How To Collect Stamps - Part 3

Still another fascinating collection is one of "First Days." This consists of entire covers to which is attached a new stamp mailed on the first day of its issue. In the United States the Post Office designates certain cities to inaugurate the first day sale of a new stamp and provides a special "First Day" cancellation to be applied to all covers mailed from that post office, bearing the new stamp, on the specified day. Several firms provide envelopes with very handsome "cachets" which may be purchased and used with the new stamps. A "cachet" is an appropriate picture printed, usually, at the left side of the envelope which, in its design and wording, has special significance for the new stamp issue. Many of these commercially prepared First Day cachets are beautiful works of art printed from copper or steel engravings. They are obtainable for a few cents each weeks in advance of the appearance of the new stamps. The United States Post Office assists by providing means for you to send your First Day envelopes to the Postmaster where the stamps will be issued. You enclose the necessary postage to cover cost of the new stamps and the postmaster will apply them to your envelopes, properly cancel them with the special First Day postmark, and send them back to you. Warning, the number of such First Day envelopes any individual may send to the designated Postmaster is usually limited to twelve.

If one does not wish to go to all of the trouble incident to preparing his own first day covers there are many services available that will undertake this work for you at a minimum cost and assure you of receiving all new stamps as they are issued. On special occasions, and for special stamp issues, some foreign nations have also provided special First Day cancellations to newly issued stamps.

First Day Cover
First Day Cover. Note cancellation indicating first day of issue. The design at the left is called a cachet. Such cavers are prepared well in advance of the date on which the stamp will be issued as announced by the Post Office Department - They are often handsomely engraved as shown in the illustration.

But First Day collectors are by no means limited to the special printed cachet prepared by commercial firms. Any envelope bearing the correctly issued new stamp and cancelled with the official First Day cancellation provided by the Post Office is equally a "First Day" cover. There is a First Day Catalogue and first day collectors have their own society, nation-wide in scope. Started only a few years ago, the society is well on the way to enrolling five thousand members. Known as the "First Day Cover Society" the group publishes its own magazine, appropriately named "First Days," and holds annual conventions in various cities. An adaptation of the First Day collection is the collection of Maximum cards. This consists of a picture postcard to which is attached a stamp bearing a duplicate of the picture on the card. The stamp is usually placed to the lower left on the face of the card. If a "First Day" or other cancellation is applied, or, perhaps, an autograph of the person pictured on both stamp and card, so much the better. We have mentioned but a few of the ways stamps are collected. The versatility of the hobby is unlimited and no doubt you will develop your one particular "specialty" as you progress. Most everyone does.

Stamp envelope