Civil War Patriotic Envelopes Addressed to Abraham Lincoln Discovered!


By Alexander Haimann, Collections Specialist

A Lincoln patriotic cover

Over 144 years since President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination and in the year of Lincoln’s 200th birthday, the United States Philatelic Classics Society has announced a dramatic discovery of forty-nine multicolor Civil War patriotic envelopes (covers) address to President Lincoln. (The Classics Society is a 50+ year-old organization devoted to the study of pre-20th century U.S. stamps and postal history).

These remarkable patriotic covers were found among the John Hay papers at Brown University. Covers addressed to Lincoln as President are known, but none bearing dramatic multicolor patriotic themed designs were previously known to exist. The preprinted colored patriotic themed covers used throughout the Civil War are among the most iconic postal history objects of the period.

Lincoln’s private secretary John Nicolay hired John Hay (with Lincoln’s permission) as his assistant following Lincoln’s election as President. Daily relations with the President over more than four years gave Hay an abiding sense of Lincoln’s greatness. Shortly after the beginning of Lincoln’s first term in office, for reasons we will never know, Hay collected a group of patriotic envelopes addressed to the President. In the ordinary course of business, such envelopes would have been discarded. But evidently Hay saw something of the history of these objects and saved them, along with other Lincoln letters and manuscripts that were eventually bequeathed to his heirs. The patriotic envelopes were part of a large holding of John Hay memorabilia that was presented to Brown by members of his family in 1958.

To view the entire text of the article outlining this incredible discovery, visit: (accessed November 4, 2009)

Alex Haimann

About the Author
Alexander T. Haimann, Collections Specialist & Web Projects Developer at the Smithsonian National Postal Museum, collects and writes primarily about the stamps and postal history of the U.S. during the first one hundred years of stamp production (1847-1947). Additionally, he develops internet based education projects and exhibits for the National Postal Museum. He is a member of the Board of Directors of the American Stamp Dealers Association, the Chair of the American Philatelic Society’s Young Philatelic Leaders Fellowship and the publicist for the United State Philatelic Classics Society. His national and international society memberships include the American Philatelic Society, United States Stamp Society, Collectors Club of New York and the Royal Philatelic Society London.