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


Thursday, May 4

Who should I write to? 2017 edition

Wondering who to write to for the 2017 Mail Packet Project? Here's a listing to the guys who are scheduled (so far) to be in attendance at the Jane Austen festival. Some haven't submitted their short character biographies yet, I'll update this as they do. In the meantime, feel free to contact me with any questions you might have about the project and enjoy!

Remember, this year it'll be 1805 with the Acasta having just returned to Portsmouth.

James Hamilton 1st Lieutenant- Born January 27, 1764 Northamptonshire England. 2nd son. Father: James Hamilton MP – Member of Parliament (Tory) Borough of Kettering. Mother: Frances Wellesley Uncle: Horatio Hamilton, Admiral of the Blue –retired. Formerly of the HMS Lively.

Christened in St. Andrews Church March 17, 1795. Attend school at Bishop Stopfords Acadamy in Kettering from the age of 9 to 14. Where he studied Mathematics, Latin, Greek, and theology, as well as other topics. On July 21, 1779 he received a post as Midshipman on the HMS Sphinx. 20 gun frigate. In 1783 James passed his Lt. and was immediately commissioned with the assistance of his uncle. Major actions include Battle of Camperdown, 3rd LT on HMS Triumph and the Battle of The Nile as 2nd LT aboard HMS Zealous. Currently serving as 1st LT HMS Acasta.

Thomas Tumbusch 3rd Lieutenant- the son of a Royal Navy officer who hails from Portsmouth, a seaport and naval base in Hampshire, England on the island of Portsea in the English Channel (also the modern-day home of HMS Victory, Lord Nelson’s flagship at the Battle of Trafalgar). Through a connection with one of his father’s former shipmates, he began his naval career at the age of 10. He previously served under Captain Freymann as a midshipman, and has since returned to his service after being re-posted to the Acasta as Third Lieutenant. While serving on the North American station out of Halifax, he had the good fortune to secure the affection of Antonia Norton, a tailor’s daughter, which enables him to sport much finer uniforms than he would otherwise be able to afford.

Albert Roberts Ship's Surgeon- Roberts was born in Boston, Lincolnshire, England in January of 1766, the second son of a wealthy, land owning family. Roberts attended the Boston Grammar School at the age of 10 under headmaster Obadiah Bell, BA (1769-1790). Because his older brother Nigel was set to inherit, young Albert had to choose a profession. Not interested in writing sermons and too curious and energetic for the confines of a law office, Roberts decided that medicine and surgery might suit his temperament best. At age 16, Roberts trained in medicine at the hospital at Boston, Lincolnshire, and two years later was examined before the London Company of Surgeons, and found qualified for employment by the Navy.

In 1786, at age 20, Roberts married his first wife, Isabella and shortly thereafter was appointed Surgeon’s Mate aboard HMS _______ In 1790, at 24, Roberts returned home for a time and continued his medical studies in Edinburgh.

Two years later, in 1792, Roberts gained a medical degree from the University of St Andrews and became a licentiate of the Royal College of Physicians of London. Dr. Roberts’ wife Isabella dies in 1796 leaving him a widower with four daughters.

In 1798, at the age of 32, Roberts was the Surgeon aboard HMS Zealous under Captain Hood at the Battle of the Nile. In his time aboard the Zealous, Roberts’ elaborately illustrated medical and personal journals earned him the attention of the Royal Society and he was made a Fellow in 1799.

After his time aboard Zealous, Roberts was reassigned to HMS Acasta as Ship’s Surgeon. During his first few months he received news that his brother Nigel had mismanaged his inheritance and had lost the family property back in England.

James Apple Carpenter- Born in Hackney, England 1766 in April. Grew up in a family of Carriage makers and blacksmiths with a moderate shop in the east end. His father, james Appel was born in Hesse and went back to take care of family affairs some time ago. His mother, Barbara Bedwell still manages the shop and has a tendency to be to lenient on collecting payment for finished work. He has a son, Hunter that turned 18 in October of 1814 and since has gone to sea under the name of Nathaniel Bekket. He also has a daughter, Golden Jewel that turned 16 in August of 1814 that has moved with her mother to Chataguey, just outside of Montreal, Quebec. He has a new wife, Lynne, who now keeps his house in Hackney and looks in on his mother in addition to teaching many if the lesser-sorts to read and write at the new Church of St. John.

