Philatelic and Postal History Primer
Types of Collections - First Day of Issue Covers (With Cachets)
Introduction//Stamp Types//Collection Types//Getting Started//Associations

Types of Collections - First Day of Issue Covers (With Cachets)

A First Day Cover is an envelope or other postally stamped item bearing a cancellation date that represents the first day of issue for that stamp. They are usually issued in only one city and the envelope is canceled with a special cancellation, "First Day of Issue." The First Day City is generally chosen for it's relation to the subject matter of the stamp. The covers can be acquired from the issuing Post Office for a period of 30 days after the actual issue date. They can also be purchased from the USPS Stamp Fulfillment Center in Kansas City. 

Cachets are a design of words and/or graphic art which refer specifically to the stamps subject. The purpose of the cachet is to enhance the meaning and appearance of the envelope. They are in fact, miniature works of art.

Rhode Island Tercentenary
May 4, 1936 - Hand Painted

Matthew Calbraith Perry
July 14, 1953

Rhode Island Statehood
May 29, 1990 - Hand Painted

View a Collection of 
Rhode Island Tercentenary - 300th Anniversary First Day Covers 
200th Anniversary of Rhode Island Statehood First Day Covers

Covers bearing cachets, as illustrated by the three covers shown above can be purchased directly from the cachet maker or from stamp dealers.

Many First Day of Issue cover collectors prefer to service their own covers. Since First Day covers are available for 30 days from the issuing post office, one method of servicing your own covers is as follows:

(1) Purchase the new issue from your local post office when it becomes available. (If your local post office does not carry the new stamp you may have to visit a larger post office in the area that includes a Philatelic Center.) 

(2) Affix  your stamp/s to the upper right hand corner of the envelope, (usually 1/4 inch from both the right and top edges). 

(3) Fasten a peelable label containing your address near the bottom center of the envelope. (Blank peelable labels are available at most office supply stores.)

(4) Place a filler card (thin piece of cardboard) inside your envelope. 

(5) Place your cover or covers inside of a stamped outer envelope addressed to the First Day of issue city and mail it.

Customer-Affixed Envelopes
Name of First Day City, State, ZIP Code-9991 
(or the ZIP+4 Code given).

Note: First Day Cities and their addresses are listed on the USPS Website and in the various Stamp Weekly's. Artcraft also maintains an online issue calendar which lists the addresses of the First Day Cities.

There is no additional payment required, however the envelope must arrive at the designated First Day Post Office within the 30 day time frame.

With the advent of low-cost computer graphics programs and printers, it has become much easier for the layman to produce well designed cachets of their own.

If you decide to produce your own cachets/artwork on the cover, you can  place your cachet on the envelope prior to sending it to the post office or apply it after you receive the cover back as an add-on cachet. 

You can also purchase un-cacheted First Day Covers directly from the USPS Philatelic Center  (800-782-6724) in Kansas City and then add your cachet after receiving your cover/s.

Another way to receive First Day of Issue covers is to join an FDC Subscription Service. Many of the larger cachet producers provide a service  of this type and most of them are listed in Stamp Weekly or BI-Weekly newspapers such as Linn's.

Artcraft, Brookman, Mystic, RKA Stamps, Kendal Bevil and Collins are a few of the cachet makers that provide cover subscription services.

NOTE: On occasion, First Day cancels are issued from other cities in addition to the Official First Day City. These are called Unofficial First Day Cancels.  First Day covers for the Rhode Island Tercentenary Issue exist with cancels from 117 different unofficial cities, (includes stations, branch post offices and ships).
See: Rhode Island Tercentenary Unofficial City - First Day Cover Section

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