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Viewpoint: Collectors like First Day Covers


By: Bill Tuttle

I recently received my copy of the October 16th edition of Numismatic News and read Debbie Bradley’s column, “Mint Statistics,” where Ms. Bradley poses the question, “Do we really need First Day Covers?”

In the world of philately (stamp collecting and study), First Day Covers (FDCs) are very collectible items. There are several organizations and groups in the stamp collecting world dedicated entirely to this area.

A First Day Cover (FDC) is produced by the United States Postal Service (USPS), as well as other nations, honoring a specific stamp; either commemorating a famous person or event in history (commemorative stamp), a national holiday such as Christmas (special stamp), or a regular issue (definitive). There are some private organizations that will print cachets usually in the same topic as the stamp on the envelope (cover). The stamp, or stamps, on the cover is canceled “First Day of Issue,” hence First Day Cover. The FDCs do not have coins on them.

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Covers with a medal, or token and a commemorative/definitive stamp are called philatelic-medallic covers (PMCs). The PMC is much like a FDC, except the cover holds a medal, or token, mounted in an insert (enclosure) of the cover, which is specially designed to show the piece complimenting the stamp(s). Many foreign entities will issue PMCs occasionally from their philatelic bureaus.

The acronym PNC actually has two different definitions. In the world of philately, PNC is defined as “Plate Number Coil” referring to a (usually U.S.) coil stamp with a plate number (mostly at the bottom) on the stamp. Stamp collectors who endeavor in this field usually collect PNCs in odd numbers (3, 5, 7, etc.) with the PNC stamp in the middle of the strip. The second definition refers to covers with currency (coin(s) and/or paper money) and a stamp, or stamps, on the cover (philatelic-numismatic cover). Again, the currency and stamp(s) usually complement each other.

For a short while, the acronym had this double meaning, but since it was established first in the philatelic world, the PNC in numismatics was changed to “Commemorative Coin Cover” (CCC). Like the other items discussed, the CCC has its currency complementing its stamp.

Technically, the PMC, numismatic PNC, or CCC, are FDCs. However, the former two could be considered between philatelics and numismatics. Being both a coin and stamp collector, I need these unique collectible First Day Covers that connect my collecting worlds.

This “Viewpoint” was written by Bill Tuttle, hobbyist in Cleveland, Ohio.To have your opinion considered for Viewpoint, write to David C. Harper, Editor, Numismatic News, 700 E. State St., Iola, WI 54990. Send email to david.harper@fwmedia.com.

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