February 08 2010
When the British Library moved to its new site at St Pancras in 1997, as a regular visitor to the library, it wasn’t the Round Reading Room at the British Museum that I missed so much as Great Russell Street’s other gem: Cornelissen & Son, the artists’ colourmen. Established in 1855, Cornelissen’s is the perfect place to root around all manner of top-quality art materials. The equipment is both functional and luxurious and there are generally secondary uses for it (the watercolour brushes make great cosmetic brushes, for instance).
On a return visit to the store recently I was delighted to find that Cornelissen has branched out to produce a fantastic leather goods catalogue. In keeping with its tradition for functional yet stylish accessories, these handcrafted folios, pads, portfolios and brush cases can double up for all manner of things other than artists’ accessories.
I bought a dark green leather A6-sized Marco Polo sketching pad cover (second picture) for £47, to conceal my scruffy journalist’s notepads (also shown: Hoxton pencil pad, first picture, £84). Apparently Cornelissen’s leather range has proved so successful they’ve even branched out to produce what is termed, in ye olde gentlemanly fashion, The Lady Bag (leather clutch bag, £99.50).