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General Philatelic/Newcomer Cnr : About cover collecting

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carol d yates (Krittergitr)
16 Jul 2008
04:16:18am
I am getting a little confused about postally used covers. How can you tell if that is what you have? By the way, it seems I can't spell postaly. Now I have First Day of Issue covers. Some are addressed from someone to someone but I was told they were just FDI's, not postally used. What am I looking for then, a cancellation over the first day of issue cancellation? A second postmark? One I had for sale is from 1948. It only has the FDI cancellation but it went from Boston to Las Angeles. The man I wanted to trade with tho said it was not postally used so there is where I am getting confused. Any assistance appreciated. krittergitr@rock.com
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David Teisler (Teisler)
16 Jul 2008
09:47:22am
re: About cover collecting

Carol,

postally used (two "L"s, no hyphen) covers indicate that a particular cover (envelope, box, PPC, whatever) actually saw postal duty (it travelled through the mail). Some FDCs are postally used, but the bulk of more recent ones are not. I have both in my collection, but prefer postally used. Early FDCs (from the 30s) are almost invariably postally used, because the convention of receiving a favor cancel hadn't really taken off. Today, however, most FDCs are collected pristine, with no address (and, without an address, it's hard to deliver the thing). In fact, most collectors of modern FDCs want ONLY the pristine covers without any extraneous markings: just the cancel and the cachet, thank you very much.

So, to answer the central question: an FDC might be, but probably isn't (especially if it's modern), postally used.

Of course, there are other covers that aren't FDCs that also aren't postally used. Often we see event covers (celebrating the opening of an airport, the launching of a submarine, the christening of a ship, the 100th anniversary of Jackson's order displacing the Cherokee) that aren't postally used. Some, like the golden replica covers, are expressly made NOT to be postally used (those ingots will certainly gum up the automated machinery).

Hope this helps. Of course, Carol, feel free to post specific examples as images and many of us can tell you what we're looking at.

David

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Bob Ingraham (Bobstamp)
16 Jul 2008
09:59:54am
re: About cover collecting

"Postally used" (two l's) is a somewhat subjective term. To me, it refers to a cover or stamp that was sent through the mail stream by someone who never had any intention or understanding that someone, someday might want to add it to a collection. Almost all commercial and personal mail is "postally used".

The opposite is "philatelic use," usually just shortened to the adjective "philatelic" in dealers' descriptions. Philatelic items were created expressly for collectors. FDC's are normally philatelic, but then there are FDC's which are simply ordinary commercial or personal covers that happened to be postmarked on the first day their stamp was issued.

To further cloud the issue, there are quasi-philatelic covers. I have several crash covers from the 1934 flight of the Uiver, a Dutch airliner that crashed in Iraq on its way to Batavia in Netherlands Indies. Most are "philatelic" in the sense that their senders knew that they were sending First Flight Covers which would receive special hand-stamped cachets and in fact were designed to be returned to the senders, franked with Netherlands Indies stamps. But many of the covers were also private; they enclosed ordinary letters written to family members and friends, sending news as well as Christmas greetings.

Another class of philatelic stamps includes Cancelled To Order stamps (CTO's), which were printed especially for sale to collectors and cannot be used as postage. Then there are "favor cancelled" stamps, which start as valid postage stamps purchased over the counter, but cancelled at the counter so that collectors can have "used" copies of the stamps or examples of particular cancellations.

Most collectors seem to view philatelic items as worthless, but I see them as collectibles which may fit into my collecting niches. Often, philatelic stamps and covers will be the only obtainable representatives of particular stamps, postmarks, postal routes, rates, and varieties.

So, there's a long answer to a short question. I hope that I have not muddied the waters.

Bob

(Message edited by Bobstamp on July 16, 2008)

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David Teisler (Teisler)
16 Jul 2008
02:47:43pm
re: About cover collecting

I'd like to diverge slightly on two issues with Bob's useful information.

First, the value of a philatelic item is really in the wallet of coveter. I've seen many philatelic items, both postally used and handbacks, go for immense sums. What, after all, are most Zeppelin and Macon flight covers but philatelic contrivances. The former start around $50 and the latter around $8. All of the former, by definition, are postally used; most of the latter were.

Second, it is necessary to allow that philatelic items can be postally used, as the Zeppelin flight covers demonstrate.

David

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Thomas Harley (Harley)
17 Jul 2008
07:33:40am
re: About cover collecting

So what do you call a cover mailed from yourself,to yourself,and goes through the mail system, and recieves a machine cancel.
It is both philatelic and collector contrived,but also postaly used,,in the sense that it went through the mail.It is not a hand canceled(hand back).
I have resorted to this method,to insure that I have at least one used on cover example of each stamp I collect,(mainly coil stamps).Some are hard to come by, especialy the multi-image issues like the 10 eagles,4 fruits,5 fruits,4 27/4 flags,and will be lots of trouble getting the new flags of our nation-10 now,50 more to come.

So what will I have ,besides all the stamp examples on cover? A set of postally used covers,or a set of philatelic covers? Or something with a different name?.
TOM

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Thomas Harley (Harley)
17 Jul 2008
07:48:51am
re: About cover collecting

Sorry,forgot to mention,
some of these covers,I manage to get on first day,as all are not released nationaly on first day of issue.Some are not always available at POs on 1st day.
But a machine cancel on 1st day,would be a postally used,a hand canceled(hand back) would be philatelic cover.dont know about machine canceled,postally used,mailed from and to myself,but all three of these would be a First Day of Use cover,if canceled in any but the designated FDI(issue) release city. At any rate,it would still be a FDC -first day cover.

Any type cancel at the designated city of 1st day release,would still be an official FDI cover. All other cities would be un-official FDC.
TOM

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David Teisler (Teisler)
17 Jul 2008
09:45:45am
re: About cover collecting

Tom,


you wrote: So what will I have ,besides all the stamp examples on cover? A set of postally used covers,or a set of philatelic covers? Or something with a different name?.

