The Best Snail Mail Supplies
Standard envelope sizes carried by JetPens.
Envelopes, like paper, have different names and sizes in North America than in the rest of the world. In North America, envelope sizes have names like No. ⁄4 and No. 9. No. ⁄4 envelopes are also known as Monarch envelopes, despite the absence of monarchy in most of North America. North America also sometimes labels envelopes A2 through A This has no relationship to ISO paper sizing, which also uses A as a category, and JetPens avoids describing envelopes this way. No. 9 envelopes are perfectly suited to Letter-sized paper.
Outside of North America, envelopes come in international standard sizes. JetPens carries C6, C5/6, and DL (“Dimension Lengthwise”). C envelope sizes are proportional to ISO paper sizes, with the same consistent 1:√2 side length ratio. For more information, read our guide to paper sizes. A C6 envelope fits an A6 sheet of paper, or an A5 sheet folded in half, or A4 folded in quarters, and so on. A C5/6 envelope or a DL envelope will fit an A4 (or Letter) sheet folded into thirds.
C6 envelope and paper comparison.
C6/5 envelope and paper comparison.
Dear World: Letter writing is alive and well. Signed: The Pen Pal Club
Los Angeles Times
Old-fashioned is very much in fashion these days.
People are choosing to do the things their grandparents once had to, though perhaps in a more studied way.
Some grow and can their own vegetables, and some sew their own clothes.
Some even � don�t be shocked � write letters. The kind that need envelopes and postage.
Not plain white envelopes. Not Forever flag stamps. These modern correspondents go to far greater lengths.
They hunt down and stockpile eye-catching, uncanceled vintage stamps. They practice calligraphy and learn to make lovely swirls. They seek out small-batch letterpress stationery. Their artfully addressed envelopes, adorned with enough old postage to meet today�s rates, is fit for a hotel bellboy�s tray in a Wes Anderson film.
One evening a month, the L.A. Pen Pal Club meets on the eighth floor of the Spring Arts Tower downtown, in a stationery store festooned with red, white, pink and purple paper hearts.
Paper Pastries Atelier is the studio and shop of Margaret Haas, 30, who launched the club in Her love affair with letters, she says, began when she was 5 years old and started making birthday cards � heavy on stickers of kittens and rainbows � that her mother sold to co-workers at her factory job.
Now she does custom calligraphy and stationery design. She uses a laser engraver to create rubber stamps. She sells pens and pencils and a chic array of cards � some made by her, some by others.
She sees it more as vocation than job.
Haas has seven active pen pals in this country and abroad, only two of whom she has met. One is a founder of the Chicago-based Letter Writers Alliance, dedicated to keeping the art alive, in part by connecting people online.
The group, which has more than 7, members, encourages gatherings such as letter-writing socials and envelope-making workshops. It even has a letter-themed book club, whose far-flung members meet via video chat.
Haas says she was nervous recently when she had to lead the discussion on screen about Ella Minnow Pea: A Novel in Letters � say it out loud: L-M-N-O-P.
�For a $5 lifetime membership, they�ll set you up with as many pen pals as you like,� she said of the alliance.
Pen Pal Club co-organizer Victoria Vu, 31, met Haas at her club�s very first session in a now-closed shop.
A kindred spirit, Vu says that as a child she used to haunt the greeting card aisle on family supermarket trips. Now she runs a graphic design company called Paper & Type and makes ledgers for people to record, in ink, when correspondence is sent and received, what ground was covered and ideas for replies.
One recent night, they laid out greeting cards, postcards, paper, pen, pencils, rubber stamps, stickers, decorative tape and three of Haas� five manual typewriters. In the building�s hallway, they arranged a table of snacks: Rice Krispies treats, apple slices, grapes, lemonade.
Soon people were seated at two long tables, busy at work.
Narine Riley, 25, of Pasadena � who found the club on Instagram � was writing one of numerous cards she would mail to her husband to celebrate his birthday week. In a stylish, striped pencil case, she carried multiple ink options, as well as correction tape for when she made mistakes.
Lydia Clarke, 38, came straight from a long, hot day at Grand Central Market in Los Angeles, where she�s a co-owner of DTLA Cheese. She brought Erika Mulan, who tends bar in Pasadena.
Mulan, 33, has a pen pal who used to work at her regular coffee shop. They started writing when he moved to Atlanta, and soon his girlfriend joined in.
At Paper Pastries, Mulan chose light blue stock to send them a postcard and stamped it with the words �snail mail.� From dainty glassine envelopes, she pulled out vintage postage she thought her pen pals would enjoy: a 6-cent pair of ducks in flight, a cent owl.
�They make their own envelopes out of newspaper, sometimes with coffee stains on it,� she said.
For her, letter writing is like keeping a journal. She shares thoughts and experiences that otherwise might go unvoiced. In return, she says, she gets gems, like her friend�s description of the moments just before a tornado touches down.
