1873: Letter from Luebeck (Germany) to Palermo

  • Dear all,

    a friend of mine showed me the attached letter:

    November 14th, 1873: Letter from Luebeck (Germany) to Palermo (arrival November 20th 1873), vertical slit and discolored paper (disinfection ?).


    Unfortunately I could not help him out. Does anybody can help out regarding the following questions:

    1. Where did the disinfection took place?
    2. Was there any special epedimic as reason for an disinfection at this specific time?

    Thanks in advance,


  • Dear Bjoern,

    Thank you for showing this interesting letter! In my opinion the slit was done for disinfection but the lack of a cachet from the quarantine station makes it difficult to locate the place of disinfection - That's very pity.

    As far as I could find out there were no important epidemics at this time in Europe. The New York Times mentioned Cholera in Hungary in 1873. The Encyclopedia of Plague and Pestilence listed smallpox in Europe from 1870/75, which raged in Italy 1870/72. This does not really helps. All we can say is that the letter was not disinfected in Germany and that slitting mail was typically for Italy.

    Maybe someone else can contribute more information.

    Yours sincerely,