Writing Through the Decades: "The Gentleman's Letter Writer" (1870s)
It's the first Sunday of the month which means we're back with another installment of "Writing Through the Decades". This time we're taking a look at this incredibly slim volume "The Gentleman's Letter Writer" from publishers Frederick Warne & Co.
It was until the 1900s that publishers included dates on copy-write pages. When this guide was assembled that helpful practice had not yet been established. Interesting, right? That factoid and the use of "187-" as the form year for all of the letter samples, leads me to the conclusion that this otherwise date-less guide must be from around the mid-1870s or early 1880s. So it turns out that even without a date, you can sort of guesstimate!
This preface tells us that Frederick Warne & Co. were in the business of "Manuals", or guides for any number of topics. If that name sounds familiar, it should -- they also published our previously featured "The Ladies Letter Writer" (1954).
The front and back pages of this guide are a fascinating example of pre-20th Century advertising. These guides would have been affordable and fairly commonplace as letter writing was the communication method of the day, so it makes sense that you'd make sure to have a nice sampling of your available library for the informed browser.
"Invitation to a Gentleman to Row in a Boat" & Other Suggestions
Again, this is one of the slimmest volumes in the Flea Market Love Letters collection yet. Clocking in under one hundred pages, there are guide letters for any occasion an 1870s Gentleman might be called upon to write. From the hiring of Valet's to the declining of a lady's romantic interests.
It's fantastic that we can still find these letter guides today. They serve as tools to imagining the greater picture of letter writing over the decades. And they make absolutely stunning shelf art for letter collectors!
Fond of Letters?
You're in the right place then! Check out the Handwritten Letter Appreciation Society for all things letter appreciation. I am proudly a card-carrying member of the society since November 2020. Interested in letter writing in 2021 and want to deploy some of Humphrey's advice? Join "Penpalooza" a large international collective of letter writers. Already letter writing and want a cool coffee mug? Check out our Write More Letters Project merchandise -- 100% of the proceeds go to charity.
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