“Elephant in Kilt”, R. W. Hume of Leith, Comic Envelope No. 3, State 1a. R. W. Hume.
“Elephant in Kilt”, R. W. Hume of Leith, Comic Envelope No. 3, State 1a

“Elephant in Kilt”, R. W. Hume of Leith, Comic Envelope No. 3, State 1a

[Edinburgh, Scotland]: R. W. Hume of Leith, ca 1840-41. Envelope or Cover. Unused. Hinge remnants; tiny hole at tip of bottom flap. The front panel features an elephant wearing a kilt at the lower left front and an African-American child on the right holding a note that reads: “Mr. Hume, Sir, Please send us 1000 grosses of your envelopes. I am sir, Your Obt. Svt. Jim Crow”.

Of the four rear flaps,

One features a black dandy groping and kissing a white woman with the text: ‘Kisses not exceeding ½ ounces charged one penny, if prepaid – free!”

The second, two British naval officers in a small boat, firing envelopes from a cannon.

The third, anthropomorphic cats in a school room with the caption: “Cats Academy: Writing taught in One lesson, & the Bagpipes in Three.”

The fourth, an illustration of physicians attempting to mail a cadaver in one of Mulready’s envelopes.

Very good. Item #009553

When Sir Rowland Hill introduced uniform penny postage in the United Kingdom 1840, he initially thought that the vast majority of correspondence would be on postal stationery and that few people would use their own paper and envelopes to be franked with stamps purchased at a post office. So, after an unsuccessful open public competition to create a suitable design, the Lords of the Treasury commissioned William Mulready to do the job.

Mulready's allegorical envelope featured Britannia in the center dispatching winged messengers throughout the empire, which was represented by people in native costumes and exotic animals. The Times found the design to be ridiculous, noting “We have been favoured with a sight of one of the new stamp covers, and we must say that we have never beheld anything more ludicrous than the figure or allegorical device by which it is marked. . ..” The public agreed, and a few quick-thinking stationers began to print and market satirical caricatures.

The most concise reference to these parodies is Bodily, Jarvis, and Hahn’s British Pictorial Envelopes of the 19th Century.

Bodily notes that only twelve examples are known. Unused and damaged examples have sold at auction for $525 to $900 between 1997 and 2012. (Used examples have sold for as much as £19,000.).

Price: $600.00

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