Free Fronts, Wrappers, Entire Letters

June 4, 2018 at 3:17 pm (history, research, World of Two Teens) (, , )

Yesterday afternoon – though a BEAUTIFUL day – became rather frustrating… I tried to find an eBay sale from 2013. Ultimately, I got it because I retained its PAYPAL receipt.

What was the item?

It is what would be called a “free front” – the address panel of a letter, in my case franked by a Gentleman with the name Labouchere. Franked mail was received free of charge to the recipient (who, otherwise, paid the cost of postage).

mrs smith free front 1838

You can see the edges of the paper, where it was trimmed from the letter’s wrapper (an extra sheet that once “wrapped” or “covered” the actual letter); nothing is written on the backside.

I cared FAR less about the signature than I did for that tangible piece of paper. That it once wended its way to Mapledurham House, and brought news from London, THRILLED me!

But: frustrating, too, that the letter once inside has been destroyed, or lost, or otherwise just-not-included.

Free fronts DO serve a purpose. I generally know who was receiving a letter — the exception being when “man” of the house is addressed, while the contents are written to his wife!

In obtaining a DESTINATION, I might be able to extrapolate a locale for letters I have, but which have no envelope or direction. THAT is certainly information worth having. Sometimes, I can verify where the person was residing, _if_ they were diligent diarists.

And there is always the HOPE that some day maybe envelope AND letter could be reunited!

bright star_letter

And resemble it as it once was, when first mailed.

A letter that was franked did not (as mentioned above) carry a COST for the postage. So these were likely to have a sheet of paper, with the direction written on, which certainly could have been written out in advance by the person franking the letter. Jane Austen several times mentions “getting” franks from, among them, William Chute – a Member of Parliament whom she knew.

It was imperative that the MP write the direction, the date (note: Place, month, day, year) and his “signature”.

I find eBay rather frustrating – yesterday for instance, I was searching for SMITH, DEVIZES, FRANK – up popped a plaster mask made from the face of actor Jim Carrey! Not what I was looking for… Then I used the term FRANKED LETTER PRESTAMP and get a “hit” on a letter described as “1819 prestamp completly letter”.

Sellers: Typos do not help!

(8 letters come up with that same verbiage…)

Plus, when I search online, I sooner or latter use the phrase “entire letter” (typically with the quotations marks) – I never thought about “complete letter”.

There is NO standardization. I found a couple useful letters or free front under Collectible – military (not a place I’d look, IF narrowing the category filters).

“EL” is sometimes used to ID an “entire letter”. Does that even search WELL?

One seller describes a letter as “1897” – the image shows a letter from 1840! Same seller has another listed as 1899; the image is from 1828. The reason they are called PRESTAMP: they were mailed before postage stamps. This seller is obviously not targeting dates (maybe they are inventory numbers?), but that means the descriptions are useless…

Dates, names, places would be what I look for. Call it a Free Front, a Wrapper, a Cover, an entire letter, a complete letter, an ALS – autograph letter signed. (ALS – another term one does NOT want to search for online!), I am on the HUNT for more.

If you collect, or known anyone who does, in the coming weeks I will be posting information about those I’m hoping to find MORE letters from and to. Please help, if you can!

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Permalink 2 Comments

How to LOCK a Letter

June 16, 2016 at 8:29 pm (entertainment, europe, history, research) (, , , )

fascinating find: 2,600 letters were uncovered, kept inside a postmaster’s trunk. Astounding!

“The trunk contains 2,600 letters sent from France, Spain and the Spanish Netherlands between 1689 and 1706 but never delivered – including 600 letters never opened,” says the press release for the project that is now called SIGNED, SEALED & UNDELIVERED.

letter_trunk

Stored at the Hague’s Museum voor Communicatie since 1926, only now (thanks to technology) will the letters be “read,” unopened.

I hate to say it, but I was VERY grateful for the early dates of the letters! If I had thought ANY Smith & Gosling letters were among them, it would have driven me CRAZY!

Even more astounding are the YouTube videos featuring ways writers “locked” old letters – more than a simple wax seal over a seam, to keep prying eyes at bay.

I found this “pleated letter” of 1691, very interesting:

pleated letter

It’s “lock” is the piece you see with the very tapered end, closest to the “letter writer’s” arm.

pleated letter2

What’s really interesting is the “writer,” after closing up the letter, then shows HOW TO OPEN it!

This “diamond” shaped letter was also one above the usual, since it actually is a piece of HATE mail!

diamond letter

Step-by-step How To for EACH of the letters is shown (there’s no voice). The completed letter is briefly on view, then the letter is opened.

Permalink Leave a Comment

A little time for The Times

May 22, 2011 at 10:52 am (books, news, people) (, , , , , , , , , , )

The Times of course is the great newspaper of London, and with it — on Sunday’s — comes that wonderful Times Literary Supplement. Ah, how I remember my Kingsworthy landlady Chris bringing home the newspaper every Sunday! Not being a subscriber to The New York Times, I’ve never really had such a wonderful BOOK-related piece to peruse.

Somewhere (where?) I recall reading or hearing “The TLS has a wide readership; and people hold on to their copies to look over again and again. Queries sent to them rarely FAIL to turn up responses.” Surely I didn’t dream this kind of thing, right??

Anyway, yesterday I looked up the TLS website and what was in the classified section but this ad:

REQUEST FOR
INFORMATION

* The University of Cambridge Henslow Correspondence Project seeks access to letters to and from John Stevens Henslow (1796-1861) originally dispersed at the Dawson-Turner Manuscripts Sale, 1859. Please contact Prof. John Parker at jsp25 [at] cam [dot] ac [dot] uk.

Now, this Prof. Parker has a much easier task than myself: one person (J.S. Henslow), who lived a fair but not lengthy lifespan, and with a KNOWN collection sold, granted, over 150 years ago. Henslow turns out to have been in Charles Darwin’s circle, and I’ve been reading a bio of Emma Darwin — the former Miss Emma Wedgwood; herself in the circle of Ellen Tollet! (small world) [see my post on Ellen Tollet’s diary]

I’m now honing a brief, succinct ad of my own. Keep your fingers crossed… It’s so hard to read an item like this, from Richard Seymour’s diary:

“…my dear Brother [Sir John Seymour] has just been here to shew me Mrs. S.’s reply after speaking to Miss S. [Mrs. S. = Mamma Smith; Miss S. = Fanny Smith], and I think it more favourable than I had dared to anticipate!”

Richard was making “an offer” to Fanny — through his brother John, he was so unsure of his reception (can you imagine???). But bottom line is, Where is the little letter Mamma wrote? Does it still exist?? Who has it, if it does, and do they know what they have?

I’ll let you know if any juicy tidbits surface via the TLS! (Just wish I had some  “big guns,” like Cambridge University, behind me…)

* * *

Permalink Leave a Comment