Credit for all images: Signed, Sealed & Undelivered Team, 2015/ Courtesy of the Museum voor Communicatie, The Hague.

An appeal for help from a desperate woman has been opened
and read more than 300 years after the man it was sent to refused to accept
delivery – not surprisingly, since the wealthy merchant in The Hague must have
suspected it contained the unwelcome news that he was about to become a father.

That’s how The
begins its story about what historians are learning from a 17th-century postmaster’s
trunk containing 2,600 undelivered letters. The letters
were sent from France, Spain and the Spanish Netherlands

between 1689 and 1706, and they were written
by all kinds of people – aristocrats, spies, peasants. They were never
delivered because their recipients either couldn’t be found or wouldn’t pay the
postage costs.

Now a team of international experts is using x-ray technology to … basically read other people’s mail. But it’s totally OK! Cus it’s for history. 


There has to be some good 17th century gossip buried in these letters. -Emily


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