Etymology: < the name of a character, William Collins, in Jane Austen's Pride & Prejudice (ch. xxii).
A letter of thanks for entertainment or hospitality, sent by a departed guest; a ‘bread-and-butter’ letter.
1904 Chambers's Jrnl. 27 Aug. 611/2 When we do not call a letter of thanks for a visit ‘a board and lodging’, we call it a ‘Collins’.
1907 Lady Grove Social Fetich 74 The ‘Collins’ letter I had dutifully bored my hostess with.
1911 W. A. Raleigh Lett. (1926) 375 This is only a Collins, and a Collins should not wade into deep places. It should be loving but neat.
1926 R. Bridges Henry Bradley ii. 19 Wherever I can I shall let him speak for himself, and..group the quotations from his letters under subjects..This first Collins will serve to prelude them.
1940 W. de la Mare Pleasures & Speculations 327 The amateur composer even of a Collins or bread-and-butter letter realizes that his mother tongue is a stubborn means for the communication of gratitude.