US Envelope Paper Color Chart



There are fourteen different color  papers used in the printing of late 19th and early 20th century US envelopes.  Most of the colors  are easy to identify such as blue, lemon and orange.  In the very early issues, due to chemical changes in  the paper over time and the variances in printing along with the chemicals in the inks, distinguishing  between white, manila, buff and amber is difficult.  With samples provided from the Dwyer and Francis  collections, the samples below should help you determine the proper identity of the envelope  or cut square.  If you cannot reach an identity, bring your item to the TS&CC meetings and one of the  members will help you.



 Amber Manila:  This is  Scott U121 and should be expertized.


Brown (image not available at this time)



Cream:  This is Scott U84  and is close to the amber manila color.   Side-by-side the amber manila will reveal a faint  yellow tone which is not in the cream color.

Dark Manila (image not available at this time)





 Light Brown 






Oriental Buff

Salmon (image not available at this time)


There are varieties of the above colors such as brown has a glazed and  unglazed look.

Amber is white with a yellowish tint.   Manila is white with a brownish tint.  Amber-Manila is darker the Manila  with a brownish-yellowish tint.

Fawn is a level darker than Oriental Buff.

Cream has a more white content in it  than Oriental Buff.  U84 above (Cream) is actually a variety of Cream.  Some call it Cream #2.

The colors might not show properly on computer monitors that have not been calibrated.  Colors do tend to show “true” on many of the 7” and 10” tablets on the market.

If any member feels that the color  identification of the envelope is incorrect please contact with your information.  If you have a sample of one of the missing colors or a better sample  of one already shown, please bring it to the next meeting or mail it the web master so it can be scanned and added to this page.

If you are an avid collector of cut  squares and entire US envelopes, think about ordering the color chart from Bill Cottun online from