This antique envelope is a rare collectible on multiple levels. If you collect advertising in general or distillery ephemera in particular, this is a beauty to add to any collection with the intricate illustrations front and back showcasing the famous "elixir" commercialized by Alexandre Le Grand in Fécamp, France.
However, what I think really makes this a standout is the circular hole on the front. In my almost 20 years of collecting and selling antique French ephemera, I had never seen anything like this until I visited the Musée de la Carte Postale in Antibes this past March. That's when I learned about envelopes with holes and how the French postale system tried to 1) train folks on where to put the stamp on a postcard and 2) satisfy collector's demands. I don't think the idea was much of a success because the envelopes are very rare. Or, since the emphasis was on the postcard inside, maybe folks simply threw the envelope away.
While this envelope is even more rare, with the open window area designated for the address, most "hole" envelopes were regular envelopes as we think of them today. Hence, the next time you find a postcard with partial franking in a strangely circular pattern and there's no address -- a "hole" envelope could be the answer to your mystery!
With a "hole" envelope, the sender had more privacy in regard to what they were writing but still got a discounted postal rate (not the full letter rate). Also, for the collector, they would end up with a card that they could proudly display in their album, the photo or illustration not marred by full franking or ink smudges yet proof that it had been circulated.
This envelope measures 5.75 by 4 inches.
PLEASE NOTE: I have inserted a piece of white paper to make the design of the envelope show clearly in the first two scans, front and back. The third photo/scan shows the envelope without any inside contents.
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