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    This product was added to our catalog on Friday 07 May, 2010.

    Irish Patriotic Envelope, The Green Flag of Erin (sold by the do

    Price:  $4.75

    The Letter Green printing on white envelope: The green standard of Ireland with harp; below is printed “Erin, O Erin, though long in the shade,/Thy Star shall shine out when the proudest/shall fade.”

    The quotation is from Thomas Moore, the “poet laureate” of Ireland; his Irish Melodies (a multi-volume work of original song texts set to traditional Irish airs) has been aptly called “the secular hymn-book of [nineteenth-century] Irish nationalism.” Although these songs were once beloved by all speakers of the English language, Moore’s reputation has since fallen on hard times: his style of poetry is out of fashion and he has been charged with being “a lap dog of the English”...a strange charge to make concerning an intimate friend of the patriot martyr Robert Emmett. The full poem is as eloquent a repudiation of the slander as could be made:


    Like the bright lamp that shone in Kildare's holy fane,
    And burn'd through long ages of darkness and storm,
    Is the heart that afflictions have frown'd on in vain,
    Whose spirit outlives them, unfading and warm.
    Erin! oh Erin! thus bright thro' the tears
    Of a long night of bondage thy spirit appears.

    The nations have fallen, and thou still art young;
    Thy sun is but rising when others are set:
    And tho' slavery's cloud o'er thy morning hath hung,
    The full moon of freedom shall beam round thee yet,
    Erin! oh Erin! tho' long in the shade,
    Thy star will shine out when the proudest shall fade!

    Unchill'd by the rain, and unwak'd by the wind,
    The lily lies sleeping thro' winter's cold hour,
    Till spring's light touch her fetters unbind,
    And daylight and liberty bless the young flower.
    Thus Erin! oh Erin! thy winter is past,
    And the hope that liv'd thro' it shall blossom at last.

    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. 

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