The term “snail mail” takes on a whole new meaning with a recent postal service incident in France. One woman recently received a letter posted over a century ago – 138 years to be exact. According to the Inquisitor, a piece of mail was sent on January 27, 1877 from Sains-du-Nord in Northern France and arrived in mid-June 2015 in Trélon, France. Here’s the real kicker – the letter only had to travel a mere six miles to make its destination, and it was apparently marked “Ship highspeed.” Somehow, it got lost in the chaos of letters at the time, leading to this phenomenal story.
Thérèse Pailla, 80 years old, is the great-granddaughter of the original recipient and received the letter from a postal worker earlier this month. Both the postal worker and Pailla were astounded by the letter’s arrival. Still completely legible, the message referred to shipping instructions for an order of yarn from Pailla’s great-grandfather’s spinning mill.
Not only was Pailla amazed upon receiving the letter, but she was also glad the piece of mail was able to shed some light on her family history. According to La Voix du Nord, Pailla knows her family lineage but not many details about her ancestors. Her great-grandfather died in 1897, and her father died when she was only 14 years old. The letter gave her some insight into her heritage, making this long-lost gift even more precious.
The real question is, how did a letter get lost in the mail for so long? And, how did it get returned to Pailla? The French postal service, La Poste, is looking into the incident. It’s not yet known how the letter went astray in the first place, but mail can sometimes get lost when post office lockers are forgotten or cleaned. Finding mail after years of being lost is not entirely unusual, but discovering a letter from 138 years is truly unique.
According to Mirror, the letter was apparently bought at an auction, and the collector recently sent it off in the mail, allowing it to finally reach its intended destination. The letter was not able to pass through La Poste’s modern machines because, as you could imagine, the shipping and stamp requirements were much different 138 years ago. The staff at La Poste did some searching, and one postman recognized the last name. He promptly hand-delivered the letter to Pailla, who finally has this interesting piece of history.
What do I do about missing mail?
While a 138-year-old letter is quite a remarkable tale, missing mail is a hassle for greeting-card gift givers and letter writers. For those who have sent a message through the postal service, you want to make sure your thoughtful words reach the recipients. For example, birthday cards and holiday cards are most special when they arrive on the appropriate day. If you suspect your mail has been lost, whether you’re sending it or receiving it, contact your local post office or file a claim online. With the personalized service provided with a post office, you can speak to a dedicated staff member about finding your lost mail.
The 138-year-old letter is an incredible story about post office dedication and the great significance of handwritten letters. Make history today by sending greeting cards to your loved ones.