More than 30 years ago, in the early days of Andersen Press in the U.K., Klaus Flugge, the company’s founder and publisher, received a letter from David McKee in an envelope decorated with McKee’s distinctive artwork. Flugge proudly displayed the envelope on his office wall, where visitors were able to admire it. Over the years, a flood of similarly decorated envelopes has poured onto Flugge’s desk, most are from the various illustrators on the Andersen list. Those, too, made it onto the wall, which now showcases work from Satoshi Kitamura, Posy Simmonds, Max Velthuijs, Tony Ross, Axel Scheffler, and many others. Now the collection that has delighted visitors to Flugge’s office over the years has been made public. Letters to Klaus, a compilation of 100 of the envelopes, has just been published by Andersen, with all proceeds going to Save the Children.

McKee, who provided the original inspiration for the book, told PW that when he sent his first envelope to Flugge, he was following in a grand tradition. “Envelopes have been decorated for as long as there have been envelopes, and many famous artists such as Matisse created their own,” the illustrator said. “My very first envelopes were sent over 50 years ago to Gerald Scarfe and Ralph Steadman. I get a lot of enjoyment sending the envelopes to Klaus because he’s my best friend and he really appreciates them. Now rarely a week goes by where an envelope isn’t sent to friends in countries across the world. I enjoy sending illustrated envelopes because it’s like sending presents, and I think it’s nice that other people have taken it up too.”

And Flugge has been a grateful recipient. “The illustrated envelopes have been a neverending source of delight and amusement for visitors,” he said. “Envelopes have been sent from Japan, the U.S., France, the Netherlands, South Africa, and other countries around the world and, to my knowledge, none ever got lost.” And the new book should help ensure that the collection remains safe – and more widely distributed.