I say: you will have a set of postally used, philatelically inspired covers. Those who can determine that they are philatelic in origin, and who are postal historians, will likely value them less than a commercial cover.

Note that I am not indicating "value" in either a monetary or collecting sense. I have, for instance, retained all the Easter seals you sent, tied, on cover, to me. They are philatelic covers, in that they were designed to capture tied seals, and did so. They were postally used in that they went through the mails. They ARE rare in that we will see few examples of 2008 Easter seals tied on cover, and most will come from or be sent to Easter seal collectors. And, they are most welcome.

Finally, Tom, you make a distinction between a postally used and philatelic FDC. One can be both, although all non-postally used FDCs are, by nature, philatelic; a postally used FDC can be, and probably is, especially recent ones, philatelic.

I think it important to be precise and consistent in our terminology. Value will always be determined by the collector with the wallet, but meaning can be, and should be, assigned by the guardians of the field, us.

David

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andrew busmanis (Andrejs)
17 Jul 2008
09:59:45am
re: About cover collecting

I'm not a cover collector, whether postally used or philatelically contrived, but I have resorted to manufacturing my own covers for my own personal enjoyment. When my daughter and son were born, I bought a pane of Canada's picture postage stamps for each with a photo of my little angels on the stamp. I then took the same photo and printed it on to a standard envelope and mailed them to myself and my father (who is my stamp collecting inspiration). There are only two of these covers available for each issue (in both the philatelic and genetic sense). Two are in my special albums and the other two are framed on the wall in my father's study. They are the absolute pride of his collection.

The lesson is: collect what you want. None of us really collect for the money. Just make yourself happy with what you have and with what you hope one day to find.

By the way, the last few issues of the American Philatelist have had some articles about handcrafted covers and commemorative covers. All are excellent introductions to collecting these types of items.

Enjoy

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J. E. Donald Blais (Donrut)
17 Jul 2008
11:49:17am
re: About cover collecting

And then there is the Post Mark Permits individuals can use in the US. Here is my Post Mark Permit.
x

So is this a favor cancel cover or a postally used cover using my hand cancel devise?

(Message edited by donrut on July 17, 2008)

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carol d yates (Krittergitr)
17 Jul 2008
03:50:47pm
re: About cover collecting

Ok here are two covers I am curious about. They are postmarked in one place with a send to address in another. The top one is post marked Kitty Hawk with a send to address in California. The second one is postmarked Virginia with a send to address in California. But on both of them the only cancellation is the First Day of Issue. Here is the photo. http://i302.photobucket.com/albums/nn111/krittergitr/2a.jpg

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Robert Parkin (Parkinlot)
17 Jul 2008
06:09:30pm
re: About cover collecting

Carol,

These are typical addressed First Day Covers. They did go through the mail but really aren't considered postal history or postally used. One is hand written and one is typed. Typed is the preferred method of addressed FDC's. First Day Cover collectors prefer unaddressed covers and most postal historians don't want covers with first day cancels (there are thousands of them).

Bob

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Doe E. Lion (Doelion)
17 Jul 2008
07:06:14pm
re: About cover collecting

I collect the Mailer's Postmark Permit covers. Most are from other collectors, but I have a few that were received from non-profits and businesses. The last one was on a pre-sort. I don't receive them often, but I enjoy waching out for them.

Peace,
Doe

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David Teisler (Teisler)
17 Jul 2008
07:39:00pm
re: About cover collecting

Actually, the two covers shown are postally used, but Bob is correct to point out that they wouldn't be considered postal history, not because they are not postallly used (which they are) but because they are not commercial covers. Their sole purpose was to capture the first day cancel on the cacheted cover. They succeeded.

Don's question is tougher to answer definitively: there are some savvy mailers who are NOT collectors who use Mailers' Postmarks as a means of making their discounted (junk mail) covers appear more like personal, rather than commercial, mail, and, therefore, more likely to be opened. In these cases, the intent is clearly commercial, not philatelic. But they are probably the rarer by far than those mailers' postmarks used by collectors. Still, collectors do send mail for commercial or non-philatelic purposes (I have a mother and father to whom I send greetings cards on most occasions that would make a parent feel that they had raised a dutiful son, regardless of his other faults).

Intent, of course, is not always discernable.

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Bob Ingraham (Bobstamp)
17 Jul 2008
11:50:50pm
re: About cover collecting

I wish we collectors could start using words that made more sense to non-collectors, and to us!

• We need to replace the word "cover" with "envelope". Tell someone that you collect covers, and they don't have a clue what you're talking about, unless they were in the military, in which case they might think you collect hats!

• How about "mailed" rather than "postally used"?

• And what's with the word "commercial" to describe non-philatelic mail? If a letter is sent by a business, then it's commercial. If it's sent as personal mail by an individual, then it's obviously not commercial, but...personal! If it's sent by a government agency, then it's official.

• Free-franked isn't free — someone pays for it. How about "unstamped" ("stampless" referring of course to pre-stamp covers, which really were covers and not envelopes, because envelopes hadn't yet been invented).

• And then there's "postal history," which is correctly used, I suppose, as a compound, collective noun meaning "used envelopes". You know and I know, however, that if you say you collect postal history in any average social gathering, you'll get some odd looks. Of course, saying you collect used envelopes will get you equally odd looks. I've begun explaining to people that I'm interested the history of commercial aviation, the Second World War, and the Vietnam War, and that I study used envelopes to learn about those subjects just as an archeologist studies artifacts to learn about past civilizations.

I do think we must continue to use the word "philately," however. I'm astonished at how many people I meet who don't know the word, and can't pronounce it. Recently on a Canadian TV show, "Reach for Top," the woman giving questions to the high school contestants asked, "What do phil...phil...philat...phil...phil-late-lists collect?" The kids didn't know, and I don't know how that woman got her job! She must be a product of the Canadian education system. The same woman managed to butcher the name of the Russian composer Prokofiev, in two separate ways in two different programs!

Bob

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David Teisler (Teisler)
18 Jul 2008
08:55:51am
re: About cover collecting

Bob,

Your host of Reach can run for Prime Minister. I think it useful to have at least one North American leader who knows little and has even less command of the language. Our contribution is leaving office shortly, so i guess it's up to you.

