Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Best ad ever

I found this at an estate sale this weekend. It is a handwritten letter that was inside an envelope pasted in a scrap book. It contained a tiny square of woven black wool and two pressed flowers.


March 1932

Dear Mr. Raines,

My name is Marion Briarley. I work for Samuel Martin, ltd, here in
Leeds, and I am sending you a sample of the suiting which is made in the Grampian Hills of Scotland. It is hardy, tough, and will give you long honest wear - try and tear this sample.

I hope you will buy your next suit and topcoat at our Seattle store, 4th at Union, Douglas Building, Mezzanine Floor.

I thank you Sir

Marion Briarley

PS I am sending you a little primrose, England's first Spring flower.

Everything about this is right. How could Mr. Raines resist?


I'm Jelly said...

And if you like this kind of stuff, here are some more photos I took.

I was moved by seeing all these things from over the course of this person's life.

Ashly Stewart said...

I LOVE this.

Anonymous said...

Interesting to juxtapose this with your previous post about Twitter. This letter was saved/survived for 77 years. Written with wonderful fountain pen ink, using good grammar and complete with a pressed flower – it was a gift. How can a Twitter, an email or blog post compete with something as genuine and real as that?

When I hear about the earnest efforts to bring value and inspire creativity with an essentially cold medium I think it presents an existential struggle for those trying to do that. If I have my McLuhan correct, as we move away from print (hot), we move away from individualism and thus we become more tribal. As a cold medium, technology requires more and more involvement – keeping up – no room for the individual. So what happens to our society and culture if this is the case? Is this what's happening?Are we in some ways being forced to join the tribe? Is there be no room or time to press a flower into a letter? It makes me a bit sad, nostalgic and sort of afraid.


Anonymous said...

Just noted the photos and they’re great.

I was at that sale too – it is what I do most Saturdays – and I saw you. Kind of a Portland thing. I should say I wasn’t certain it was you (with only your photo on the blog to go by) and I felt awkward saying, “hey, I like your blog” in that setting. Anyway, I like the blog and what you’re saying – See you at the sales.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Jelly. M. Briarley had class. One wonders if he/she would be twittering today. Or if the the twitter would only appeal to those standing on top of soap boxes at Speaker's Corner.

I'm Jelly said...

I am with you that it is hard to make digital media resonate in the same way that that letter does.

I think about how disposable so much digital content is, and it can make me sad and nostalgic too, but your comment made me wonder if this is what is required if we are going to become, as we must, a growth-minded but non-material-driven society - that we cling less to stuff and instead seek experiences, particularly experiences that expand us, and we let those experiences flow through and don't try to save them on the shelf.

I see meaningful, involving, human experiences all over the web.

I love Steve Nash's tweets. I love Jonathan Harris's work of course and the playful things from Rafael Rozendaal. Charles Gschwend's updates are awesome, Miranda July's website using her stove and dry erase marker is lo-fi and lovely, and I also love the technological sophistication of Kirk Souder's site and the order and precision of Pinch.

I don't see the loss of the individual - it's the individual who THRIVES on the internet, the person who knows who they are and what they have to offer, from Susan Boyle to Barack Obama.

I know it's treacherous. I am not sure how Oscar Wilde or Martin Luther King, Jr. would translate to 140 characters plus posted photos from their birthday, but I am not sure that "social media" and blog culture should be how we evaluate the whole thing. Look how Ira Glass has transcended his old media to dominate in this one.

It's evolving. It's growing. We're connecting together. It's allowing many people to express themselves and consider what they have to offer. There are many opportunities for us to listen and discover.

Anybody who tells you they know what it's going to look like in a year is guessing. It's placing a bet on ourselves, in a way. I like it - I have always believed in experiments that call for our best nature in the face of long odds.

Speaking of which, what about Obama's speech in Cairo? Have you seen it? Wow.

This one is worth the time.

I'm Jelly said...

But offline is best.

Kevin Rosmanitz said...

This sort of tramples the authenticity and the beautiful, tactile experience of coming across that little bit of history, but wouldn't this be a cool tactic to use for a still standing, long-serving tailor?

Especially if the address is the same. "Since 1898" kind of thing.