Call for Entries: 2018 Graceful Envelope Contest

Date(s): 03/26/2018
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Call for Entries: 2018 Graceful Envelope Contest

2018 Graceful Envelope Contest
Call for Entries!

by Gini Ogle

Download 2018
Call for Entries flier

2018 CALL FOR ENTRIES: Calligraphers and artists from around the world are invited to participate in the 24th annual Graceful Envelope Contest, conducted by the Washington (DC) Calligraphers Guild and the National Association of Letter Carriers. The contest is open to all ages, with separate categories for children. There is no entry fee. Postmark deadline: Monday, March 26, 2018.

View winning envelpes from past years:


2001“Scripsit” magazine of past winning envelopes

Themes of past contests

This year’s theme:
Whatever the Weather

Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night…

There’s always something to say about the weather. From severe storms to sowing crops to using the sun and wind for renewable energy, the weather affects everyone. Summon a brainstorm to capture what’s outside your window—or outside the box—and design a winning envelope!

Address it artistically to:
The Graceful Envelope Contest
100 Indiana Ave. NW
Washington, DC 20001

POSTMARK DEADLINE: Monday, March 26, 2018

Winners will be chosen based on artistic hand lettering, creative interpretation of the theme and effective use of color and design, including incorporation of postage stamp(s).

In addition to promoting the art of calligraphy, the Graceful Envelope Contest celebrates the role of letters in binding people together and serves as a reminder that the people who deliver the mail are career government employees who take pride in their work and care about the communities they serve.

The contest was created in 1995 by the Smithsonian Institution’s National Postal Museum, which administered it until delegating responsibility to the Washington Calligraphers Guildin 2001. Beginning in 2003, the National Association of Letter Carriers agreed to partner with the Washington Calligraphers Guild and exhibit the Adult winners.

Contest Rules         (Below: 2017 Best in Show by Christy Robb. Theme: Pushing the Envelope)

Christy Robb Best in ShowWHO CAN ENTER

  • Entries will be judged in these divisions:
    — Adult
    — Grades 9-12
    — Grades 5-8
    — Grades 1-4
  • Only one entry allowed per person.


  • There is no entry fee.
  • Each entry must be a stamped envelope, either manufactured or handmade, delivered through the U.S. Postal Service. The envelope will not be opened.
  • Entries may not be enclosed in a separate envelope or in any protective covering.
  • Size may not exceed 7×9 inches. Standard #10 business envelopes are also permitted. (Some envelope sizes require additional postage.)
  • Use calligraphy or hand-drawn artistic lettering to address the FRONT of the envelope to:
    The Graceful Envelope
    100 Indiana Ave. NW
    Washington, DC 20001
  • On the BACK of the envelope, print your name, mailing address and email, clearly labeled “FROM.” Students must indicate their GRADE (international students: please provide your age).
    Note to teachers: 
    If this is a class project, please put your address and email on the back of each student’s envelope.


  • Creative interpretation of the contest theme to transform an ordinary envelope into a work of art. From breezes to blizzards to thinking outside the box, the 2018 theme, Whatever the Weather, encourages artistic brainstorms.
  • Quality of calligraphy or artistic lettering used to address the envelope. Computer-generated or -enhanced lettering is not permitted.
  • Effective use of color and design employing standard media such as paint, ink, markers and pencil. Not permitted: stickers or manufactured rubber stamps (hand-cut stamps permitted).
  • Entrants are encouraged to integrate postage stamp(s) into the design.
  • See below for the advice of a past judge.


  • The Call for Entries and theme are announced in the fall.
  • Entries must be postmarked no later than Monday, March 26, 2018. The contest will not acknowledge receipt of entries.
  • Judging will take place in late April 2018 by three professionals from the postal, calligraphic and arts communities. Only the front of the envelope will be judged; the name, address and email of the entrant must be written clearly on the back. (If a class project, teachers should put their address and email on the back of each student’s envelope.)
  • Winners will receive certificates in early June 2018 and their names and entrieswill be posted online. No prizes are awarded. Please note: Entries not selected by the judges will not be notified.
  • All winning envelopes can be viewed online at and Adult winning envelopes are exhibited for a year in the National Association of Letter Carriers headquarters lobby (100 Indiana Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20001; 202-662-2851). Winners may also be published or exhibited elsewhere. Entries not selected by the judges will not be displayed or returned.


  • If you have any questions about entering or if your entry is returned to you, contact the contest administrators.
  • To help the envelope reach its destination, make certain the zip code (20001) is easily readable. (You may also repeat the contest’s address on the back of the envelope, clearly labeled “TO.”)
  • First-class postage is 49 cents for envelopes weighing up to one ounce. Postage for square, oversized or unusual envelopes starts at 70 cents. You can use stamps issued in any year. NOTE: If you reside outside the US, use your country’s postage in the denomination required for mail going to the States.