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Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Ask Irongate, “How do I choose the right envelope?”

The key considerations when selecting an envelope are:
Size                                                   – see table below
Opening edge                                      - Wallet (open long edge) or pocket (open short edge)
Window or plain
Quality/weight of paper
Colour                                                  – usually either white or manila
By seal                                                – gummed, press seal or peel & seal
By pack size                                        – ranging from 10 to 1000 per box
Environmental considerations                - 100% recycled envelopes are readily available

Extra strong polythene envelopes are also available.  These are much lighter than typical paper equivalents and have the additional advantage of being waterproof, strong, burst, tear and puncture resistant.
Padded envelopes and mail bags offer additional protection from shock for fragile contents.  They typically have a bubble wrap or shredded newsprint lining whilst board backed envelopes help protect the contents from damage as a result of bending.      
Envelopes are most commonly used for enclosing and sending mail through a prepaid-postage system.
Window envelopes have a hole cut in the front side that allows the paper within to be seen. They are generally arranged so that the sending address printed on the letter is visible, saving the sender from having to duplicate the address on the envelope itself. The window is normally covered with a transparent or translucent film to protect the letter inside, as was first designed by Americus F Callahan in 1901 and patented the following year. In some cases, shortages of materials or the need to economize resulted in envelopes that had no film covering the window. One innovative process, invented in Europe about 1905, involved using hot oil to saturate the area of the envelope where the address would appear. The treated area became sufficiently translucent for the address to be readable. As of 2009 there is no international standard for window envelopes, but some countries, including  Germany and the UK, have national standards
The "envelope" used to launch the Penny Post component of the British postal reforms of 1840 by Sir Rowland Hill and the invention of the postage stamp, was a lozenge-shaped lettersheet known as a Mulready. If desired, a separate letter could be enclosed with postage remaining at one penny provided the combined weight did not exceed half an ounce (about 13 grams). This was a legacy of the previous system of calculating postage, which partly depended on the number of sheets of paper used.
Up until 1840 all envelopes were handmade, each being individually cut to the appropriate shape out of an individual rectangular sheet. In that year George Wilson in the UK patented the method of tesselating a number of envelope patterns across and down a large sheet, thereby reducing the overall amount of waste produced per envelope when they were cut out. In 1845 Edwin Hill and Warren de la Rue obtained a patent for a steam -driven machine that not only cut out the envelope shapes but creased and folded them as well. (Mechanised gumming had yet to be devised.) The convenience of the sheets ready cut to shape popularized the use of machine-made envelopes, and the economic significance of the factories that had produced handmade envelopes gradually diminished.
As envelopes are usually made of paper, they are intrinsically amenable to embellishment with additional graphics and text over and above the necessary postal markings. This is a feature that the direct mail industry has long taken advantage of custom printed envelopes have also become an increasingly popular marketing method.

Dimensions (HxW mm)
Dimensions (in)
Suitable for content format
110 × 220
4.33 x 8.66
1/3 A4
81 x 114
3.2 x 4.5
1/3 A5
81 x 162
3.19 x 6.4
1/3 A5
114 × 162
4.5 x 6.4
A6 (or A4 folded in half twice)
114 × 229
4.5 x 9
1/3 A4
162 × 229
6.4 x 9
A5 (or A4 folded in half once)
229 × 324
9.0 x 12.8
324 × 458
12.8 x 18
125 × 176
4.9 x 6.9
176 × 250
6.9 x 9.8

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