18 November 2014

Letter Sorters of All Sorts

A desk organizer/letter sorter from the new range at Parvum Opus.
This one features a beautiful French hand-marbled paper.

Recently, we introduced our new letter sorter designs at the bindery, and their popularity leads me to believe that there must have been a bit of pent up demand for an object that was a staple of the well dressed desk in years past. I thought it would be fun to do a Pinterest search for unusual antique and vintage letter sorters, and I came across hundreds of variations... The images on Pinterest don't always come with complete descriptions attached, but these ten are all aesthetically interesting enough that I thought you'd enjoy seeing them. Let the sorting begin!

An antique English Victorian Era papier-mâché letter holder. I love the cut-out shape of this piece-- lovely!
Image via rubylane.com.
An elaborately moulded faience letter holder, France 1880.
Image via onlinegalleries.com.

A Tiffany Studios bronze and glass letter sorter.
Image via liveauctioneers.com.

This is something I'd never seen-- a vertical stack of papier-mâché wall-mounted letter sorters, English, 19th C.  
Image via rubylane.com.

A fantastically crafted silver-gilt and champlevé enamel
letter holder by Antip Kuzmichev, Moscow, circa 1890.
Image via sothebys.com.

And now for something completely different:
a pair c1870s Victorian Gothic Bronze Desk Top Letter Holders
Image via rubylane.com.

A sterling silver overlay leather desk top letter holder box, ca 1860.
I love the curved lid on this design--most elegant.
Image via rubylane.com.

If I had to choose amongst the letter sorters in this post,
it might have to be this one... Such and unusual and beautiful design!
An antique French Bronze Enamel Letter Holder.
Image via 1stdibs.com.

This one is plainer, but such a classic beauty:
a 19th c English mahogany letter sorter cabinet.
Image via etsy.com

This is really just the tip of the iceberg. There are countless variations in design, manufacture and materials--especially from the 19th century-- thank you Victorians! They all have style and personality, don't you think? 


  1. Hello Erika, I don't think that there is any way I could choose among these letter holders. As soon as I want to get a closer look at, say, that Gothic one, the mahogany one beckons. They are all superb, and your question suggests the far more practical choice of starting a collection!

    There are many kinds of Chinese wall pockets that could be pressed into similar service, as well as desktop stationery trays and document boxes ranging in quality from 'cool' to Imperial.

    1. Dear Jim,
      I can see we have a similar disposition: why choose one great object when you can 'collect 'em all'?! ;) Letter sorters are actually a great thing to collect as they're so functional in many situations. I think I must have a dozen sitting around the house near reading chairs (filled with bookmarks and tiny notebooks), near the phone (filled with coupons and receipts), near the back door (filled with post-its, packs of mints and change for the parking meters)...the list goes on and on! I'll bet you have even more beauties, having China's shops at your fingertips-- lucky you!
      Warm regards,

  2. Hello, Erika,

    As soon as I saw the distinctive look of Antip Kuzmichev's letter holder, I knew it had to be Russian. But I would not want to use it for letters; it's too pretty to have any part obscured. I would opt for the handsome English mahogany cabinet which is more reminscient of your own designs. Perhaps you are channeling from a distant English sojourn.

    1. Dear Mark,
      I have to agree with you-- that Kuzmichev piece is so sculptural that it can stand alone...astonishing craftsmanship! Can you even imagine any of today's so-called 'luxury goods houses' taking the time (and having the capability in the first place) to manufacture something like that?!? These objects, like a Mozart composition, remind me of the outer limits of human artistic capabilities--wonderful! I think we'll have to arm wrestle for that English mahogany piece.... it's plainer than the others, but it's my favorite as well! Just imagine all of the goodies that could be tucked into all of those slots!
      Warm regards,

  3. Nice post, things explained in details. Thank You.

  4. Very interesting blog. A lot of blogs I see these days don't really provide anything that attract others, but I'm most definitely interested in this one. Just thought that I would post and let you know.