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Archive for the ‘Regency’ Category

Writing was such an important task that desks were specifically designed for the task. Heaven forefend one was reduced to writing at one’s toilet table or on something else. As with most everything else at the time, writing tables were bespoke. Although, I imagine many of the ones used at the time had been around for years.

Here are some that would have been used during the Regency.

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Regency era writing deskWriting deskWriting desk2

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Sorry I missed yesterday. I had a deadline.

Seals have been used on documents and letters for over a thousand years. They were used not only to seal letters, but as signatures on documents. There were two kinds of early seals, the engraved images of coats of arms that we’re used to seeing, but some were also portraits of an individual. Some seals were rings and fobs worn by a person and others, used mostly by governments, were stamps. Personal seals were often representative of the status of a person. Signet rings have been used since at least the 6th Century.

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As you might suppose, the original users of seals were monarchs and bishops, however, by the 13th Century ordinary freemen used seals. Some seals were made of wood, but if the owner could afford it, the seal would be made of metal.

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For a lot more detail on seals I refer you to the UK National Archives. http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/help-with-your-research/research-guides/seals/

Fob seal

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Your letter has been written, sanded, and now you need to send it off. But during the Regency there are no envelops. They are an 1845 invention. So you had to know how to properly fold a letter before sending it. The illustration below takes you through the steps.

Regency letter folding

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Last time we looked at actually writing the letter. So what did one do before sending the missive? The next step was sanding the letter. This was done by using “pounce”, a sand made from dried and ground cuttlefish bones. Pounce was sprinkled lightly over the paper to dry the ink. Once the ink was dried (about 10 seconds), the remaining pounce was poured back into the container.

Here are some examples of pounce pots. The first image is to give you an idea of the scale of a pounce pot. As you can see, they were quite small and could be as simple or elaborate as one wished.

Pounce pot 2

Pounce potPounce pot owl

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Letter writing occupied a large amount of time for both ladies and gentlemen. The goal was to be able to write a letter as if you were speaking to the person. It must also be interesting for the receiver to read. Naturally, letters tended to be long. Unless one was a peer, or had one handy, letters was expensive to receive as the recipient paid for said letter. In order to keep the costs down, letters were frequently crossed. Below is an example of a crossed letter.

 

Crossed letter 2

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When last we left this subject the prospect of divorce seemed pretty dismal. But there was an alternative. Like marriage, divorce in Scotland was much easier, as long as the conditions were met and women could sue for divorce on the basis of adultery. In order to apply for a divorce in Scotland the adultery had to occur in Scotland, and the guilty party had to have lived there for six weeks. Naturally, this was much easier to accomplish if the husband agreed to the divorce.
Use for divorce
 
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Proposal

During the Regency once a gentleman asked for a lady’s hand and she accepted, he was stuck. There was no way he could honorably jilt her without ruining her reputation. Why? Because if he broke the engagement, it was presumed that she was not of good character.

The lady, however, could break a betrothal for any number of reasons without ruining either of their reputations. The main reason used was that she discovered they would not suit. The only time jilting a gentleman could cause a scandal is if it happened very close to the wedding date. Still, that wouldn’t last long.

There have been some very funny scenes in books that revolve around gentlemen attempting to convince a lady to break a betrothal. Two that come immediately to mind are The Grand Sophy and The Bath Tangle, both by the great Georgette Heyer.

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