My wife, five year old, and I just went to an interesting performance of one of Prokofiev's more accessible works: Peter and the wolf. Great performance done by this Irish group (supplemented by a Chinese-American) Friday Seezer.

Ah, but I digress. On to nomenclature.

I fully agree that, for we collectors of things related to the mail, to be understood in the outside world, we would need to change the way we speak. But, as you noted, it won't make the stares any blanker or invite any greater comprehension nor interest. If all nations would use the same terminology for their artillery, I'd have a sense of what the projectile and what fired it is, but it's unlikely to happen and i'll need to suffer knowing that a 17 pdr is bigger than a 6 pdr but not know how it relates to 155 mm on the hill or that 12 inch gun over there. Oddly, my attempts to discuss the Dahlgren gun and Parrott rifle meet with the same indifference from my wife and almost all my acquaintances as my explanations of the 2c rate for post cards in the mid-20s. Go figure. But I sense digression yet again.

I am less interested in the outside world understanding us (even if they did, there'd still be that indifference referenced above) than I am in us speaking in ways in which we, as collectors, understand each other exactly (or as near as can be). A cover, for instance, is short hand for anything that did, or looked like it did, go through the mail. That includes post cards, postal cards, envelopes, letter sheets (both sheets of paper from the stampless period and manufactured items intended for international air mail use of recent vintage), FDCs, boxes and parcels and flats (oh my), cardboard MREs of the VietNam period, BREs, insured tags, and so much more. Few of those are "envelopes" but all are "covers".

Some of your suggestions are fine. "Mailed" and "postally used" are precisely equivalent. Others, such as "unstamped" lend as much confusion as they attempt to eliminate. All envelopes with indicia are unstamped, but the franking is completely different from a free-frank and from stampless, which are rightly understood as two different things (free-frank indicating that neither the sender nor the recipient will be paying the freight, whereas stampless indicates the recipient likely will, unless it also includes the word "paid" on the "cover" [used as most of our examples of the stampless period are found on sheets of paper, not on envelopes]).

So, I'm in general aggreement with your efforts to make the language understood, but not convinced that your proposed specifics would work.

David

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Robert Parkin (Parkinlot)
18 Jul 2008
12:14:34pm
re: About cover collecting

Stamp collecting like anything else has it's own lingo. If you are interested in it then you need to learn it. It's confusing at first, but once you learn it, then it becomes part of you. If you are just learning about baseball, you are going to hear all types of phrases and acronyms that you never heard before like ERA, RBI, WIP, RISP, 5-4-3 double play, "the pitcher has 5 K's". A couple of years ago Linn's started putting descriptions of philatelic terms in parenthesis next to the philatelic word in the article. I remember collectors complaining that they were dumbing down the hobby. When I first got back into collecting I bought a Philatelic Dictionary. 20+ years later I'm still using it every once and a while. Actually, I Google or go to websites like Ask Phil more often than not now. For new collectors it is important that they ask questions in forums like this and that we try to help them to learn the philatelic jargon.

Bob

(Message edited by parkinlot on July 18, 2008)

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richard novick (Rgnpcs)
18 Jul 2008
04:24:36pm
re: About cover collecting

Bob,
If you think many people do not know the word "philatelist", just think how many people do not know the word "deltiologist"!
Many years ago I had made several hundred little buttons that had a pin on the back of them, so you could pin it to your lapel or shirt. It had a red spot in the middle that said "Push Me". When you pushed it, a flag popped up that said "I am a deltiologist." People would then say, "What is a deltiologist?", and I would answer, "A deltiologist is a person that collects picture postcards." Ths would always get a laugh, and now someone has learned a new word.

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carol d yates (Krittergitr)
18 Jul 2008
09:52:34pm
re: About cover collecting

Actually Bob you give good information. I had not been collecting stamps very long, maybe 6 months when I lost most of them to a house fire. I was dumb enough to listen to some one of (questionable now that I look back) experience and collected only MNH stamps as the used ones according to him were worthless. Then I found Stamporama and am actually learning something now. But the terms or lingo used by collectors can be confusing. I have a 5 subject notebook now that I write down questions (even if they are not mine) and the answers received. In this way I am slowly learning. One thing that does disturb me though is that there are a few members here that I have found have no patience for novices such as myself, and find our questions (I was told once) as though he were talking to 1st graders. I like stamp collecting because I can learn so much about history and people. I like old letters and the envelopes both for the postage used but also as an insight into what people were dealing with in certain key points in Americas and the worlds history. I have to give the Mentors here a big KUDO for not only taking the time to answer our questions but for the discussions held here that help me learn more about a fascinating hobby. Thanks everyone.

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Thomas Harley (Harley)
19 Jul 2008
10:40:39am
re: About cover collecting

Pronunciation of our terms is also varied.

Philatelist is both prononced as

Feel-a-tell-us

and

Fill-at-ta-liss

The later,correct,but both accepted in comversing.

The dictionary shows-

Phi-lat-e-list (the lat is l with AT sounding pronunciation).

The previous mentions of covers/envelopes has not adressed the term "entires". Which normally is use with the pre stamped envelopes-cut squares versus entires,of stationary items,but also can be used in conjunction with covers/envelopes,as the entire intact cover/envelope with /without a stamp.
It does get confuseing to the majority of collectors,but is quite clear to the individual collector of a certain field of interest.

TOM

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Malcolm Hirst (Malcolm197)
24 Sep 2008
03:26:03am
re: About cover collecting

Tom

Here in the UK, an "entire" is exactly that. If an envelope it also includes the contents thereof.

Just to complicate matters jargon is just as prone to national difference as plain speech.

