Modelled after the Museum voor Communicatie's Brienne Collection, DB 41 with permission.
This letter-packet contains three letters: one which was forwarded, one which was to be forwarded, and one which described the other two. The three letters were placed in a letter-wrapper and locked shut.
In 1926, a seventeenth-century trunk of letters was given to the Museum voor Communicatie in The Hague, then as now the centre of government, politics, and trade in The Netherlands. The trunk belonged to some of the most active postmasters of the day, Simon de Brienne and Marie Germain, a couple at the heart of 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. In the seventeenth century, the recipient also paid postal and delivery charges. But if the addressee was deceased, absent, or uninterested, no fees could be collected. Postmasters usually destroyed such “dead letters”, but the Briennes preserved them, hoping that someone would retrieve the letters—and pay the postage. Hence the nickname for the trunk: “the piggy bank” (spaarpotje). The trunk freezes a moment in history, allowing us to glimpse the early modern world as it went about its daily business. The letters are uncensored, unedited, and 600 of them even remain unopened. The archive itself has remained virtually untouched by historians until it was recently rediscovered. Our international and interdisciplinary team of researchers has now begun a process of preservation, digitization, transcription, editing, and identification of letterlocking categories and formats that will reveal its secrets for the first time—even, we hope, those of the unopened letters.
The research team comprises Rebekah Ahrendt, Associate Professor, Department of Media and Cultural Studies, Utrecht University; Nadine Akkerman, lecturer in English at Leiden University; Jana Dambrogio, the Thomas F. Peterson (1957) Conservator at MIT Libraries and co-general editor of Letterlocking.org and Dictionary of Letterlocking (DoLL); David van der Linden, the NWO Veni Fellow and Lecturer in History at the University of Groningen; Daniel Starza Smith, Lecturer in Early Modern English Literature (1500–1700), King’s College London, England, UK and co-general editor of Letterlocking.org and Dictionary of Letterlocking (DoLL); and Koos Havelaar, curator of postal history at the Museum voor Communicatie in The Hague.
Produced by MIT Video Productions (MVP). Directed by Jana Dambrogio, Thomas F. Peterson (1957) Conservator, MIT Libraries and co-general editor of Letterlocking.org and Dictionary of Letterlocking (DoLL). Translated and demonstrated by Laura Bergemann, MIT undergraduate student.
Funded by the Seaver Institute.
Special thanks to Barry Pugatch and Eric, MVP staff; Ayako Letizia, MIT Libraries Conservation Associate; Emily Hishta Cohen, Mary Uthuppuru and Brien Beidler book conservators in private practice and associate editors of Letterlocking.org and Dictionary of Letterlocking (DoLL); and Dr Daniel Starza Smith Lecturer in Early Modern English Literature (1500–1700), Department of English, King's College London, UK. and co-general editor of Letterlocking.org and Dictionary of Letterlocking (DoLL).
Cite as: Jana Dambrogio and Laura Bergemann, et al. ‘Letterlocking: Forwarded mail: Family correspondence...in a letter-packet, The Netherlands (1706)’, Letterlocking Instructional Videos. Filmed: November 2017. Duration: 6:44. Posted: November 2017. Video URL: [Use URL below]. Date accessed: [Date].
Copyright 2016. Jana Dambrogio, Daniel Starza Smith and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (M.I.T). All rights reserved. The following copyrighted material is made available under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC 4.0) License https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/. Contact the M.I.T. Technology Licensing Office for any other licensing inquiries.
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The URL for this video:http://bit.ly/briennedb41