This page includes The WFSC First Day Cover Collecting: Spotlighted or in Passing columns from the 1998 issue of Across the Fence Post.
January issue No column this issue
First Day Cover Collecting: Spotlighted in Passing
By Hank Schmidt, Mbr., Oshkosh Philatelic Society
I recently overheard someone state that he would like to collect first-day covers, but he didn't know how to get started and couldn't find any literature on the subject for beginners. He specifically wanted some information on what there was to be collected.
I can safely say some FDC collecting literature is available. This specialty, however, is somewhat narrowed, so it is limited and not as highly visible as for other philatelic areas.
New collectors are often amazed to learn of the Planty and Mellone catalogs. These publications are the cover collector's Scott catalogs.
Planty catalogs, which list only United States first-day covers, were first published in 10 volumes and encompass the years 1923-39 (Scott Nos. 551 through 858 plus C7-24 and CE1-2). The volumes are now being revised, with the current edition beginning with the year 1901. This edition will probably again extend through 1939. The catalogs contain some good pictures of all known cacheted covers for listed stamp issues plus information about colors and varieties. The cachet maker is listed along with fair market values at the time of publication. The catalogs also list appropriate Scott numbers and dates of issue of the franking stamps. A numerical suffix to specify a particular FDC for a specific issue succeeds the Scott number for each item.
Listings of cacheted United States FDCs for the 1940s, '50s and '60s are in the Mellone catalogs, which follow the Planty format. The six volumes should be revised soon.
FDC Publishing of Stewartsville, NJ, publishes all of the aforementioned volumes, and are available by mail at nominal costs. FDC Publishing also has catalogs for first-day ceremony programs, as well as duck and Express Mail stamp cacheted FDCs. The same firm issues manuals that detail methods of cover collecting, cachet identification and historical data on FDCs. A price list of their publications is available upon request.
The Noble Publishing Company of Miami, FL, issues a catalog for United States presidential inaugural covers. This volume also uses a Planty-like format and is a must for the inaugural cover collector.
Scott Publishing produces a FDC catalog that pictures some cachets. Its most valuable feature, however, is its listing that allows for recording an inventory. The Washington Press, producers of ArtCraft cachets and White Ace albums, publishes a FDC catalog for collector inventory purposes.
With regard to individual cachet makers, William H. Streble has produced a catalog of cacheted covers created by Walter G. Crosby, while Vincent H. Mack has compiled a catalog of Aristocrat FDCs.
The American First Day Cover Society has numerous manuals. They range from "how to" manuals, through information about classic cachet makers, to catalogs listing covers produced by individual cachet makers. Even though the society encourages membership, all of its publications are available to the general public. AFDCS members, however, receive a discount on the price of the publications.
The downside to FDC catalogs is that the interval at which most of them are published as compared to, say, Scott catalogs is much longer. Scott revises annually, but it has a large enough readership to afford yearly revisions. Because FDC catalog usage is quite small, most of their publishers seldom make much profit. FDC catalog revisions, therefore, are at intervals of four to 10 years. Some of these catalogs are issued only once and never seen again. If demand for the publications were to increase, revisions would be more frequent.
If you need further information on the documentation listed above, please feel free to contact me at your convenience.
Now that I have given my opinion, I'd like to hear yours. •
March issue No column this issue
April issue No column this issue
First Day Cover Collecting: Spotlighted or in Passing
By Hank Schmidt, Mbr Oshkosh Philatelic Society
May 29-31 has been designated as Statehood Day Weekend fur Wisconsin's sesquicentennial celebration. For philatelists, the highlight of this celebration will be the debut of the 32c Wisconsin Statehood stamp. The stamp displays a beautiful Wisconsin farm scene, which is a reproduction of a photograph taken by Madison photographer Zane Williams.
The release of this stamp will be the fourth time Wisconsin has been honored by the U.S. Post Office Department/ Postal Service. The first recognition took place oil July 7, 1934, when a 3c stamp (Scott 739) depicting the painting of Edwin Deming titled "The Wisconsin Landing of Jean Nicolet" was released in Green Bay. This 1904 canvas is on permanent exhibition at the Stare Historical Society of Wisconsin in Madison (see ATFP, Nov. 1995, p. 8). The stamp commemorates Wisconsin's tercentenary. This same design was used for Scott 755, an imperforate stamp issued in Washington DC on March 15. 1935.
The revised edition of the Planty catalogs lists 78 cachet varieties for Scott 739. Most of these covers are readily available through mail auctions and cover dealers. They range in price from about $15 to a high of $75 for a few of the hand-drawn/painted cachets. Wisconsin was again honored on a United States postal item issued May 29, 1948 (Scott 957). The occasion was Wisconsin's statehood centennial. This 3c stamp debuted in Madison. The design, by Victor S. McCloskey, pictures a scroll with the Wisconsin map alongside the current State Capitol Building.
The present capitol is often said to be the third building to house Wisconsin's state governmental offices and meeting chambers. Others say it is the fourth state capitol building. This structure, which was constructed between 1907 and 1917, is located between lakes Mendota and Monona in Madison, the same site of the second/third capitol. The present capitol is a downsized replica of the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington DC.
