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Envelope – Fun Facts about Envelopes and Britain

Envelopes – Fun Facts

Envelopes have an old history, initially being produced by quickly shaping fast-drying clay, and then hand-made using animal hide, and later paper. Below are some interesting facts about the envelope, those letter pockets that are mailed in the millions daily.

  • The first envelope-making machine was patented in Britain by Edwin Hill and Warren De La Rue
  • The first envelope was a rhombus (diamond) shaped sheet that was then fed into a machine for creasing. An adhesive was applied to the overlapping flaps, and it could then be held together by a single wax seal at the peak of the topmost flap.
  • In May 1840, after the British government has taken control of the postal services, they produced the first envelope that was pre-printed with a postage-paid mark. This proved to be extremely popular amongst the middle and upper class.
  • In the beginning of the 19th century telegrams were sent as a fast means of communication for people without telephones. Telegrams cost 6d (about 2p) for every nine words, and a penny for each extra word after that, so messages were short and insignificant words were left out.  The messages looked quite odd and every sentence ended with the word “stop”. They were then either written by hand or printed in capital letters. When a telegram was ready, it was placed in an envelope, addressed and handed to a uniformed delivery boy.
  • The phrase “push the envelope”, meaning to go beyond current limits of performance was first coined in 1978.
  • The European Patent Office comprises more than 10,000 inventions with “envelope” in their title.
  • It is considered an act of treason to put a postage stamp with the queen’s head upside down on an envelope!
  • Despite the rapid rise of various forms of digital communication, the most recent GCA Market Report shows that in 2015 the UK public spent more on greeting cards than ever before – taking the market rate up to a value of £1.7 billion.

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