Tract House Patriotics

A one-half frame exhibit. Click on page for large image.

Various printers produced and sold patriotic covers during the Civil War. The vast majority were used in the first two years of the war when the patriotic fervor was highest. These were commonly sold as “kits” which included several envelopes, with different designs, letter paper, and often a pencil.

The Tract House, a printer of religious tracts located in Philadelphia, evidently came late to the game and few of their envelopes were used and have survived. The covers in this exhibit are all from a single correspondence, that of Oliver Shibley of the 31st Iowa Volunteers, to his wife Mary at Clarence, Iowa over the period between 1862 and 1865. Quite probably the covers represent a nearly complete set of the different designs contained in one of the kits.

Each cover has an imprint “Tract House, 929 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia” at the top of the back flap as well as vignette printed lower on the reverse. In an effort to record this group, the various reverse vignettes are shown adjacent to the covers.

Richard Frajola (February 2010)