Little Gems of the Postal History of the Great Exhibition of 1851. Number 4.

John Valentine’s “Industry of All Nations” envelope


Fred Peskett .


            The Industry of All Nations Envelope was sponsored by Elihu Burritt, an American blacksmith from Connecticut. The example shown was printed by Ackermann of London, and published by John Valentine of Dundee. The engraving featured symbolic representations of Art, Industry and Commerce. The Crystal Palace is to the left of the space reserved for the postage stamp. There are at least six variants known in respect of the printing on the back flaps of these envelopes, also the colour of the paper used was variable. The printing ink was generally black, but one printed with blue ink has been recorded. The printing variants on the back are:-

            left.                                                      right.                                        paper colour.

(a) Johnson & Hunter.                         Ackerman & Co.                                 Azure blue.

(b) Parry & Company.                         Ackerman & Co.                                 Azure blue.

(c) Johnson & Hunter.                         Ackerman & Co.                                 Azure blue.

(Scott)                                                  (R. Theobald)

(d) Johnson & Hunter.                         William Tweedie.                                 Azure blue.

(e) Johnson & Hunter.               Ackerman & Co.                         Blue ink on white  paper      (R. Theobald)                                      (E. Fry)                                               

(f) Paten & Richie.                               William Bremmer.                               Azure blue.


            There must have been thousands of these envelopes printed since,

30 envelopes were sent post free for 12 penny postage stamps.

50 envelopes were sent post free for 16 penny postage stamps.

100 envelopes were sent post free for 24 penny postage stamps.

250 envelopes were sent post free for 48 penny postage stamps.

            Unused examples are generally found, but used copies are very rare and can command very high prices.

            There is another “Industry of All Nations” envelope, only this one was produced some seventeen years later in 1868. M. Moons, a Belgian stamp dealer from Brussels, published a book and catalogue of Illustrated Postal Stationery. Permission was granted by Valentine to include the Industry of All Nations envelope, the reproductions were loosely mounted within the catalogue. The engraving for Moons book was by Belgian artist F. Deraedemaerker, his engraving was much sharper than the Valentine original, it was also printed on thinner and a deeper blue paper. “Deraedemaerker Fecit” is printed at the bottom left on the front of the envelope. The only back imprints are for Johnson & Hunter Edin. and London, on the left side at the back and “ENGRAVED & PUBLISHED BY J. VALENTINE, DUNDEE” (25 Adhesive, of 30 plain sent post free for 12 Penny Post Stamps)

Ackerman & Co. London, (on the right side, back)


Published by John Valentine of Dundee.


The engraving for Moons book was by Belgian artist F. Deraedemaerke, Note the small imprint Deraedemaerker Fecit” in bottom left corner

            The only variant of the re-print is therefore either a plain or an adhesive back flap. Because it was contained in a book, the re-print is far scarcer than the original, you could expect to pay at least three times the price of the original for the copy.

            The story of how both of these Industry of All Nations envelopes came to find their way into my collection is a fairly normal story, well, as normal as one can generally get !

            Some 15 years ago there was a Stamp Shop in the East Street Mall in Chichester ran by a dealer, John Smith. John’s shop was far from being a “run of the mill” stamp shop, to the uninitiated it may have seemed to be a little bit chaotic, (well not a little bit maybe a lot!) Boxes of envelopes, stamps on sheets, stamps off sheets, albums and ephemera was stacked everywhere, some were actually marked with their contents, but this was rarely a good indication of what was actually in the box, but John’s stock quickly changed, what was in the box marked British Postal History, could change overnight, but it would still be British Postal History on the box?

            John was always on hand to steer you to what you wanted. Apart from my usual requirements for Crystal Palace, Festival of Britain and the 1851 Exhibition, I was putting together a collection of the Pioneer American Air Mails, C.A.M. flights for the domestic air routes and F.A.M. flights for the International routes. Thanks to John I quickly put together a most interesting collection including mail carried by aviators such as Charles Lindberg, and the “Crash Mail” for which there was plenty around from the early air-mail flights. I was browsing through a box which I thought may yield a cover or two for this collection when I found the Valentine Industry of All Nations envelope, when I presented it for payment, John said “I’m sure there is another one of these around, when I find it I will put in the Save for Customers box”.

            Sure enough, the next time I went to see him I was handed the envelope he said he had, “How much was the last one?” asked John, “£8” I said being honest, “Same again” said John. He should have looked closer, it was the Deraedemaerker re-print! by the time I discovered that it was the re-print, John had sold the shop and retired.