James Folta, New York City

I can’t remember exactly when I started collecting security envelopes, but at some point I started to tear up my mail to use as scratch-paper. I’m an obsessive list-writer and it seemed better to make my lists on paper I would otherwise throw out instead of wasting new paper.

Eviscerating mail introduced me to the insides of security envelopes and their printed patterns. They were no good as list paper, but I started to enjoy the variety of their patterns.

I think I assumed that these camouflaging envelopes were fairly standard, with maybe a few repeated sequences, but there is a huge variety of designs and colors. And many of them are quite beautiful. Now, I’m overly careful when I open mail, in case I come across a design I’ve never seen before.

I have 30 or 40 unique patterns of envelope in my collection. They’re all lovingly stuffed in a folder I’ve labeled “My Envelope Folder.”

I don’t know any of the individual designers of these envenlopes, but I’d love to. There are lots of little, beautiful things that someone put a lot of thought into but go mostly ignored. It’s a shame that their ubiquity has just made them seem common and plain.

I haven’t told many people about my collection, but most folks wonder why. When I don’t have a more interesting answer than “I like them,” most politely nod their heads and move on.

My girlfriend seems to tolerate them, but ask us again in a few years as the collection continues to grow.

James Folta is a writer based in New York City, If you have any security envelope designs to share, or are a designer with insights, or just want to talk envelopes, you can reach James at jamesh.folta@gmail.com.