Nicholas Armitage Purser- Volunteered to serve aboard 'HMS Acasta' in 1792, with prior experience in London merchant grocer businesses and counting houses, that gave him some skills requisite for a ship's purser. His half-brother William St George, currently serving as a lieutenant on 'HMS Conqueror' (74), and Armitage does have a wife in London ('Georgiana Carr Armitage')'.
John Griswold Ship's Chaplain- The Rev. Mr. John Phinehas Griswold was born August 2, 1755 in the town of Kenilworth, in the [then] Colony of Connecticut.  Descended from Edward Griswold of Warwickshire and loyal to the King, John received his formal education in the Colonies during those turbulent years of the rebellion before traveling to England to complete his ordination.  Upon taking residence near Warwick, John met and married the radiantly beautiful Miss Agatha W., the younger sister to Lady Caroline Linnington.
After his ordination, it was the prolific writings of the Rev. John Newton, a former sailor, who greatly influenced Griswold’s faith and practice. Newton’s books and letters along with the sermons of Rev. James Ramsay, a former Naval Surgeon, first alerted Griswold to the possibilities of serving in His Majesties Navy as a Chaplin.  News of the successes of the Evangelicals in serving in ships under “Blue Light” Captains drove Griswold to actively seek a place to serve.  But it was not until Agatha’s tragic death three years ago that Griswold was able to consider fulfilling that call.   Preaching at sea seemed a suitable balm for his weary soul, and a salary of 11.8.0 per annum was of no consequence as eternal prospects far outweighed temporal rewards. Rev. Griswold has served onboard HMS Acasta for the past two years.

Jonathan Alexander Midshipman
Jonathan Alexander is the second son of a wig maker from Inverness. Mr. Alexander's great Uncle is the 1st lieutenant aboard HMS Atlas and was able to get him a Midshipman's position aboard HMS Acasta.
Samuel Loomis Midshipman- The second son of Mr. Adam Loomis of Bury, Mr. Samuel Loomis is a diligent young midshipman hoping to rise in the ranks of His Majesty's Navy. During leave on his father's estate in Bury, Samuel enjoys hunting, riding, and courting his young betrothed like any young man. Mr. Loomis is an avid scholar of mathematics, and, although he is devoted to his career, he still has a long way to go to understand the art of sailing.

William Miller Ordinary- Will was born in May of 1775 and hails from the west country.  He had previously served in His Majesty's Army as an artillery soldier.  Will later found work in a tavern but had a tendency to drink away much of his pay.  While at the tavern, he saw a broadside posted by some Tars recruiting for HMS Acasta and signed on in hopes for travel, adventure, and a chance to man the guns again.
Michael Schwendau CookHaving been a jaeger with the Tyrolean Landwehr (milita) and after the forced peace, left the Bavarian occupation as to avoid conscription by the French puppet government. Having left Austria during the occupation by the French and wandering the world. He took the King's shilling and enlisted his skills as a chef and tavern keeper to humor the crew with his talents and is often found to prepare meals for the captain’s table. Despite leaving the beloved Austrian Alps behind, he keeps a smile and enjoys a good joke. He hopes that England will prevail and will take his discharge and make his way home to take up the Tavern his family is known for in the valley of Zell am Ziller.

Charles Winchester Ordinaryborn in 1760 in Dorchester, England.  His mother, Anne Marie Bousard was of French Hugenot descent. His father, James Winchester was a farmer and horse trader from Weymouth. Anne died during childbirth giving birth to the couple’s fourth child.  Shortly afterwards James was accused and arrested for a horse deal gone wrong. He spent a year in gaol.  During this time Charles and his three sisters were sent to Weymouth to live with his aunt Beatrice.  In 1770 upon his release from gaol James sold his farm and business giving the money to his sister-in-law and moved to Portsmouth. After a failed business venture there he joined the Royal Navy aboard HMS Antelope in 1772.  He never returned.

     Charles was sent to Bournemouth to apprentice as a blacksmith.  His master, Silas Hartford, was a hard man, being overly fond of gin. Charles was a little too free with his tongue for Silas and the master struck Charles across the face with a bar of pig iron. After less than a year Charles broke his indenture and ran away to Portsmouth and took a job on a fishing vessel. At age seventeen Charles signed on to a coastal trading ship making runs between Portsmouth, Plymouth and Falmouth. At age twenty-two he joined the crew of a mail packet making the run from Portsmouth to Cardiff and Bristol.

     In 1787 he married a nineteen year old Bristol girl, Sarah Powels and settled in Bath.  Like his father he took up horse trading, also dabbling in farming and sheep. He and Sarah had six children; four daughters and two sons: Elizabeth (b.1789), Rachel (b.1793), Johnathon (b.1795), Sarah (b. 1797), James (b.1799) and Anne (b.1807). In 1800 with the farm failing the family moved to Portsmouth for a year and then to Plymouth.

     In April 1802 Charles signed aboard the 18 gun brigantine HMS Imogene on a coastal cruise looking for smugglers. Over the next three years he sailed on several cruises to the Cape of Good Hope and off the coast of Guinea.  The ship ran aground and was lost in March 1805, but the entire crew was saved.  After this close scrape Charles left the service, returned to Plymouth and took a job aboard a number of coastal trading vessels over the next two years.  In 1812 Charles signed aboard a merchant vessel, the Nancy, bound for Barbados.  This vessel was captured by the American brig Federal off the coast of the Azores two weeks later.  The entire crew was taken captive and were to be taken to France.  Charles, along with 32 others, signed aboard to supplement the crew after part of the crew of the Federal went aboard the captured Nancy. En route to Boston one month later the Federal was taken by the HMS Acasta.  All British crew members (and a number of Americans) joined the crew of the HMS Acasta. At present Charles is still aboard HMS Acasta and solemnly vows if he ever sets foot on the shores of old England he will never go to sea again!

Sam Linden Boy-