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  • Dimensions of letter?

    Hullo! New user and first post in the forum

    Does anyone know the actual dimensions of the From Hell letter? Or any of its counterparts
    (I got curious about this after seeing replicas of the letter on Etsy and wondered how accurate they could possibly be... I have no intention of buying one, mind you)

    I've looked on a few sites for this, and tried to look through this forum to see if the question has already been asked/answered, and thus far I've not seen any information. Wherever I've looked the focus always seems to fall on the handwriting, the spelling and grammar, or the "kidne" itself. I know that it's possible to kind of guess based on a few different factors, but yeah. Like, looking at it I'd assume a sort of A6 size, but I am also assuming that in 1888 paper sizes weren't standardised like they are now.

    I know the original is missing, and that we only have the copies to go by, so if we don't already have this information then I wouldn't be surprised if it's unobtainable.

    I am very sorry if this question has already been asked, or if the answer is easily obtainable and I've just failed to see it. If so, please feel free to delete

    Herm

  • #2
    Welcome to the Mad House.

    The letter was prolly ~ 5''x8".
    My name is Dave. You cannot reach me through Debs email account

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    • #3
      Thank you for the welcome! And the reply!

      So that's approximately A5 size, which now that I think about it is actually what I meant, not A6. Oops.

      But this is the thing, that's still a guesstimate (hate that word, but it applies) and I was interested to know if we *know* its dimensions for certain.

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      • #4
        Run before it's too lat...... argh........

        I'm sure that the letter was from Henry ..... oops,Jack the Ripper.

        Can't remember seeing the size being mentioned in the 17 odd,decidedly odd years,that I've been involved online.

        Any particular reason that you ask?
        My name is Dave. You cannot reach me through Debs email account

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        • #5
          Not especially.

          Like I said I've seen replicas being made online wherein I'm sure they've just scaled it to fit whatever size they please, and it had me wondering how close to accurate that'd be.

          But also, at least for me, it would have an impact on my perception of the handwriting and accompanying smudges. I know there's been extensive analysis of this by people who know what they're looking at, and I also know that handwriting analysis isn't even an accepted type of evidence anymore, but even so; it'd satisfy a curiosity to know.

          A simplistic, and massively generalising, way to explain what I mean (because I can't seem to find the words to adequately explain the larger point) is that I've always been of the understanding that writing larger is indicative of a more outgoing person, and smaller of a more introverted person. Therefore if the letter was smaller it'd have made the word formation really quite cramped and introverted, even for its apparently boastful and taunting subject matter.
          There's more to my point than this, but like I said I can't find the words.

          It also characterises things like the consistency of the ink (because of how quickly it runs thin on the page before re-dipping the pen) and quite what could have caused the blotches and smudges (i.e.: though there's nothing to be gained from it being the case or not, as fingerprint analysis is out of the question, the blotch over "from" on the second line looks like it could be a thumb mark, depending on the size).

          Also, I've an interest in prop-making in general, and have in the last few months looked at recreating things like letters of marque from the Golden Age of Piracy, and so my curiosity about this kind of comes from there, too. Were I ever to decide to make my own replica, I'd like to know I was being as accurate as possible.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by hermholland View Post
            Thank you for the welcome! And the reply!

            So that's approximately A5 size, which now that I think about it is actually what I meant, not A6. Oops.

            But this is the thing, that's still a guesstimate (hate that word, but it applies) and I was interested to know if we *know* its dimensions for certain.
            I think the original was A5 (5 7/8” x 8 1/4”)

            Here’s my reasoning.

            The best photograph can be found in Evans & Skinner’s Letters From Hell, which is useful, because it shows the edges of the paper. The sheet measures 6 1/4” x 8 13/16”. Of course, we don’t know (or at least I don’t know) if the surviving contemporary photo is to scale, but if you do the math, these dimensions are the same ratio as A5, and the writing looks slightly larger than what one would normally expect. Thus, I think A5 is a good bet.

            There are also three sets of double pushpin marks at the top that might be a clue, of sorts, but I suspect these are from the surviving photo and not the original.

            Someone should know.

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            • #7
              Get Smart: Missed it by that much - YouTube
              My name is Dave. You cannot reach me through Debs email account

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              • #8
                Wonder what size London Hospital used?

                Without a letterhead of course.
                My name is Dave. You cannot reach me through Debs email account

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                • #9
                  Click image for larger version

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                  • #10
                    So yeah all I've had to go by before now are the scans you can find on websites like this (or the resource website for the JtR Tour I did recently) which don't show much more than simply the text (although now that I look back on the image from the latter, I can see those drawing pin marks mentioned). And, as you've both said, it seems most likely that A5-ish would fit what you'd expect from those.

                    I'd not known about the Evans & Skinner images, so thank you both for the info and pictures, respectively. It certainly does help support that.

                    If we presume that what those images are mounted on is A5, it looks like width-wise they're the same, though maybe a little shorter height-wise. But functionally, yeah, A5 pretty much answers my question.

                    Thank you both; considering there doesn't seem to be measurements in any of the places I'd looked, I wasn't really expecting to get that much of a satisfactory response. I know it's still all assuming that the photographs of the letter are the same size as the actual letter, but it has certainly satisfied my interest.

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                    • #11
                      Hmmm, it should be possible to take measurements of the width and height from the photos, and use those to work out the viewing angle, and then calculate the width to height ratio of the paper. While that won't give the measurements in inches or centimeters, knowing the ratio might help narrow down the possibilities? Unless, of course, all, or at least most, paper is cut to similar ratios.

