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.
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.
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.
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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