(e.g. Braces/suspenders,sidewalks/pavements,lifts/ elevators, diapers/nappies etc etc )

Malcolm

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Thomas Harley (Harley)
24 Sep 2008
09:57:24am
re: About cover collecting

Malcolm,

Yes,there is definetly a continental difference in both words and pronunciation,as well as terms used.
My favorites are car (auto) names of parts. We here in the U.S. have hoods over the engines,and roof over the passenger copartment. In UK, it's a bonnet over engine and hood over passengers.(here in USA,a bonnet is a hat-head cover(hood)).

But most confuseing in philately,is in my part of the hobby,,coil stamp collecting.
Here,we refer to a plate numbered strip as PNC3,or PNC5,etc. With several dealers deferring to them as PS3,5,etc.
But I was informed that in your neck of the woods,,across the pond,, the "PNC" designation refers to a Philatelic Numismatic Cover,,or Card. One that has both stamp and coinage as a combined commemorative or event,etc.
Anyways, seeing as SOR is an internationaly used site, we should try to coordinate the useage of our terminology to include something akin to "Here in the U.S. we call it----" or "we in Greece have no use for the term-coil stamp or pnc , " .

BTW,, here in Pennsylvania,USA,, we say--"I'm a bit tired,think I'll take a little "nap" ".(nappie) . Which does not mean we are about to take a childs diaper just to get some needed rest, but to sleep for a short period of time. The rest period,in business or work fields is refered to as a "power nap". I have no idea what a "power nappie" would be in the UK. -- (he said with a chuckle).

TOM

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Malcolm197
05 Dec 2008
04:30:56am
re: About cover collecting

Tom

We use nap for sleep too ( usually in the chair, on the beach or somewhere else inappropriate ) but of short duration. We seem to have also aquired "power nap" recently. I work night shifts and go to bed when I arrive home in the morning. Sleep is often illusive or intermittent, if so Isometimes go to bed for perhaps an hour or two before going to work again. This I refer to as a power nap, but whether that is correct terminology I do not know - it powers me up for my next shift !

Malcolm

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Capetown
03 May 2009
11:30:18pm

Auctions
re: About cover collecting

Hi there. I am getting more and more interested in covers. In fact I have a lot of them that I have totally ignored for years. Can any of the cover experts give me some good advice about how to learn about cover collecting and how to know a good cover from one that is ho-hum nothing special. Thanks and best wishes, Lionel

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Capetown
03 May 2009
11:31:43pm

Auctions
re: About cover collecting

ps...that goes for U.S. covers as well as foreign. I forgot to mention about domestic as well as foreign covers...Lionel

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Harley
04 May 2009
10:37:13am
re: About cover collecting

Lionel,
it will depend on ones point of view as to what is or isnt an important cover.
If monetary value is the main issue,go with the information in Scotts ClassicSpecialized-World 1840-1940.
There are other sources,but most reflect the info in Scotts.
Now,as for why to collect a certain type of cover.This has ramifications too extensive to go into any particular part of it.
Postal markings,names,adresses,dates,type of cancel,ink color,you name it,it's a reason for makeing it a collectable.
Every date on an envelope can be related to past historical events,birthdays of important people,anniversaries of just about anything.
You can turn a common cover into a collectable for any number of reasons. Topical and thermatic being most often reason someone is looking for a certain cover.
Of course,stamp collectors are looking for on cover use,postaly used in proper time frame of issuance and rate. I collect plate number singles on posataly used covers, just because it's a plate numbered coil.Other than the date,it dosent mater what else is on the cover . And there are three types of covers-commercial,domestic,and philatelic.(which does not include FDC).
As to reasons for collecting a date--today is May 4,2009. On this date- In 1626,Dutch explorer Peter Minuit landed on present day Mnhatten Island.
1932-Mobster Al Capone,convicted of income tax evasion,entered the fedearal penitentiary in Atlanta.
1959- the first Grammy Awards ceremony was held at the Beverl Hilton Hotel
1970- Ohio National Guardsmen openned fire on anti-war protesters at Kent State University,killing four students and wounding nine others.
So you see, every date has something noteable to turn that common cover into a useable cover in a collection,display,or your album.
TOM

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amsd
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Editor, Seal News; contributor, JuicyHeads
04 May 2009
12:08:39pm

Auctions
re: About cover collecting

Lionel,

Tom has begun to unearth some of the possible approaches to collecting covers: thematic and anniversaries. There are thousands of others, including covers from a particular town or county; dead post offices; territorial covers (from Kansas before it became a state, for instance); military covers (APOs, FPOs); censored (military or civilian, by type of censoring device or number); rates (oh my gosh, these include 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th class [plus their modern-day equivalents], plus air mail, and more); auxilliary services, like insurance, special delivery, registered, certified; ship covers and pacquetboat; rocket mail; oversize surcharges (a modern-day phenomenon); tied cinderellas; advertising corner cards; patriotics; RTS and dues; RMS and MPOs; mourning covers; free franks; collected correspondence. I could go on for another 100 entries and still not be done.

There's no way to tell you a good cover from a bad, although with a little exposure, you'll soon be able to see what's likely to generate a big price and what won't in a given area. Of course, any given cover might attract specialists from various fields if, for instance, it was an airmail with special delivery sent by trans-Pacific clipper via Guam on an airline cover with the airline's president's return address, and franked with a 25c clipper and CE2 stamps as well as a tied 1941 Christmas seal, but it didn't get there because service was interrupted due to the Japanese invasion of Philippines and attacks on Hawaii. in that case, you'd have clipper collectors, international airmail collectors, tied seal collectors, AMSD collectors, airline collectors, signature collectors, "service interrupted" collectors, and collectors interersted in the history of WWII all vying for it.

what i'm getting at, is there are a million ways to enjoy a cover, and one may be dull to Jack but a siren song to Marvin only because of your interests.

the only way to learn is to begin collecting a particular area and see what's there. start by looking at your own collection and see what catches your fancy.

David

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"Save the USPS, buy stamps; save the hobby, use commemoratives"

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Dani20
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04 May 2009
12:34:30pm
re: About cover collecting

Dear All,
From what you've all said, there are many terms specific to covers and cover collecting that appear to be confusing/contradictory. Do you think that some compilation of the remarks here ought to be kept in a separate file, labeled "COVERS & TERMS USED" perhaps linked to the FAQ section?
Dan C.

