Interview with Mr Peter Brindza, Phd, head of the local archives of Trenčín, who found the oldest emoticon.
Beata Bruggeman-Sękowska: in what kind of document did you find the oldest emoticon ?
I have discovered the emoticon while sorting accounting documents of Trenčín. We have the oldest accounts of Trenčín stemming from 1528. This emoticon is on the financial report presenting municipal finances. The content is not a binding document and its uniqueness is that it contains this emoticon.
Who made this document, who was the author of the emoticon?
The document was created in 1635 by the notary of Trenčín. His name was Ján Ladislaides and he was among the leading town functionaries. His task was to control the town accounts.
What was the purpose of the emoticon? Why was it used? And what was your reaction when you discovered it?
To be honest I do not know what the reason was to use this emoticon on this financial document. It was perhaps a subjective attitude of the official. Possibly, he wanted to express the satisfaction about the condition of the municipal accounts. Maybe he wanted to cheer someone up.
When I discovered this emoticon I was delighted and at the same time smiled when I saw it. Smiley is really unique. It is an extraordinary finding and that is probably the oldest emoticon ever discovered and shared with the audience.
So, the Slovaks invented the emoticons already in the 15th century?
When I found it out, I did not know that it is probably the oldest one. Until the media came to Slovakia and showed their interest in our emoticon. So far the oldest emoticon came from England and was invented by the poet Robert Herrick in 1648. Our emoticon, however, is clearly 13 years older than the British one.
What other surprises may have your archives? And are some of them open to the tourists? Can we admire them?
The archive is full of surprises. You never know what new information will be discovered in the documents. We have lots of unique documents, even hidden documents amounting to more than 4,800 meters.
Work in the archive is therefore full of surprises and it makes it interesting. It’s not just the content of the documents, but also about the way the document was created. For example mediaeval binding books that include scores or documents testifying the history of the city and the surrounding region from 1318 are extremely fascinating. A great interest is currently in genealogy and ancestors research.
We are pleased with the media interest about our emoticon. We are glad that our finding brings international attention to Slovakia. Thanks to it, we can present a variety of documents and pieces of our national history. We are proud of it and happy to present it to the public.
Photos: Trenčín archives for Communications-Unlimited.nl
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