Par Avion: Air Mail Patterns

September 14, 2012 § 1 Comment

Humans love both the art of flying, and the joy of receiving letters. One of our first known air-mail deliveries occurred by balloon on January 9, 1793, traveling from Philadelphia to New Jersey, carrying a personal letter from George Washington!  Air mail officially began in the United States in 1918 and while it’s now considered obsolete (in 1995, the Postal Service began transporting all First Class long distance intercity mail by air), beautiful air mail letters continue to be produced.

I purchased the classic half-chevron/rhombus bordered envelopes  in Guatemala several years ago, (see below) and continue to use them for fun whenever I send a letter to a distant location. Now I’m dreaming up ways to create patterns inspired by these classic shapes.

In researching the subject, I was delighted, but not surprised to learn that the rhombus blue and red framing is just a modern simplification of myriad former air mail designs. While air mail envelopes were almost universally printed with red or blue ink, their outside framing (and of course, stamps) varied widely. Popular motifs include airplanes and balloons, stripes, stars, arrows, and occasionally more eclectic shapes like firecrackers or shields.

See some examples below, from a collection curated by R. Howard Courtney

I’m delighted! And off to develop some modern classic takes on these designs. As always, it’s great to be in good company. Designer, & Kathleen developed a great invitation based on a classic airmail pattern here, which I love. Now off to the races!


§ One Response to Par Avion: Air Mail Patterns

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