from the Newsletter of the Welsh Philatelic Society, no.107 - January 2008


PICTORIAL LETTER SHEETS


Pictorial writing paper enjoyed immense popularity during the 1850s, serving the same purpose as picture postcards do today. They consisted of a double sheet, either quarto or octavo size, with a woodcut or lithograph of a local scene and plenty of space left for writing. They were sold by stationers and print shops, and were often accompanied by specially prlnted, decorated envelopes. The principal publishers were Newman & Co of Watling Street, London, although many were produced by local printers.

Despite their wide availability, very few were used for their intended purpose of letter-writing. Instead, they were purchased as keepsakes or as a memento of a visit to a seaside resort or to a topical event such as the opening of the Britannia Railway Bridge in 1850.

lettersheets3


Fashionable hotels would also have provided pictorial writing paper for their guests showing a fine engraved view of the hotel, such as the example below of the Penrhyn Arms, Bangor.

lettersheets1


Most examples that survive today are, therefore, blank and unfolded, and are much sought after by collectors. Welsh ones are equally popular and occasionally turn up in the Society auctions.

lettersheets2

An example of a used letter sheet depicting a Welsh market scene,
written on 6 July 1850 by a holidaymaker in Beaumaris

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