First day of issue

A first day of issue cover or first day cover (FDC) is a postage stamp on a cover, postal card or stamped envelope franked on the first day the issue is authorized for use[1] within the country or territory of the stamp-issuing authority. Sometimes the issue is made from a temporary or permanent foreign or overseas office. Covers that are postmarked at sea or their next port of call will carry a Paquebot postmark.[2] There will usually be a first day of issue postmark, frequently a pictorial cancellation, indicating the city and date where the item was first issued, and "first day of issue" is often used to refer to this postmark. Depending on the policy of the nation issuing the stamp, official first day postmarks may sometimes be applied to covers weeks or months after the date indicated.

Postal authorities may hold a first day ceremony to generate publicity for the new issue, with postal officials revealing the stamp, and with connected persons in attendance, such as descendants of the person being honored by the stamp. The ceremony may also be held in a location that has a special connection with the stamp's subject, such as the birthplace of a social movement, or at a stamp show.


Stamp GB-Penny Black first day cover
First day cover of the world's first postage stamp, the Penny Black, used on May 6, 1840 is verified by the datestamp on the backflap

Prior to 1840, postage costs were very high and they were usually paid by the person who received the mail. The cost was measured by how many sheets were in the letter and how far the letter had to go. Sometimes this amounted to a very considerable sum. Sir Rowland Hill calculated that the cost to the Post Office was far less than what some people were paying to send/receive their mail; this figure was just a fraction of 1d. Hill believed that sending mail should be affordable to all so proposed that postage should be pre-paid, based on the weight rather than the number of sheets and the cost should be drastically reduced. On 10 January 1840 a Uniform 1d postmark was released which allowed a universal penny postage rate, this was a postmark that was paid and was applied when the letter was sent. It was later decided that an adhesive label should be used to prevent forgeries and mis-use of the postal service and the Penny Black stamp was born. The stamp was pre-paid and covered a letter up to 14 grams in weight.[3] It was officially released for sale on 6 May 1840 however, several post offices that received the stamps prior to that date released the stamps early. The City of Bath is known for releasing the stamps on 2 May 1840. Here began the very first First Day Covers.[4]


Event covers

USSR 1965-02-21 FDC
Soviet Union first day cover for the event of the 1965 Bandy World Championship, that has an arrival backstamp.

Event covers, also known as commemorative covers, instead of marking the issuance of a stamp, commemorate events. A design on the left side of the envelope (a "cachet") explains the event or anniversary being celebrated. Ideally the stamp or stamps affixed relate to the event. Cancels are obtained either from the location (e.g., Cape Canaveral, Anytown) or, in the case of the United States, from the Postal Service's Cancellation Services unit in Kansas City.

Philatelic covers

First day of issue postmark on a U.S. 1964 stamp.

Philatelic covers are envelope prepared with a stamp(s), addressed and sent through the mail delivery system to create a collectible item. Information about philatelic covers is available online in catalogs and collector websites.[5]

Other types

Computer vended postage stamps issued by Neopost had first-day-of-issue ceremonies sponsored by the company, not by an official stamp-issuing entity.[6] Personalised postage stamps of different designs are sometimes also given first-day-of-issue ceremonies and cancellations by the private designer. The stamps issued by private local posts can also have first days of issue, as can artistamps.

Features of a cover


Centenary of the Red Cross cover 1963
1963 Centenary of the Red Cross cover with West Wellow postmark - where Florence Nightingale was buried

The postmark is one of the most important features of a cover. Stamps are cancelled by a postmark, which shows they have been used and can’t be re-used to send a letter. Circular Date Stamps (CDS) are the 'bread-and-butter' postmarks used on everyday mail by Post Office counters across the UK. A CDS postmark is very straight forward and only features the town’s name and the date. There is no picture. It you wanted to use a CDS postmark because the town is relevant to the stamp issue, you would have to go to the town’s local Post Office to get it. On a cover, the postmark should touch each stamp and link them to the envelope. Postmarks came to the foreground in the early 1960s, when collectors started to demand more interesting cancellations on their first day covers. For the Red Cross issue in 1963, a special Florence Nightingale cover was posted at her birthplace, West Wellow. The Botanical Conference issue of 1964 featured primroses on the stamps, so one clever cover dealer posted his covers at Primrose Valley. This kind of relevant postmark made a cover worth often ten times more than the same cover with a standard postmark issued by the Philatelic Bureau at Edinburgh (a place with no connection to the stamps).[7] In the US, the U.S. Postal Service chooses a city, or several, as 'official' first day cities. These have a special connection to the stamp issue being released, and these postmarks are the only ones that have the wording: 'First Day of Issue'[8]

