On its Postcard History website (https://siarchives.si.edu/history/featured-topics/postcard/postcard-history), the Smithsonian Institution Archives informs me in its paragraphs regarding the Pre-Postcard Period: 1848-1870 that some correspondents used "mailed cards" and some correspondents used envelopes with pictures on them.
For years, I ignored those bit of information. I collect postcards; not envelopes. I have enough clutter in my home; never mind starting a new hobby.
Yesterday, my wife showed me the Christmas cards that we received in that morning's mail. Amongst the several envelopes containing Christmas cards were four with Christmas images printed on their address side. That is when it dawned on me that some people still use "picture envelopes."
According to the Smithsonian's article, some people and organizations believe that images on envelopes were the precursor of picture postcards. The Smithsonian is one organization that thinks it might be so. If the Smithsonian thinks it might be so, then who am I to disagree with them?
The Smithsonian claims not to have any picture envelopes from that era. They illustrate their paragraphs of that era with a 1936 illustrated envelope. If the Smithsonian cannot acquire an illustrative example from the 1848-1870 era, who am I to think I will be able to do so? I will merely save those four Christmas image envelopes I received to illustrate that period of postcard history in my collection of postcards.
I decided to write an article on the subject and illustrate it with my recently received Christmas envelopes. Where should I start? I should start by clearing out the clutter on my desktop.
Oh! What is that among my clutter? It is an article I wrote a couple of months ago. I illustrated it with an envelope bearing a picture illustrating Civilian Conservation Corps activities. I can re-use that image to further illustrate my article about pictures on envelopes.
Hey, that reminds me! I remember "Way back when" that I acquired some picture envelopes about the ships launched at the Fore River Quincy, Massachusetts shipyard. I wonder if I can find them.
Wow! I found them in only two minutes. They were exactly where they should have been. And, the folder is complete with the original identifying note.
The original note says that the envelopes are "cachets," probably because each contains a card manufactured to identify the activity the envelope honors. The prior owner's note also indicates that the purchase price for the entire booklet is only one dollar. There were nineteen "cachets” in the booklet. My note says that I purchased the folder August 1, 2003. My, how time flies!
Now that my mind is on the subject, I have first day of issue envelopes for my hometown's heroine, Abigail Adams. Let me examine my collection of Abigail, her family, and the Abigail Adams Historical Society, Inc. Oh! There is such a large variety of them. I will use only one to illustrate my article.
What's that on the next page? A "mailed card." The Abigail Adams Historical Society, Inc. used a card – 5" by 7", with no envelope - to mail their 1999-2000 activity calendars. It has a pre-printed return address with an image of Abigail's birthplace on the address side of their "mailed card." The society printed its activity list on the opposite side.
The Smithsonian doesn't say anything about whether or not there were pictures of those early "mailed cards." The Smithsonian merely says, "Before postcards, some people sent cards through the mail with attached postage."
This hobby of collecting postcards is becoming more and more intriguing.