Author Topic: Letters from 1840!  (Read 398 times)

Offline Zivio

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Letters from 1840!
« on: December 04, 2023, 07:12:36 PM »
My wife and I first met our elderly widow neighbor down the street when we were trying to surprise her by leaving a Mayday basket of flowers at her home earlier this year. Well, she caught us and invited us in for a beautiful visit. She loved that we remembered the old tradition. I decided to send her a brief snail mail note in Spencerian knowing that her children and grandchildren typically only email or text her and thinking she might appreciate this gesture from the past.

A few weeks ago, I was again visiting and happened to ask if she had received mail “from someone." Oh, yes! her eyes brightened, and she rushed off to show me she had saved the letter, and then said, “I recognized this," meaning the pen and ink cursive. She told me that she had a box of old letters that were in the drawer of an antique desk she had purchased some 50 years ago! Well, I got really excited, and she let me take them home to borrow and enjoy. The correspondence was a series of letters from 1839-1840 that had many vague references to what appeared to be a possible marriage proposal that had gone wrong. As my neighbor said, “he had plans, she had plans, but they weren’t the same plans!" I have since made typed transcriptions of the 11 letters with many of my own editorial musings and questions so she can revisit them without straining her eyes.  Mr. Hays writes with a very legible, but small hand at 1 mm x-height. Miss Elizabeth's cursive is also legible at 2 mm.
« Last Edit: December 04, 2023, 07:15:00 PM by Zivio »
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Offline Zivio

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Re: Letters from 1840!
« Reply #1 on: December 04, 2023, 07:32:21 PM »
PS:  My sister and I were in an email exchange regarding the letters, and she had been able to locate an historical article on the web about a particular school, unnamed in the correspondence, at which Miss Elizabeth had taken a teaching position! The correspondents are not people of any particular historical significance (although research continues,) but it was satisfying to find some contemporary corroboration of some things mentioned.

I was also able to find information about the paper shown with an embossed mark in my original post:

Stationery used on the May 15th 1840 letter from W.M. Hays was embossed with “D. & J. Ames Springfield” manufacturer mark. I wasn’t able to find any current company by that name, but did find this excerpt [Wikipedia]:

David Ames (colonel) (February 2, 1760 - August 6, 1847) served as first superintendent of the Springfield Armory in Springfield, Massachusetts, from 1794 to October 31, 1802. He supplied the American army with shovels and guns during the American Revolution and was commissioned in the militia. Upon completion of service at the Armory, he entered the paper-manufacturing business and by 1838 was proprietor of the most extensive paper manufacturing operation in the United States.

« Last Edit: December 04, 2023, 07:34:13 PM by Zivio »
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Offline Erica McPhee

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Re: Letters from 1840!
« Reply #2 on: December 04, 2023, 07:40:34 PM »
Absolute TREASURE!!!! How exciting and enthralling. Thank you for sharing with us! It’s hard to imagine but I hope some day in a hundred years someone will discover all the gorgeous calligraphed envelopes, cards, and letters people have sent me. And it will be just as exciting for them.  :-*
Warm Regards,
Erica
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