Letterlocking Resources





1. The act of folding and securing an epistolary writing substrate (such as papyrus, parchment, or paper) to function as its own envelope or sending device.

As distinct from the use of a wrapper or gummed envelope, and from origami, the art of paper folding.

2. A sub-category of a 10,000-year information security tradition, pertaining to epistolary materials.  

3. The discipline which studies the materially engineered security and privacy of letters, both as a technology and a historically evolving tradition. 

Cite as: Jana Dambrogio, Daniel Starza Smith, et al. 2016. Dictionary of Letterlocking (DoLL). Last updated: 1 November 2016.Date accessed: [Date]. Abbreviated on this page: (DoLL 2016) 

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Additional resources: Daniel Starza Smith's The Material Features of Early Modern Letters: A Reader's Guide on the Bess of Hardwick's Letter's website.

Letterlocking article by Jana Dambrogio Historical Letterlocking

Assumed model versions of various letterlocked documents from the 15th to the 20th centuries.

The examination of well-preserved original manuscripts helps us to identify and "reverse-engineer" opened historic letters and documents to understand how they once became their own sending devices. Access to the originals is a requisite for this study. The conservation of original manuscripts—maintaining their folds, cut-off corners, slits, paper fragments, etc., —is vital to understanding the meaning behind the words.