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General Philatelic/Newcomer Cnr : First Day Covers - So many questions (Newbie Question Alert!)

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JohnnyRockets
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10 Apr 2018
11:29:14am
Hi all,

I had some questions that are of a "newbie" nature that I was wondering if someone could answer for me.

The question concerns First Day Covers, of which I am starting to collect and have acquired a few.

Questions:
1) First Day Covers
a) Why are they created?

b) Who creates them? Only the post office? Or do individuals create them?

c) Is there a "limit" to the numbers/variances that can be created for any given stamp?


I'm kind of confused by the topic, because it seems to be very "loose" as to who, when, why they are created(?)


Thank you,



JR



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amsd
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Editor, Seal News; contributor, JuicyHeads
10 Apr 2018
12:19:47pm

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re: First Day Covers - So many questions (Newbie Question Alert!)

Mr Rocket,

Let's confine the answer to US FDCs, because, well, the answer will be different in different countries.

Most US FDCs are created by several large "houses": ArtCraft, House of Farnam, Unicover (now extinct). Most of these are sold by subscription: you sign up and get one of each, or only commemmoratives, or one single and one block, or.....

I don't know the cost to receive them; most are essentially worthless on the secondary market.

Some individuals do it too, just to please themselves. I did that for a while, then stopped. They are very rare, and probably equally worthless.

And then there are cachet makers who produce 20 or 100, often hand-drawn and/or hand colored. Some of these are avidly collected. Phil, Craig, and I all live adjacent to a town whose fame is, at least for philatelists, defined by Dorothy Knapp, whose FDCs command prices in the $100s.

The USPS is also moving into the FDC market, producing its own "official" FDCs. I don't know how successful it is. The Canadians have done this for a long time.

So, variation on stamp usage and cachet is limitless.

If you want to know more, you know where we live....

David

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rjan
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10 Apr 2018
02:08:26pm
re: First Day Covers - So many questions (Newbie Question Alert!)

Many in my local group consider FDC's as philatelic junk. I believe this label may be fair for those covers created solely for their presentation of the subject and are not subject to postal use on the first day of issue. However, in my opinion, a cover (regular or specially prepped) that goes through the mail at the appropriate rate is similar to any collectible cover, with a bit of side interest as to the cancel date.

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JohnnyRockets
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10 Apr 2018
02:13:35pm
re: First Day Covers - So many questions (Newbie Question Alert!)

Hi David,

Thank you, that is great information.

I also ran across a group on the internet called "the American First Day Cover Society" that was interesting.

What specifically is the "Cachet" part? The picture/artwork on the left?

I may have seen some FDC's for the Detroit Tigers baseball team yesterday when I was at my local post office.


Thank you again,



Johnny

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51Studebaker
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Dialysis, damned if you do...dead if you don't
10 Apr 2018
02:47:50pm
re: First Day Covers - So many questions (Newbie Question Alert!)

Hi Johnny,

Many of the mass produced FDCs were not cancelled on the first day, were never in the PO that supposedly issued them, and/or even ever travelled through the mail system. Instead they were produced as ‘collectables’ which is typically a sure way to make sure something is never a true collectable.

Some folks feel that the production of mass produced FDCs damaged the hobby. For example, here was a letter I found in a box of FDCs from a subscriber back to the company that sold him the FDCs. I have also seen other similar letters where people were quite upset when they eventually found out that they were taken and the FDCs are worth, at best, 10 cents each.

Image Not Found

Don


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amsd
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Editor, Seal News; contributor, JuicyHeads
10 Apr 2018
02:57:53pm

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re: First Day Covers - So many questions (Newbie Question Alert!)

I should add to what Richard and Don both added.

Many DO conisider FDCs junk. so much philatelic flotsam. Hey, if YOU like it, that's great. AND, as you can see, you can often pick up FDCs for next to nothing and start your own fascinating, if not valuable, collection.

there's also the comment about not cancelled on the FD. That, too, is mostly true, but immaterial to the members of the AFDCS. That's a given in their hobby.

Also, Richard mentioned mail that actually travels in the mail stream. FDC collectors do not like those. They prefer FDCs that are pristine, never having been in the mail. In fact, they do not want any markings, including an address, on the cover.

I think it is most important not to judge others' collecting habits. Embrace those that interest you and sell those that don't to those for whom it is of interest.


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JohnnyRockets
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10 Apr 2018
04:06:24pm
re: First Day Covers - So many questions (Newbie Question Alert!)

