Chain Letter

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Examples mentioned in the press include the " Liquid Assets Club " [ ] which may have actually been used to exchange liquor, as was possibly the " Send-a-Pint " letter and the " Drop Dead Club " shoot the first person on the list. I have collected several complete texts of early parodies, including some scatological examples [ ]. The familiar "wife exchange" [ ] was very common in the 's, and I recently found a bare bones example from [ ] using newspapers. These wife exchange letters illustrate how punch lines can be topped successively.

Then a example introduces the quip that one man broke the chain and got his own wife back. Though illogical, this disappointing result was the final punch line up into the early 's. A mimeographed letter notes in a postscript that at the funeral of a friend who received women, everyone remarked that "he had a smile on his face for the first time in years. The "Fertilizer Club " go to the top address on the list and crap on the front lawn " [ ] also very likely goes back to , but it is unlikely it would have been published in a newspaper.

The wife exchange parody was commercially produced as a postcard [ ], and an undated matchbook advertisement suggests even earlier commercial production of chain letter parodies [ ? The wife exchange parody itself fell victim to parody in an imitative husband exchange letter [ ]. Despite commercial publication, chain letter parodies circulated in different versions like photocopied office humor. There is no serious request for copies, thus technically they are not chain letters. Parodies have probably served to educate the public on the fallacies of money chain letters, and have influenced the content of luck chain letters.

They are very common on the Internet [ St. Paul ]. Paper parodies of chain letters appear in the archive with filenames beginning with "j" for joke. The exchange chain letters ask that an item of small value be sent to one or more prior senders, promising that if a specified number of copies are distributed the sender will in turn receive many such items. Within weeks after the proliferation of the first money chain letter, Send-a-Dime, letters appeared which utilized its controlled list method to exchange items other than money. Unlike luck chain letter types, the copy quota on exchange chain letters varies considerably, as does the number of names present in the controlled list.

In chronological order, items exchanged on archived chain letters are: recipes, quilt patches, handkerchiefs, stamps, tea towels, postcards, dish towels, aprons, wash rags, Turkish towels, earrings, QSL cards, Tshirts, new panties, paperback books, dog toys, collectibles, grocery coupons, lottery scratchers and children's books. Exchange chains were still circulating in paper in Only one example in email form has been collected a used paperback book exchange. Filenames for exchange chain letters begin with an "x" in the archive.

World Record. The world record chain letters motivate replication exclusively by claiming distribution of copies will likely set a world record and that participants will be acknowledged. They circulated primarily among children after the new millennium, having developed from a lineage of postcard exchange letters. In a postcard exchange letter claimed that it was approved by the US Postal Service as an " educational game for children ". It also claimed that it had never been broken in over three years, and that just to delay sending copies beyond three days constituted breaking the chain [ ].

A cognate, said to have been started by " kids in Germany ", asserted that if the letter continued unbroken for a little longer it would be in the Guinness Book of World Records. Later other such letters promised that each person who participated in the chain would get their name in the Guinness record book. But should the recipient not send copies, or even delay doing so for more than three days, the record would be spoiled and all the children " would have to wait another nine years to be in the record book " [ ].

This descent into absurdity had became inevitable when an innovation that promoted the total exclusion of adults replicated. On a letter the recipient is instructed to " Distributions to adults may not have changed the text of the most irrational versions, but increased discard may have curtailed their circulation. A letter mailed in the new millennium [ ] drops all mention of postcards and declares that " it is an attempt to get into the world records. I call this motivational category "world record". Our earliest example also claims that " the post office is keeping track ".

Further, perhaps to make this seem more plausible, the list of names and addresses, which previously directed the flow of postcards, had now migrated to the outside of the envelope. This in turn nurtured a grave fear: the post office could determine " who broke the chain " [ ]. This is no small matter: " it has never been broken so please don't spoil it for every one. Cognates collected in the next few years, most of them claiming to have started in Australia, dropped this feature but added the instruction that one should write on the envelope: " This is the official Guinness Book of World Records chain letter " [ ], or something similar.

Presumably this would allow the Post Office to " track " the chain. This requirement of an external declaration continued on most letters of the lineage, and on these we see again the claim that a stamp was not required for delivery. One only had to write the declaration where the stamp would normally be affixed [ ].

The list of names was soon dropped in the lineage [ ], but the claim of Post Office tracking continued without it. The exchange of postcards is the most logical use one can imagine for a paper chain letter. This is because the invitation to participate can itself be a collectible postcard.

Thus it is ironic that a variety of postcard exchange letter gave rise to this most absurd of all chain letters. Most of the propagative innovations on the "kids" type letters are likely accidental or naively motivated, but many recipients must have believed them. A letter from a mother describes her daughter's fear of being identified as one who broke the chain [ ].

