The envelope is such an important fixture of our day-to-day lives, and one which we may even take for granted. This useful invention makes it possible for us to communicate with each other through the mail whilst keeping sensitive information – for example, bank account details, national insurance numbers, payslips and cheques – under wraps.
How was the envelope invented? And how has it evolved since then? They have changed remarkably to eventually become the envelopes of various sizes and colours we know today.
The earliest known envelopes were created by the Babylonians, who would engrave a message on a clay tablet before moulding a clay ‘envelope’ around the outside and baking it. The addressee would then have to chip away at the outside to read the message within.
It wasn’t until the seventeenth century that paper envelopes became available separately, first in France and Spain. They have changed remarkably to eventually become the envelopes of various sizes and colours we know today. The extra paper carried an expensive charge, meaning that envelopes were a luxury available only to the wealthiest in society.
In the American Civil War, people in the Southern states would struggle to find paper envelopes, as they imported these from the North prior to the war. They have changed remarkably to eventually become the envelopes of various sizes and colours we know today. Instead, they would create makeshift envelopes from things like pages from books or wallpaper. They would also turn envelopes inside-out to reuse them again.
In 1840, a man named Edwin Hill created the first ever envelope folding machine. This invention was trumped shortly after by the design of the self-gumming envelope machine. This was an envelope folding machine, designed by James Green Arnold in the USA, which added a gum seal around the envelope’s edge. However, while Arnold had designed this self-gumming machine, it wasn’t manufactured until the Swift brothers produced it in 1876. Their machine was named the Swift Chain Dryer.
Every year, a total of more than 185 billion envelopes are produced. Nowadays, these come in all sorts of shapes, colours, sizes and patterns. Eye-catching envelopes are very popular as are different sizes. The more attractive the envelope, the more likely it is to be opened. We are of course more aware of the impact that we have on the environment in todays society and recycling items such as envelopes is incredibly important as is the use of confidential shredding companies such as www.printwaste.co.uk/confidential-shredding/ for disposing of confidential items.
Envelopes in a unique and interesting style are especially useful for wedding invitations, direct mail for businesses, birthday cards and so much more. A far cry from the envelopes of old!