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Blackmail!!

Monday, June 21, 2010

ETA: Got the images up. Yay!

Anyway, I've blogged about ads before which involve threats and criminIal implications, and I find them so intriguing that I'm cheating again and talking about more non-love related ads. 'Cause it's my blog. So there.

I learn your case will be argued in open court January 8. Do you know all your letters, used in the trial, will be published in the newspapers? They cannot be kept from the reporters. A.D.B.


Because I love you people, I actually went to the New York Times for this month to see if I could find any court cases which looked like they could be the one referred to here. And so I did - not one but two! Neither article mentions the date of the court case, however. One was a very salacious divorce case, in which the wife was accused of committing adultery at least 40 times. I cannot begin to tell you how complicated this case was, but the paper did quote from a few letters she had written to her lover and her husband. The other is the trial of Private John J. Corbett, who had the audacity to write love letters to the daughter of a millionaire while at his army base. Yes, he was actually court marshalled; I'm not sure what the official crime was. The letters "were produced" in court, but never published in the papers. But I'm not sure that having the letters produced in open court could be particularly harmful to anyone. For Corbett it was too late; the daughter didn't write him back (apparently she flirted with him by twirling her handkerchief or something), so it's not like she would be maligned - and did get married, to someone in her own "social sphere." This ad, to me, suggests that the letters were written by the plaintiff of the case and A.D.B. is suggesting that the plaintiff had better drop the suit, or else. So that actually disqualifies both these cases, since the letters are being produced as evidence against the writers, who have no control over the circumstances.
Oh well. The Corbett trial was certainly fun to read about, so I guess worth the time I wasted looking it up.

Will the sender of the letter signed "From one who feels an interest in your business," give evidence of sincerity by granting confidential interview to the party addressed? The subject matter is interesting and can probably be worked to mutual profit.


Well, that's pretty straightforward isn't it? I suppose it doesn't have to be blackmail - maybe the letter writer really is proposing some business proposal - an illegal one, I suspect - and the writer of the ad is just interested in finding out more; he does say "mutual profit." But, I don't know, it sounds awfully sketchy. I think it's more a case of: "Give me money or I'll tell everyone about the horrible thing you did and I have proof." Either way, I don't think whatever is going on here is above board. I mean, amongst other thing, why the need for anonymity and a personal? If nothing else, that suggests very bad things.


The letter written February 8, signed "True Friend," is received. Our answer is that we can take care of our own reputation without assistance from meddlesome parties.


And here's the exact opposite situation: I think there was an attempt at blackmail, or at the very least the letter writer was attempting to force the advertiser to be BFFs for some reason of his or her own. So the advertiser was like, "screw you, you can't hurt us." These ads, man, they are just little gems, aren't they?

Having trouble reading the ads? Click one to enlarge!

©2010 Pam Epstein

2 comments:

snoekbrown June 22, 2010 at 12:18 AM  

This is a great post! I don't mind your deviations from romance one bit, because you back all this up with such interesting research--and you do my favorite kind of research, digging in the archives of people's everyday lives. It's like being some sort of private eye unstuck from time (to borrow Billy Pilgram's expression). Very cool!

Pam June 22, 2010 at 8:02 AM  

Thanks! It is fun...though time consuming. I never answered your earlier question - that ad I emailed you is from the 1890s. I forget the exact year, I believe 1891. It's pretty amazing, isn't it??

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