�He said it gets super quiet, eerie quiet, and the sky turns green. It was really beautiful. I could see it. It stayed with me.�
Clarke sat across from Mulan, armed with sheets of her shop stationery, and practiced a sign off � �Cheers & Cheese,� which she penned right above a stamped golden image of a French bulldog. She said the design by Haas looked just like her dog.
Her hope was to get in the habit of mailing out short notes.
�When you get a letter, it�s not something minimized or clicked away,� she said. �It�s like a breath, a respite in the day.�
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How to Find a Modern-Day Pen Pal
Perhaps you're feeling nostalgic for your summer camp days or simply looking for a reason to revive the art of snail mail. Either way, finding a pen pal can be a great way to fulfill these cravings and get a whole slew of letter-writing perks. In fact, more research shows that in today's digitally-driven world, taking the time to hand write anything-from a journal entry to a thank-you card-can provide you with real physical and mental benefits like improved memory and lower levels of anxiety.
Finding a friend to mail letters to is also a fun way to meet people from around the world, learn about different cultures, and maybe even work on your foreign language skills. And while social media and the power of the Internet have made it easier than ever to connect with someone overseas in real time, there's nothing quite like connecting through ink on paper.
Ready to find your snail mail buddy? Here are a few ways to get started, plus a few tips to remember before starting your search.
RELATED: 12 STATIONERY SETS THAT WILL INSPIRE YOU TO SEND MORE SNAIL MAIL
Worldwide Snail Mail Pen Pals
Created in , Worldwide Snail Mail Pen Pals is one of the largest and most active free pen pal communities on Facebook. Run by two pen pals Aisha Conolly and Stephanie Elyse (they've met up in person), this closed group requires all members to read and accept rules (such as not posting anyone's address) once they join; members not acting accordingly will risk getting blocked. Once approved, new members are encouraged to post a short bio about themselves, inviting others to connect if they wish, as well as share letter-decorating tips and inspirations. "We have over 11, members and growing!" says Elyse, who has been writing to pen pals for over 20 years. "It's a great hobby that helps you improve penmanship, make new friends, and travel the world while staying in one place."
Letter Writers Alliance's Pen Pal Swap
Launched in by friend duo Kathy Zadrozny and Donovan Beeson, this Chicago-based organization is devoted to promoting the art of writing letters from its shop of designer stationery, sticker sets, and vintage stamps to its local "Letter Social" events and members-only pen pal swap. Joining the Letter Writers Alliance is just $5 for a lifetime membership and will help ensure you are part of a safe and secure letter-writing community of over 12, folks from all around the globe; plus, Zadrozny will personally match members with their pen pals.
With over two million members from around the world, this free site has been helping connect pen pals since Created and run by pen pal enthusiast and California-based web developer Jakob Herrmann (who's also been a tech wiz for Sony and Disney), this online network is a great resource if you're seeking out more of a cultural exchange. To create your PenPal World account, all you need is your email address and your birthday, which the site disables you from changing after registration as a security measure. Once you upload a photo, and it's approved by moderators, your profile will be complete and you'll be able to start searching for and chatting with other members.
Ask Locally (or Start Your Own)
If you're looking to make a pen pal who lives in the same city as you, consider looking up existing clubs and events in your community. The LWA lists a few places to start here or you can check sites like Meetup. And if you can't find a group near you, simply start your own. "Letter writing is an art, a release, a slowing down, and typically a solo endeavor. However, gathering with fellow letter writers now and then can only encourage and inspire you in your own practice!" says Victoria Vu, the paper aficionado behind Paper & Type and other half to the L.A. Pen Pal Club, a monthly gathering of letter-writing and sharing. Vu has been co-hosting these meetings with fellow paper-loving friend and club founder, Margaret Haas of Paper Pastries, since They offer sound advice on how to start your own pen pal club.
What's the best practice for mailing letters (and with it, your personal information)? "When picking a pal service, I'd be looking for sites with longevity and good privacy policies," says LWA's Beeson. "There are a lot out there and many are specifically tailored to individual groups. It is sad that there are some bad actors out there, but in my experience, that is rare. We always say that if anyone makes you feel uncomfortable, you are under no obligation to return their letter." Beeson also recommends that people consider getting a P.O. Box if safety is a concern. This will allow you to use a separate address at your local post office instead of disclosing your personal one.
If you are first connecting with a pen pal online, Elyse also recommends chatting with them for a while before you feel comfortable enough to exchange mailing addresses. "This can help you see if the pen pal is a good fit for you and also allow you to get a feel for who they are," she explains. And that, in whole, is the point of finding a pen pal and making friends.
Letter vintage pen pal
Find snail mail pen pals through the listings in The Letter Exchange. When you subscribe, we'll assign you a Lex Number. With your number you can:
- Submit listings to be printed in the magazine in categories like Art & Photography, Daily Life, Literature, and Work & Careers — 30 in all.
- Browse the Lex Number-coded listings to find interesting correspondents.
- Use the confidential forwarding service that connects letter writers anonymously through Lex Numbers (we don't print names or addresses) until you feel comfortable exchanging addresses. Or you may correspond entirely using the forwarding service, if you wish.