London’s Best Shops: Blade
Considering Bloomsbury is an area of London long associated with writers, it has surprisingly few shops connected with the trade. Thankfully it has the excellent London Review Bookshop (with its rather hidden basement) but why, for example, is there no paper shop? It’s hard to find washi, the japanese paper products you get all over Tokyo, or indeed find any letter-related materials around there, perhaps because I’m one of the only people I know who still sends letters. Yesterday I went into a stationers in Boxpark, Spitalfields, and was told they didn’t sell paper and envelopes because there was no call for them.
The beauty of letter-writing is that you usually get one back. Instead of tweeting an author with 20K followers and hearing nothing, real letters encourage even the busiest writer to consider returning the favour. It’s a habit I’ve had since I was young, and I have letters from a wide range of people whom I’ve admired over the years.
Which brings us to Blade, where a lot of writers shop, even though it’s an unusually specific store. It mainly makes and sells rubber stamps and inks. I tend to go slightly beyond the call of duty when it comes to signatures, but I wanted to go a step further when I sign certain books, so the next batch of Bryant & May novels I sign will also have a blood-red stamp on it as well as a signature – watch out for them soon!
Blade’s ink pads come in rainbow shades (one one literal rainbow) and their inks are very special; the colours are classic but the inks are also perfumed. Green smells of mint and black of liquorice. I’m using their Leather Lane Brown at the moment, which smells of London soil.
Blade also makes up exclusive stamps in different sizes based on your own artwork in just two days. The shop has been there a while now on Bury Place near the British Museum, and I hope it stays forever.