I received this curious post-script from my pen pal Alan. If you're having trouble reading it, here is the transcription:
"Thinking of log and log graph paper got me thinking. Have you ever come across 'crossed' letters? In the days before adhesive stamps and the Penny Post in 1841, letters were charged by the sheet rather than by weight. To save money some people developed really tiny handwriting but others used to fit more on the page by 'crossing' their letters, writing across the lines at 90°. I read a few of these while researching for my book on Charles Clark and they are not as impossible to read as they might at first appear. Still, however expensive the mail gets, I do not think the practice will return. At least, I hope not! -Alan"
In truth, it's not that difficult to read, as he says. I think your brain gets used to it after a while. Alan's letter sent me to the Internet to look for more historic examples. I'd seen letters of the tiniest of tiny scripts, but never a crossed letter.Delightedly, in my search, I discovered this write up by Mary Robinette Kowal on the Lettermo site about letter writing in the Regency where she specifically mentions crossed letters. Facsinating! What's the weirdest letter you've ever had to decipher? Tell us about it in the comments.