Quote and Credit

Quote and Credit


Cross Written Correspondence Dull Tool Dim Bulb Greatest Hits


A 19th Century "cross written" letter. Cross writing was a technique to save paper when paper was scarce. Every scrap mattered at one time (this is dated 1823) so the writer, upon reaching the end of the page, would turn the paper 90 degrees and add a second layer of text. Once it becomes familiar, the mind adapts easily and cross written letters are surprisingly legible. Charles Darwin famously used the technique.

I have a cold, and the bandwidth is so clogged with "stay at home" shoppers, I didn't want to sit here and upload images. This is a repost from a few years ago.

Original Post from Dull Tool Dim Bulb the Daily Blog

Early 19th Century Cross Writing letter, Collection Jim Linderman


  1. I really like this. I do a lot of typographic design and wonder, now, if I could convince a client to let me layout a book like this (I like the frugality aspect, tho I'm not sure I could convince...) I do collect handwriting and have never come across anything like this before. Thanks for posting!

  2. Love it! I found this image on your blog by doing a search. I've read that this was how letters were written during Jane Austen's time. But when they adapt one of Austen's novels to a movie or TV series, the props they use for the letters (and there is much letter-writing going on among Austen's characters!) are never cross written! I can understand a wealthy character like Mr. Darcy having the pages of stationery to write to Elizabeth. But surely almost all the other characters had to conserve their paper, write all the way to the edges, and cross write.