|Tinted Safety Envelope Research Project|
My intent in putting together this website is to document the history and variety of “Safety Envelope” patterns before they become obsolete and are removed from the design awareness of future generations.
I want to document these envelope patterns as a vanishing part of our culture, to show people that art and design are everywhere- often where they least expect to find it and to make people aware of the beauty in simple everyday objects and overlooked places.
“I never think nor notice my envelopes, and just throw them away; I’ll now raise my consciousness and keep anything unusual.”
Sometimes called “Safety Envelopes”, “Tinted Safety Envelopes” or “Security Envelopes,” these beautifully designed mailers are used to protect the information within from prying eyes. Falling victim to paperless ATM banking, internet banking, automatic withdrawals, wire transfers, Pay-Pal and email, these envelopes are disappearing from our daily mail and therefore from our visual vocabulary.
In addition to the overall decline in circulation of these envelopes, there is an increasing lack of design variation. More and more envelopes are being printed in fewer and fewer patterns. I sense an urgency to catalogue the diversity of these patterned envelopes before it’s too late.
“You’re about 45 years too late. My father was an insurance broker who used to get all kinds of stuff sent to him in wonderful envelopes which I collected. The US ones usually had the safety patterns on the inside. Sorry to say, my collection did not survive childhood.”
As an artist with a trained eye, and a degree from the Rhode Island School of Design, I was attracted to the patterns on the inside of these envelopes 30 years ago but have only now started collecting and organizing them in a systematic way, thanks to support from the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts.
“You know, those patterns are really cool. I don’t know what you
These kinds of envelopes are to be found around the world, providing us with a wonderful variety of designs and colors. Thanks to the help from many contributors collecting envelopes and sending them to me, I have so far been able to collect envelopes from Canada, Italy, Bermuda, England, Luxembourg, New Zealand and across the United States. I look forward to seeing safety envelopes from the rest of the world and from different periods in time.
Look inside the envelope,