Wisconsin's first capitol was a small wooden frame facility, located at Old Belmont and is still standing. It was rented by the Territorial Legislature in 1836 and used for 46 days. The second capitol was built in Madison between July 4, 1837, and 1849. It was extensively enlarged in 1863, and the remodeled building is often called Wisconsin's third capitol. The so-called second/third capitol was totally destroyed by fire on February 27, 1904.
The 14-year-old Mellone catalogs list 66 cachet varieties for Scott 957. I'm sure many more have been discovered in recent years. I have 73 cachet varieties, most of which were purchased via mail auctions at prices ranging from $9 to $45.
The most recent Postal Service issue to honor Wisconsin was a 14c postal card issued at Mineral Point on July 3, 1986. It commemorates the 150th anniversary of Wisconsin territory (Scott UX113). This item was designed by David Blossom and depicts lead miners at work in locations near Mineral Point in southwestern Wisconsin. Lead mining was one of the first industries in Wisconsin to enjoy national prominence. Southwestern Wisconsin's lead deposits were discovered in about 1820. The industry peaked during 1845, but fell off sharply when gold was discovered in California in 1848 and most of the miners left Wisconsin in search of the more valuable metallic substance. In the 1879s, zinc was discovered near Mineral Point. Metallic mining continued in southwestern Wisconsin until 1979, when the ore deposits ran out.
At present, cataloging for Scott UX113 first-day cachets has not been published. I have only 12 cachet varieties and have seen just one more. This is a difficult issue to collect because cacheted postal cards are not very plentiful. Only 41,224 UX113s were first-day canceled. This low figure, however, is not unusual when compared to most other U.S. postal cards.
The Wisconsin Statehood sesquicentennial stamp should enjoy a great deal of popularity and we should see many cachet varieties t, this issue.
Now, that's my say. Let s hear your say.
July/August issue No column this issue
September issue No column this issue
By Hank Schmidt, Oshkosh Philatelic Society
Not long ago, I was asked to write about first-day canceling. Initially, I didn't think 1 would have anything to say on this subject. Then it came to mind that I could relate some of the lessons that 1 have learned the hard way.
In defense of the U.S. Postal Service, I have to say that I've rarely encountered problems. When they did occur, however, 1 found myself very perplexed. The most problematic experiences have been in conjunction with when I have sent covers through tile mail for first-day cancels. At times, some of them were returned with over-cancels. This was very frustrating, and especially in those instances when I submitted combo-franked covers. When I included SASEs for the return of the canceled covers, the SASEs often were not used.
I solved this problem when I began self-addressing all of my covers with peel able labels and requesting first-day hand cancels. I additionally request that my items be returned in the cellophane protective sleeves that the U.S. Postal Service has been using for some years now.
Self-addressing covers with peel able labels also ensure minimal losses. I recommend using Avery removable labels. All others that I have tried, even from recognized philatelic supply houses have at one time or other damaged some of my covers upon removal. When using peel able labels, do not address them with a rubber stamp, either the self-inked type or the kind that requires an inkpad. The inks have a tendency to bleed through the labels and stain the covers.
Upon receipt of your canceled covers, waste no time in removing the labels so that there is little chance of the label's adhesive staining the covers. Remove any adhesive residue with a white eraser or by rubbing your recently washed finger over the remains.
I've often experienced that cancels applied at the first-day site are of rather poor quality. This is because the postal personnel assigned to service covers at these sites are seldom acquainted with techniques involved with applying high quality. clean cancels. They don't realize that each hand cancel requires unique application pressure to get a clean, evenly inked impression on the cover and that it takes practice with a specific hand cancel to produce high quality impressions. Additionally. they usually have little or no philatelic knowledge, and they don't realize that a philatelist regards a cancel as an historical artifact. To many postal personnel. a cancel is used to kill the franking and is of little further value.
Consequently, if you are at a first-day site and the postal person doing your cancels does not give you the quality that you want, please speak out. Offer to do your own cancels while someone from the staff supervises, or send your covers through the mail for servicing. Mailed covers are forwarded to the first-day unit in Kansas City. The staff there is experienced in using the various hand cancels and, more often than not, you'll get excellent results. Case in point, my "The Stars and Stripes Forever!" covers serviced at STAMPSHOW 97 received excellent cancels. This was because the personnel doing the canceling were from the first-day unit in Kansas City.
Another word to the wise, if you are getting high quality from the hand-back service at a
first-day site, it creates a great deal of goodwill to tip the canceler with one of your covers. Properly positioning a fancy pictorial first-day cancel on your covers can be a problem. The solution is to take some larger glassine envelopes with you to the first-day site. Before arriving. cut one of the glassines apart so that you have a single layer of material Apply the first-day cancel to that single layer. Then use the canceled piece of glassine as an overlay on your covers to determine the best position of the cancel. You might have to do some diplomatic explaining to the postal personnel and then leave the glassine overlay with them. On the other hand, they may just appreciate your idea and use it to assist other customers.
One last thing, if you send your Covers through the mail for first-day servicing. you are now required to affix your own franking. The Postal Service stopped the practice of franking customer covers on June 30, 1993.
Now that 1 have had my say, which I hope is helpful. what do you have to say'' •
November issue No column this issue
December issue No column this issue
Latest update: June 12, 2005