Sepia Saturday - Stamp Code

With the theme this week being somewhat medical I knew I had in my collection a postcard of a hospital and it was a perfect time to dig it out.

This is the Anna Jaques Hospital in Newburyport, Massachusetts. There have been many changes over the years to the "Anna Jaques" as the locals call it. The grand main building you see toward the right of the card is still there but the other buildings are gone replaced with newer medical facilities.

I was born in this hospital as well as most of my family. I had my tonsils taken out in this hospital and a few other minor procedures as well. The children's ward was on the second floor right side of that main building. I remember that vividly.

My mother worked here. My sister still works here as an RN. There are many connections to this place in my family.

But the real story of this card isn't the old buildings but its that upside down stamp on the back. Those always stand out to me. As children we were taught to place the stamp upside down when sending something to someone you love. And after much digging as to the origin of this tradition I found there are other meanings as well.

The message of love through stamps started in the Victorian era when young lovers had to be careful about what they wrote and clever in getting their message across to their sweethearts. Here's the code:

Upside down: I love you.
Sideways, head right: Love and kisses.
Sideways, head left: I'll never leave you.
Diagonal to the right: Marry me?
Diagonal to the left: Yes, I'll marry you.

The message is interesting. It reads:
Dear Mrs. Morris, I long to hear if you have gotten home. I miss hearing from you and the boys very much. No one thinks of Edward and he thinks it's dreadful. Write when you can to your friends. Mrs. A. E. Atkinson

It was addressed to Mrs. S. M. Morris 545 Trenton Ave, Camden, New Jersey and postmarked in Newburyport, Mass, May 17, 1908, at 2:00 PM.

There was a longing for one to hear from another written on a hospital postcard. Could this stamp be a secret message of love from an admirer?

As always you can find many more hospitable posts at the Sepia Saturday blog by clicking here.

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Comments

Jinksy said…
Wow! An allsingingalldancing movearound pages blog! Took me a while to find a comment box - so long in fact, I've forgotten what I was going to say! Hehehe! ♥
Wendy said…
Such an interesting post on so many levels. I especially enjoyed the history of messages through stamps. I knew of only the upside down one. Perhaps Mrs. Atkinson was the intermediary between Mrs. Morris and Edward. ??
Bob Scotney said…
The message through stamps is one I've never heard before. I was impressed by the look of the Anna Jaques building - much better than modern concrete monstrosities,
Postcardy said…
It is always interesting to wonder about the upside down and tilted stamps on postcards. These are part of "the language of stamps." There are postcards illustrating the different positions and their meanings, but there is not consistency in the meanings of the various positions.
Alan Burnett said…
I remember being told (when I was very very young) that sticking a stamp with the Queen's head on upside down was a treasonable crime for which you could be shot. And now I discover it really meant I was in love with the monarch. You learn so much from these fascinating Sepia Saturday posts.
Liz Stratton said…
Great stamp lore. I'm even more chagrined that the stamps were cut off the envelopes of the old letters. Love your Christmas theme!

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