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Harley
04 May 2009
02:29:56pm
re: About cover collecting

Dan C. ,
that would be a nice addition to the FAQ section,but it would probrably be 20 or 30 pages long to try to encompas all the types.
TOM

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Harley
04 May 2009
02:42:28pm
re: About cover collecting

Lionel,
as you see,there are many different reasons for a cover to be important,if not in itself,at least to the collector of certain types of covers.
But for the plain,nothing noteable about it, cover - you could save them because of the date cancel,one with the 1st day of use,and another with the last day of use.
Yes,,there are collectors that only want these two items,with an exception of EKU, where it was used pior to the 1st day of issue.(Which would make the EKU the 1st). So I guess there are official 1st day of use,and unofficial 1st day of use.
No matter which way you deciede to collect an item,it starts to branch out with additions of "unless it is-----).
TOM

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Rhinelander
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06 May 2009
05:05:44pm
re: About cover collecting

Ok, back to philately, an area where I hope the potential for continuing misunderstandings is limited.

Here again Capetown's interesting question >>advice about how to learn about cover collecting and how to know a good cover from one that is ho-hum nothing special<<

I believe David and Tom have pointed out a lot of different aspects of cover collecting, but I am not sure whether we have gotten you any much closer to answering your question. It is not an easy one to answer. The second part -- how to tell a "good" cover is probably the more difficult part of the question. I am siding with David and Tom, here: there are many different aspects that can make a cover more desirable and valuable. It is the correct answer; but it is also somehow a "no answer," which probably does not help you an awful lot.

Actually, I really don't think it is that bad and that confusing, though. It is very much possible to develop an eye for the most common value-enhancing features of a cover relatively quickly. Will you eventually be able to discern all aspects of potential significance in a cover? Maybe. But like most of us: probably not. To give an example, I recently came across a bunch of covers postmarked in Washington D.C. This was regular correpondence 1890-1920, really nothing spectacular. I picked out a couple of postmarks for my collection and the remainder I was trading and selling, some I also may still have.

Now, there is a collecting interest in presidential inauguration covers. Did I check whether any of the covers by mere chance had been cancelled on the day of some president's first day of office? No.
Is it possible that I was overlooking an envelope that would be worth a couple of hundred dollars to some other collector? Yes (believe or not that is what some of these inoffical, conincidental inauguration covers could go for -- I believe that is insane, but, OK, to each his own).

I believe one has to accept such shortcomings. There is only so much that one can know. There is also only so much time that one can spend on researching an item. I guess what I am trying to say: While David's long (and still substantially incomplete!) list is daunting, maybe even discouraging: there is no need to know about all of these things. I for sure know absolutely nothing about half of the areas David listed. And still I am having much fun collecting covers.

Turning to the first portion of your question: While David said, the "only way to learn is to begin collecting a particular area and see what's there" ( I am not disagreeing), I also like to stress the importance of philatelic literature. I was asking about the Kandaouroff book, because I have it on my "buy" list -- mainly just only because I find its title interesting. I will not recommend a book that I have not personally read. I would still be interested in opinions about it.

In the mean time, to get you started, I unconditionally recommend Richard Helbock's "Postmarks on Postcards" 2nd edition (2002), ISBN 0971260818. Its title is somewhat misleading. The book has very little to do with postcards. I don't want to retype the table of contents. Here is a link to a more detailed description what it contains (you have to scroll down a bit): http://www.courthousesquare.net/paypal.link.htm#Postmarks%20on%20Postcards/Revised

The book is readily available from many different sellers and rather inexpensive. I am not recommending any particular source here. I have good experiences purchasing philatelic books from Lionel Hartmann, Jim Mehrer, Subway stamps (and others). I believe you should get it. It will get you a good overview on many different aspects of cover and/or postmark collecting.

While you are waiting for the book to arrive, you can lay the ground work for a local postal history collection of your town / county / state. Go through your holding of covers and pick these out. Don't overlook covers that were sent to your town -- backstamps are as collectible as origin postmarks. Organize these chronologically for now. Even if you decide to collect some other area of postal history later, the postmarks from your home town are always a nice side collection.


Ok, that's long enough. ;)

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amsd
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06 May 2009
07:23:27pm

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re: About cover collecting

While I am in fundamental agreement with most of what Arno says, I am not convinced of one thing: starting with books that explain what it is you are not yet collecting; i think it more meaningful to begin a collection of something or several things and then begin to research what it is you have, at which point I heartily and unreservedly agree with Arno's recommendation to enhance your understanding through literature.

Most literature must, by its nature, limit its topic to certain aspects of collecting, whether it's postmarks, the devices that make them, the cities in which they occur, the historical context in which they are applied, the rates that exist when they were applied, and the stamps and postal stationary that they cancelled, to name a few. Which to pick? My answer is the book that seems most likely to answer questions generated by the covers in your collection that have tickled your fancy.

A cover from a soldier serving in North Africa in the second war might be well served by a book on censor markings, a history of the units serving there, a book on the cancelling machines in service then, or one on the rates available during the period. This is not an exhaustive list.

I'm just saying that I think for most of us, research helps to soothe an itch that alread exists; whereas reading without the cover seems clinical.

Otherwise, it's difficutl to argue with Arno's comments, and who'd want to, he being one of our most knowledgeable and generous experts on several important areas.

One thing that I might highlight from his commentary, though, is his wise recommendation to understand that when you are looking a cover, for whatever reason, understand that there is so much in it that you are bound to overlook some things on some covers and that's the way it is.

David

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Parkinlot
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06 May 2009
09:55:24pm
re: About cover collecting

Linn's has a book called UNITED STATES POSTAL HISTORY SAMPLER by Richard Graham. It might be a good start for postal history collectors. Here is the description according to their website:

The book is an introduction to many different U.S. postal history topics. It consists of 15 chapters based on approximately 60 Linns columns created by Graham between 1982 and 1991. Corrections and updates published in subsequent Linns columns have been incorporated into the text where appropriate. Some of the topics covered include train wreck covers, fancy cancels APO markings, campaign covers, flag cancels, Intelex markings, Dead Letter Office markings, early railroad markings, factured first-day covers, free franks, advertising covers and Navy ship post office markings.

