Letter Writing……..a Look Back! Nostalgia

the art of penmanship  When was the last time YOU received a letter, hand written, from a friend or family member?  I bet it’s been years!!
I used to have a friend (passed away at 82) who did write me in long hand.  My brother sends me a typed letter that he copies, but it is really being sent to his grand-daughter’s ex-husband in prison!  I don’t count that.  In fact I’ve asked him not to send it to me, but he forgets by the time he has written the next one!  lol

Penmanship used to be graded in school.  Wow!  I am really dating myself, aren’t I?  I still take pride in my long hand but it’s tough to slow down long enough to write!

penmanship  Before the nineteenth century ‘the post’  delivered mail slowly but surely across Europe.  You thQKZLIZ3Bwrote a letter and then folded the piece of paper to form an envelope.  It was then closed with ‘sealing wax’.  Postage was very expensive and took days or weeks to arrive.

The Pony Express:  The idea of a fast mail route to the Pacific coast was prompted largely by California’s new-found prominence and its rapidly growing population. After gold was discovered in 1848, thousands of prospectors, investors and businessmen made their way to California.  By 1850, California entered the Union as a free state. By 1860, the population had grown to 380,000. The demand for a faster way to get mail and other communications to and from this westernmost state became even greater as the American Civil War approached.

In the late 1850s, William Russell, Alexander Majors, and William Waddell were the three founders of the Pony Express and were already in the freighting and drayage business with more than 4000 men, 3500 wagons and some 40,000 oxen.

Russell and Waddell held government contracts for delivering army supplies to the western frontier, and Russell had a similar idea for contracts with the U.S. Government for fast mail delivery.

By utilizing a short route and using mounted riders rather than traditional stagecoaches, they proposed to establish a fast mail pony express riders service between St. Joseph, Missouri, and Sacramento, California, with letters delivered in 10 days, a duration many said was impossible. The initial price was set at $5 per 12 ounce (14 g), then $2.50, and by July 1861 to $1. The founders of the Pony Express hoped to win an exclusive government mail contract, but that did not come about.

pony express In 1860, there were about 157 Pony Express stations that were about 10 miles (16 km) apart along the Pony Express route. This was roughly the distance a horse could travel at a gallop before tiring. At each station stop the express rider would change to a fresh horse, taking only the mail pouch called a mochila (from the Spanish for pouch or backpack) with him.

And last, but not least, I thought you’d enjoy seeing this piece of art work I have by James Russell (last seen in Boise, Idaho).  What you are looking at is a ‘canvas’ of post-marked envelopes, (when postage was 3 cents) from two lovers.  Mr. Russell then painted his art work over it. letters in art It’s a stunning piece.
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One thought on “Letter Writing……..a Look Back! Nostalgia”

  1. A lovely but sad reminder that letters are going the way of the Pony Express, which I always thought was so exciting and romantic. I do occasionally write letters and always love getting one, but today it’s all email. My handwriting has degenerated as I’ve gotten older so it is hard to read, hence my need to type. Everyone tells me it’s beautiful but illegible! Thanks for this, Trish.

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