                      Sigh, just did a quick search, and A3 and A4, are both 1:1.41. Without doing any corrections to the image (and just averaging the width of the top and bottom), the image of the paper looks to have a ratio of about 1:1.24, which is oddly close to "letter" paper in the States (which has a ratio of 1:1.29, measuring 8.5" x 11", it's a bit shorter and a bit wider than A4 paper). But, distortions due to the camera angle could easily account for that as the height in the image would be shorter than in reality, and it wouldn't take much (if the "realigned" image simply increased the height by 30 pixels, the ratio becomes 1.41, using the average of the top and bottom width to get a reasonable estimate of the width).

                      Here's what I found with a quick 2 minute search for paper sizes:
                      Letter US only 216 x 279 mm
                      A4 210 x 297 mm
                      A3 297 x 420 mm
                      and with a bit more I found this page:
                      https://unsharpen.com/paper-sizes/
                      that includes a lot more (A0-A10, and B0-B10 and C0-C10), and yes, all are 1:1.41.

                      there's a couple of odd ones (some put out by Moleskine, which is a relatively new company but they're reproducing classic "journals", and they end up with some odd h:w ratios (at the end), with most being wider than expected (or shorter than expected if you prefer):
                      Moleskine Extra Small: 6.5 x 10.5 cm / 2.5 x 4.3 inches 1.615385
                      Moleskine Pocket: 9 x 14 cm / 3.5 x 5.5 inches 1.555556
                      Moleskine Large: 13 x 21 cm / 5.1 x 8.4 inches 1.615385
                      Moleskine Extra Large: 19 x 25 cm / 7.5 x 9.8 inches 1.315789
                      Moleskine A4: 21 x 30 cm / 8.3 x 11.7 inches 1.428571
                      And a couple of the ones at the very end differ from 1:41 as well:
                      Pad 8 7.4 x 21 cm / 3 x 8.3 inches 2.837838
                      Pad 10 5.2 x 7.5 cm / 2 x 3 inches 1.442308
                      Pad 11 (A7): 7.4 x 10.5 cm / 2.9 x 4.1 inches 1.418919
                      Pad 12 8.5 x 12 cm / 3.4 x 4.7 inches 1.411765
                      Pad 13 (A6): 10.5 x 14.8 cm / 4.1 x 5.8 inches 1.409524
                      Pad 16 (A5): 14.8 x 21 cm / 5.8 x 8.3 inches 1.418919
                      Pad 18 (A4): 21 x 29.7 cm / 8.3 x 11.7 inches 1.414286
                      Pad 19 (A4+): 21 x 31.8 cm / 8.3 x 12.5 inches 1.514286
                      Pad 38 (A3+): 42 x 31.8 cm / 16.5 x 12.5 inches 1.320755
                      but most are based upon A something.

                      Now, what I sadly have not been able to find, is what year these became the bog standard? Obviously, if paper was cut to more variable dimensions in 1888, these are minutes I can never get back.

                      And even worse, trying to correct "an image of an image", is not worth the effort as it would only take a slight error to mess things up because you have to correct for two independent camera angles (both the original camera, and the one taking the photo of that image). So, from what we have to work with, we won't be able to even determine what the actual ratio was, and whether or not it corresponds to anything here. The best one could do would be to get direct measurements from the original images of the letter. At least then there's only one camera angle to correct for.

                      If we could do that, though, even if the above standards don't apply, there might be some useful information in those dimensions.

                      - Jeff

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                      • #12
                        Click image for larger version

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                        • #13
                          Although slightly off topic, I've often thought the author of From Hell was either drunk or trying to disguise their hand writing, or both. I say this because there seems to be two different styles. Parts of the letter are child-like and barely legible, yet there is a section at the end - 'if you only wait a while longer', especially the word 'only' that look totally at odds with the rest of the letter. 'Only' looks like it belongs to a much neater hand than the bulk of the letter. Also, even in the scruffy bits, there is some much more accomplished looking writing - like the joined up 'o's in took from the second sentence, also the s and i of signed and c of catch. If I had to guess I would say the author's regular day to day hand was along the lines of 'only'

                          I should caveat this with the fact that I don't know anything about hand writing analysis.

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                          • #14
                            Hi Jeff - 1:1.141 is the exact ratio I got for the high definition reproduction (which shows the edges of the paper) in Evans/Skinner as mentioned in post #6. I don’t think this can be a coincidence.

                            As you note, A4 and A6 have the same ratio, but to me, either would make the writing unnaturally large or small, so I opt for A5. B sizes are rather strange, though not impossible, and the link you posted states that C sizes are used to make envelopes, which makes that possibility unlikely, I would think.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by hermholland View Post
                              Hullo! New user and first post in the forum

                              Does anyone know the actual dimensions of the From Hell letter? Or any of its counterparts
                              (I got curious about this after seeing replicas of the letter on Etsy and wondered how accurate they could possibly be... I have no intention of buying one, mind you)

                              I've looked on a few sites for this, and tried to look through this forum to see if the question has already been asked/answered, and thus far I've not seen any information. Wherever I've looked the focus always seems to fall on the handwriting, the spelling and grammar, or the "kidne" itself. I know that it's possible to kind of guess based on a few different factors, but yeah. Like, looking at it I'd assume a sort of A6 size, but I am also assuming that in 1888 paper sizes weren't standardised like they are now.

                              I know the original is missing, and that we only have the copies to go by, so if we don't already have this information then I wouldn't be surprised if it's unobtainable.

                              I am very sorry if this question has already been asked, or if the answer is easily obtainable and I've just failed to see it. If so, please feel free to delete

                              Herm
                              Now see what you have started!

                              This will go on for thirty pages.




                              My name is Dave. You cannot reach me through Debs email account

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