If you subscribe to Linn's or Scott Stamp Monthly, you can get it for $6.99.

http://www.amosadvantage.com/scottonline/

Bob

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Rhinelander
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07 May 2009
11:05:48am
re: About cover collecting

Bob,

Do you have it and can recommend the book based on your own opinion? -- I definitely agree that it sounds like an interesting book. I have known of it for a long time, but haven't had it on my "buy" list because the word "sampler" turned me off. I knew it is based on former Linn's columns. So I was not sure whether it was maybe just a superficial collection of short random topics . . .

David,

We are certainly not in disagreement. Maybe we are just talking about a difference in degree. If you have no covers to play with yet, only reading about them really is somewhat of a clinical (like that word) experience. It would also be somewhat against our collector's nature. Since Dan said he had lots of covers already, I did not perceive that to be an issue.

I maintain, though, that you cannot collect without the right literature. It is possible to accumulate covers (or stamps), but in order to organize them -- and thus turn you accumulation into a collection by means of organization -- you have to be guided by literature (a stamp catalog). I say, thus: buy pertinent literature as early as possible! You will enjoy the covers that you already have in your possession a lot more, being better able to interpret and to make sense of them. It will also save you a lot of money to know the real value of certain items. More often than not sellers do not know what they are selling. Every "old envelope" is hyped and talked up. This problem is not as persistent with stamps where catalog values are readily available. So acquiring knowledge early will save you from spending too much for overpriced "ho-hum" covers on the one hand and enable you to find those hidden gems on the other hand.

So, to resolve the 'conflict', you don't have to buy literature before you buy your first cover. I.e., if you like WWII military mail, by all means: pick some covers up as you find them. Be prepared though that once you buy your first reference book, you will find that your appreciation and enjoyment of the covers will multiply (which alone is a really good case for buying books early); that some covers are basically not collectible, because certain important information is not included or legible; that the condition of many covers may be much less than average (once you know how to define average / fine / good condition); that most are very common or duplicates; that you got duped a couple of times; and that a few covers have been really, really good purchases -- for reasons, maybe, you were not even aware of when you bought them.

Well, this is all just my experience and perception. So, please don't take it as the mandatory only way to go. Just some of my thoughts.

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Parkinlot
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07 May 2009
02:38:11pm
re: About cover collecting

I don't have the book, but I have been reading the authors articles in Linn's for years. I don't collect postal history so it's really not for me. It just came to mind, when Lionel was inquiring about getting started.

Bob

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amsd
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07 May 2009
03:30:48pm

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re: About cover collecting

Arno, you are right, we are in agreement. and I heartily support your recommendation to immerse oneself in the literature as early as possible (of course, following discussions here is a good way to put one's toe in the water).

I will also recommend watching eBay or other auction sites to see what particular covers are selling for; it will give one an idea of their value (what others are willing to pay for them) and thereby give one a sense of what one might have to pay to acquire similar things. I know, for instance, from watching eBay, that Second World War Service Suspended covers trade at a minimum of $10, whereas English strike-induced suspended service covers are much cheaper. Same action, different cause, completely different price structure. Anyway, it will supplement one's knowledge gained through books.

Finally, if your interest is in US Covers, Steve Davis, who is an SOR member, hosts the US Specialized club, like SOR an internet group, focusing exclusively on US stamps and covers. Among their ranks are a large number of very expert, very generous folks.

David

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Rhinelander
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07 May 2009
03:31:04pm
re: About cover collecting

That's fine, Bob. I was just curious.

Arno

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Bobstamp
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08 May 2009
10:04:15pm
re: About cover collecting

I hesitate to jump in with my few words when so many have been written, and I have read so few. I gather that there is discussion about the merits of collecting covers after studying the available literature about particular classes of covers.

There is certainly nothing inherently wrong with that approach, but it doesn't exactly excite my collecting genes. The covers in my collection came to me either because they were visually appealing and "fit" one of my collecting interests, or because they represent and illuminate some historical event, situation, personage, or artifact that has grabbed my interest and attention.

For the most part, I don't really have a lot of interest in such arcane subjects as postal rates, watermarks, perforations, constant plate varieties, shades, double entries, plating, hairlines, etc. What does interest me is knowing that my covers are for me a concrete link with the parts of the past that interest me. As a result, I read a lot of history but very little philatelic literature. My covers are springboards that I use to learn a little about many diverse subjects such as forgotten airline disasters, great battles, unknown soldiers, political machinations, murder most foul, princesses and paupers, marine engines, and the pioneers of modern commercial aviation.

Bob Ingraham

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Rhinelander
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08 May 2009
10:28:08pm
re: About cover collecting

Oops, I just noticed that I posted my response to Bob's message and at the same time David posted his response to my earlier post, which I then overlooked. Just wanted to say that.

Arno

Edit:
And it happend again, my posting crossing with Bobstamp's (another Bob) message.

What you are describing is what would be called "social philately," which has only recently been recognized by the FIP as a new category for philatelic exhibitions. It is a novel and exciting new collecting approach, which is not only rapidly becoming more popular, but -- due to the FIP recognition -- now is becoming more mainstream and validated in the philatelic community.

I am still firmly rooted in the more traditional "postal history" and "marcophilately" arms of philately.

Let's get this posting out now. I will elaborate later.

(Message edited by rhinelander on May 08, 2009)

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Rhinelander
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08 May 2009
11:18:12pm
re: About cover collecting

Well rather than elaborate myself, I am just posting a link to the FIP regulations. The 2C category -- historical and social studies -- is "brand new." Bob's approach would readily classify under "historical, local and/or regional studies" or "studies related to an event or historical landmark". I am just a postmark collector -- primarily.