These "world record" paper chain letters may have been one of the most abundant English language paper chain letters in the first decade of the new millennium. But recently their numbers may have been greatly reduced by computer searching on text. As for all chain letters here, children's names and addresses have been obscured in online transcriptions. Filenames for the "world record" chain letters begin with a "w" in the archive.

Chain Email. The primary focus of this treatise is on paper chain letters. But it is sometimes useful to examine copying behavior on the internet, particularly frequently forwarded email "chain email". This has a large and growing number of motives for replication. Hoaxes, humor and expressions of friendship are prominent. Valentine's Day, Halloween, Thanksgiving Day , speeches, surveys, tag snowball fight, mooning , urban legends warnings, humor , voting recommendations , and Web page suggestions. Many of these topics appear in combination, such as a humor item with a short luck chain attached.

Many e-mail chains began as digitizations of paper chain letters. A very early example is an exact transcription of a circulating paper luck chain letter [ e - note archaic address formats]. Paper office humor items were also put online [ e ]. Once established, chain emails rarely surge in replication due to an offhand change or copying error, as we will see occurs within the paper medium. This is because an email is usually reproduced exactly, and thus there are few if any variations. However both luck chain emails and money schemes quickly developed adaptions to the new medium through a series of deliberate hoaxes or calculated modifications.

A new restraining factor manifested when email chains were posted on various lists and group venues, provoking critical analysis and ridicule. Recipients of a chain email and chain letters are now likely to search the web on key text, particularly if money is solicited.

Such a search will discover naive postings and attempts to recruit participants in money schemes. However, high in the list of matches, one will also encounter critical comments and disarming analysis, such as on some of the money chain emails in the archive associated with this essay [ me ]. Email screening criteria by Internet Service Providers have, in recent years, also become a significant factor in the survival of email replicators. The Collection of letters. I began collecting chain letters in with the hope they would reveal an evolutionary sequence. This effort was renewed several years later after discovering the folklore literature, particularly Michael Preston's article "Chain Letters" Preston.

This documented chain letters in a state of flux and presented variations of the same letter. Subsequently I placed ads for chain letters in collectibles magazines. Collecting large numbers of more recent letters began in June when Dr. Preston solicited chain letters for me from folklorists.

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In recent years I have also purchased old chain letters on eBay, the immense on-line auction. Sometimes copies were provided free by the seller or buyer, or a transcript could be made from auction photographs. I renewed collecting efforts in Dec. These have provided over a hundred chain letters for the archive and many entries for the bibliography. All of the dateable chain letters except for some foreign examples and recent money chain letters have now been digitized in HTML format and each is accessible on-line as a separate file in the Paper Chain Letter Archive.

An index for the archive lists clickable file names of all items in the archive, each with a one-line annotation. There are now over one thousand items in the archive, the vast majority being chain letters in the English language. These are ordered by 1 motivational category, 2 language, and 3 date of circulation. This index provides an easy way to browse the archive. Transcriptions preserve the errors in the original letter unless otherwise noted. English language chain letters presently April, in the Paper Chain Letter Archive are tabulated below by year of circulation and motivational category.

Himmelsbrief and religious chain letters are excluded. Scores of additional published letters, especially early luck and charity chains, can be easily obtained from existing online newspaper archives. Many are published Guigne ; only two are archived here. The numbers in the table may not be reliable measures of relative circulation.

Newspapers were much more likely to print the text of a chain letter prior to The large number of Ancient Prayer examples collected is because it circulated largely on postcards, many of which were saved and eventually offered for sale by dealers on eBay. Recent correspondence is rarely offered for sale. Time gaps in the number of money chain letters in the archive reflects a lack collecting effort rather than circulation.

Foreign Language Letters. Presently there are over thirty English translations of foreign language chain letters in the archive. Most of these are also presented in their original language as well. There are several foreign language letters that have yet to be translated.

Because of the ease with which letters are transmitted internationally, chain letters are, and have always been, an international phenomenon. Only by the extensive collection of foreign language examples can an accurate genealogy of chain letters be constructed. It is also revealing to see how chain letters vary from one culture to another. Sub-directories have been established in the archive for chain letters in French, German and Russian. He has collected many chain letters in the Russian and Ukrainian languages. As mentioned above, I have found over a hundred texts of chain letters using newspapers.

This has filled in many blanks in chain letter history, particularly with the luck chain letters of the 's and 30's. Newspaper transcriptions destroy formats and rarely report lists of names adequately. Some French Le Quellec and Polish Robotycki publications contain many chain letters that have yet to be entered into the archive or translated. Newspaper articles are also frequent in the Annotated Bibliography , which currently contains over entries, most of them from newspapers. Web Sites.