Special handstamps

1924 British Empire Exhibition special postmark and slogan postmark
Examples of special slogan and special postmarks for the 1924 British Empire Exhibition

With postmarks becoming more and more important to the covers, pictorial postmarks became very popular. Pictorial postmarks are also known as Special Handstamps/Postmarks. In 1924 The first commemorative set of stamps for the British Empire Exhibition had both special postmarks and a special slogan, but it was not until the late 1960s/early 1970s that dealers and organisations really caught on that you could sponsor/design a connected postmark and it would make an ordinary cover something special. These days anyone can sponsor a postmark. They need to design the postmark, get it approved by Royal Mail and then pay a fee. The postmark then becomes the property of Royal Mail and anyone is allowed to use it on their covers. This means that to a certain extent, most cover producers “borrow” other people’s postmarks. However, to be an “official” cover, a postmark has to be on the cover produced by the organisation that sponsored the postmark in the first place.[9]


As the collecting of first day covers became more popular they began to appear on prepared envelopes, often with an illustration (commonly referred to by collectors as a cachet) that corresponded with the theme of the stamp.[10] Several printing companies began producing such envelopes and often hired free lance illustrators to design their cachets such as Charles R. Chickering who in his earlier years designed postage stamps for the U.S. Post Office.[11] Cachets, which should not be confused with postmarks, are basically rubber stamps. Postmarks can only be applied by official Post Offices whereas anyone can design a cachet and put it on their cover. A cachet makes a cover unique and helps tell the story of the cover. It can say whether the cover was carried (for example, covers were carried on the very last flight of the Concorde), who the signer was or information about the postmark. Royal Mail no longer counts pre-decimal stamps as valid and won’t postmark them, a cachet can therefore be used to cancel a pre-decimal stamp on a cover. It provides a link between that stamp and the envelope. They can also be used to cancel Cinderella stamps.[12]

Earliest known use

The earliest known use (EKU) of a stamp may or may not be the same as the first day of issue. This can occur if:

  • Stamps are inadvertently sold or stolen, and cancelled on an envelope or package by unaware postal officials prior to the first day of issue—much like the Penny Black which was known to have been used fur4 days before its official 6 May 1840 issue date.[13]
  • Minor changes, such as a different perforation, are noted by postal officials, and no one knows when they first went on sale. This is also true of some major stamp issues, especially during periods of civil unrest or if government records have been lost.
  • Some earlier stamps, especially high values, have not found any customers using them on the day of issue, or those uses have been lost. Earliest known uses for these may be weeks or even months after the official first day.
  • Some stamps have not had an officially designated first day of issue and instead were simply placed on sale whenever the stamps were needed.

The search for earliest known uses of both old and new stamps is an active area of philately, and new discoveries are regularly announced.

See also


  1. ^ Bennett, Russell and Watson, James; Philatelic Terms Illustrated, Stanley Gibbons Publications, London (1978)
  2. ^ Miller, Rick. "Insights Stamp Collecting Basics 2004 December Paquebot mail begins at sea, postmarked on land Paquebot mail begins at sea, postmarked on land". Linn's Stamps.
  3. ^ Muir, Douglas. "Rowland Hill & the Penny Black". The Postal Museum.
  4. ^ Milne, Gordon. "In the Spotlight". GB Stamps.
  5. ^ "First Day Cover - FDC : Philatelic Products : Countries List [Subformat: Envelope]". Retrieved 2019-03-29.
  6. ^ Neopost Covers
  7. ^ Buckingham, Tony. "Glossary". Buckingham Covers.
  8. ^ Society, American First Day Cover. "A Short Course on First Day Covers". American First Day Cover Society.
  9. ^ Royal Mail (2007). "All About Postmarks" (PDF). Royal Mail. Archived from the original (PDF) on 7 November 2018.
  10. ^ Hudgeons, 2009, pp.592-609
  11. ^ Lerner, 2010, pp.10-11
  12. ^ Buckingham, Tony. "Glossary". Buckingham Covers.
  13. ^ Buckingham, Tony; Essential Guide to British First Day Covers, Stanley Gibbons/Benham Publications, London (1999)


