“Why Is a Raven … ?”

Catherine J. Golden

in Posting It

Published by University Press of Florida

Published in print October 2009 | ISBN: 9780813033792
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780813039336 | DOI:
“Why Is a Raven … ?”

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  • Literary Studies (19th Century)


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This chapter looks at an arguably unexpected outcome of postal reform — the production and consumption of materials that accompanied the Victorian revolution in letter writing. Demand grew for writing desks to keep stationery, sealing wax, and a host of postal products. The chapter uses as a focal point the massive Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of all Nations, 1851. Official Descriptive and Illustrated Catalogue, which describes and illustrates postal ephemera among other symbols of progress featured at the Great Exhibition of 1851. Functioning as material memories of the age to which they belong, pictorial envelopes, letter-writing manuals, and, in particular, writing desks evoke a former way of life, conveying information about social class and status, gender, and aesthetics, as well as about Victorian preoccupations with etiquette, privacy, and personal values, such as love and duty.

Keywords: Great Exhibition; postal reform; letter writing; stationery; postal products

Chapter.  14955 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Literary Studies (19th Century)

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