This product was added to our catalog on Tuesday 27 July, 2010.
ed printing on white envelope: Cartoon-style cut, “AN APPLICANT FOR OFFICE. ‘Mornin’ General! $500,000,000 is a heap of money, and 500,000 men will make a heap of soldiers, and as there’s a heap of orifices to be filled, I allow, I’ll go as Kurnel.’” Published by J. Gates, Cincinnati.
Here is an envelope for the Western boys! The engraving (whose quality is surprisingly good) shows a countryman dressed in his finest(?), poke in hand, addressing an officer who is probably intended to resemble Winfield Scott. You can decide for yourself what the implications of the substitute for “office” might be…
Illustrated envelopes are consummately objects of the early war; they existed before, and continued to be available later—but during the first years of the conflict they were a fad, and (luckily for us!) collecting them became a fashionable hobby.
Sometimes crude from an artistic point of view—although sometimes both well drawn and exquisitely printed—they were items of commerce, rushed into press to capitalize on events and just as quickly replaced by others. Responsive to popular interests and taste, they are an excellent indicator of the common man’s mind and mood.
The primary use of these envelopes is obvious; but I have also seen them rolled or folded up for use as an impromptu housewife, wrapped with thread and stuck with pins and needles as well as used to enclose some precious memento, particularly locks of hair. As a wallet, pocket, or knapsack filler this latter use speaks deeply to mid-19th century sensibilities and can be a welcome addition to your “opened knapsack” presentation.