Friday, July 15, 2011

Favorite French Things Friday - French Love Letters and Calligraphy

What do you think of when you hear the word "Art?" 

Do you think of paintings, sculpture and music?

I think of these but I have found another art form that, to me, is inspiring.

Have you ever looked at the artistic talent in the penmanship in Antique French Letters? It is calligraphy in it's original form.

The picture above is from the lovely blog "Trouvais." 
Trish at Trouvais framed nine of her favorite antique French letters and hung them
above a console in her master bedroom. She used stock
frames and replaced the glass with archival glass. I think the whole grouping is beautiful. I love that the letters are prominently displayed for all to enjoy and not "stuck" in a drawer, hidden away.

This past April I purchased a few beautifully scripted antique letters at a Brocante in Provence.

Antique French Letters, Letter Wax and Seal, and antique key from Provence.

Below is one of the letters in the photo above. It's dated 19 Mai (May)1865. When I purchased it, it contained small "invoices" folded inside and is apparently an account statement of sorts. I love the fluid and elaborate writing. It's beautiful.

This picture is of the reverse side of the letter.  The letter was written and folded to form an envelope of sorts.  The tear on the top middle portion of the letter is from the breaking of the wax seal that would have secured the "envelope."  After folding the paper, the author would seal the letter with a custom wax seal stamp that in some instances bore the family crest or the sender’s initials.   The address on the outside remained simple, directing the bearer of the letter to the city or town, street, and the name of the receiver. The stamp on the letter above reads "French Empire."

(photo from

Another beautifully scripted French letter dated 1865.  This letter is written on a beautiful blue/grey paper.

Can you imagine writing this letter with a quill pen? Chances are the author of these letters had a quill pen and a bottle of ink on his table when he wrote this.

I looked up info on writing letters in this time period and found that in 1803
a metal pen point had been patented but was not widely being produced. Steel nibs came into wide use in the 1830's. By the 1850's quill pen usage was fading but still common.

Au revoir, Mitty


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