A nice example of J. Valentines famous anti-slavery propaganda envelope postally used within the United States. Addressed to E. D. Sweeney, Edward.
A nice example of J. Valentines famous anti-slavery propaganda envelope postally used within the United States

A nice example of J. Valentines famous anti-slavery propaganda envelope postally used within the United States

From Austinburg, Ohio to Meadville, Pennsylvania: [circa 1855].

This terrific anti-slavery propaganda envelope was "Engraved & Published by J. Valentine, Dundee" on greyish wove paper.

On the left, it shows Britannia supported by a lion as the protector of a slave while a banner reading "God Hath Made of One Blood All Nations of Man" flies over head. On the right, a slave trader flogs a black man who is lashed to a pole, and another slave lies supine while a woman and child look on. Nearby, another trader holds a cord around the neck of a kneeling slave, and in the background a third trader has bound four black men to a log with neck chains. In distance, a group of slaves waits to be loaded on a slave ship. The envelope is addressed to "E.D. Sweeney (student) / Meadville, Crawford Co / Pa". and is postmarked with a blue Austinburg, Ohio circular handstamp. A combination manuscript/handstamp "due 5" rate mark is above the address. The cover is in nice shape. Some wear, soiling, and docketing on the reverse.

This is the first state of Valentine's second anti-slavery envelope with the imprints "Johnston & Hunter Edinr. & London" on the left and "Ackermann & Co London" on the right. (See pp 240-1 in British Pictorial Envelopes of the 19th Century by Bodily et. al.). Item #009594

John Valentine, of Dundee Scotland, was a linen printer who in the early 1840s expanded his business to produce billheads, notices, and prints of local scenes. In the late 1840s, he met Elihu Burritt, a radical pacifist who had grown disillusioned with America and moved to England. Burritt had founded the League of Universal Brotherhood and sponsored stores selling free-labor produce and clothing made from free-labor cotton (i.e. goods that had absolutely no connection to slavery). He also convinced Valintine to produce propaganda envelopes that could be sold in both England and America that advocated for his pet causes: anti-slavery, temperance, world peace, and universal brotherhood. (For more information see the Encyclopedia of 19th Century Photography edited by Hannany, Rickard's Encyclopedia of Ephemera, "U.S. Propaganda Covers" by David L. Jarrett in the November, 2008 issue of The Chronicle of the U.S. Classic Postal Issues and "Elihu Burritt" at Wikipedia. )

Austinburg, Ohio was a major stop on the Underground Railroad and the home of an ardent and early leader of the American abolitionist movement, Betsy Mix Cowles. School records show that Edward D. Sweeney was a freshman at Allegheny College in Meadville, Pennsylvania, which was located in Crawford County, the home of John Brown's tannery. Although Brown's tannery made the county another important stop on the Underground Railroad, "conductors' were exceptionally cautious in Meadville as a large percentage of Allegheny College students were from the South. (For more information see "The Underground Railroad's Secret Operations in Crawford County" in the Crawford Messenger, 28 Feb 2016 and various Wikipedia articles.)

A very scarce propaganda envelope. At the time of listing, no others are for sale in the trade, and OCLC shows none held by institutions. Only six similar U.S.-used anti-slavery propaganda envelopes have appeared at auction in the last 32 years per the Stamp Auction Network and major philatelic auction records. Inflation-adjusted prices-realized have ranged from $506 to $4750 (depending upon condition and auction vagaries) with an average price of $2585.

Price: $1,750.00