Monday, May 15

A little extra Mail Inspiration



Ready for a little added inspiration to create some awesome period postage for the Acastas that attend the Jane Austen Festival in July of this present year? Have a look at these images from the past that not only show some examples of what we got, but our various members enjoying them!








Friday, May 12

Wax Sealing Your Letter

By now, we've written our letters and folded them and addressed them, now we just need to seal it shut so that the postman doesn't sneak a peek. Sealing wax was the common method of securing your letter. Red seems to be the most oft seen color when looking at extant examples of letters, but you also occasionally see blue and green as well. Letters sealed in black wax generally meant that someone had died, so if you get a letter sealed in black, you'd better sit down before you open it. The process of sealing is simple enough, Jas. Townsend has a good instructional video which can be seen Above: 

There are several places that offer wax and wax seals for the purpose of sealing your letter, Jas. Townsend carries wax and seals: 

I've purchased items from Nostalgic Impressions in the past, but you'll want to root through their inventory carefully. They carry a lot of modern looking seals, so choose wisely: 


Be sure to exercise caution, don't forget you're playing with fire and paper in close proximity. 




Did I answer all of your questions this week? I hope so… but if I didn't, you can contact me vis email or Facebook… or post you question in the comments below. I hope this helped, and we're looking forward to getting your letters as part of the MAIL PACKET project. Who's planning on participating? Let us hear from you!

Thursday, May 11

Addressing Your Letter

This may be the easiest part of the whole letter writing process... if you're participating in the Acasta's Mail Packet project, then addressing your letter is EASY, it would be addressed thusly:

Recipient's Rank and Name
HMS Acasta
PORTSMOUTH

While a 'return address' was occasionally added, it was not a universal thing like we know on the mail of today.

Here are a few examples from the period:




From the British Postal Museum & Archive

and the Bath Postal Museum

and some examples from letters that were part of the last Mail Packet addressed specifically to members of the Acasta:



Stop by again tomorrow and let's tackle my favorite bit... the wax seal!

Wednesday, May 10

Letter-Folding

So now you've written your letter and are about ready to send it on its merry way... You don't really find examples of envelopes from the period, people would fold the paper up that their letter was written on and MAKE a little envelope.

How in the world do you do that? I'm glad you asked!

I was rooting around in an attempt to find some resources and stumbled across the following tutorials. Some are easy, some are more difficult.

  


PLUS a video that shows a fairly common folding method...

 

Tomorrow, stop back by and let's learn how to properly address that folded letter.

 

Tuesday, May 9

What should I write?

Need help with letter content? People wrote letters for all manner of reasons in the period, business, duty, amusement, love, courtship, marriage, friendship etc.

Imagine all the things you do in your modern life that involve communication, now imagine if it all had to be done with a pen and paper. The people we portray wrote as a part of their daily lives, because they had to.

There are a few interesting resources I'd like to share that might inspire you to create content for letters of the period.

A well known book was 'The Complete Letter-Writer', which offered up samples of various types of letters that people wrote. Thank heavens for the fine folks at Google Books for offering a digital version online:

Below, you'll find a the text from a letter of the period to a Royal naval Lieutenant from his Aunt back home, taken from a collection of letters that you can view HERE:

to:
Lieut. F. Bond
on board His Majestys Ship Pompee, Devonshire
Cambridge 9th. March 1798 Received 24th. April

Dear Nephew,


With pleasure and a most agreeable surprise did I receive your letter of ye 29th. December many circumstances have occurred which has prevented me from answering it at ye time intended, and I am in fears least your ship should have left ye port - you find I am like all the world apt to flatter myself in thinking a letter may be agreeable but how natural it is to judge from ones own feelings - your apologies are and ought to be accepted as I know your time must be much taken up in professional Duties: I will candidly own that I imputed your silence at being weary of a correspondance with your aunt - and that I had no right to blame you yet I severely felt its loss - with your turn of mind ye company on board a ship cannot be pleasant whose ideas in general extend chiefly to conviviality - but you have comforts which to them are denied -they if alone find time heavy and irksome and know not what to do to arrouse them - whereas you can always find resources within yourself -if providence sends to some more tryals and likewise sensibility to feel them -yet surely the pleasures abovementioned are in some degree adequate - if so the distribution of the almighty are more equal than we are apt to imagine or allow - such has been my firm opinion for many years and thro' it have obtained many comforts in this chequered Life - you could not expect your Brother Thomas to meet with a wife like ye first I fear they are few if any like her and it is wonderful to me he should venture. You did not mention wether your Mother or Charlotte was well if you see them remember me kindly - or when you should at any time chance to meet with an officer belonging to the alarm - you would think of your deceased uncle and inquire wither any writing was found or how his effects was disposed of -I would have wrote when ye vessell came home but as I think they often change their captains knew not what mode to persue. Neither do I make an apology for troubling you to a Benevolent mind - ye acting ye part of a Father to the poor infant will meet its own reward - your uncle Charles and Family were well when I last heard of them - but living fourteen miles distant do not often see or write. I cannot prevail with your cousins to correspond with a gentleman not personally known - but I hope the time will arrive when you will meet and persuade them - I long to see peace wave Her olive branch over this once happy land -but wither it will be in my time I know not my health tho' something better than when I last wrote owing I believe to the mildness of the winter - is far from being established and I have my fears that it never will - may you enjoy that blessing and every other this world affords is the wish of 


your affectionate aunt
M Bond


Need some ideas for what to write? Try one of these:

Letter from a friend or colleague back home. 
(But none from 'family' this year if you please.)
A bill or request for payment.
An overdue payment of debt.
A letter carrying news of the war(s)

Tomorrow, come back and we'll talk about folding your finished letter!

Monday, May 8

Period Handwriting

 
There has been quite a bit of interest in the Mail Packet project that we're doing for the guys in the the Acasta group. I've gotten a lot of questions about writing letters of the period, so this week we'll be taking you step-by-step through the process of writing a letter that looks like it came from the era. Each day will deal with a different aspect of the process, we'll cover:

Period Handwriting
Period Content
Letter Folding
Addressing
Wax Seals


First up we tackle...

Period Handwriting
The first problem that people tend to encounter when undertaking a hand written letter project is "I don't have nice handwriting". Well, neither did a lot of people in the period... so don't be too hard on yourself. People wrote letters to communicate with friends and loved ones over a great distance, and so long as it was legible, that was what mattered.

There is a great period reference to make use of when trying to learn how to create lettering from the period. I highly recommend George Bickham's little book about penmanship! I have owned several copies of this very book and it is delightful. Not only does it show you how to create each individual letter in various styles, it also has pages for the reader to copy for practice!

You can find a modern edition for sale on Amazon HERE:

Or, if you'd like a period correct copy along with some beginning writing supplies as seen in the image above, click HERE:

If you decide to purchase the period letter writing pack, be sure to tell them the Doctor referred you!

And to see some lovely samples of letters from the period that revolve around Royal Naval officer Francis Godolphin Bond circa 1765-1839, click HERE.

In the meantime, get out your pen and paper and practice, have some fun with it! Tomorrow we'll talk about WHAT to write.

Friday, May 5

How to Speak and Write...


Here's a cool printable guide (from Colonial Williamsburg) to 18th century letter writing - kind of an easy primer or cheat sheet for those interested in participating in the mail packet project!

http://www.history.org/history/teaching/enewsletter/volume10/sept11/images/letterslessonmaterials.pdf