  • Hudgeons, Marc (et al.) (2009). The Official Blackbook Price Guide to United States Postage Stamps 2010. Random House. p. 656. ISBN 9780375723247.
  • Buckingham, Tony (1999). Essential Guide to British First Day Covers. Stanley Gibbons. p. 16. ISBN 0852594879.

External links


In philately, a cachet is a printed or stamped design or inscription, other than a cancellation or pre-printed postage, on an envelope, postcard, or postal card to commemorate a postal or philatelic event. There are official and private (independent of postal authorities) cachets. They commemorate everything from the first flight on a particular route, to the Super Bowl. Cachets are also frequently made, either by private companies or a government, for first day of issue stamp events or "second-day" stamp events. They are often present on event covers.

The first cacheted FDC (first day cover) was produced by prominent philatelist and cachet maker George Ward Linn in 1923, for the Harding Memorial stamp issue.

Cachet-making is considered an art form, and cachets may be produced by using any number of methods, including drawing or painting directly onto the envelope, serigraphy, block printing, lithography, engraving, laser printing, attachment of photographs or other paper memorabilia, etc. Frequently flight cachets (which have also been used in space and on the moon) are rubber-stamped.

The largest and best-known cachet-making companies, which typically produce thousands or tens of thousands of printed cachets for U.S. stamp issues, are ArtCraft (1939-2015), Artmaster, Fleetwood, House of Farnam, and Colorano.

Commemorative stamp

A commemorative stamp is a postage stamp, often issued on a significant date such as an anniversary, to honor or commemorate a place, event, person, or object. The subject of the commemorative stamp is usually spelled out in print, unlike definitive stamps which normally depict the subject along with the denomination and country name only. Many postal services issue several commemorative stamps each year, sometimes holding first day of issue ceremonies at locations connected with the subjects. Commemorative stamps can be used alongside ordinary stamps. Unlike definitive stamps that are often reprinted and sold over a prolonged period of time for general usage, commemorative stamps are usually printed in limited quantities and sold for a much shorter period of time, usually until supplies run out.

Earliest reported postmark

The term earliest reported postmark or ERP is a term used by the United Postal Stationery Society (UPSS) for the past 40 years. They have established a database in which the earliest postmarks on stamped envelopes or postal card or letter sheets is kept. Postmarks are typically dated from days to many months after the date of issuance. An envelope can come out in varying sizes, colors, or shapes without notification to the public. Collecting the earliest reported postmark for a particular variety is an ongoing effort.

An earliest reported postmark is different from the first day of issue where there is a first day of issue postmark and frequently a pictorial cancellation, indicating the city and date where the item was first issued. Although primarily a US undertaking, recently the UPSS has expanded the project to include the issues of Cuba during the US occupation (1898-1902) and the Republic (1902-1958).

Earliest reported postmarks are collected by the entire or cover (the entire envelope). The obvious reason for this is that an envelope's knife or size could not be determined if the specimen was a cut square or full corner, even if the entire postmark is retained.

Earliest reported postmarks are collected for postal cards as well. For the 50+ years of postal card use there was no "first day of issue" as we now know it. Cards would not necessarily be available on any announced day as postmasters were ordered to exhaust existing supplies before ordering more. Previous to 1926, earliest reported postmarks exist up to several months after announced availability dates.

Five cents John Kennedy

The five cents John Kennedy is the first United States postage stamp to pay tribute to President John Fitzgerald Kennedy. It was issued May 29, 1964 on what would have been his 47th birthday, with a first day of issue cancellation in his hometown of Boston, Massachusetts.

