glossy card stock that foxes around the edges a bit, and on a per-card basis they’re comparatively expensive ($12.50). Amazon (Canada, UK)
Next up are notecards, which are basically blank greeting cards that come either flat or folded. They give you a bit more space to write than a postcard does, but you’re not escalating things to an Actual Letter. Notecards are great and I use them a lot, though they can sometimes be a challenge to find. Most of these came out a few years ago and may not necessarily be in stock where you shop.
Another thing to keep in mind that some notecards are too small to be mailed: they’re meant to be enclosed or attached. Some are large enough for mail in the U.S. but not elsewhere, because the minimum width standards are different: five inches (127 mm) wide in the U.S. and 140 mm elsewhere in the world.
California artist Wendy Gold uses maps and globes as her canvas; she’s licensed her work to appear on various products, including the Maps of the Imagination notecards ($13.99), which came out in 2014. They come 16 to a box, in four designs where wildlife and other vibrant elements explode from ordinary world maps. They’re large enough for mailing, and the envelopes are classy as heck: I’ve used these cards myself. Amazon (Canada, UK), Bookshop
teNeues has two sets of vintage maps themed notecards: the QuickNotes ($13.95), which includes 20 cards in four designs based on a celestial atlas by Andreas Cellarias; and the GreenNotes ($10.95), which comes in eco-friendly packaging and includes 16 cards in eight designs based on Joan Blaeu’s maps. (QuickNotes are five inches wide and as such are a hair too small for mailing outside the United States; I don’t know if the same goes for the GreenNotes.)
- teNeues Vintage Maps GreenNotes: Amazon (Canada, UK)
- teNeues Vintage Maps QuickNotes: Amazon (Canada, UK)
A set of boxed notecards featuring MacDonald Gill’s Wonderground Map of London came out in 2018 and appears to be hard to find; a video from one bookseller describing the set is here.
Searching Etsy for map notecards turns up several other possibilities.
Correspondence Sets: Paper and Envelopes
Dutch publisher Pepin Press has a number of historical map themed stationery products. They include notepads, envelopes, and a complete letter-writing set. The notepads come in both A5 (€9.95) and A4 (€17.50) sizes; each contains 64 sheets of 120gsm paper that is backed with a reproduction of a historical map; half the sheets are lined and half are blank. The envelopes are DL-sized—suitable for A4- and letter-sized paper folded into thirds—and come in packs of 25 (€12.95). The letter-writing set (€19.95) comes with 40 sheets of A5 paper, 40 C6 envelopes, plus stickers and labels.
- Historical Maps A4 Notepad: Amazon (Canada, UK)
- Historical Maps A5 Notepad: Amazon (Canada, UK)
- Historical Maps DL Envelopes: Amazon (UK)
- Maps Letter Writing Set: Amazon (Canada, UK)
Finally, JAM Paper produces paper and envelopes made from recycled paper maps. Paper is available in letter (8½×11) size; the map is on the back. Envelopes come in various sizes; #10, A6 and 6×9 are in stock at the moment. A stationery set ($17.50) includes 12 sheets of map paper and 12 envelopes, the latter either #10 or 9×12).
- Map notecards and A5 notepads from San Lorenzo Design (25 Jan 2021)
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