Patent model of an envelope-folding machine
Russell L. Hawes invented the first commercially successful envelope producing machine in the United States. He was granted patent number 9812 on June 21, 1853. Working from previous designs, Hawes added a self-feeding device to pick-up blanks automatically, reducing the number of required attendants and pioneering the principles that would later be used in self-gumming plunger machines. Hawes’s envelope-making machines turned out 10,000 to 12,500 envelopes per day.
Hawes, a Massachusetts physician, had a knack for invention. He left his practice to work for a paper machinery manufacturer, Goddard, Rice & Company. His innovations reduced the need for attendants and speeded the process. He designed machines to interact efficiently with the human body decades ahead of both scientific management approaches of the early twentieth century and the contemporary study of ergonomics.