Letter from the Renaissance era sealed for centuries, practically unfolded and read for the first time

Over 600 years ago, someone intricately folded, sealed, and mailed a letter that was never delivered. Now, scientists have digitally “displayed” this and other similarly blocked letters found in a 17th-century trunk in The Hague, using X-rays.

For centuries before the invention of sealed envelopes, sensitive correspondence was protected from prying eyes by complex folding techniques called “letter blocking”, which transformed a letter into its own secure envelope.

However, the closed letters that survive to the present are fragile and can only be physically opened by cutting them into pieces.


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