The first envelope was probably that made by Babylonians over 4000 years ago. It was created by taking wet clay and folding it over a tablet message and then pressing the ends together to seal it.
The clay envelope was then baked to make it hard and to ensure the tablet message was safely tacked inside. Fast-forward to the 1800s when paper envelopes were born, starting a revolution in the packaging industry that continues to evolve to the present day. There are different types of envelopes for shipping in the market today, each designed with a particular usage in mind.
The following types of envelopes are recommended for shipping:
1. Padded Envelopes
When transporting delicate documents or packages, having extra protection for the materials is highly recommended. This is where padded envelopes come in. These types of envelopes feature foam, bubble wrap or thick paper to cushion the package from external pressure that could damage the product.
Padded envelopes are mostly used for packaging books to make sure they stay in pristine condition while in transit. They are also used for packaging fragile goods and other important documents. Padded envelopes are recommended for products on long transit to reduce the potential high risk of damage.
2. Expansion Envelopes
Expansion envelopes were informed by the need for a more convenient mode of packaging that featured slightly larger packages as opposed to just a few sheets of paper. Before this, books were packaged in boxes or larger containers and sent through mail or courier services.
Expansion envelopes solved this problem by featuring a side panel that expands up to four inches depending on the desired size. One is therefore able to package books and larger documents before transporting them via courier. Expansion envelopes are efficient in carrying parcels and packages since you can store and transport multiple packages at a time instead of using large boxes.
3. Tamper Evident Envelopes
One of the primary uses of envelopes is to secure the contents inside. Due to the sensitivity of various documents and packages, special measures are taken to protect them from being opened or accessed by unauthorized individuals. Tamper evident envelopes are used to seal documents safely and securely to keep intruders from accessing the contents.
These types of envelopes are mostly used to send sensitive documents to specific people. Police officers use them to seal evidence materials seized in a case, or when transporting highly-sensitive classified documents from one person to another. Special techniques are used to tamper-proof these envelopes to secure them while in transit.
4. Extra-Long Mailing Envelopes
Other than the large A3 size documents and books, larger sized packages need to be appropriately packaged before shipping. There are large envelopes to cater to specific large-size packages such as large paintings and artworks that require special envelopes for safe packaging before shipping. Wallpaper rolls also need to be packaged in extra-long envelopes before shipping.
These types of envelopes are also used to safeguard legal and long printed documents such as architectural drawings. They can be padded or sealed to serve the specific needs of the sender and receiver depending on their security and sensitivity. Some are custom-made to meet the specifications of the package or material being sent.
5. Flat Mailers
Flat mailers are the most commonly used envelopes. They are used for packaging small documents. For instance, you can package small cards and small documents in flat mailers. As their name suggests, they are thin and flat. Their durability is highly dependent on the material used to make them. Some may have special adhesives to securely seal the envelopes to protect the document and safeguard it from unwanted interference.
Flat mailers come in various shapes and sizes depending on the specific type and size of the material being sent. They are easily accessible and can be used to store and keep records neat and organized.
6. Baronial Envelopes
These are the most common types of envelopes. They have a pointed triangular flap on the back side. Depending on the documents or package being shipped, they can be flat mailers, padded or tamper-proof envelopes. Their use highly depends on the specific need of the sender and the receiver. The shape and size of the document is also an important consideration. They are commonly used for packaging cards among other materials.
Since about 4000 years ago when the Babylonians gave the world the first envelope (meticulously made using clay), the envelope industry has undergone a series of innovations in response to changing consumer demands. Issues that come to play when deciding the type of envelope to use include the safety and security of documents being shipped, their size and weight, and of course the aesthetics. Even with the pervasiveness of the digital technology that has depressed the use of the traditional envelope, some documents and books still need to be packaged in an envelope before shipping.
Although the onslaught by technology on envelopes will continue, the envelope will nonetheless hold its place in the packaging industry for centuries to come. No matter how much we digitize, we cannot digitize the emotion associated with opening a beautifully packaged book or a postcard from a loved one or friend.