Modern disciples of the writing craft flock to the Mara writing folder. It’s one of the many styles that Smythson create, joining the debonair Panama, the decadent Wilde and the elegant Burlington, which are each crafted out of the finest leathers, beautiful hardware and, of course, our signature ring–bound featherweight writing paper.

“The one thing I wouldn’t travel without is Smythson’s chic A4 zip writing folder in navy crocodile print: it keeps all my documents organised for meetings.” — Claire Thomson-Jonville, Self Service Magazine



While the writing folder has multifarious uses for a contemporary user, its origins are with those who rigorously instigated correspondence and letter-writing etiquette: the Victorians. They were the people who first made letter writing from your travels popular –after jumping onto a mighty steam train and heading off to the stony sands of Scarborough, Borth and Lowestoft, they would dutifully send postcards home to loved ones, reminding them what they were missing out on. Later, in the 1910s, Smythson created the ‘Bon Voyage’ stationery: greeting cards beautifully stamped and hand-engraved to illustrate the touristic wonders of ‘abroad’.

This obsession with on-the-go correspondence continued well into the roaring 20s, when the golden age of travel began to take hold. Accordingly, in 1920 Smythson developed the travel-writing bureau: a leather-bound model which held compartments for correspondence paper, envelopes, stamp books, blotting paper and pens, as well as a pull-out ledger for on-the-move notation.

“I love Smythson’s correspondence cards. I remember placing my first order with Smythson over a decade ago and it felt so special when I had my own custom cards arrive ready to be sent out all over the world…It was like going from renting to owning, from being a boy to a being a man of letters, from travelling coach to travelling first and after that… well, it’s very hard to go back, isn’t it?”—Jefferson Hack

Fast-forward a few years and the luxury of long-distance correspondence doesn’t abate. Between the 1920s and 30s, Smythson produced bespoke stationery for the Maharajas of India, where hand-bordered paper was intricately engraved with personal monograms, and decorated with mother-of-pearl inlays. The work established Smythson as the foremost purveyor of luxury stationery – a legacy that continues today. So, no more quickfire emails from your holidays, please. Instead, send letters thoughtfully written on featherweight writing paper, torn from the inside of your writing folder. Failing that, a Wish You Were Here postcard will do, but the Mara Writing Folder provides an excellent surface to write upon when on the beach.

About This Series

Icons: Exploring our long-standing heritage through the people who love us and the products that define us. 

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