At 8 feet wide and 25 feet deep, de Medici Ming Fine Paper in Seattle might not seem the kind of store where a person could spend hours browsing. But paper seems to have a mysterious ability to captivate.
“The record for prowling is about six hours” said the store’s founder Capper Heffernan
recalling a woman years ago who spent the better part of a day going through the shop’s colorful supplies of paper and related products, imported from places such as Thailand, Italy and the Philippines.
During its nearly two decades in business, the small store at 1222 First Ave., near the Seattle Art Museum, has developed a loyal following. The store first opened in 1983 on First Avenue and University Street. Inspired by Marie Papier in Paris, the store was originally dedicated to the art of letter writing. It quickly grew into providing papers from around the world in all forms for all sorts of projects.
The name comes from two of the cultures who historically have had the most to do with development of paper: The Chinese who invented it, and the Italians who made an everyday style of it. The de Medici Family and the Ming Dynasty governed their respective cultures from the 1200’s-1600’s, and, still today in Seattle, in this Renaissance paper bouquet.
They don’t sell online, but if you call them directly they will take your order or offer assistance on the phone. Their web site shows a huge amount of products which are helpful if you don’t live close by. We thought we would let reviewers of this unique paper store tell the tale:
“This diminutive store, located across the street from Seattle Art Museum has dazzled its customers with the variety and quality of its paper products since opening in 1983. Colorful sheets of marbled and patterned paper ideal for bookbinding, collage or decoupage hang on racks from the walls, and countless letter sets, calendars, notebooks and cards line the towering shelves. The shop features local letterpress designers such as Benjamin Paul. It also carries high-quality paper products from all around the world, made from different indigenous fibers, such as mulberry fiber in the Far East, Silago and banana in the Philippines or cotton from India. The shop’s name honors the two most influential cultures in the history of paper: The Chinese, who invented it, and the Italians, who popularized its everyday use during the Renaissance.”
“If you’re looking for fine paper, De Medici has been Seattle’s premier source for 29 years. The tiny, cramped shop is filled with ribbons, journals, notebooks, gift wrap, origami paper, pens, brushes, calendars, and greeting cards from around the world. The Japanese and Italian fine papers are particularly stunning.”
“It’s a small shop, but sweet mother of pearl, I could spend all day here. Do you love paper? Pens? How about the outdated art of sitting down to put pen to paper and writing a note to a friend to brighten their day ? If you answered ‘yes’ to any of these questions, you need to find a way to come here. There is gorgeous gift wrap and cards, paper stock and handmade small gifts. I could gush on and on, but truly, just stop in and see for yourself.”
“I asked the store keep for paper that would be “friendly to fountain pen.” I was thinking this question would lead to a selection of leather-bound handmade journals. She instead showed me several samples of handmade watermarked Italian and Czech sheet paper. Sold individually (i.e. by the sheet, each including an envelope made of the same stock), I got the sense that this stuff was not any typical parchment. It was the *good stuff* — probably the best I’ve ever seen. All of them were deckle-edged and cotton-rag, all exquisite. So while I was expecting to find more travel journals, I was surprised to discover some very rare high-quality writing papers. Searching now, I haven’t been able to find any place you can buy these papers online.”
“This beautiful little shop is the perfect example of when good things come in small packages. The kind and gracious people who work there make this place the finest paper shop in Seattle. I value their insight when making decisions on the proper wording for invitations and announcements.”
“Wow… This place is pretty spectacular. I have more than a slight obsession with gift wrap and greeting cards and this shop was complete heaven to me. For such a compact space, they have an amazing selection of stationery and all things paper. I loved how they utilize boxes to group the card types to maximize space. The price points of cards and wrap are line with stores of this type (note- not for the bargain basement shopper). They had the widest selection of single sheet gift wrap that I have ever seen in one store. “
de Medici Ming Fine Paper
1222 A 1st Avenue
Seattle, WA 98101