What is a First Day Cover?
A First Day Cover
(FDC) is an envelope or card bearing a stamp that is cancelled on the day the
stamp is initially placed on sale by postal authorities.
A FDC with the
$9.35 Express Mail stamp (A) is shown with a Kennedy Space Center, FL First
Day Of Issue cancel (B) and a cachet (C), -- pronounced ka-shay--, which
tells us something about the stamp.
The maker of the cover is usually somewhere on the cover. (D)
Where are stamps first sold?
In the United States the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) may
designate one or more cities as the "official" release site -- the
location where the new stamp is first released to the public. The location is
usually appropriate to the subject of the stamp.
The 1993 "Elvis" fdc of the Legends of
American Music Series illustrated, was released jointly in Cleveland, Ohio
and Santa Monica, CA. Cities whose names are associated with Rock & Roll
and Rhythm & Blues. This fdc cancel because of its guitar in the killer
bar is also called a "pictorial" cancel.
When are FDC’s prepared?
A specific day is selected for
release of the new stamp, one which is usually significant to the subject --
such as the George M. Cohen stamp issued on the 100th anniversary of his
birth, July 3, 1878 in Providence, RI. On the day following the First Day,
the stamp is available virtually everywhere in the country.
How are stamps first released?
Generally a First Day Of Issue (FDOI)
ceremony is sponsored by the Postal Service or an organization associated
with the new stamp. It is a colorful and entertaining ceremony, which enables
collectors to attend to prepare special souvenirs. Illustrated program
folders are usually distributed free of charge.
What is the significance of the cachet?
The cachet enhances the cover by
complementing the stamp and can be attractive, educational, humorous, and
other things. There are many different cachets for each new stamp -- such as
these two Colorano and Collins Duck Stamp fdc's used for comparison. The
choice adds an exciting dimension to the hobby.
Top fdc is a full color,
"silk" cachet by Colorano
Bottom fdc is a hand painted cachet
How do I choose a cachet?
The designs come in all shapes, sizes,
and colors. They may be printed, engraved, thermographed or produced by a
variety of other methods. Some collectors make their own envelopes. One
collecting challenge is to see how many different cachets can be found for a
How do I obtain FDC’s?
Collectors may buy envelopes and send
them to the USPS for servicing (canceling). The instructions for doing this
are in your local Post Office. Or the covers may be purchased ready made from
stamp dealers like Knottywood-Treasures.
First Day Cover Collecting is...
A hands-on hobby, unlike stamp
collecting, where the FDC collector actively participates. Collectors may
make their own covers or collect covers in many dozens of different ways --
the result is a personal involvement that is extremely gratifying.
This slightly modified "What's a First Day Cover"
came from the American First Day Cover Society home page. See my
"Favorite Sites" page for a link to their web site.