There are many thousands of WWW sites that match a search on "chain letter. A useful list of annotated links appears in Watrous , and I will not duplicate this. To find the texts of luck chain letters one can search for traditional text, such as " Dolan Fairchild " or " Dalan Fairchild. Others are present on the WWW, but it is difficult to judge if they are complete and unedited. This uses phylogenetic inference algorithms to construct a cladogram for 33 DL type chain chain letters.

These are available on the web, and if dated I have copied them to the archive here. I have obtained some information about chain letters and people's attitudes toward them by informal questioning of acquaintances. Much more could have been learned by systematic interviewing. However, people who send out chain letters, for luck or money, are often reluctant to reveal their activities and motives.

Nevertheless, some interview material in newspapers and popular magazines has been very useful for understanding replication Marilyn Bender, New York Times, Ancient documents that advocate their own perpetuation. Many ancient texts survive which provide diagrams, incantations or prayers that claim to benefit those who learn them. Some come close to our definition of a chain letter by urging that a personal copy be made. The Ancient Egyptian " Book of that which is in the Underworld " states of a picture it provides :.

Another Buddhist text, the Diamond Sutra, is the oldest AD extant book printed by wood block reliefs. It promised great merit to those who " observe and study this Scripture, explain it to others and circulate it widely. The Letters from Heaven. The " Letters from Heaven " often called by the German " Himmelsbrief " claim to have been written by God or some divine agent. Many authors restrict the term to apocryphal Christian letters.

These often claim miraculous delivery to Earth, magical protection for the possessor, blessings to those who "publish" them, and divine punishment for disbelief of their claims. The original copies are often claimed to have been written in gold letters, or with the blood of Jesus. Many published versions were illuminated. An early and frequent feature is the command for extreme Sabbath observance, as in the Madgeburg Himmelsbrief [ text ].

A German authority on the Himmelsbrief, H. Stube, said the letters long predated Christianity Oda. Jewish and Islamic Himmelsbrief are also reported Hand. These may all derive from an early Greek source Bittner. A letter which was said to have fallen from heaven existed in the third century AD Hippolytos, Refutation of All Heresies. The oldest Letter from Heaven for which we have a full text is the Latin "Letter from Heaven on the observance of the Lord's Day," the original of which dates from the close of the sixth century Priebsch.

Boniface denounced this as a "bungling work of a madman or the devil himself. It has circulated in English in many versions [ text , image ]. Jacob, organizer of the Crusades of the Shepherds, claimed ca. While in public he always carried it in his hand. A cult of uniformed flagellants appeared in Germany in claiming to possess a heavenly letter that had descended upon the altar of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem before a multitude. The text has survived: God, angry at human sin, has decided to destroy all life, but the Virgin intercedes and God grants humanity one last chance to reform.

Any priest who refused to pass on the divine message to his congregation would be eternally damned. During the Black Death the same letter, with a paragraph on the plague added, was used as a manifesto by a revived flagellant movement. At gatherings the manifesto was read publicly, the audience being "swept by sobbing and groaning.

Some Letters from Heaven specialized in protection, and accumulated long lists of weapons by which the possessor could not be harmed. The Count Philip Himmelsbrief [ ] granted protection against " spear, sword, sabre, cutlass, knife, tomahawk, rapier, helmet, burdon,. Letters claiming divine authority are also reported from India.

Chain letters circulated in Shahabad in that condemned the breeding of pigs and consumption of alcohol. They were said to be from Heaven. In North Tirhut, , cow protection was advocated by "strange papers" which "warned that Jaganath Lord of the World would curse any one who did not pay heed to this message and would burn down the house of any one who failed to pass it along to other people.

An email chain posted to an Islamic coins mailing list [ ] consists of: 1 an Islamic "Letter from Heaven," which likely first circulated in paper, and 2 a reduced version testimonials only of a paper luck chain letter I call the Lottery24 type. It has been determined by scholars that Jehoram did not reign until 14 years after Elijan's death and the text has been interpreted by some clergy to mean that the letter came from Heaven. But searching online newspaper databases reveals that probably hundreds of Jesus' Sabbath Letter have been published in local newspapers in the United States in the last two centuries, continuing up to the 's.

Searching on the text " fast five fridays " produced 25 matches using newspapers. Most of these printings were responding to requests by faithful possessors of the letter, heeding its command to "publish" it. One columnist revealed: " It used to be sent to newspaper editors, demanding that the passage be published in the paper and setting out all sorts of dire consequences if the editors failed to acquiesce.

