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Origins of the phrase "Gentlemen: Yours to hand, and, In reply......."

In this context Yours means your letter, i.e., the letter you sent.

to hand means: within reach, accessible, at hand.
at hand means: within easy reach; near; close by

So the meaning would be:

  • "I have received your letter and in reply to it..." ; or
  • "I have your letter right here beside me (to hand, at hand), and in reply. . ."; or
  • "I have your letter in hand, and I'm replying."

Thanks to Peter Duncanson, Pat Durkin, and Wayne Schiess for providing the explanation of this formal phrase.

If you have information about the origins of the phrase, please share them as comments. Thanks.

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