The current release of imprints from the American Antiquarian Society’s The American Civil War Collection, 1860-1922, includes many fine examples of illustrated Civil War envelopes, a scathing indictment of the pension system for veterans and their widows, and an old soldier’s reminiscences of his Union Army service.
The Loyalty States, Union. Illinois (1861)
This single example of the genre Civil War envelopes is from the state of Illinois. To be fully appreciated, it is helpful to view this scarce printed item in context with all of the Civil War envelopes found in the American Antiquarian Society’s extraordinary holdings, many of which are available in this online collection, as seen in the examples below.
According to the American Antiquarian Society (AAS),
Publication of Civil War envelopes began as early as the mid-1850’s, when north-south divisions began to take shape, but ended prior to the war’s conclusion because most believed that it was too indulgent and expensive to continue production in time of war.
All of the envelopes were decorated with illustrations, many of them in color. The AAS further explains: