Yesterday I was saying how much I love paper and went off on a tangent on my uses of it. I meant to mourn the decreasing use of social paper. People use the "social network" to communicate and neglect the hand-written word. So paper is being neglected and handsome paper is both expensive and rare, soon to be obsolete? I guess the trees should be grateful. But consider all the other things that are becoming obsolete, like letter openers. I have a collection of them with duck heads. (I used to collect ducks.) They used to be a favourite speaker's gift when the organization one spoke to didn't pay an honorarium but gave a little prezzie instead. (The worst one I ever received was a velveteen telephone book cover. I left it in the taxi going home. ) I have a few nice, metal letter openers, with a company logo or symbol on the hilt, and I use them, albeit for fewer and fewer letters, mainly fund-raising pitches. I stab them with my letter opener.
Other things are becoming or have become obsolete. Consider candle snuffers. Candles are decorative rather than functional these days and not in daily - nightly - use, so I guess people don't mind blowing them out or using two wet fingers to pinch out the flame. No more candle snuffers.
Pipe reamers? I'm not even sure what they are but I think they've been confiscated by security personnel fearing a terrorist attack on a plane. No telling how much damage you can do with a pipe reamer. People do still smoke pipes; do they still ream them?
What about thimbles? Do they still make them? I knew someone who collected thimbles and they were adorable, so many different designs and creations, not all very useful, but charming. Well, does anyone sew? Of course, people sew, except me. If I lose a button I have to throw the garment away because I never get around to sewing it on. So I have no need of a thimble.
Coal scuttles. In the days of coal-burning fires, one needed a coal scuttle. I remember hearing a story of an heiress at the turn of the 20th century who was so rich it was thought she would never be needy. Her entire fortune was invested in a product that would always be in demand: stove blacking. As long as there were wood-burning stoves, the need for stove blacking would endure. Bread line for the heiress.
So you see. As went the stove blacking and candle snuffers, so go writing paper and letter openers. When did you last use a pencil?