Hi all,

This is very interesting to me.

Thank you for your great insights.

I agree, each person should collect what is fun to them.

I have seen lots of items that do not interest me in my catalogs that cost thousands of dollars. So they are obviously of great interest to some.

That is what is fun about this hobby. There is something for everyone.


Thanks again guys for your wisdom.


Johnny

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ikeyPikey
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10 Apr 2018
09:20:31pm
re: First Day Covers - So many questions (Newbie Question Alert!)

FDCs grew out of a legitimate collecting interest: EKUs (the Earliest Known Use).

As the hobby developed in the late 1800s and beyond, it was natural enough for collectors to want to establish the first known use of each stamp. The natural next step was to seek advance notice of when & where stamps would be released, so that collectors could create their own EKU covers. The Post Office began to cooperate, and the game was afoot!

Today, First Day Covers get a bad rap because of their infinitesimal resale value. Fair enough. Publishers & dealers pushed them for their long-term "investment" and "collector" value, but it turned-out that, like the various Franklin Mint products, the main value was that FDCs showed-up each month, period, and you got to open the package, handle the goods, ohh & aah at your new treasures, and put them away.

All that having been said, I've got three nice things to say about FDCs:

1) I think they make a nice way to introduce strangers to the hobby. FDCs are TFP (Tongs-Free Philately) and, with their stamps & fastidiously neat cancellations & story-telling artwork (cachet), they are a whole lot more interesting than album page after album page of, uh, stamps.

That FDCs come with a cautionary tale - that stamps are subject to the same sorts of fads & fashions & nonsense that afflict most every other collectible - does not bother me; when I taught my kids about driving, those lectures came with a lot of cautionary tales, too.

2) The AFDCS publishes a journal, First Days, which is a pretty good read ... even if you avoid FDCs like the plague.

3) FDCs are as cheap as dirt, so you can give piles of them to very little kids.

Cheers,

/s/ ikeyPikey

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Tom in Exton, PA
10 Apr 2018
10:52:51pm
re: First Day Covers - So many questions (Newbie Question Alert!)

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Quote:

"What specifically is the "Cachet" part? The picture/artwork on the left?"



A bit more background on first day covers. The cachet is indeed the artwork. As said in this thread, there have been a few dominant companies that produced these for collectors. There have also been a lot of different small companies over time who have produced their own cachets.

Above are a few of the ODDITY Cachet, which I produced in the mid 1970s. This was an era where there were a lot of cachet makers, and some collectors tried to collect them all. That got my artistic side interested, and I produced these.

I produced 500 for every US issue for about 2 years. The first one was the Little Drummer Boy and I tried to come up with a unique idea for each stamp issue. I went through a couple of different artists, the first one was Don Feeney and I became FaceBook friends with him a year or two ago. He was surprised to see I still had an interest.

And I'm surprised that when I look them up on eBay, on a good week a half dozen or so will pop up. I thought they'd all be long gone!

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snowy12
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11 Apr 2018
07:33:57am

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re: First Day Covers - So many questions (Newbie Question Alert!)

Another niche collection are WWF FDC's "World Wildlife Fund .These are all fauna related covers ,and they are usually sets of four and they place each stamp on it's own cover and they have related caches.

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Brian

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amsd
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Editor, Seal News; contributor, JuicyHeads
11 Apr 2018
08:06:55am

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re: First Day Covers - So many questions (Newbie Question Alert!)

I am delighted with the broad discussion of FDCs, and love that we're exploring their history (didn't know about the EKU relationship, but that makes perfect sense) and varieties.

It can't be said often or loud enough: financial value shouldn't dictate taste. And Ikey's comment that cheap FDCs make them perfect intros to kids is spot on.

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jrc531
11 Apr 2018
10:00:12am
re: First Day Covers - So many questions (Newbie Question Alert!)

JohnnyRockets:
I would recommend that you look over some of the information available on the American First Day Cover Society website. Certainly, at least some, of your questions will have answers there.
"A Handbook for First Day Cover Collecting" by Monte Eiserman is an excellent beginning information source. It is available on the AFDCS website, a cost is involved. Perhaps you could find a used copy on eBay, etc... cheaper, not certain.
At any rate, you can probably obtain your best information about FDCS from people who collect them, rather than from folks who do not.
Respectfully submitted:
jrc531 - a FDC collector

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parkinlot
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President - West Essex Philatelic Society www.wepsonline.org
11 Apr 2018
04:35:29pm
re: First Day Covers - So many questions (Newbie Question Alert!)