Such claimed lineages may go back to the original legendary possessor of the letter [ ]. The Holstein Himmelsbrief, which features protection from weapons, has gained favorable newspaper testimonials for its use in both World War II and the Vietnam war: " He kept track of those to whom he sent a copy of the letter and every one of them returned unharmed from the war. Transition to chain letters. Edwin Fogel, writing in , assumed that a luck chain letter [ ] was a new version of a Letter from Heaven Fogel.

There is little similarity in the texts, but perhaps Fogel was familiar with transitional forms now lost. Speaking of the apocryphal Letter from Jesus Christ [ ], Edgar Goodspeed wrote " it is sometimes sent through the mail with a request that the recipient send copies of it to three others, as some great misfortune is likely to befall him if he does not " Such a practice must have long predated Thus luck chain letters may have evolved from the preambles and postscripts to Letters from Heaven.

At some stage the divine communication may have been replaced by a less pretentious "prayer," followed by entreaties to copy it. This is the form of the "Ancient Prayer" type [ - ] discussed in the next section. Some versions of Ancient Prayer promise deliverance " from all calamities " and threaten " eternal punishment " [ ] - as do some Letters from Heaven [ Madgeburg ]. Folklorists have generally followed Fogel in presuming that luck chain letters derive from the Himmelsbrief tradition Elli s , though transitional examples have yet to be found.

More collecting should clarify the transition to chain letters. The first luck chain letters may also have been influenced by early charity chain letters [ ], which likely introduced the idea of a copy quota. In this section I list characteristic features of English language luck chain letters, identify certain kinds of statements that are frequently seen on them, classify most of them into 12 sequential "types", and give a complete text and further information for each of the 12 types.

Features of 20th century luck chain letters. After chain letters were influenced by increasing literacy, international mail and postcards, and changing attitudes about religion and miracles. Also chain letters themselves accumulated new technologies for increasing replication. Whereas the prior Letters from Heaven usually urged the reader to "publish" the letter, chain letters gained more circulation by relying on individual copying with specific copy quotas and deadlines. The following features characterize luck chain letters of the 20th century. Luck chains originating in the 's dropped claims of divine authorship, delivery from heaven to earth, granting protection from fire or weapons, divine punishment for disbelief, and miracles generally.

A Saint, missionary or military officer may be attributed as the author of the letter, but never Jesus. Promises of good luck and threats of bad luck exploited vague popular superstitions rather than naive piety. Chain letters state a minimum number of copies that the recipient is encouraged to distribute. This task is to be completed within a stated period. But according to most letters, one must wait a certain number of days before receiving good luck. All English language luck chain letters since the 's contain accounts of fortune and misfortune allegedly experienced by prior recipients of the letter.

These testimonials are told in the third person, usually of a named individual. Almost all luck chains since have either 1 declared they are to go "all over" or around the world, or 2 claimed a certain number of completed circumnavigations. When someone signs their name on a chain letter, a recipient may faithfully copy this name, perhaps thinking this was the author of the original letter.

Eventually another person may sign below the first name, suggesting to downline recipients that they should do the same. In this way chain letters often accumulated long lists of senders [ ], even though this behavior may not be solicited in the text of the letter. Initials, names of couples [ ], dates received [ ], and company letterheads [ ] have similarly accumulated. Lists often reached fifty or more names and became a burden to copy [ ] Lardner. Some chain letters avoided this by instructing, for example, " Copy the above names, omitting the first, add your name last " [ ].

If this processing is always undertaken a controlled list of fixed length results. Other chain letters forbade "signing on" - notably postcard chains [ ] and Internet luck chains [ e ]. The presence of a list of senders on a luck chain letter may give it an advantage in circulation by displaying alleged celebrity participation, and also by enabling more effective distribution of copies since the list can used to avoid duplicate receipts.

Two items from England, and one each from Australia and the US, had quota, deadline, and wait all seven [ , , , ]. To recognize copying when there is high variability, and to simplify descriptions of chain letter text, it is useful to identify and name certain non-essential yet common types of statements that appear on various luck chain letters. I will capitalize these names to distinguish them from conventional uses of the same word, and allow them to be both nouns and adjectives. A statement on a chain letter which describes one or two of the latest transmissions of the letter in hand.

If present, Linkage statements usually appear at the start of a chain letter, and can function as a declaration that the letter is a chain letter Dundes. They may also be inserted when a list is removed. Linkage statements appear on some Ancient Prayer examples and are near universal on the Flanders type. A request that the letter is to go all over the world, or that it is to go around the world, perhaps more than once. Or a claim that the letter has already gone around the world some number of times. This prayer A suggestion that the reader should "see what happens" after a certain number of days, implying that some joyous event or good fortune will happen.