Like it has been said before, there are many, many diferent ways in which a cover may be significant. At the end of the day, it is the interpretation of the collector that decides what the cover is, e.g., a postage due cover or a presidential inauguration cover.

http://www.f-i-p.ch/regulation/pdf/Srev_PostalHistory.pdf

Now, some of you may be wondering why they should care about the classification of philatelic collecting interests by the FIP. After all, there is no other hobby that grants more autonomy than philately. Well, you don't have to care, but it for sure makes communication with other collectors easier. I also see the FIP regulations as something as "best practices" for building a collection. You don't have to care, but if you care, you can't go wrong.

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Rhinelander
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09 May 2009
12:22:37am
re: About cover collecting

Well rather than elaborate myself, I am just posting a link to the FIP regulations. The 2C category -- historical and social studies -- is "brand new." Bob's approach would readily classify under "historical, local and/or regional studies" or "studies related to an event or historical landmark". I am just a postmark collector -- primarily -- and, thus, my collecting approach is more traditional.

Like it has been said before, there are many, many different ways in which a cover may be significant. At the end of the day, it is the interpretation of the collector which decides what a cover is, e.g., the same cover can be integrated in a collection as a postage due cover or a presidential inauguration cover. It all depends on the context of the collection.

http://www.f-i-p.ch/regulation/pdf/Srev_PostalHistory.pdf

Now, some of you may be wondering why they should care about the classification of philatelic collecting interests by the FIP. After all, there is no other hobby that grants more autonomy than philately. Well, you don't have to care, but it makes communication with other collectors easier. I also see the FIP regulations as something as "best practices" for building a collection. You don't have to care, but if you care, you can't go wrong.

Double posting -- the identical previous one that had some typos can be deleted. Sorry. The 60 minute limit on making changes is maybe a little too strict.

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Harley
09 May 2009
11:22:21am
re: About cover collecting

Well,I'll tell you what I did for a spell,until it got too overwelming.
Coil stamp collecting, new issues, has become a bit mundane,with only one plate number instead of many,left little to do with the stamps,so covers were the answer to adding both interesting items,and bulk to the collection.
So to that end,I tried to get a cancel date for eeach business day of the year for each coil,which included all versions and printers of the issue.
Haveing at least three printers and each of those haveing three or four versions of the stamp,it added up pretty quick,into a large(massive) collection of covers. Add to those the occasional EFO,and double the collection to iclude commercial,domestic,and philatelic types of covers,,,,,,,,, well I did say it became too much to complete,or even keep up with.(overwelming).
But it is an avenue to go down,when you happen to be getting oodles of "common" covers with nothing notable other than a different date.
I would however ,recomend just saveing one for eack month,adding in the 1st day of sale,and last day of sale dates.
TOM

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Joelgrebin
09 May 2009
04:09:56pm
re: About cover collecting

Carol Yates asked a question about covers and she got in return an encyclopedia of information on covers. From the novice to the specialist(how to spell postally to FIP regulations). In collecting, if you like it, collect it. Research the item, learn and then hone your collecting skills.
The wonderful thing about stamp, philatelic or cover collecting is that the choice is yours. You do not have to fit into some arbitrary set of rules. You can create your own guidelines as you go along. You change direction anytime you want. The approval you need is your own. Stamp collecting has been a life long learning experience for me. I buy covers or stamps that appeal to me and let my curiosity take along the historic trail. I have learned a lot of history at my own pace and to my own satisfaction.
Carol, read this entire thread and take what you wnat from it. Discard that information that does not apppeal to you at this time. You are in charge.
Joel

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Bobstamp
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10 May 2009
05:20:29pm
re: About cover collecting

Thanks to Arno for the link to the interesting FIP information. I think I'll pass it along to members of my stamp cub.

I noticed one interesting bit:

Besides these categories all Postal History exhibits are classified and judged in three time
periods.
1. Up to 1875 (pre GPU)
2. From 1875 – 1945
3. After 1945.
Each exhibit fits in to the period where it starts or where its main contents lies.


This might work for most exhibit, but my most successful exhibit (vermeil medal, regional-level, VANPEX 2005) concerned the wartime and postwar economy of Great Britain, 1939-1949. One of my purposes, using economy (re-used) covers, letters, propaganda cancellations from both Canada and the U.S., stamps printed in "wartime colours," and various postal artifacts relating to wartime economic adversity, was to illustrate how Britons endured shortages of basic commodities well into the post-war period. If I were to enter this exhibit in a FIP competition, I wonder how the judges would handle it? Which goes to show that if you make a rule, someone will break it!

I should mention as well that all of the exhibits I have done have been entered in the relatively new Display Class, which means that the exhibit can include a wide variety of items -- stamps, covers, photos, postcards, maps, letters, receipts, tickets, what have you, as long as every item is collateral to the purpose of the exhibit.

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Malcolm197
13 May 2009
02:08:59pm
re: About cover collecting

Two things about postal history, and I include collections of postmarks in this.

First there are thousands of unique items ( or potentially unique items ) out there in the ether, first because they lie in stamp collections,postcard collections or accumulations of ephemera, unknown, unappreciated and unloved, and secondly because there must be many items which have never been recorded and thus no-one knows their significance.

Second - unless you collect in a very narrow, well documented field ( many of which are philatellically inspired or contrived ) - FDCs,First flight and Zeppelin mail already mentioned springs to mind, almost every collection is unique - very few people collect the same thing outside these well-travelled themes.

I am interested in postmarks ( I would like to be interested in the "used envelopes" but as I work in a warehouse not live in one that is not an option ! ) - and particularly in the concentration camps ( sorry I mean "concentration" sorting centres - my terminology )which the UK has consistently introduced covering ever larger collection areas over a period of several decades. There are probably not more than half a dozen collectors of this material, and most of my items have come from the aforementioned used envelopes and the odd lump of kiloware.
My collection is very "patchy" therefore, and I do not purchase individuals as they are not "worth" anything in the intrinsic sense, and in anycase I get a h**l of a buzz out of picking up a new example from the doormat or from a packet of kiloware which I have bought for the world wide stamp collection.

