Sunday, February 15, 2009

What does this say?

I'd appreciate help in deciphering the inscription at the bottom of this letter of obligation. It reads "at ye Black spe__ in kingstreet." But what is the missing word? Clicking on the image gives a larger, clearer view.


Daniel said...

Could it be the Black Spread Eagle?

According to GoogleBooks, this was a sign on King Street in 1703. Just search for "Black Spread Eagle King Street" in the following record (without the quotation marks):

London Topographical Record
By London Topographical Society
Published by London Topographical Society, 1907
Item notes: v.4 (1907)
Original from Harvard University
Digitized Aug 1, 2007

Polly F. Kimmitt said...

2d March London: 27: Octob: 1704
I promise to pay to Mr. John. Winter or order [fower [perhaps four??] months after date one hundred pounds value real.
Thomas [Citkin?]
3791/3 [different hand, different pen]
3 Black spread egel in King streett [in yet another hand]
Polly Kimmitt

Emily Kadens said...

So it would be "spred egel"? Great! Thanks for your help. I'm working on a paper on the bankruptcy of the signator, Thomas Pitkin. I know that he had his shop in King's Street, so this must have been the exact location.

Dan Ernst said...

Great idea. I'm going to have to post some letters of Felix Frankfurter's.

Unknown said...

Though it does not apply in this case, for future reference, photographing illegible documents with infrared film can render faded ink visible and, even with digital photography, skillful use of Photoshop filters can raise submerged detail and help one decipher text. Credit: Susan Weld who about 15 years ago gave a fascinating talk at Harvard on how she upended long-running paleographical debates over 2,000 year old bamboo strips from the Han dynasty of China using these tools.