A statement which, speaking as an observer, affirms the validity of the claims in the letter. It may attempt to explain how the letter works, or restate a claim with different words. Affirmations are highly variable and are often corrupted, rewritten, doubled or deleted. They are u niversal on the Flanders and Prosperity type letters. A statement which warns the reader to get rid of the letter often within a certain amount of time , or to distribute it along with the copies that are to be sent.

Recycle statements first appeared on the Flanders letters. If there is a list requiring updating, the received copy is no longer a candidate for being sent out again and a Recycle statement will usually not be present. A Recycle warning has become universal on the mainline since It must leave within 96 hours after you receive it. Ancient Prayer. Based on what has been collected so far, the "Ancient Prayer" letter was the first "luck" chain letter to circulate in the US, and this started abruptly in It likely circulated in other countries many years prior.

There is a mention from France that it was denounced by the Bayonne Diocese in Keep us from all sin and take us to be with Thee eternally. This prayer was sent by Bishop Lawrence, recommending it to be rewritten and sent to nine other persons. He who will not say it will be afflicted with some great misfortune.

One person who failed to pay attention to it met with a dreadful accident. He who will rewrite it to nine other persons commencing on the day it is received - and sending only one each day will on or after the ninth day experience great joy. Please do not break the chain. This prayer was sent to me. It is being sent all over the world. It was said in Jesus time that all who would write it and pass it on would be delivered from all calamities. Those who would not write it on would meet with some misfortune. Those who write it before nine days, stating the day received, to nine of their friends will on the ninth day receive some great joy.

So do not break the chain. Received Oct. Name unsigned. The " dreadful accident " and the false attribution to Bishop Lawrence have been dropped and will never return. Around the playful suggestion to copy the letter and " see what will happen" was introduced. This "Expectation" became common but not universal on Ancient Prayer and persists in the mainline to the present day [ ].

Early versions of Ancient prayer reveal an influence from the Letters from Heaven. For example, a letter claims that its rewards and punishments were spoken of in " Jerusalem. An interesting feature in the above text is the word " stating ", seen to be a copying error for " starting " by comparison to other examples [ , ]. A recipient has responded to this error by writing the date Oct. An abundant variation was soon established which contained " stating ", and the date of the prior receipt [ , , ]. The advantage to replication of this variation was probably that it reminded the recipient of the impending deadline, whereas postcards lacking the date of receipt notation could be more easily ignored until the recipient realized the deadline had passed with no ill effect.

The role of cop ying errors in chain letter evolution can be overestimated, as compared to deliberate innovations. Chain letters as we know them were originally called "Endless chain letters" NYT, to distinguish them from the then familiar self-terminating charity chains. The title "Ancient Prayer" did not appear on American chain letters until around With U.

Some were exclusive within various fraternal organizations; some prayed for "peace" and others for "victory. A wartime postage rate increase, from one to two cents for postcards, may have cooled the chain off and foiled the Huns. The same chain postcard with substituted titles had also served the martial spirit of the Central Powers. Immediately after the war Ancient Prayer declined in the U. Some resented that "d uring the First World War they and many people they knew had received letters threatening death or horrors to their loved ones in the trenches of France if the chain was broken.

In Ancient Prayer revived in the US with a copy quota of ten and a new prayer. One such letter has been collected which was written in a fancy script [ , image ]. Though Ancient Prayer continued to circulate for many years after the end of World War I, and even had a boomlet in , the postwar worldliness was not a good fit for its piety.

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The last Ancient Prayer chain letter to appear in the archive was a much reduced version on a postcard mailed in By the Ancient Prayer chain letter was nameless and all but forgotten. But the chain was preserved on postcards and letters, and these were old enough that they were offered for sale. Of the examples of Ancient Prayer in the archive, about 50 are physical postcards or letters purchased on eBay.

However our earliest examples come from , a boom year for the chain both in England and the U.

Thorough searches and inquiries have failed to date the letter prior to The text was short and secular, and retained the request for nine copies as on Ancient Prayer. Many examples had long lists of paired names "X to Y" at the top, sender to receiver [ ]. There is a physical example in the archive with names [ ], and a newspaper report of [ ].

Below is a prototypic example, a typed letter mailed from Birmingham, Alabama on June 8, The X to Y list had 30 entries I have deleted 27 of them here.

