During the Civil War, stationery printers in the North and South produced at least fifteen thousand different pro-Union and two hundred fifty different pro-Confederate patriotic envelope designs. Steven R. Boyd, a long time collector of patriotic envelopes and Professor of History at University of Texas – San Antonio, provides a fresh perspective on them in his new book, Patriotic Envelopes of the Civil War: The Iconography of Union and Confederate Covers. Although there is already a rich body of philatelic books and articles, Boyd has written the first book-length scholarly analysis of these patriotic envelopes and lettersheets. He explores their imagery and iconography to gain an understanding of what motivated soldiers and civilians to support a war that became far more protracted and destructive than anyone anticipated in 1861. While Northern envelopes typically argue for the importance of preserving the Union and preventing the destruction of United States, Confederate covers, in contrast, usually illustrate a competing vision of an independent republic free from the “tyranny” of the United States. These envelopes also reveal much about changing roles for women and African Americans in America due to the war.
This book is another example of the growing academic awareness of stamps and covers as appropriate primary sources for scholarly study. Boyd previewed some of the material from his book at the Fifth Postal History Symposium in September.
The 192-page hard bound book, with 181 color illustrations, is available from LSU Press for $36.95 plus shipping, but if you order online before the end of the year with the code 04ANNIVER you can take 35% off the list price.