My dad deals in stamps, and postmarks, and the like (you’d be surprised how much some postmarks can be worth!) Every now and again, he gets hold of piles of old correspondence: letters, envelopes, postcards, personal documents. And he lets me take my pick of the items that aren’t worth much.
To him, the interest is in the stamps and the postmarks. He can track and trace them, and that’s where his stories are. Where the letters have been, how much the postage was, where and when they were sent.
To my brother, the stories are in the actual paper itself. That’s what he gets excited over. The embossed pictures and patterns, the scalloped edges, the watermarks.
But to me, the stories are in the words. The names and addresses, the contents of the letters. The lives lived, the news shared. Even the seemingly mundane business correspondence has a story to tell.
This latest batch are all Victorian, dated between 1870 and 1900. Some still have their sealing wax, melted and pressed on more than 100 years ago. And even a Victorian mourning envelope, edged in black, used to inform of a death.
I love imagining these people; what they looked like, how they lived, and how this particular correspondence may have changed their life forever.