Signed, Sealed, & Undelivered
February 17, 2020 4:19 AM   Subscribe

In 1926, a seventeenth-century trunk of letters was bequeathed to the Dutch postal museum in The Hague, Netherlands. The trunk belonged to perhaps the most active postmasters and post-mistresses of the day, Simon and Marie de Brienne, a couple at the heart of the European communication networks. The chest contains an extraordinary archive: 2600 "locked" letters sent from all over Europe to this axis of communication, none of which were ever delivered and many of which have never been opened.
posted by Lezzles (15 comments total) 42 users marked this as a favorite
 
Oh wow, this is fascinating stuff. Thank you for sharing it with us.
posted by Fizz at 4:38 AM on February 17 [1 favorite]


Previously on MetaFilter (though not a double).
posted by verstegan at 5:48 AM on February 17 [1 favorite]


And here I thought all my 17th C Dutch pen pals had ghosted me....
posted by GenjiandProust at 6:06 AM on February 17 [10 favorites]


Who else immediately thought of Moist von Lipwig?
posted by Halloween Jack at 6:19 AM on February 17 [17 favorites]


I’m feeling slightly Bartlebyed.
posted by Segundus at 6:30 AM on February 17 [3 favorites]


Previously on MetaFilter (though not a double).

Not an exact double, link-wise, but the previous post links to brienne.org, which then links to the exhibit as posted here. Still, five years is plenty for the new statute of limitations.
posted by zamboni at 6:45 AM on February 17


Especially if any of the mods are communicating by antique Dutch post. The double deletion notice may never arrive.
posted by GenjiandProust at 6:49 AM on February 17 [14 favorites]


none of which were ever delivered

A little unfair to the Briennes. Some of the letters are marked niet hebben: refused. Mail was COD at this point, and if you didn't pay up, you didn't get your letter. They weren't just tossing mail in a box to ignore it.

Why were some letters not delivered?
1: Misdirected
2: No address
3: Absent
4: Refused
posted by zamboni at 6:56 AM on February 17 [3 favorites]


Previously on MetaFilter (though not a double).

Ooops, I hadn't seen the older post.
posted by Lezzles at 6:56 AM on February 17


It appears that a few people have been studying these letters for the past few years and all these discoveries just "launched" yesterday.
posted by vacapinta at 7:05 AM on February 17 [2 favorites]


#thurnundtaxis
posted by doctornemo at 9:18 AM on February 17 [5 favorites]


Thanks Lezzles, this was a nice example of how to do a "virtual exhibit."

I'm fascinated by the section on letterlocking, which links to these great videos on YouTube.
posted by cosmologinaut at 12:31 PM on February 17


Sounds like the dude was a spy master.
Any evidence the seals were steamed open...nice post and good history.
posted by clavdivs at 12:49 PM on February 17 [1 favorite]


In my comment on the previous post, I wrote that "I’d love to read about this in a lot more detail: the paper, the ink, the handwriting, the ‘letterlocking’ the contents of the letters & the language used, how things were addressed & delivered, etc., etc." which is exactly what this new exhibit has delivered on: many thanks for the link, Lezzles!
posted by misteraitch at 1:16 PM on February 17 [1 favorite]


I wandered through this exhibit over the last couple of days. Really nice - thanks for posting.
posted by genuinely curious at 12:52 AM on February 18 [1 favorite]


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