As David pointed out previously, the value of an FDC is mostly in the cachet. Yes, ArtCraft and ArtMaster were massed produced and sell for pennies on the dollar but there are some highly sought after cachet makers whose covers sell for quite a lot of money as they are created in very small quantities. Especially the hand drawn/hand painted varieties. Also remember there are always exceptions to the rules. There are some Artcraft covers that I have found in the dollar bin that should not have been there. The ArtCraft Disney FDC sells for about $10 on ebay. I have scooped a few of those up at shows for a buck or less.

When I first stared collecting, I didn't know about all the cachet makers. I decided I wanted to collect FDCs of stamps issued on my birthdate. So I thought the varieties were a single stamp on a cover or a pair or even a plate block. Then I found out about the cachet makers and now I try to get as many different cachet makers as I can for the issues I collect.

One issue I collect is the Berlin Airlift stamp of 1998. I submitted it for a one frame exhibit at an APS show a few years ago. Images are here on SOR:

https://stamporama.com/exhibits/show.php?id=parkin_berlin_airlift&last=16&acurrent=1&name=Bob+Parkin

Since a single frame exhibit only has 16 pages this exhibit definitely does not have all my covers.

You will see that there are varieties of cachet makers, postmarks, designs, First Day Ceremony Programs, artist proofs. I feel it can be just as interesting as studying the classics.

I also wrote an article about these covers for the AFDCS First Days Magazine.

Bob

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MustangA
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27 Apr 2018
04:44:01pm
re: First Day Covers - So many questions (Newbie Question Alert!)

I recently bought the FDC for the Calvin and Hobbes stamp. I didn't buy it because I thought it was valuable. I just love Calvin and Hobbes and I thought the way they made it look (extra artwork, nice cancellation) looked really good.


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mbo1142
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I thought I was wrong once, but I was mistaken.
27 Apr 2018
07:17:10pm

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re: First Day Covers - So many questions (Newbie Question Alert!)

OK folks, I understand that FDCs are worthless, for the most part. However I have accumulated over 2000 so called FDC while purchasing box lots. Mostly in binders, but a great number loose. Many from Mystic and other commercial organizations with various cachets, such as printed, silk, and a number of others I do not know how to describe. Some of the art work covers the entire envelope. I also have 14 binders from the Postal Commemorative Society full of FDC. I know how to use Scott and Brookman for value of the various covers.

First, are covers shown in below image considered FDC since they do not have post marks, rather have a pre-printed date and place of issue?

Second, for all you FDC collectors and any others that are looking for a specific FDC for your collection, let me know what you are looking for and if I have one, will send to you for free. Just let me know via SOR message system with your mailing address.



Image Not Found

Mel, who does not collect covers except for some I find interesting.


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Philatarium
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APS #187980
27 Apr 2018
08:38:21pm
re: First Day Covers - So many questions (Newbie Question Alert!)

I'm not a FDC specialist, by any means, so I stand to be corrected. But that's a FDC you're showing there. In fact, that's a style of special premium-type first day cancel that the USPS does now. These days, they're called a Digital Color Postmart (DCP), but I do note that yours seems to be in grayscale.

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ikeyPikey
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27 Apr 2018
08:43:37pm
re: First Day Covers - So many questions (Newbie Question Alert!)

Quote:

"... OK folks, I understand that FDCs are worthless, for the most part ..."



The non-worthless FDCs include those produced by artists like Fred Collins, Doris Gold ... in fact, the American First Day Cover Society offers a free downloadable (and frequently updated) Directory of Current Cachetmakers to get you started.

Cheers,

/s/ ikeyPikey
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musicman
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APS #213005
01 May 2018
05:01:59pm
re: First Day Covers - So many questions (Newbie Question Alert!)

David said;

Quote:

"It can't be said often or loud enough: financial value shouldn't dictate taste."



I agree completely;

FDC's considered worthless by some may well be just the thing to interest others!


I have some myself that I greatly enjoy that would be included in that 'worthless' category.

Are they worthless? Financially speaking - probably;

personal-interest-wise? Could be 'priceless'!


As we've so often stated on these boards - collect what you enjoy and makes you happy...
...and don't let ANYONE convince you otherwise!!!


Happy

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musicman
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APS #213005
01 May 2018
05:05:07pm
re: First Day Covers - So many questions (Newbie Question Alert!)

Ikey,

Thanks for that download link, by the way....!


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