Thursday, June 30, 2022

1850s Library of Congress Copyright Envelope


I've been collecting Library of Congress postal items for over 25 years. These items contitute a postal history of the Library of Congress. Items mailed by or on behalf of the library before 1860 that still exist are rare. Before I acquired the envelope shown above, I had only seen one other postal item mailed by the library before 1860. Obviously I was excited to add it to my collection. The envelope is identified as being mailed by the Library of Congress by the notation or docket on the left side of the envelope. It reads "Librarian of Congress recpt of our Copy Right articles". The envelope was mailed between 1851 and 1854 to Messrs Troup and Fickardt in Circleville, Ohio. George Fickardt and J.A. Troup were druggists in Circleville. The mailing period is established because their partnership only existed from about 1847 to 1854. Additionally, the 5 cent postal rate shown in the postmark went into effect on July 1, 1851 for unpaid postage (to be paid by the recipient). 

The envelope is also of significance in regard to the impact of copyright laws on the Library of Congress. An August 10, 1846 act of Congress authorized the Library of Congress to receive as a deposit one copy of each copyrighted "book, map, chart, musical composition, print, cut or engraving." Because that requirement had no enforcement provision and was largely ineffective it was repealed by an act of Congress on Feb. 5, 1859. An act on March 3, 1865 reinstituted a requirement that the Library of Congress receive one copy of each copyrighted item. On July 8, 1870 President Grant approved an acto Congress that centralized all U.S. copyright registration and deposit activities at the Library of Congress. The implementation of the 1870 law resulted in an enormous expansion of the use of the mail be the Library of Congress. I have developed a philatelic exhibit on the administration of copyright by the Library of Congress during the period 1870 to 1930. 

I have over 50 other blog posts related to the Library of Congress.

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