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.


14 comments on “London’s Best Shops: Blade”

  1. Chris Webb says:

    Next time you do a book signing could you try to persuade the publishers or bookshops to refrain from putting Signed by the Author stickers on them? Ta!

    Forbidden Planet stuck two on Forgotten Authors (the other said £2 off) and they left permanent marks. Really annoying.

    There is a special place in Hell for people who put stickers on books. The fires are especially fiery and the Devil’s sharp pointy thing is especially sharp and pointy.

    I hope you are going to do more interesting shops.

  2. SimonB says:

    Glad to see they are still going, I recall shopping with them when they were still at Neal’s Yard 20 something years ago when I went through a phase of rubber stamping everything. I have managed to retain one pen-friend from back then as well despite others falling by the wayside. It has definitely helped me keep my handwriting reasonably legible for those rare occasions I actually need it!

  3. Mark Davies says:

    Punctuation Mr Webb

    I hope you are going to do more interesting shops. You should have used a question mark.

    Anyway, I work at publishing house and I have never heard anyone complain about the stickers on books. You should see them as a free added extra. First world problems eh?

  4. Brooke says:

    Regarding Mr. Fowler’s visit to US publishers, may I compile the agenda? Other righteously anger readers are invited to join me in this.

  5. Brooke says:

    Sorry. “Anger readers” should have read “angry readers.” Pace, Mr. Webb and Mr. Davies. And, Mr. Davies, your first sentence lacks a comma and two periods.

  6. Mark Davies says:

    Brooke is that your real name? I wager that you must be American?

  7. Chris Webb says:

    Mark, it was a statement not a question and is therefore probably better without the question mark you suggest.

    I could have written “are you going to do more interesting shops” which is indeed a question and might therefore deserve a question mark.

  8. Mark Davies says:

    Chris (Webb)

    Jog on!!

  9. admin says:

    While this is all very interesting, grammar-wise, may I answer Brooke? (A charming name, by the way) Please don’t compile an agenda. I’m technically on my belated honeymoon and passing through NYC over a weekend, which I am already in trouble for (for filling it with appointments). Not enough hours in the day etc.

  10. Brooke says:

    You scheduled business appointments on your honeymoon?#! You deserve trouble.
    I was joking (sort of) about an agenda; any agenda I put together could end your relationship with your publisher.

  11. About rubber stamps: I’m sure you already know Lemony Snicket’s signed books, which have a blind embossed stamp in which he writes ‘with all due respect’. Does anyone else do this?

  12. Elaine Goh says:

    I agree with Chris Webb. Stickers on books should be banned.

  13. Helen Martin says:

    With regard to firms making stamps, a friend told me that a firm she worked for as a very junior clerk here in Vancouver used to hire deaf workers for the manufacturing floor because the noise was so great down there. As the most junior employee she was responsible for putting on the coffee and one day she forgot that she had done so. Eventually several of the downstairs men came up waving hands and trying to signal a problem. Only one of the men could speak and he spoke German so they were not able to convey the problem for some time but when it finally became clear Bonnie realised she had left the coffee working away for some time. It was burnt tar when she got down there. Several questions occur: why didn’t they turn off the pot? how was it that none of them had sign language or speech (it was the 60s)? The firm still exists although it has changed its name and moved location. I think we bought our office stamp when we had our consultancy.

  14. Helen Martin says:

    (I helped build a model railway snow plow on my honeymoon, but that was a joint activity with my spouse. Separate business activities, even if income tax deductible, are not quite so forgivable.)

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