Come spend a couple hours with the Signed, Sealed & Undelivered Project team learning how to fold and secure correspondence using the same techniques found on some of the letters in a recently rediscovered 17th-century postal chest.
The workshop focuses on historical practices of letterlocking, asking how men and women folded and sealed their letters before (and after) the invention of the envelope. The session uses a hands-on approach to help participants make models of several key historical locking formats. Participants will use paper, wax, scissors, and seals (all materials provided) to reconstruct the different letterlocking techniques. They will open a version of each letter and then make their own version of each format, creating a set to take away, after discussing the relative security, innovation, and elegance of each model. We consider what kinds of evidence archival letters hold that remain hidden until a model is made, and we show participants how to make simulacra (a specific type of model fabricated in the presence of an original) of letters under their care, mimicking historical repairs on those models. The workshop also aims to demonstrate the benefits of collaboration between conservators and scholars in other disciplines such as literature and history and will show how this conservation-based practice is leading to new theoretical advances in the humanities.