ONE OF THE FIRST AND BEST SIMILITUDE ENVELOPES – USED AS AN ADVERTISING DUST JACKET FOR A LAMPOON OF NEW YORK LITERARY SOCIETY; A tromp l’oeil similitude envelope that served as a ‘dust jacket’ advertisement for Frances (Fanny) Sargent Osgood’s booklet, A Letter About the Lions: a letter to Mabel in the country
ONE OF THE FIRST AND BEST SIMILITUDE ENVELOPES – USED AS AN ADVERTISING DUST JACKET FOR A LAMPOON OF NEW YORK LITERARY SOCIETY; A tromp l’oeil similitude envelope that served as a ‘dust jacket’ advertisement for Frances (Fanny) Sargent Osgood’s booklet, A Letter About the Lions: a letter to Mabel in the country
ONE OF THE FIRST AND BEST SIMILITUDE ENVELOPES – USED AS AN ADVERTISING DUST JACKET FOR A LAMPOON OF NEW YORK LITERARY SOCIETY; A tromp l’oeil similitude envelope that served as a ‘dust jacket’ advertisement for Frances (Fanny) Sargent Osgood’s booklet, A Letter About the Lions: a letter to Mabel in the country
ONE OF THE FIRST AND BEST SIMILITUDE ENVELOPES – USED AS AN ADVERTISING DUST JACKET FOR A LAMPOON OF NEW YORK LITERARY SOCIETY; A tromp l’oeil similitude envelope that served as a ‘dust jacket’ advertisement for Frances (Fanny) Sargent Osgood’s booklet, A Letter About the Lions: a letter to Mabel in the country
ONE OF THE FIRST AND BEST SIMILITUDE ENVELOPES – USED AS AN ADVERTISING DUST JACKET FOR A LAMPOON OF NEW YORK LITERARY SOCIETY; A tromp l’oeil similitude envelope that served as a ‘dust jacket’ advertisement for Frances (Fanny) Sargent Osgood’s booklet, A Letter About the Lions: a letter to Mabel in the country

ONE OF THE FIRST AND BEST SIMILITUDE ENVELOPES – USED AS AN ADVERTISING DUST JACKET FOR A LAMPOON OF NEW YORK LITERARY SOCIETY; A tromp l’oeil similitude envelope that served as a ‘dust jacket’ advertisement for Frances (Fanny) Sargent Osgood’s booklet, A Letter About the Lions: a letter to Mabel in the country

New York: :George P. Putnam, 1849. Unbound. Advertising envelope only; no booklet. Despite its appearance to the contrary, this envelope was an elaborate tromp l’oeil ploy by George Putnam to market Frances Sargent Osgood’s booklet lampooning scandals of the New York’s literary scene.

The 12½¢ stamp and the backflap seal were Putnam creations, and every part of the envelope was printed: the circular 12½¢ postmark handstamp, the fictitious address in Osgood’s hand, Osgood’s signature, Putnam’s manuscript forwarding note, and the docketing by “Miss Montague.” (See BAL 15319.)

Some of the similitude’s marketing subtleties might be lost on a customer of today:

1) The postal service was booming in 1849, and the use of a faux envelope as a marketing would have attracted attention.

2) The United States began issuing postage stamps in 1847; before that postmasters would apply a handstamp or manuscript marking indicating the cost of postage, in this case 12½¢. The faux stamp’s indicia, which was almost identical to the indicia of the exceptionally popular first two U.S. postage stamps, also shows its cost as 12½¢; perhaps 12½¢ was the price of the booklet.

3) The alliterative address (Miss Mabel Montague, Montpelier, Montgomery County, Massachusetts) is ‘written’ in Osgood’s hand, and it is ‘signed’ by her.

4) Putnam was preparing to release a collection of Osgood’s poems the following year, so no doubt Putnam saw the publication of this booklet with its clever envelope as a way to keep her name before the literati.

5) The ‘forwarding’ of the envelope through Putnam clearly identified the publisher, and its fictional “Miss Mabel” addressee would have emphasized the single-female market that formed the bulk of Osgood’s readers.

6) Miss Mabel’s docketing, the stamp, and backflap seal, all depict or allude to “Lions,” and the booklet, A Letter About the Lions, was a tongue-in-cheek reference to the “literary lions” of New York, one of whom was Osgood’s former lover, Edgar Allan Poe. Very good. Item #008912

Francis “Fanny" Osgood, a poet, was one of the most popular American authors of her time. She and Poe engaged in a passionate, possibly unconsummated, romance in which they publically exchanged—to the apparent indifference of their spouses—rather indiscreet poems that Poe published in his Broadway Journal. Although their spouses may not have cared, another female poet spurned by Poe, Elizabeth F. Ellet, did, and she embarked on a poison-pen campaign scandalizing the relationship. Osgood, considered to be quite the coquette, had a number of other lovers including Rufus Wilmot Griswold, the journalist, editor, and critic who jealously attempted to destroy Poe’s personal and literary reputation after his death in 1849.

For more information see DeBlois’s “Trump l’Oeil ‘Dust Jacket’ 1849," Groten’s “Cinderellas get a salute” in "The American Stamp Dealer & Collector" June 2008, and Benton’s “Friends and Enemies: Women in the Life of Edgar Allan Poe” in Fisher’s "Myths and Reality: The Mysterious Edgar Allen Poe."

Exceptionally scarce. Groton and DeBlois report that the Osgood envelope is the first literary and postal similitude and that there are only two known copies of which this is one.

Price: $2,750.00

See all items by ,