FDC Specialist - Vol. 1 No. 1 - July 1984

A Brief Review of First Day Cover Collecting in Canada.

For the last ten years, First Day Cover collecting in Canada has been on the decline. Why? Well, I guess there are several reasons and the following is my opinion:

From the first cacheted Canadian First Day Covers in 1927 this aspect of philately grew slowly but steadily. On April 1, 1949 Canada Post introduced the first Official First Day Cancel which was used for the Newfoundland commemorative stamp Scott #282. The official city for this issue was St. John's, Newfoundland and several cachets may be found for this issue bearing the Official cancel. 47,588 covers were officially cancelled for that issue.

During the 1950's, an average of 50,000 covers were being officially cancelled on the day of issue of the various stamps. This average climbed to 75,000 in the first part of the 1960's and increased to over 100,000 at the end
of the 60's. I have been advised by Canada Post that there are no figures available for the period since 1969.

On April 14, 1971, Canada Post introduced their own Official Cacheted First Day Covers for the Maple in Spring issue. (Scott # 535). A limited edition of 75,000 of these covers were made. Considering that approximately 150,000 privately issued covers were being serviced at that time, this limited edition represented about 50% of the potential market and, since the private cachet makers continued to service their customers, the additional covers only served to flood the market with more easily accessible cacheted covers. (I wonder how many of the Canada Post Covers had to be destroyed for the first few issues and how limited the quantities are at this time?)

All the dealers who had during the prior twenty years specialized in First Day Cover Service to their customers were now beinning to feel the strain put on them by a a very strong competitor: Canada Post.

As the collectors began ordering from Canada Post, the dealers reduced their orders with the Cachet Makers until, after a short time the smaller makers dropped out and the larger makers reduced the quantities produced to satisfy the declining market.

I have recently inquired from dealers across Canada as to the FDC market in their area. The replies were unanimous: there is very little interest in First Day Covers in Canada. Dealers who once promoted First Day Covers will no longer stock these when their inventories are depleted. It is therefore safe to assume that the only remaining market is being handled by Canada Post and, since they do not have information available as to the quantities issued of Official First Day Covers, it is fairly safe to assume that this hobby in Canada is very sick. Yet, in the U.S.A. where the government has not gotten involved in the issuance of Official First Day Covers (probably because they still believe in free entreprise), this aspect of Philately has grown progressively over the years and is still growing.

After losing the market to Canada Post, dealers of Canadian First Day Covers have in the past come up with several "good" reasons for not collecting these. Have you tried selling FDC's to a Canadian Dealer recently?

To summarise, the following reasons are in my opinion the cause of the "decline and fall" of First Day Cover collecting in Canada:

  1. Direct interference by a government agency in a field that was expanding in the private sector.
  2. The constant downgrading of the hobby by dealers.
  3. The lack of coverage in the philatelic press.
  4. Lack of specialized catalogues and accurate pricing information.

The purpose of this Journal is to try to revive this aspect of philately in Canada. There is a wealth of information yet to be discovered about Canadian FDC's. Who were the cachet makers? Who designed the cachets? How many private firms mailed First Day Covers to their customers as a form of promotion? How many, if any, Canadian
cachet makers are still active? How rare are the various cachets produced?

Many veterans of this hobby are not getting younger and I believe that they have a wealth of information to give us. So, now is the time to research these and many other questions because, if we wait the answers may be lost forever and leave a wide blank in the philatelic heritage of our country.

For those of you still in doubt, let me offer this last argument and plea.

WHY COLLECTS FIRST DAY COVERS?

  1. They are a lasting and visible souvenir of the day of issue of the stamp or stamps affixed on the cover. They have a clear, unobtrusive cancel which is now also pertinent to the issue.
  2. The varied cacheted covers available are usually in themselves miniature works of art and are in themselves a collectible item.
  3. There is no worry of damage occurring to the precious glue on the stamp. The objection most often heard about First Day Covers is that they have not been postally used. Have mint stamps been postally used? (I prefer paying a premium for a nice cachet than a premium for undisturbed virgin glue) At least, plate blocks offer pertinent information in the selvedge and are also collected in mint condition and therefore not postally used. (These are also available on First Day Covers). If you are a postal historian and feel very strongly about a First Day Cover being postally used, buy an appropriate cacheted envelope, affix a stamp and mail it to yourself. (The veteran collectors will remember this procedure very well) You could thereby build a collection of each stamp issued and used on the first day of issue for all post offices across Canada, a specific Province a County or simply your own town.
    1. Have I convinced you? Please fill out the attached form and forward it to me along with a cheque or money order in the amount of $15. for future issues of this Journal which, unlike this introductory issue will be illustrated and filled with informative articles.

      If you are a dealer and would like to relive the joys of the 50's and 60's by offering to service and sell please let me know and I will publish your name and address "FREE" for one issue.

      I hope to have the pleasure of having to sort out all the bags of mail filled with applications or comments on this first issue.

      Marcel Cool

      P.S. The journal is to be printed a minimum of 10 times yearly.