Mulready Envelopes Cinderella Stamp
Elaborately decorated pre-paid lettersheets and envelopes issued in Great Britain in 1840, at the same time as that country's first postage stamps. Noted artist William Mulready won the design competition for the postal stationery, but his fanciful artwork found no favor with the public. The Mulreadys were quickly withdrawn from sale.
Early usage of Mulready envelope
This envelope was postmarked at Leicester two days before Great Britain's first postage stamps and postal stationery became valid for postage. The practice of "jumping the gun" plagues philatelists to this day. Great Britain, May 4, 1840.