turns of phrase

cross_writing024

what to collect? it seems i have just about everything. i guess where you hunt determines what you collect. i go to paper fairs, so i collect paper. i don’t collect bottles, but if i went to a bottle collector’s show i would certainly find something worth purchasing. actually, i do think i have a few interesting bottles sitting on my shelves. a couple weeks ago there was a post card show here in nyc. at almost every paper show there are some post card dealers. they have row after row of long boxes, often stacked on top of each other containing card after card. all categories by topic: flowers, state, country, etc. there is usually a row of chairs lined up for anyone to sit and rifle through the thousands of postcards. i am not one of these people. last year there was a huge show of lots of postcards. i always get the question, ‘what do you collect?’ i am embarrassed to answer. you would think i wouldn’t be so ashamed, but i am. i decided that i should make an extra effort. i discovered—after looking through cover after cover—that each envelope was always empty. since the value of the cover is in the stamp or cancelation, it makes no sense to save the contents. i am so disappointed by this. on one occasion i did find something special and it was the start of an ongoing collection. i call them x-y letters. in the 19th century, when paper was scarce, someone writing a letter was often short on paper or possibly conserving what they had. so after filling the page, they would turn it ninety degrees and continue writing. here are two examples of exactly that. amazing, right? i have about six examples of this. whenever i run across these i buy them. one example i misplaced/filed somewhere is an x-y-z letter. after writing both horizontally and vertically, the author turned the page 45 degrees and continued from there. truly remarkable. when i find it i will be sure to post it. i am continually amazed by the ways in which we communicate. enjoy.

cross_writing2025



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  1. [...] More at Amass. [...]

    Pingback by X-Y Letters « — 23/02/2010 LINK TO THIS COMMENT


  2. I’ve read that it was less so because of the cost of paper at the time, and more so due to the postage-rate per page sent in the mail.

    You have a lovely set here! Thanks for sharing.

    Comment by A. E. W. — 23/02/2010 LINK TO THIS COMMENT


  3. Amazing…. It would make a beautiful textile. I have never seen or heard of this before. Thanks for the post.

    Comment by Patrick — 26/02/2010 LINK TO THIS COMMENT


  4. This is my first time visiting your blog, and your finds are fascinating. I’d heard of these x-y letters before, but had forgotten them. They’re so beautiful…it makes me want to write one right now. First I’d have to work on my penmanship, though.

    Comment by eva / sycamore street press — 06/03/2010 LINK TO THIS COMMENT


  5. Thanks for posting these x-y letters. I find them lovely and interesting. Your blog and collection is amazing!

    Comment by art vandal — 09/10/2010 LINK TO THIS COMMENT

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