13 Mar. 2021. We do not often report on newly published material, but recent press reports drew our attention to an article published on 2nd March 2021 in the journal ‘Nature Communications’ concerning research by academic scientists from a number of universities working in the ‘Unlocking history research group’.

Their project was to study unopened sealed letters from the 17th Century using X-ray technology to create a 3D image and then applying computational flattening algorithms to the scans. This enabled them to unfold the letters virtually without opening them, and it has allowed study of the techniques by which the letters were sealed using folds and tucks.

We are drawing this research, which was published well outside the normal range for philatelic articles, to the attention of our readers as it might well be of interest to postal historians of the pre-philatelic period. Looking at the list of researchers involved in this study, it does not appear that postal historians have been consulted during the project but they are, of course, very familiar with the type of sealed letters that this project was looking at.

The article was published with open access and can be read at: