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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.


Regency era writing deskWriting deskWriting desk2

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Please enjoy this very through post on sending Regency mail. Ella

Shannon Donnelly's Fresh Ink

From an article published in The Beau Monde’s Quizzing Glass newsletter…

Posting a letter in Regency England was not as simple as walking down to the local post office and dropping off a stamped letter.  Prior to January 10, 1840, stamps did not exist.  Inked hand stamps applied to the letter indicated such information as whether it had been sent POSTPAID, UNPAID, PAID AT (city), PENNY POST, TOOLATE, 1dDUE or FREE, or what post office had collected the letter and what mileage it would cover.  The ‘letter box’ itself only came into use after 1794, and did not become compulsory until after 1811.  (The box consisted of a slit in the wall of the receiving house, which opened into a locked box.  Private boxes could be hired in some towns for as little as 1/2d per letter to 4d per letter.)

The letter itself differed from its modern form.  The…

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Here is a lovely post on quill pens.

The Regency Redingote

Despite the use of steel pens in some Regency novels I have read, and in some movies supposedly set in the Regency, the only type pen available to writers during that decade was the quill. A Mr. Wise did invent a steel pen in 1803, but they were extremely expensive, temperamental, and he sold very few of them over a very short period. Steel pens were not on the market during the Regency. It was not until 1830 that steel pens became readily available, when a Mr. Perry took out a patent for an affordable pen. In the years that followed, several other inventors took out patents for their own version of the steel pen. Over the course of the following decades, the quill pen was slowly supplanted by that of steel. But all that happened long after the Regency.

Though it is not certain when the feathers of birds…

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Oh, foolish Foolscap!

This is an excellent article on foolscap

The Regency Redingote

In great agitation, she took a sheet of foolscap from the desk drawer. Placing it on the blotter, she dipped her sharpened quill into the inkwell and began to write furiously …

Or, something like that. How many characters in how many Regency romances have written or received a missive on a sheet of foolscap? More than I can count. So, just what is foolscap?

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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.


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.


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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As we should all know, letters needed to have some method of being secured. That was the use of sealing wax. People have been using one form or another of sealing wax to secure letters and documents since the Middle Ages. Early sealing wax consisted of a combination of bees wax and an extract of the Larix decidua and evergreen whose common name is the European Larch. This yellowish-green extract was called Venice turpentine. The earliest sealing waxes were uncolored. Someone at some later time which has been lost to history, began using vermilion to color the wax red.

By the 16th Century the recipe for sealing wax had changed and it now consisted of different amounts turpentine, chalk or plaster, shellac, and some sort of coloring. Sealing wax started being used for seal wine bottles and jars of fruit preserves. Depending on the grade of the wax, bees wax was not always used. Although, for public documents, and, I would imagine, the wealthy used sealing wax containing bees wax. Some people perfumed their sealing wax using ambergris, musk, and other scents.

By 1866 sealing wax was available in white, blue, black, yellow, and green.

Sealing wax came the form of a stick (if the stick doesn’t have a wick one must make sure not to blacken the wax) or in granules melted down in a spoon. The impression should be made while the wax is still soft, but when the wax and the seal are at the same temperature.

Below are examples of sealing wax sets. The next post will be about seals.

Sealing wax set silverSealing Wax set

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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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