Stationery stories: childhood stationery

I've loved stationery and all types of design ever since I was a child but looking back I don't understand all my choices. We spent summer holidays in Scotland and one of the highlights was getting my hands on the John Menzies summer catalogue. We didn't have John Menzies in N. Ireland and so buying back-to-school stationery from somewhere as exotic as Edinburgh was a real treat.

One year I went crazy with buying Fido Dido stationery - why? I had strong fashion interests even as a pre-teen and made excellent sartorial choices (when leather ties were all the rage I stepped it up a notch with a white leather bow tie ;)) But yet I bought matching stationery emblazened with a character from the 7UP adverts?


I thought it would be fun to share other people's childhood stationery stories here and asked friends and customers on Instagram to share their favourite passions and anecdotes. Where they've got public profiles I've linked them below, in case you want to pop over and bond over fluffy pencil cases!

There were definite recurring themes. Like me, back-to-school stationery shopping was definitely a high-priority task:

Audrey from Love Audrey:

"I remember spending hours in French supermarkets on summer hols buying stationery, especially cute pencil cases.  I also remember trying to buy a rubber (erasers for you Americans) in a small shop and struggling with the French word. My mum was terrified they'd think I was asking for something else (the Americans will understand - Lynne) if I kept saying rubber."


"My favourite part of going back to school in Sept was going stationery shopping with my dad (also a stationery addict.)"


"The best day in the school year was the weekend before the new September term with a trip to WH Smiths or Menzies to get your new stationery stuff."

When people shared their general stationery passions I definitely noticed a generational difference as I've never heard of most of these brands and characters. Who do you identify with?

DebFabulous Places:

"I was and still am a stationery addict! I remember having several fluffy pencil cases, tins too and also one in the shape of a packet of crisps! Magic colour-changing felt tips, novelty rubbers (I had more than I could have ever needed in a lifetime), Stabilo highlighters in every colour and the Fun Fax! At age 6 my daughter is showing all the signs of becoming a dedicated stationery addict too."

KatieBenourished blog:

"I was absolutely obsessed with Lisa Frank. So much fluorescent-pink-covered-in-unicorns writing paper. It's very much influenced my adult personal style. Also, I loved my Trapper Keeper. I went through a Keroppi phase (the frog friend of Hello Kitty.) It was even my AOL username."


"Naff Naff note pads in French supermarkets. Loved those little squares!"


"Growing up in the Far East in the 70s was the start of my stationery addiction, rubbers mainly. Then France in the 80s with Pierrot and Beautiful Sunday notelets and pads."


"I used to have a Bang on the Door pencil case, and a Take That pencil tin. So good, I used to etch 'Ruth for Mark' on it using my compass. Oh, and those jumbo pencils with the tassel on them from museum gift shops - they were like 30 cm long!"

Jo(who must be my age as I share many of these! - Lynne)

"In the late 70s and early 80s I had a treasured ET stationery set, a green turtle cardboard folder and also Strawberry Shortcake scented rubber, pencil, paper and envelopes to match. 

In my teen years I would go and buy individual different coloured paper and envelopes, that came in bright rainbow colours and then pastels. Also loved a fountain pen."

midori fountain pen

{our Midori fountain pen}

Scented items, stickers and rubbers were definitely the front-runners! Did anyone actually ever use their rubbers? Rubber-collectors in particular also seem to have hoarding tendencies - who else still has their collection?

I love that the selection below is so of its time (with cassette tapes) and honestly, I'd love to know, whoever thought to themselves, let's make a washing powder scented rubber? (which must have been a commercial success as everyone had one!) 

Karen, Karen Bird Design

"I remember scratch and sniff stickers that I had on my bed headboard - I’m convinced if I still had the ‘bunch of bananas’ sticker it would smell even now! 

I also had a fabulous collection of 1980s rubbers, one in a sweet jar and the other in an ice cream tub - which I recently rediscovered. I'm thinking of selling the collection on eBay - nice to look at but...haven’t got that much to rub out!"

 {photo from Karen's collection}


"I collected scented erasers and filled an old Roses tin with them. I never used any of them."


"I had so many of those lipstick rubbers when I was little, they twisted up and everything! I was obsessed!"


"Still have all my old rubbers hidden away in a basket in my old bedroom."

Emily Emily Dawe

"I had a happy group eraser collection, my favourite was a Swiss roll that smelt sweet. And so many stickers! Furry ones were the best. Shiny stickers too, and scratch and sniff. I even went as far as to steal the stickers from fruit in the supermarket. Melons had the best ones as they were large and colourful!"

{some more of Karen's collection}

And there were a few pen fans out there too....


"It was smelly gel pens! Loved them."


"My first fountain pen (a red Lamy pen for children learning to write) was a very special one and I was very sad when it broke. I still love fountain pens though and don't write nearly enough with them."


"Coloured gel pens for sure! And my pride and joy was one of those pens that you could select and then click and select another colour."

4 colour pen

{our modern 4-colour pen}

 And my favourite responses were these cute stories of stationery rebellion:

Maureen: "In primary 4 I got one of those novelty giant pencils and took it into school. My teacher wasn't too impressed and asked me to use another pencil. I genuinely didn't have another other than the tiny miniature one which came with the giant one...so I started using that. However, my teacher took this as a defiant act of rebellion and gave me a detention. The only one I ever had...for stationery!"

India: "When I was 5 my school had a book fair and my mum gave me £3 and strict instructions to buy a book and not any stationery. But she was busy with my newborn brother so I bought a pencil and rubber with my money, my dad collected me from school completely unaware, all was fine until my mum asked to see the book I bought...she was not happy!"

Do you have any stories you'd like to add? If rubbers were your passion also - did you spot one you owned in the photos above? I'd love to know in the comments. If you have any photos of your collection you'd be happy to share I'd love to add them in!

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