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Subject: Letter books

Letter books

From: Mark Clarke <mark>
Date: Wednesday, November 10, 2004
Andres Felipe Robayo Franco <robayo_andres [at] hotmail__com> writes

>I have some letter books, those that were used in the first half of
>the 20 century. They have in the first part an index and the second
>empty pages of copying paper, I would like to know if somebody can
>explain how they were used, I haven't found any explanation on how
>letters were copied to them. Were used with carbon copy sheets? or
>other media? How? Thanks for any explanation,

My guess is that they have an index, then alternate pages of lined
and unlined paper, possibly numbered in pairs, possibly with the
lined pages perforated for tearing out. If this is so, then we used
to use these in England when I was a boy. You would write a letter
to someone on the lined pages, and use carbon paper to copy it. You
tear out the lined original, and hand it to a secretary who types it
up. You then keep the book, as a record of letters sent. I know
people who still use them for  hand-written laboratory notes. The
original goes in the report file, and the copy stays with the author
neatly bound for reference. Very convenient, very lo-tech, very
appropriate technology.

If alternate pages are missing, but the remaining pages are blank,
then the user clearly wasn't bothered about keeping copies. But you
could see what was written in raking light. (I suppose the old
rubbing a  pencil over it trick is not very museum-approved.)

I must be getting old--materials I used in my first office job are
now the subject of enquiry by museum professionals....

Dr. Mark Clarke
+32 3 257 2717
35 Vlaamsekunstlaan
B-2020 Antwerpen

                  Conservation DistList Instance 18:23
                 Distributed: Monday, November 22, 2004
                       Message Id: cdl-18-23-008
Received on Wednesday, 10 November, 2004

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