The overall shape of the stamp is a horizontal rectangle, of a size standard for the time. The design consists of two side-by-side squares, the left one with a depiction of the John F. Kennedy Eternal Flame, the right one with a portrait of Kennedy adapted from a photograph taken in 1958 by Bill Murphy for The Los Angeles Times. Textual inscriptions form a frame around the central design, and include a quotation from Kennedy's 1961 inaugural address "... And the glow from that fire can truly light the world.", along with Kennedy's full name and the years of his birth and death. The required "U.S. POSTAGE" inscription is positioned inconspicuously in small letters vertically next to the Eternal Flame, while the denomination is in the frame text. The stamp is in a single blue-gray color.

Soon after the assassination of President Kennedy, the United States Post Office Department decided to issue a postage stamp to be issued on his next birthday. This was a challenging deadline, requiring the stamp to be designed, approved by the President's widow, Jacqueline Kennedy, and printed in large quantities in just a few months (it was estimated that two million first day covers would need to be available).

The first proposals of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing were turned down in December 1963 and in early January 1964. The decision was then made to call in the Loewy/Snaith design firm. Raymond Loewy accepted the stamp design project more for the firm's reputation than for money; the firm earned $500 for this project, a small and symbolic amount considering the amount of work involved.

Over the next three months, Loewy's designers worked on the project. To maintain secrecy, Loewy locked the papers and projects in his safe every day, putting his thumb's fingerprint on them.

Finally, Mrs. Kennedy was consulted, choosing both the design proposal and its color, a blue-gray similar to that used in the interior of Air Force One.

William Manchester, in his book The Death of a President (published by Michael Joseph in 1967) on page 246 gives another version of how the stamp was produced:

Immediately after the first announcements of the assassination, many people "...took refuge in habit. Two designers at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, feeling utterly lost, neatly laid out their tools and doodled away at a John F Kennedy commemorative stamp. (Though meant to be tentative, those Friday sketches were flawless; four days later they were in the hands of the Postmaster General, and the stamp issued the following spring)."

Liberty Issue

The Liberty issue was a definitive series of postage stamps issued by the United States between 1954 and 1965. It offered twenty-four denominations, ranging from a half-cent issue showing Benjamin Franklin to a five dollar issue depicting Alexander Hamilton. However, in a notable departure from all definitive series since 1870, the stamp for a normal first-class letter—the 3-cent value—did not present the portrait of a president, but instead offered a monocolor image of the Statue of Liberty. Moreover, two-color renderings of the Statue of Liberty (Liberty Enlightening the World) appeared on both the 8 cent and 11 cent stamps; and it is from these three denominations that the Liberty issue takes its name. (Oversized versions of the 3¢ and 8¢ stamps also appeared on a miniature sheet issued in 1956 for the Fifth International Philatelic exhibition.) Pictures of other national landmarks, such as Bunker Hill and Mount Vernon, are found on several values, while the rest of the stamps follow tradition, containing portraits of well-known historic Americans. The six denominations in the set that illustrate buildings (The Alamo, Monticello, etc.) were all designed in landscape format, resulting in a free intermixture of landscape and portrait orientation for the first time in a definitive U.S. issue (in all previous mixed sets, landscape stamps had been confined to the highest denominations).Like three previous U. S. definitive issues, the Liberty series offered one—and only one—image of a prominent woman. But while Martha Washington had played this role in the series of 1902, 1922–1925 and 1938, the Liberty Issue eliminated her, instead presenting Susan B. Anthony, portrayed on the 50-cent stamp. The Liberty Issue was the first definitive series including multiple presidents issued since 1861 which did not contain a single stamp honoring a recently deceased president. To be sure, the only president who would have qualified, Franklin D. Roosevelt, had died quite a while before—some nine years—and, moreover, was not admired by the political party that introduced the new series. FDR was the first deceased president since Chester A. Arthur (d. 1886) to have been excluded from the next multi-president definitive series to appear after his death—denied an honor that had been accorded to his eight predecessors in office: Cleveland, Harrison, McKinley, Theodore Roosevelt, Taft, Wilson, Harding and Coolidge. It is also notable that only 28% of the Liberty series stamps offered images of presidents (seven out of 25 denominations): a smaller presidential percentage than had appeared on any previous U. S. definitive issue.