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Though "Claude Sanders" leads the list, he was not the author of the letter, though recipients who had not seen this chain before may have presumed so. Copy this out and xxxxxx send to nine 9 people whom you wish good luck. The chain was started by an American Officer and should go three times around the world. Do it within twenty-four hours and count nine days and you will have some great good fortune. Good Luck Augmented. This seems to have invited the placement of additional text both at its start [ ] [ ] and end [ ].

The following example was published by syndicated columnist Helen Worth in Folklorist Harry M. Hyatt reported in that " during the latter part of a 'chain letter' fad appeared " and he gave a complete text except for two towns and two names in the list that he withheld to protect privacy. Howe who broke the chain lost everything she possessed. Hoping it brings you luck. The good luck of Flanders was sent to me and I am sending it within twenty four hours.

This chain was started by an American Officer in Flanders and is going around the world four times- and one who breaks it will have bad luck. Copy this letter and see what happens to you four days after mailing. It will bring you good luck. Send this copy and four others to people you wish good luck. Do not keep this letter. It must be in the mail twenty four hours after receiving it. Nevin broke the chain and lost everything he had.

Here is definite proof for the good luck sent prayers. Good luck to you and trust in God. He who suffers our needs. This brings prosperity to you in four days after mailing. Do not send money. Cross the top name off and put yours at the bottom. Oh Lord, be merciful upon us and all nations.

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  4. This is the prayer of safety. This must go around the world. If you fail to send it a misfortune will enter your home. One woman made fun of this and her daughter went blind. Pay attention and the Lord will bless you. Please don't let this die in your home. Read the 18th Psalm. DeLys, A letter published in the Neosho Daily News on March 16, is our earliest example.

    Columnist Robert McNight described it as a "new type of chain letter". This good luck of London was sent to me and I'm sending it to you within 24 hours. This chain was started by an American Officer. It has been around the world five times. The one who breaks it will have bad luck. Copy this and see what happens 4 days later, after posting it.

    It will bring good luck. So don't keep it. Send this and 4 others to people whom you wish good luck. This is proof for you to post it. It will bring good luck 4 days after posting it. Clearly this chain letter is close to the Flanders-Prosperity type with "London" replacing "Flanders". Both types still have the leading Linkage, the same copy quota five, four day wait, 24 hour deadline, a Recycle command, the pecuniary testimonials followed by an Affirmation, then the "Do not send money" command.

    And the two names in the testimonials above are cognate to the names on the Flanders-Prosperity text we gave: Grace Fields vs. Gay Field and Dr. Arcrose vs. Considering these similarities one could classify the Luck of London letters as a variation of the previous Flanders-Prosperity type. All of the Flanders-Prosperity letters have a controlled list of names and often towns also. None of the nine Luck of London letters in the archive bear a list of any kind.

    Also the prior type promised prosperity as well as luck. The Luck of London letters have dropped the mention of prosperity and focus solely on luck. Luck was more needed than money during the war. The new chain letter, with its tribute to a city that survived an onslaught of the German air force, must have appealed to many who had family members at risk in the armed services.

    I rank the Luck of London chain letters as a new type, as columnist McKnight judged them to be in Chain of Good Luck. The letter below was handwritten and mailed from Sandoway, Burma on June 17, to A. This chain of good luck was send to me via United Press despatch and was sent in 72 hours. The person who break this chain will surely receive bad luck. A private in the Philipine Army won the first prize in the sweeps takes for complying with this chain.

    Frankling D. Roosavelt was elected for the third term as president of the United States 52 hours after he mailed this letter. Captain Remero who broke this chain died 72 hours after he received this letter. Detective Segundo B. Villanueva of the city of Baguio who laugh at this chain of good luck met instantaneous death in an accident on June 14, Make 12 copies and mail it to your friends. Do not retain this letter.

    Paul A. Olive Pan 5. Franky Monk. Aung Copy to:- A. Logozorie for information and necessary action. There are just eight complete examples of the "Chain of Good Luck" COGL in the archive, but this international chain letter seems to have dominated the luck genre in the US in the year Other universals for the type are: 1 the title "Chain of Good Luck", 2 a leading Linkage statement, 3 a declaration that the letter is to go around the world the first time, 4 two Recycle declarations, 5 testimonials featuring a Philippine army private, President Roosevelt, and two victims of sudden death, 6 a controlled list of varying length.

    This may tell us that "United Dispatch", and similar business names on the other examples of COGL, may have started as a corruption of a personal name. COGL has structural similarities to the Flanders type described above. Having a senders list makes a Linkage statement redundant, so if there ever were a personal name in the COGL Linkage it may not have been updated, and instead subject to many generations of unguided copying and corruption until finally someone miscorrected it to a more familiar name - of a business.