These days because of the paucity of real stamps we have to purchase all our material, but I do enjoy finding something for one of my interests from a purchase I have made in pursuit of something else, or in an exchange I have made.

Malcolm

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amsd
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Editor, Seal News; contributor, JuicyHeads
14 May 2009
12:36:27am

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re: About cover collecting

Malcolm, out of curiosity, are there few or no rate collectors in the UK of either UK rates or US rates? In the US, there are many who collect various rates, either by period (say, roughly, the 3c period or early airmail), by series (Americana, Transporation), to destinatins, or with auxilliary markings or services (my two favorites being damaged or otherwise undeliverable mail and airmail special delivery). I'm not talking philatelic curiosities but rate collectors? We're a decided minority in the US, but not insignificant (small enough that I can recognize most people against whom I'm bidding by name or handle).

David

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Arthco72
05 Nov 2009
04:03:20am
re: About cover collecting

Hi everyone, first time using the discussion board, so please forgive me if i do this wrong.
I often send to an overseas penfriend letters which i always tend to plaster with new issues of our Australian stamps. Invariably i am paying well above the required airmail rate of postage to the destination, but as he is a collector i know he appreciates the colourful cover. So the question is, would this cover be classed as a contrived philatelic cover or international postally used?
Arty

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Harley
05 Nov 2009
09:17:09am
re: About cover collecting

Arty,
Welcome to SOR and the wonderful world of philatelic discussion.No question is unimportant,and there is always a member willing to help,or sometimes add to your confusion thus createing more questions,,and answers.

Philatelic versus postally used--
If you put too much postage on the envelope,it's an over paid cover.
If your purpose is to supply used stamps for your freind,that's fine.
But if you intend to create a collectable,postally used ,international rate cover, then it would be to your,and freinds, advantage , to use correct postage rate.
International covers are tougher to acquire in your own country,for the mail isnt here,but over there.
Some collectors correspond with each other,and return the covers to the sender in reply correspondence.That way they both get international covers.If both are collecting from corresponding countries,then two letters are sent.One retained and one returned.

If ,as you say, you adorn the cover with excess postage (higher than correct poatage rate),then yes,it would be suspect as a contived(philatelic) cover.
However, the use of lower denominations to add a flur to the cover is OK, (current stamp issues)as long as the total postage is the correct rate. Then it could possibly be classified as postally used.
TOM

(Message edited by HARLEY on November 05, 2009)

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amsd
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05 Nov 2009
10:03:52am

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re: About cover collecting

Arty, more welcomes. Tom is corect. Let me emphasize several things. If your philatelic partners are interested in the used stamps, plaster away. If they are interested in the covers, i'd ask THEM how they prefer their covers.

What you are sending will probably be viewed as philatellically contrived. They ARE, of course, postally used, but that is trumped by their contrivance.

As a cover collector myself, I prize those covers that correctly pay the rate and fees associated with the usage. If you really want to include more postage, select more services, such as "return receipt requested" or "registry" or "special delivery" or "express" or "certified" or "insured" or.... Each of these services provides an opportunity to add more stamps; and each makes the cover far rarer and more desirable. An Australian cover to the US, for instance, is a common thing; a registered Australian cover, with stamps, is a rarity and would be highly valued by Australian cover collectors. And, in case i wasn't really clear, most cover collectors want to see precise payment, so if the airmail is A$1.05 and the registry is A$10, we want to see A$11.05. Most of us would prefer to see that paid with either a single A$11.05 stamp, assuming it exists, or the next closest thing, issued contemporarily.

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Bobstamp
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05 Nov 2009
10:08:32am
re: About cover collecting

As an addendum to Harley's post, the use of older, out-of-period stamps on any cover is a give-away that the cover is philatelically contrived. That's not necessarily a bad thing, depending on the interests of the person or persons who get their hands on it.

Speaking of philatelic covers generally, I have many in my collection, some of which cost me an arm and a leg. Here's an example:

mexico astronomy

As you can see, it was sent to a stamp company, and contains a complete set of stamps, not something you see on non-philatelic mail. If the stamps were ordinary, I wouldn't have purchased it, but these particular stamps are rare as hen's teeth: Before I saw this cover in a dealer's box, I had never seen any of the stamps -- apparently the first ever to show deep space objects -- much less on a cover! And I have seen any since I bought the cover.

Other covers seem to be quasi-philatelic. I have several covers that were carried on the Dutch airliner Uiver, which crashed and burned in the Syrian Desert in what is now Iraq in 1934. It was a special Christmas flight from Amsterdam to Batavia, Java (now Jakarta, Indonesia), and all of the covers had special cachets on them and were designed to be returned to the senders as souvenirs and are thus "philatelic":

Uiver cover

What makes many of these covers quasi-philatelic is the fact that they enclosed real letters from people in Netherlands to family and friends living in Java. Like so many artifacts that we see in philately, the Uiver covers are neither fish nor fowl. In the end, we collect what appeals to us.

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Arthco72
10 Nov 2009
04:38:30am
re: About cover collecting

Thankyou all for clarifying that for me. I do believe that i will change the way i adorn my covers in future, it does make philatelic sense as well as monetary sense to affix the correct postage. As you may be aware, for a number of years now Australia Post has been issuing International stamps for us to use on international mail, if we decide to use non-international postage stamps there is an additional charge of 10% of total postage. As the international postage stamps we have are limited in variety at times i nearly always use either difinative or commemorative stamps, most of the time trying to apply a full set.Australia post has also changed the way registered mail is paid for, it is now seperate from the postage and i am fairly certain that stamps cannot be affixed for this service, a registered label of sort will still be applied however. Also to my disbelief i found out last year that apparently it is illegal for Australians to enclose Australian mint stamps or coins to go overseas to friends etc. This was a first to me. I was informed of this by a postal clerk at a city post office, when i had to fill out a customs decleration, when he refused to allow me to enclose the items i had no choice but to leave and send them through my local post office in Dalby. Makes it hard at times to enjoy some aspects of hobbies and interests you have enjoyed since childhood.
Arty

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