Hope Johnson, the multifaceted entrepreneur behind the brand, "by HOPE johnson" shares with us her expertise and tips on how to successfully deliver our most "organic form of communication", the posted letter. For wedding invitations, special events, or just a hello, delivering the natural textures of handmade papers adorned with beautiful vintage stamps is an art, and there is a process for handling these delicate papers which is hidden at post offices behind the computers and mass sorting machines! Please read on and learn from Hope and her tips on effective handling of your fine stationery.

The process of communication through mailed letters has evolved in countless ways over hundreds of years. If I had to guess, it will continue to do so as our future generations continue to tap into the ease of virtual mail and communication.

I would personally like to believe that there will always be a group of old souls whose whimsies are found in the old fashioned, the nostalgia, the organic form of communication.

i.e. stationery enthusiasts

There are vast groups of these stationery lovers whose hearts flutter when you use words like deckled edges or wax seal closures or vintage stamps. There’s a world where stationery plays an important and pivotal role in the storytelling – may it be a wedding, a simple letter, or an invitation to a social gathering.

Suites are hand-crafted and treated individually for each of the guests that will inevitably be on the receiving end of the wrapped-in-silk cotton paper that’s been letterpress printed and adorned with calligraphy and vintage stamps. I mean, I may be biased, but all mail should be wrapped in silk.

The route that fine stationery must take is one you will most definitely want to prepare for. Improper handling of fine stationery will only yield you tears and a stationery lover’s nightmare.


The ONE thing you MUST do: hand-cancel your stationery

No matter what type of fine stationery you are carting off to your post office, you’ll want to ask your postal worker to hand-cancel your stationery. Generally, all letters are sorted through a computer system and automatic mail sorter. This machine determines where the mail is going and organizes it all by route.…an extremely helpful piece of technology.

However, machine-sorting finer stationery is not ideal for many reasons.

When you “hand-cancel” your stationery, a postal worker will …quite literally… “mark” the stamp as used – you know, that cute little circle postmark stamp that you may have seen stamped over your postage stamp.

If your mail is machine-sorted, you’ll get that not-so-pretty computer generated barcode line at the bottom of your envelope – every calligrapher’s nightmare, right?



Let’s say you love vintage stamps! You have four vintage stamps across 200 envelopes. You will definitely want to have those hand-canceled since most vintage stamps are delicately assembled. So that’s four stamps across 200 envelopes. Meaning, your postal worker will have 800 hand-stamped motions across your stack of mail.


Keep in mind that whether you use vintage stamps or a single stamp, hand-canceling can be a time-consuming process. You may want to factor in a few extra days of mail time. Most postal workers will work through large batches of hand-canceling in between customers.

Most post offices will happily take on the job, some may charge for it. Best practice and experience for me has always been to kindly ask for their assistance and even offer to hand-cancel the envelopes yourself if your particular branch is often busy.

True story: I once hand-canceled a set of 200 envelopes with FIVE vintage stamps across each envelope. The post office was busy a bit backed up during a holiday month so I offered my help. Yep! The crazy paper lady over here.

Hand-canceling your postage simply provides a cautious handling of your stationery. It’s the final step to what may have been quite a process of designing and producing. You will definitely want to take the extra measure to ensure that your guests receive that pretty something exactly as you intended.


Images by, Hope Johnson. To Learn more about Hope and all of her wonderful creative ventures, visit by HOPE johnson.