    Note also that the example of COGL gives the city, Exeter, that the sender once removed lived in. None of the four newspaper examples of COGL in the archive give the contents of the list, but here we get a hint that the deleted list on some published COGL examples may have contained both names and towns. If a controlled list had enough entries - twenty would be more than enough - one could prove that a chain letter had actually gone around the world if the locations of senders were on the list.

    The prototype example above contains only names and initials, yet one might still infer that it was going around the world in a westward direction, perhaps from mission to mission. If there is one prime reason why the Chain of Good Luck gained so much sudden compliance in the United States it was likely because it contained a potent death threat.

    This looks like a news item that came over the wire from "United Press Dispatch". The Prayer. Trust in the Lord with all thy heart and lean not on thy own understandance in all thy ways acknowledge him and he will direct thy path. Send this copy and four to someone you wish good luck. It must leave in 24 hours. Don't send any money and don't keep this copy. You are to have good luck in 4 days.

    This is not a joke and you will receive by mail. The Luck by Mail type also introduces " this is not a joke " and the qualification that you will receive your luck " by mail. The declaration " this is not a joke " is discussed in section Around the geographical attribution to " the Netherlands " first appears and became near universal in the mainline. Lists are highly variable on the Luck by Mail type - those present are often trailing controlled lists of prior senders. Luck by Mail continued to circulate well into the 's, in many variations.

    This is surprising since a potent innovation appeared in This prayer has been sent to you for Good Luck. The original copy came from the Netherlands. It has been around the world nine times. The luck has been sent to you. You are to receive good luck within four days after receiving this letter. It is no joke. You will receive it in the mail. Send 20 copies of this letter to friends you think need good luck. Please do not send money. While in the Philippines, General Walsh lost his life 6 days after receiving his copy. He failed to circulate the prayer. Please send 20 copies and after see what happens to you on the fourth day.

    Add your name to the bottom of the list, and leave out the first one when copying this letter. Irwin J. Cole Mr. Barry L. Burnard Margoles Mr. Nicholas H. Hope, Jr. Edmond Yandow Mr. William H. Sydney E. Tindall Mr. Charles A. Clarence Lusk Mr. Martin D. Jack Lumiere Mr. William L. Murray Sobel Mr. James E.

    The curious history of chain letters.

    Pierce, Jr. Lamar Wheat Mr. George B. John L. Hutcheson, III Mr. Jim Reilly Mr. Arthur A. Robert B. James J. It is reasonable to suppose that chain letter copy quotas have increased because of the availability of photocopying. But in copiers were not readily available - this is the same year that Xerox introduced its first plain paper copier the Xerographic The Death20 chain still circulates, but an entire chain letter has been added to it. Apparently in the early 's a quota twenty-four chain letter was translated from Spanish into English and put into circulation in the U.

    Abundant copies of this letter exist combined with Death20, but no examples of it in English as an independent letter have been collected. There are cognate forms in other languages, such as the French with a grisly testimonial. I name this type "Lottery24" because of the original copy quota and its introduction of the "Boss Wins Lottery" testimonial:. This event was documented with unedited multiple examples by Michael Preston With the appearance of these two high copy quota types in the 's, the use of photocopying as a means of reproducing paper chain letters totally dominated.

    Hand copying all but disappeared. Perhaps a motive for initially combining two chain letters was to reduce photocopying costs after some one received both at about the same time. Take note of the following: Constantine Diso received the chain in He asked his secretary to make 24 copies and send them.

    A few days later, he won the lottery of 2 million dollars in his country.

    Chain letters

    Carlos Brandt, an office employee, received the chain. He forgot it and lost it. A few days after, he lost his job. He found the chain, sent it out to 24 people, and nine days later, he got a better job. Zerin Berreskelli received the chain, not believing in it he threw it away. Nine days later he died. For no reason whatsoever should this chain be broken!!!!!!

    Make 20 copies and send them. In nine days you will get a surprise. This prayer has been sent to you for good luck. You are to receive the good luck within four days after receiving this letter. It is not a joke! Send 20 copies of this letter to people you think need good luck. While in the Philippines, General Walsh lost his life six days after he received this letter. Please send 20 copies and then see what happens the fourth day after. Add your name to the bottom of this list and leave off the top name when copying this letter.

    Various initials were recommended some without the instruction to omit the stamp , and examples also come from France Bonnet and Delestre and the USSR. The instruction to omit a stamp seems severely counter-replicative. However, in the US the original initials may have been "F. H" standing for "Free Matter for the Blind and Handicapped. Presumably the initials suffice, though I have not verified that. Someone in the early 's may have used the privilege to mail chain letters for free.

