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Treasure trunk

Lost letters are valuable historical find

Trunk letters
This forget-me-not was among 2,600 letters recently discovered in the Netherlands. Photo: Museum voor Communicate.

Mail sometimes makes history, even when it isn’t delivered.

A collection of perfectly preserved letters from the 17th century was recently discovered inside an old trunk in the Netherlands.

The chest contained 2,600 letters — 600 of them unopened — written between 1680 and 1706, a time of war and political upheaval in Europe.

Written in French, Spanish, Dutch and Latin, the messages represent a diverse group of figures from different social classes and professions.

The letters provide a valuable look into the period and are being examined by an international team of academics, including scholars from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Yale University.

“These are the kinds of people whose records frequently don’t survive, so this is a fantastic opportunity to hear new historical voices,” historian Daniel Starza Smith told The Guardian newspaper.

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