Old Advertising Images from Postal Items (2)

image of a factory on an envelope

As soon as envelopes were used for sending business letters and advertisements in the mid-19th century, it was quickly realized that the envelope (cover) itself could be an advertisement; the potential customer could be influenced before they even tore open the envelope. Even if someone did not see the contents, they saw the logo and image.

When postal cards were created later in that century, businesses found them very useful for advertisements (and they only cost a penny). The images on postal items from around the turn of the 20th century are very collectable. I hope that this group (2 of 4) of such images provides a window into those times far gone. Many of the advertising images are examples of the finest art of the engraver and illustrator.

If you are interested in collecting advertising covers, be sure to check out Jim Forte's postal history search page. Just search for 'advertising'.

(Legal Stuff) These images are provided for educational and research purposes ONLY. If you use them for anything commercial, you are on your own. Some of the images here, although scanned from items over 100 years old, may STILL be COPYRIGHT or TRADEMARK for the companies that use them. In some cases, the companies may STILL be using them in 2020. You have been warned.


Advertisement for Ford Model T Automobiles -- This image was scanned from an advertising brochure mailed from the Ford Motor Company. It shows several models of the Ford model 'T' product line. Based on information from a Ford Model T enthusiast, this brochure would probably date from 1922 or 1923.

Detail of Advertisement for a Ford Model T -- This detail image was scanned from the advertising brochure shown above. It shows the Touring Car model 'T'.

The original brochure shows a number of different models available (above). I have been told by a Ford Model T enthusiast that this would probably date from 1922.

Logo for Electrical Equipment Company -- This logo caught my eye, but I don't know the name of the company for which it advertises. (When I try to repair the electric wiring in my house, I often get the same feeling of grasping a live wire!)

This advertising item dates from around 1900.

'Six Millions' with Eye -- I was quite intrigued by this advertising cover, particularly by the color of the logo. I think that the designer of it wanted to add a lot of mystery to it. I expect that the advertiser is trying to tell us that they have 6 million customers, and to watch for more. All rather Egyptian, actually. This cover is from the 1890's.

Cover Illustration Showing Farm Equipment -- This is the image of the return address portion of an illustrated cover from a farm equipment dealer. This cover dates from the 1890's.

Notice the seat for the equipment operator. These seats are often seen described as 'tractor seats', when in fact they are for the person riding on, and operating, the particular device. This type of farm implement could be pulled by a tractor, but in the 19th century, it was more likely pulled by animals.

'Electric' Logo -- This is the image of the return address portion of a cover from the cigar manufacturer Davenport and Hersey. This amazing engraving of the personification of 'electric' advertises one of their cigar brand names.

'Plymouth Rock' Chicken Illustration -- This image is included in the return address portion of a cover from a breeder of 'Plymouth Rock' chickens.

Colorful All-Over Advertising Cover for Corn -- This image is a bit small, but the all-over printed advertisement for corn is colorful and fun.

The company is the J. C. Towle, Grain, Feed and Salt, Bangor, Maine. The cover is from the late 1890's.

All-Over Advertising on Back of Cover for 'Tent City' -- The front of this cover is interesting, but the over-all ad on the back is moreso. This type of 'camping' is what people did in 1907, who wanted to get out of the city and enjoy the seashore on a limited budget. Of course, you could stay at the del Coronado Hotel near San Diego in 1907, but it was pricy, and you probably had to dress up for dinner.

Mr. Hammond is offering tent living, much like the RV lifestyle of today, and is giving it the full advertising treatment here.

Here is a historical article about tent city in Coronado, and a newspaper article about the history of Tent City.

There were other tent cities along the California coast in those days, including Huntington Beach (which was more of a religious retreat).

(When I was a child growing up in Southern California, we often spent part of the summer at Carpenteria Beach in a tent.)

Polar Bears Enjoying Ice Cream -- This nice illustration is the return address (cornercard) on a cover, showing polar bears enjoying the ice cream. The company is Rudell's Creamery of Grand Rapids, Michigan. The advertisement also features their butter and other dairy products.

Complete Cornercard with Eagle Image -- Many of the images on this web page show just the image part of the complete return address section of the envelope. The complete section is called a "cornercard", and at minimum contains the return address of the sender. For advertising purposes, this area was often enhanced with colorful and/or striking images.

The eagle shown here with thunderbolts over a map of the United States, is a trade mark of the Charles Munson Belting Company of Chicago.

The business address is given and wording is added that the letter should be returned 'if not delivered within ten days'. Why this wording? Well around 1900, a lot of mail was not delivered to a physical address, unless it was clearly marked on the letter or card. From the earliest days of the mail service, much incoming mail was held at the Post Office for pickup. This message indicates that mail held there should be returned after a stated amount of time.

When I started collecting stamps in the 1950's, pre-printed envelopes that you purchased at the stationery store, still showed such a return statement, but the time limit had changed to 5 days.

Engraving on Back of Envelope for 'The Oakes Company' Factory -- This is a very nice engraving on the back of a cover. It pictures the 'Oakes Company' facility. The image shows a very up-to-date facility. Notice the fact that the facility has a railroad connection in the rear, and there are trolley cars and automobiles running on the street in the front. No other information is available.

Engraving of a Modern Factory -- This is a very nice engraving on the back of a cover. The image is of a factory, but I do not know the name or location. Notice that this factory is also very modern, with railroad connections, and automobiles seen on the street. It even has windmills operating inside the factory area, and a nice American flag flying from the building's corner.

Del Coronado -- Del Coronado hotel advertisement. People with smaller budgets could stay at the tent city located next to the hotel.

Furnace Illustration -- This is the image of a house furnace from an illustrated cover. I liked the nice maroon color of the printer's cut. These furnaces are common in older homes in the upper Midwest.

We had a furnace in our basement in Bay City (1997), that looked quite a bit like this one. Our house had been built in the 1920's.

This cover dates from about 1900.

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Updated 7/22/20, 2:41 PM