    Most recipients would be baffled by the suggestion above, but if the letter they received had no stamp many would try it since they could easily convince themselves that all their stampless letters also got delivered. After all, with no return address there was no way to ever find out otherwise.

    Since the initials were meaningless to almost all copiers, they would quickly be corrupted. In disbelief, some copier dropped the instruction to omit a stamp and advised the initials be written on the upper left hand corner of the envelope. These versions may have benefited by being opened more often than a letter with nothing at all where one expects a return address. Meaningless initials " cryptoids " often appear on grimoires and chain letters. Jean-Bruno Renard has collected an interesting chain letter in France that revives the use of initials as a substitute for a stamp [ ].

    Posting without a stamp is also a feature of many of the recent World Record chain letters that circulate among children. Post Office automation, rather than deliberate indulgence, may explain why many of these stampless envelopes were delivered. Yet such delivery supports the absurd claims in these letters of Post Office involvement with verifying a world record, and even with identifying a person that broke the chain. The LD type was prolific in - , and also circulated in the U. K Times, Some Hungarian chain letters [ ], though much reduced, reveal descent from an LD source.

    By the Lottery-Death letters had been completely replaced in North America by our final mainline type, the "Death-Lottery" letters. It was typed, except for the last three names in the second column. It has been around the world 9 times. You are to receive good luck within 9 days of receiving this letter. It must leave within 95 hours after you receive it.

    Please send 20 copies and then see what happens on the 4th day after. Add your name to the bottom of the list and leave the top name off when copying this letter. This chain comes from Venezuela, was written by St. Aptine de Cade a missionary from South America. Since the chain must make a tour of the world, you must make 20 copies identical to this one and send it to your friends, parents, or acquaintances, and after a few days you will get a surprise.

    This is true, even if you are not superstitious. He asked his secretary to make 20 copies and send them. A few days later he lost his job. He found the chain and sent it out to 20 people. Nine days later he got a better job. Zorin Barrachilli received the chain. Not believing it, he threw it away. For no reason whatsoever should this chain be broken.

    Judy Van Aalten E. Lic [? Buynovsky G. Robichaud P. Boudreau H. Bevis M. Battaini J. Battaini P. Con [? This is a Death20 letter placed above a version of the Lottery24 letter without a title - the reverse of the LD concatenation. However, since that example is missing a testimonial I have chosen the above letter as a standard for the type. One feature of the above letter is atypical - the list starts at the end of the letter.

    Most DL letters up to had a list of prior senders like the above, but they were "internal" in the letter, since they originated with the Death20 block and were bounded below by the added Lottery letter. Superstitious recipients may copy a list with the same diligence that they give to the text of a letter. With little room to expand, the internal lists on early DL letters may have been exactly copied for a few years.

    But by both these and all the LD letters stopped circulating. As photocopying had became more frequent, there was greater reluctance to comply if one thought some modification of the letter, such as updating a list, was required. Though I make little use of formatting to infer relatedness, the most common paragraphing of a DL letter trespasses on the unity of the Lottery24 block, placing the last sentence of the Death20 block " Please send 20 copies of the letter and see what happens in four days" as the first sentence in the new paragraph starting the Lottery block right before " The chain comes from Venezuela and was written by.

    This may aide circulation by disguising the compound nature of the letter and its resulting redundancy and contradictory claims of origin. Thus all mainline luck chain letters since , certainly over a billion, have been the DL type. Within this type are variations that compete with each other for the attention and resources required for replication. The DL type luck chain letter not only dominated circulation in the United States for decades, it also took hold in many foreign countries.

    This little hoax has also circulated on Facebook in recent years, complete with an altered photo of Gates from his Reddit AMA. This one tugged at our heartstrings, but it was quickly debunked. The American Cancer Society even released a statement denouncing the message. Jessica Mydeck -- at least this Jessica Mydeck -- didn't exist. This chain letter claimed readers who didn't immediately recite the attached prayer would lose a loved one.

    Mother Teresa drives a hard bargain. You knew Clarissa wouldn't really slice you up while you slept, but you were scared and forwarded it anyway. Shame on you. Remember the days before you knew the terms "JPEG" and "GIF" -- when you thought images could magically change, based on email forwards? Nobody can track how many times you forward an email, okay? Maybe the government. We don't really know. Chain letters didn't begin with the Internet, and they didn't die with AOL mail. But back in the early days of the Internet — before anybody but programmers knew what pixels were, and "search engine optimization" just wasn't a thing — chain emails saw their golden age.

    These exclamation-heavy missives, riddled with typos, infiltrated our inboxes and haunted our dreams. We wondered, would Bloody Mary come after us because we hit "delete"? Had we missed our chance to earn a share of Bill Gates 's millions?

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