You’ve Got Mail! $15.00 Summer 2022 A 21 Gun salute

34 | WINCHESTERCOLLECTOR.ORG • Summer 2022 YOU’VE GOT MAIL! Early Winchester Advertising Envelopes & Letterheads by Jennifer & Gary Gole Today, many of us use electronic communications in our everyday lives. We are constantly in touch with our family, friends andbusiness associates, from voicemail to email. From 1985 to the early 1990s, the companyAOL (America Online) had launched its email service and the tag line “You’ve got mail!” became a part of our communications landscape. We all take for granted the convenience of instant communications. However, in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, communications were quite different. Letters were the primary means of communication. As usual, the Winchester Repeating Arms Company was on the cutting edge during their heyday, using everyday communications of the period to promote the sale of their products. Beginning in the late 1880s, Winchester used envelopes and letterheads as an inexpensive way to advertise their newest rifles, shotguns and ammunition. Many of these pieces were so colorful that, thankfully, they were saved for us to collect and enjoy. The earliest envelopes used only black ink but featured Winchester’s iconic Model 1873 rifle on the front. We have seen several examples of these envelopes, all of them addressed to Buffalo Arms Co. in Buffalo, New York. The

Summer 2022 • WINCHESTERCOLLECTOR.ORG | 35 back of these earlier envelopes did not have advertising. The earliest postmark we have found is October 28, 1887, on the BuffaloArms envelope shown at the top of the previous page. However, this does not necessarily mean that the advertising envelopes were not used before this date. In addition to the Model 1873, these early envelopes also featured the Model 1886, 1892 and 1894 rifles, and the Model 1887 and 1897 shotguns as well. We believe that all of these were printed prior to 1900 and were in black print. The only example we have found using red print is the envelope shown above with a Model 1897 takedown shotgun on the front and a Model 1890 and a Model 1894 rifle on the back. The back also mentions the Model 1886 and Winchester reloading tools and is postmarked October 13, 1899. We see the use of full-color pictures featured on many of Winchester’s advertising envelopes after 1900. From approximately 1900–1903, the envelopes went back to a

36 | WINCHESTERCOLLECTOR.ORG • Summer 2022 plain back but featured a full color front, like the famous “Mountain Man” shown at left. From approximately 1904–1907, they were still using the “Mountain Man” logo but added additional color advertising on the back. We have seen this envelope in a sepia tone (medium brown) but have never found one of these postmarked, so it is our opinion that the sepia version may be a reproduction. In addition, all of the envelopes up to this point in time used the “block style” Winchester logo. Winchester introduced its now iconic “lightning strike” logo in 1906, so envelopes from then on will have that version of the logo…just like the other advertising and the barrel addresses on their firearms will have from this point forward. Winchester added “The Red W Brand” to their marketing in 1910 and this can be found on their envelopes after this time. You can see an example of this on this plain blue and red envelope and stationery from 1911, shown at the top of the next page. The “W Brand” is also shown in a very elaborate display on the back of the 1910 envelope at the lower left, the front featuring their current shotgun offering, the Model 1897 takedown. “Shoot Nothing but the W Brand” is now their patented logo. At this point, they have also begun advertising their Cleaning Preparations, as well. This particular back touting the “W Brand” was used on the envelopes we’ve encountered with postmarks from 1909 until 1913. Sometime after 1913, the envelopes become even more elaborate and used many of the images that were already showing up on Winchester store calendars, posters and other advertising pieces, mainly from 1916. During this time, Winchester was invited to be a member of the Rice Leaders of the World Association. Membership was by invitation only and stated: “Rice Leaders of the World, Strength-Honor-Quality-Service, Be Guided by this Foundation.” By this time, all of their colorful envelopes have the Rice logo on the envelope flap, instead of the “Shoot Nothing but the W Brand” logo. The year 1916 was an especially prolific year for Winchester advertising because of their membership in the Rice Association. The envelopes and stationery shown on the opposite page feature some modified versions of artist Philip R. Goodwin̕s original work, including “Trapper Attacked by Wolves,” the tent scene in “Surprised at Camp” and “Hunters with Dog.” That envelope and the iconic “Lady in the Yellow Raincoat” (not Goodwin) were produced by around 1916–1917 and have the Rice logo on the back flap. Goodwin's


work was also used for the especially rare license-holder, as it was designed to hold a Hunting License rather than being just a regular envelope, and the stationery letterhead shown above left. As a matter of record, we've found very fewWinchester letterheads with these elaborate logos. Another rare example is shown at the upper right and used N.C. Wyeth's “Dawn at Open Season.” Goodwin's “Unwelcome Visitor,” once used by Winchester to advertise the .401 Self-Loading Rifle, is shown above center on a 1928 post-marked envelope and is another example of how the company continually modified original paintings to meet current advertising needs. One of the rarest and most desirable envelopes is the Winchester Cowgirl envelope. This image was used for a very rare and desirable Winchester poster. It was also used to mail the catalog with the same image on the front cover, shown opposite top. The catalog was folded in half and mailed in the matching envelope. We have two different examples of this envelope that were both mailed from outside the United States and have the advertising written in Spanish. This envelope does not have the Rice logo but does have the Red W Brand on the flap,and could have been produced before or after the company's membership in the Rice Association. Since both examples we have were postmarked after this date, the dealers who used them may have also been using up their existing inventories. There are many other envelopes that Winchester used over the years, including some with the Winchester Junior Rifle Corps logo…but none would ever match up to these delightful vignettes of color sent in the mail during Winchester’s early years. These are small but very 38 | WINCHESTERCOLLECTOR.ORG • Summer 2022

Jennifer Gole #9526 is a Benefactor Life Member of the NRA, Past and Current WACA Director, Past Secretary of the WCA and Member of the OGCA. Email Jennifer at [email protected]. Gary Gole is WACA Member #4283, Life Member of the OGCA and Benefactor Life Member of the NRA. collectible. One point of caution, with today's technology and the small size of these pieces, they can be and have been reproduced. Our recommendation is that you only purchase versions that have been postmarked. They will be more expensive, but you can be assured that they are original pieces of Winchester history. Summer 2022 • WINCHESTERCOLLECTOR.ORG | 39