Propaganda Envelopes of the 19th Century


British Propaganda Envelopes of the 19th Century
(This version is the Gold Medal winning entry from Brasilia 2017)


This exhibit shows a selection of Propaganda Wafers and Envelopes published between 1844 and 1855 to promote political and reform movements in Great Britain, Europe and the USA.

These envelopes followed the publication of Mulready Caricatures which successfully ridiculed the Mulready Envelope as recorded by Evans (1). Bodily, Jarvis and Hahn (2) described the Caricatures and Propaganda Envelopes in detail and while Robertson (3) and Turner (4) enumerated the States of Ocean Penny Postage envelopes, the details of other Propaganda Envelopes have not been well documented.

A database of all known Mulready Caricatures, Pictorial and Propaganda Envelopes issued in Great Britain is being compiled. This has added an extra 75 designs/states previously unrecorded by these four publications.

The database includes over 950 unique items as separate Designs and/or States with 3800 different used copies and 1100 specific mint copies. Research of 10,500 Auction Catalogues has established over 17,500 entries, enabling the tracing of the offering and sale of these envelopes over the past 70 years. A summary of the data for selected leading designs of used Propaganda Envelopes is included in this exhibit as Table 1, with examples of all subjects included in this exhibit.

Index to Exhibit Leading Propaganda Envelopes No. of Recorded Copies
Frame 1, Pages 2-4 Anti Graham Campaign (3 Designs, 24 Wafer Seals) 31
Frame 1, Pages 5-7 Free Trade (4 Designs, 5 States, 21 Wafer Seals) 74
Frame 1, Page 8 Sunday Observance by Mitchell (3 Designs, 3 States) 16
Frames 1 & 2, Pages 9-32 Ocean Penny Postage (7 Designs, 70 States) 575
Frame 3, Pages 33-48 Peace (10 Designs, 37 States, including USA copies) 250
Frame 4, Pages 49-56 Universal Brotherhood (3 Designs, 16 States) 87
Frame 4, Pages 57-64 Anti-Slavery (5 Designs, 19 States) 81
Frame 5, Pages 65-78 Temperance (6 Designs, 29 States, including USA) 235
Frame 5, Pages 79-80 Industry and Civilisation (2 Designs, 10 States) 36
Grand Total 1385

Database count of leading used Propaganda Envelopes to show relative frequency (Oct 2017)


The exhibit commences with a set of wafer seals and an envelope published by Punch in 1844 to promote the campaign against the then Home Secretary, Sir James Graham, who was responsible for the opening of mail to obtain intelligence. Next are envelopes issued to promote the campaigns against the Corn Laws and for Sunday Observance. There follows a broad selection of Propaganda Envelopes of the five Moral Reforms: Ocean Penny Postage, Peace, Universal Brotherhood, Anti-Slavery and Temperance. James Valentine of Dundee designed, engraved and printed envelopes for these five causes and also for Industry and The Civilisation of America, examples of which are included for completeness. The States of the envelopes are differentiated in the inscriptions, particularly by the names of the selling agents in Great Britain and the USA.

Elihu Burritt, the "Father of Ocean Penny Postage", an American and gifted multi linguist used these envelopes as his "winged messengers" to promote the reforms. The envelopes were used mainly in Great Britain but also in Europe and the USA, to show the close relationship that existed between the continents for promoting these causes. Many of the envelopes shown have a provenance from renowned Named Auction Catalogue Collections, listed alphabetically (5).


1) Evans, Major E.B; The Mulready Envelope, Stanley Gibbons (1891), republished by SR Publishers Limited (1970)

2) Bodily, Ritchie, Jarvis, Chris and Hahn, Charless; British Pictorial Envelopes of the 19th Century, The Collectors Club of Chicago(l984) (BJH)

3) Robertson, Alan W.; History of the Ship Letters of the British Isles. pp. A.17-A.28. Published by the Author (1955).

