The Art of Letters







By Sophia du Brul


Because I went to an all-girls school, Miss Porter’s, naturellement, my “beaux” (as my grandmother referred to them) attended different schools. One of those serious beaux went to Kingswood-Oxford and all these many years later, his niece was starting at Miss Porter’s with my daughter Violet and he arranged for us to have lunch so our girls could meet. The question came up wondering how my boyfriend and I kept in touch before cell phones and emails and I replied that we called each other sometimes but mostly we wrote letters. The wide eyed amazement! Yes, we wrote letters.



I have been thinking about this more lately. Recently, we undertook the cleaning out of the basement so my office could finally move out the kitchen and our books could become more organized. In the book sorting, I ran across a letter that my dear Uncle Steve had written to me before he died and I had used it as a bookmark. I sat down and reread it and was touched all over again. On my fridge, fixed behind a magnet, I put up a lovely note that Priscilla Barlow wrote me when my father died. Next to it is another lovely note that Bunky Cushing sent me. Letters mean something and one can keep them, pull them out and reread them. Sometimes, one forgets that one kept it and it leaps out and surprises you, leading one down the path of memory.

When I was at Miss Porter’s, my father wrote me faithfully every week, frequently enclosing an article that he thought might amuse me. I sadly admit that I was not as good a correspondent back, but because of my father, I try to write Violet every week and frequently enclose an edifying article for her education and amusement. I am not sure if she appreciates my efforts, but getting a letter is exciting! This past summer, Violet was having a lonely moment and then suddenly she got a letter from one of her classmates and she was so excited! It made her week and chased her blues away. I hope that my letters chase her blues away.


As many of you know, I do estate sales which makes me privy to the contents of many homes. Frequently, I run into nice boxes of barely used stationary: Crane’s cards, Tiffany’s engraved notes, pretty ones from the Art Institute, boxes that had cost ten or twenty dollars new. Maybe one or two pieces had been used but frequently, they are still sealed. I mark them at one or two dollars each and they almost never sell. I have started taking them home and am trying to write more letters, not just thank you notes or notes of condolence (too many of those of late) or even my mostly weekly letters to Violet, but to reach back into the ether and send little notes to old friends, those people who come floating back to forefront of one’s mind and then one thinks, “Oh, I should call!” But it somehow doesn’t happen. I am trying to discipline myself to sit down and write them letters.



I will say that with my new resolve to write more letters, it is nice to use a good pen on a beautiful sheet of paper. I have a pretty vast collection of cards and paper that I have collected from estate sales, and I like choosing a card that I think my recipient will enjoy. I hope that the recipient will stick it in a book and find it years later and enjoy it all over again.



Aside from estate sales, my childhood friend Miranda Hunt Borden also believes in the power of the traditional written word and she has the most beautiful line of stationary that she produces in her studio in Shaker Heights. Her gorgeous stationary products are available from her Etsy store Yes, this is a plug, but her stationary is so fabulous and she will do custom pieces too.

Sophia du Brul, ISA is the owner of Sophia’s Room—Estate Sales and Appraisals. She has several exciting sales coming up this fall. Visit to see what sales are coming up.