Rip, Cut or Slit?


Heavy Engraved Silver-Plated Brass Letterknife with Sheath (LEO Design)


How one opens an envelope tells you a little something about that person.  (Not everything, but a little bit.)  Most people are content to insert a finger into the flap and "rip-away." What does it matter if the top edge of the envelope is tattered crudely?  The envelope will be binned momentarily.  The envelope already has served its purpose; let's not get precious.  Other people are fastidious about being neat, exercising precision, or preserving options (specifically, the need to save the envelope to store the enclosed document). Such people prefer to use a letterknife to execute a clean opening.  If the document needs to be saved or stored, the envelope is nice-and-tidy—ready to receive the returning letter, bill or form.  Such an envelope can be stored (in a file or a shoebox) without rough, tattered edges.  Then there is a third "class" of envelope openers: the rare "side-slitters."  They cut the short side of the envelope, preserving a sleeve (not a pocket) into which they can return the letter.  I've known none of these people personally  (I've only seen them in movies) and I suspect they already know that they will be keeping the letter (and its envelope) in storage forever.  Or, perhaps, the "side-slit" was just an actorly affectation—the purposeful display of an actor wishing to convey his character's ultra-fastidious control issues.

What kind of letter opener am I?  80% of my mail gets the finger: bills, advertisements, commercial communication.  But the remaining 20% gets the letterknife: personal letters, cards, financial statements.  I suppose I know that these items are more likely to be saved—at least for a while—and I want to be able to store them neatly (and not allow them to remind me that I am sometimes a letter-opening slob).

The letterknife, shown above, is made of cast brass with a silver-plated finish.  A scrolling botanical design covers the heavy handle and "scabbard."  It bears a mark which I have not identified.  European, I am certain.  Possibly German or Northern European, I guess.  It has a wonderful handfeel and a great look.  And, for the fastidious amongst us, it is satisfyingly useful.  Click on the photo above to learn more about it.


Though our Greenwich Village store is now permanently closed, LEO Design is still alive and well!  Please visit our on-line store where we continue to sell Handsome Gifts (

We also can be found in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania at The Antique Center of Strabane (

Or call to arrange to visit our Pittsburgh showroom (by private appointment only).  917-446-4248