4) Turner, David Duncan; Ocean Penny Postage, GB Philatelic Publications Ltd. (2014). (DDT)

5) Named Auction Catalogues:

Alcock, Phillips, 16/2/89
Bailar, RA Siegel N.Y., 25/01/15
Bettini, Cavendish, 12/09/04
Bodily (Illustrious), Christies, 3/3/92
Lady Marie Bury, Sothebys, 25/11/10
Cipolla, Heritage, 11/12/04
"Daisy", Christies, 8/10/66
Davis, Christies, 05/06/90
"DE MEZA", Cavendish, 16/06/16
"Emerald Collection", Feldman, 15/05/03
Fleckenstein, Harmers N.Y., 04/03/59
Herst, Christies, 19/05/87
Giamporcaro, RA Siegel N.Y., 17/10/96
Grunin, Christies N.Y., 16/03/88, Spink, 6 May 2004 and RA Siegel N.Y., 27/04/10
Guggenheim, S Gibbons, 16/11/72
Haas, S Gibbons, 09/05/80
Herald, Cavendish, 09/09/94
Knapp, Parke Bernet N.Y., 08/05/41
Knox, R Lowe, 15/05/79
Leighton, R Lowe, 05/05/55
Mayer, Harmers, 19/10/79
Meroni, J Fox N.Y., 24/10/52
Minimus, R Lowe, 08/07/80
Pegasus, Cavendish, 26/09/03
Risvold, Spink Shreves N.Y., 27/01/10
Salzer, R Frajola, 16/05/92
Sapphire, Harmers N.Y., 17/5/07
Semcroft, R Frajola, 21/04/91
Shaida, Feldman, 21/05/05
Tumer, Christies, 10/03/94
Van Elkan, Harmers N.Y., 22/04/54
Walske, R.A.Siegel N.Y., 16/03/16
Yates, Robson Lowe, 09/02/49
Zatulove, "A Journey of Ingenuity, 4000 Years of Written Communication " Harmers, 1/11/08


Frame 1

  1. Introduction
  1. Punch Anti-Graham Wafers
  2. Wafers and Envelope
  3. Post Office Offences Act Amendment
  1. Anti-Corn Law League
  2. Wafers and Envelopes by John Gadsby
  3. Envelopes by John Gadsby
  1. Mitchell Designs
  1. Overview
  2. James Valentine Advertisement
  3. Bradshaw and Blacklock Design
  4. Bradshaw and Blacklock Design
  5. Bradshaw and Blacklock Design
  6. Gilpin Design
  7. Gilpin Design
  8. Gilpin Design

Frame 2

  1. League of Universal Brotherhood
  2. League of Universal Brotherhood
  3. League of Universal Brotherhood
  4. Myers Design
  5. Valentine First Design
  6. Valentine First Design
  7. Valentine First Design
  8. Valentine First Design
  9. Valentine First Design
  10. Valentine First Design
  11. Valentine Second Design
  12. Valentine Second Design
  13. New York Cheap Postage Association
  14. Imperial Penny Postage and British-American Concessionary Rate
  15. Beechings Imperial Penny Postage Envelope
  16. Junior Philatelic Society Commemorative envelope 1908

Frame 3

  1. GB Peace Society
  2. GB Peace Society
  3. Gilpin Design for Elihu Burritt's Olive Leaf Society
  4. Valentine Design
  5. Valentine Design
  6. Valentine Design
  7. Valentine Design
  8. Valentine Design
  9. Valentine Design
  10. Valentine Design
  11. Valentine Design
  12. Valentine Design
  13. American Peace Society
  14. American Peace Society
  15. American Peace Society
  16. American Peace Society

Frame 4

  1. Paton and Love Design
  2. Peter Hunter Design
  3. Valentine Design
  4. Valentine Design
  5. Valentine Design
  6. Valentine Design
  7. Valentine Design
  8. Valentine Design
  1. John Marshall Designs
  2. Valentine Standard Design
  3. Valentine Standard Design
  4. Valentine Standard Design
  5. Valentine Standard Design
  6. Valentine Standard Design
  7. Valentine Standard Design
  8. Valentine Reverse Design

Frame 5

  1. Valentine Design
  2. Valentine Design
  3. Valentine Design
  4. Valentine Design
  5. Valentine Design
  6. Valentine Design
  7. Valentine Design
  8. Valentine Maine Law Design
  9. Valentine Design - American Reproduction Copies
  10. Valentine Design - American Reproduction Copies
  11. Valentine Design - American Reproduction Copies
  12. Valentine Design - American Reproduction Copies
  13. Valentine Design - American Reproduction Copies
  14. Valentine Design - American Reproduction Copies
  1. Valentine Design
  2. Valentine Onwhyn Design