Release of the Liberty series began in 1954, and the set was essentially complete by 1960, but a few values were added subsequently. While the Liberty stamps were generally replaced by the Prominent Americans series, issued starting in 1965, several of its denominations remained on sale for a considerable period of time afterwards. Most notably, two coil stamps—the 2 cent Thomas Jefferson and the 25 cent Paul Revere—were repeatedly reprinted, continuing on sale well into the 1980s. Remaining stocks of the 12 cent Benjamin Harrison stamp were sold at some post offices in 1981 to meet the new postal card rate as the United States Postal Service was not able to issue a new 12 cent stamp prior to the implementation of the rate increase.Over the time span that the series was issued the technology of printing postage stamps changed. This led to many of the stamps having varieties with different papers, perforations and the addition of a phosphor coating. Thus at this more specialized level the series is rather complex.The 1/2 cent stamp was the last issued of that denomination for use as postage, although a postage due stamp of that value was issued in 1959. It was also the last appearance of Franklin on a lower value stamp in a regular series, a tradition that had been followed since 1847. In this series, two of the fractional denominations—1¼¢ and 2½¢—appeared on U. S. postage stamps for the first time.


McClelland is a surname. Notable people with the surname include:

Alyssa McClelland, Australian actress

Charles A. McClelland (born 1917), American political systems analyst

Charles P. McClelland (1854–1944), New York politician, and US federal judge

David McClelland, American psychologist

Doug McClelland, Australian politician

George William McClelland, American educator

Glenn McClelland, American keyboardist

Helen Grace McClelland (1887— 1984), United States Army nurse

Hugh McClelland (1875–1958), Australian politician

James McClelland (disambiguation), several people

Jim McClelland, Australian senator and judge

John McClelland (disambiguation), several people

Mac McClelland, journalist

Mark McClelland, bassist for Little Doses, previously for Snow Patrol

Robert McClelland (disambiguation), several people

Thomas McClelland, U.S. Naval Captain

Tim McClelland, Major League Baseball umpire

Postage stamp

A postage stamp is a small piece of paper issued by a post office, postal administration, or other authorized vendors to customers who pay postage (the cost involved in moving, insuring, or registering mail), who then affix the stamp to the face or address-side of any item of mail—an envelope or other postal cover (e.g., packet, box, mailing cylinder)—that they wish to send. The item is then processed by the postal system, where a postmark or cancellation mark—in modern usage indicating date and point of origin of mailing—is applied to the stamp and its left and right sides to prevent its reuse. The item is then delivered to its addressee.

Always featuring the name of the issuing nation (with the exception of the United Kingdom), a denomination of its value, and often an illustration of persons, events, institutions, or natural realities that symbolize the nation's traditions and values, every stamp is printed on a piece of usually rectangular, but sometimes triangular or otherwise shaped special custom-made paper whose back is either glazed with an adhesive gum or self-adhesive.

Because governments issue stamps of different denominations in unequal numbers and routinely discontinue some lines and introduce others, and because of their illustrations and association with the social and political realities of the time of their issue, they are often prized for their beauty and historical significance by stamp collectors whose study of their history and of mailing systems is called philately. Because collectors often buy stamps from an issuing agency with no intention to use them for postage, the revenues from such purchases and payments of postage can make them a source of net profit to that agency.

U.S. space exploration history on U.S. stamps

With the advent of unmanned and manned space flight a new era of American history had presented itself. Keeping with the tradition of honoring the country's history on U.S. postage stamps, the U.S. Post Office began honoring the various events with its commemorative postage stamp issues. The first U.S. Postage issue to depict a U.S. space vehicle was issued in 1948, the Fort Bliss issue. The first issue to commemorate a space project by name was the ECHO I communications satellite commemorative issue of 1960. Next was the Project Mercury issue of 1962. As U.S. space exploration progressed a variety of other commemorative issues followed, many of which bear accurate depictions of satellites, space capsules, Apollo Lunar Modules, space suits, and other items of interest.Space exploration history is a popular topic, as record numbers of First-Day covers for postage stamps with space themes will attest. The Project Mercury issue of 1962 had more than three million 'First Day of Issue' cancellations, while the average number of First-Day cancels for other commemorative issues at that time was around half a million. In 1969, the Apollo VIII issue received 900,000 First-Day cancels while others received less than half this amount. As the advent of U.S. space exploration grew, so did the topic of Space Exploration on stamps.


This page is based on a Wikipedia article written by authors (here).
Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license; additional terms may apply.
Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.