One of my favorite ways to use a fountain pen is to write letters. This year, I decided to participate in InCoWriMo for the first time. If you’re not familiar, InCoWriMo happens every February and stands for International Correspondence Writing Month. The goal is to write a letter every day of the month.
When I started preparing all of my supplies, I realized I was out of envelopes. You can’t very well mail a letter without an envelope, now can you? I went over to my local paper shop, only to find out that they had shut down. I could have gone to a big-box office supply shop, but instead decided to take my chances and order some online. The downside, of course, is that I couldn’t feel them or try them out with a fountain pen. Still, I figured I’d take a chance and see what showed up.
Fountain Pen Friendly Envelopes
Having fountain pen friendly envelopes isn’t nearly as important as having fountain pen friendly paper, but it’s still a nice thing to have. An envelope that arrives without a bunch of bleeding or feathering will make a much better first impression. None of the envelope reviews that I found discussed use with fountain pens, so I concentrated on looking for envelopes that were more heavyweight so at least they would feel nice even if the paper wasn’t the best.
After a bit of searching I settled on some A6-sized self-seal invitation envelopes. One thing to keep in mind is that envelope sizing does not relate to paper sizing. An A6-sized envelope is the perfect size for an A5 sheet of paper. While you might say that an A6 is just an A5 folded in half, the other envelope sizes don’t necessarily correlate the same way. An A4 envelope is actually smaller than an A5, whereas an A4 sheet of paper is double the size of an A5 sheet. I used this envelope sizing chart as a reference when deciding what size I needed.
Testing Out The Envelopes
Testing out the envelopes is as easy as using a variety of fountain pens and inks on them and seeing what happens. While I can’t test every combination of nib and ink, I did try and use a wide selection so that any issues would become apparent. Here is what my test envelope looked like when I was done with it:As you can see, the inks all look pretty good. The lines could ideally be a bit more defined, but overall the writing is legible, even with broad and wet nibs. I think for addressing these envelopes, especially for this particular envelope size, a medium or fine nib would be ideal. On the inside of the envelope, you can see that there was some bleed through, but not so much that it would bleed onto your correspondence.
For those who value the privacy of their letters, the heavyweight paper that is used (105 gsm) keeps your words on the inside of the envelope. Still, I was able to read a single-page letter if I held it up to a bright light source. These aren’t privacy envelopes, but they do offer some degree of privacy during casual handling.
They might not have the same paper quality as some of the papers you’re used to using, but I would say that these envelopes are indeed fountain pen friendly. You won’t get an extremely crisp line with broad or wet pens, but it shouldn’t feather or bleed. I have probably sent out about 15 letters using these envelopes and have had no issues with them. The paper has handled all of my pens just fine. The self-sealing feature has sealed very well and without any problem. The paper is thick enough that the writing on the letter is not visible without holding it up to a light. While I’m sure there are better envelopes out there, I am perfectly happy using these envelopes for everyday letter writing.
Hi, my name is John. I’m a Colorado-born professional photographer who recently moved back to Denver after spending 3 years in San Francisco. I’ve been using and collecting fountain pens for over 20 years. I got my first one in college when I got bored taking notes with ballpoints and pencils. Since then I’ve bought and sold hundreds of pens, but have consistency in my love of Esterbrooks.