On July 31, 1697, a French lawyer named Jacques Sennacques wrote an urgent message to remind a cousin in the Netherlands to send him a relative's death certificate. To prevent others from reading the confidential memo, the note was carefully folded, or "letter locked." The ancient technique, which transformed the letter into its own secure package, was prevalent before the invention of envelopes.
However, for reasons unknown, the note never reached the recipient and was instead tucked away in a postmaster's trunk, where it remained undetected for centuries. Now, a team of international researchers has deciphered the contents of the over 300-year-old meticulously sealed letter — without opening it!
Written in French and translated into English by the scientists, it said:
Dear sir & cousin,
It has been a few weeks since I wrote to you in order to ask you to have drawn up for me a legalized excerpt of the death of Sieur Daniel Le Pers, which took place in The Hague in the month of December 1695, without hearing from you. I am writing to you a second time in order to remind you of the pains that I took on your behalf. It is important to me to have this extract you will do me great pleasure to procure it for me to send me at the same time news of your health of all the family. I also pray that God maintains you in His Sainted graces & covers you with the blessings necessary to your salvation. Nothing more for the time being, except that I pray you to believe that I am complete, sir and cousin, your most humble & very obedient servant,
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