Virtual Unfolding Algorithm Opens a Letter Written in 1697

Due to high resolution and a virtual unfolding algorithm, a group of historians and scientists were able to read a letter from a legal professional from Lille, France that was written to his cousin in 1697.

via Scientific American

The scanning-and-unfolding technique could have a variety of applications, from revealing text on artifacts too delicate to touch to reverse engineering historical origami procedures. But the researchers behind the new study, published in Nature Communications, are most excited about using it to examine the art of “letterlocking.” This practice of intricately folding, tucking, cutting and sealing letters to make them function as their own tamper-proof containers was used widely in the era before mass-produced envelopes. Almost two decades ago it captured the interest of Jana Dambrogio, a researcher and conservator at Massachusetts Institute of Technology Libraries and a co-author of the new paper.

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