Philatelic Cover - What a Beginner Collector Should Know


Aug 08, 2014 Europe/London
A 1925 philatelic cover, the stamps are from Austria, Germany, Côte d'Ivoire, French Guiana, United States, and French India.

For the longest time, stamp collectors and enthusiasts have thought up creative ways on how they can source and collect stamps for their collections. One such strategy involves the use of the philatelic cover, or an envelope loaded with stamps and address and sent using the postal delivery system with the objective to boost one’s collections. It was a common practice for stamp collectors to exchange mails among themselves in the hope of getting their hands on the treasured stamps. The practice started in the 19th century, and while most of the collectors focus more on first day covers, some see these as unimportant stamps not worthy of collection. These collectors want stamps that were used in the real world, and they are willing to pay a premium for them.

When it comes to philatelic covers, these usually refer to first day stamp issue ceremonies and first airmail flights. These include postmarks and stamps used at the time, processed through the general postal system. In some cases, these covers are historical in nature, commemorating an important event like a space launch or a national holiday.

Available Categories of Philatelic Covers

There are different categories of philatelic covers available in the market now, the most common being the first day covers (FDC's) or the first issues of stamps. Other interesting categories of philatelic covers include commemorative cancellations and cancellations from unusual places, ‘one of everything’ covers and even the last day of service for a cancelled post office.

Because of the popularity of these covers, there are those who try to pass certain envelopes as philatelic covers worthy of collection. You can avoid the trap and only focus on genuine covers by paying attention to some features and characteristics:
·        The cover should be sealed and empty
·        The cover is likely to be addressed to a popular dealer
·        There are more stamps included that exceed the normal count used by postal offices
·        A full set is available for a particular issue, and arranged according to values
·        Sometimes the cover will bear special designs, usually found on the left side of the philatelic cover
·        The covers features an odd combination of stamps printed and released in different time periods
·        An adhesive label or cachet can be found on the bottom right corner of the philatelic covers

Though enthusiasts and collectors have different attitudes toward genuine covers and ‘manufactured’ covers, the fact is that they are all sent through traditional mail and postal systems that come complete with the usual postmark and postage stamps.

Zeppelin Mail

There have been a number of philatelic covers issued in the past, but one of the most popular is the Zeppelin mail. These were the letters that were mailed through zeppelins and feature special markings and postmarks. Zeppelins were highly popular in the 1930's, being the fastest way to deliver mail across the Atlantic, and carried the bulk of the mail then, with a large portion of that mail being first flight covers. The operations of this mail delivery system were funded in part by collectors and enthusiasts of the time period.