One of the earliest examples of annuity advertising took the form of direct mail pieces sent by insurance companies to attorneys and executors of estates during the 1840s. These annuity advertisements were printed on postage-paid envelopes and lettersheets issued by the English postal service at the time that adhesive-backed stamps began to come into general use. The envelopes and the lettersheets had the word "POSTAGE" pre-printed on them in a fancy frame on one of the flaps. They were known as "Mulreadys" after the name of the artist who designed the etchings that were printed on these sheets. Printed on the inside of the lettersheets were advertisements, often for annuities or other insurance products.
The CollectionAnnuity Advertising Documents
These ornately decorated envelopes, Mulreadys, were, like the first postage stamp, a component of a comprehensive postal reform enacted in Britain in 1840. Unfortunately, the Mulready was the object of great public scorn and was withdrawn from circulation by the English Government shortly after 1844. These remaining early insurance direct mail advertisements, some of which can be viewed in the Annuity Museum collection, are especially rare for their historical significance as a postal first.