Chapman & Mitchell Covers
First day cover collecting. A brief history.
To most of us the humble envelope is just a piece of paper we rip open to get at the contents. Especially if it might contain a cheque or gift voucher!
to the first day cover collector the combination of address, stamp
and postmark can mean a piece of history worth preserving. Just
like the antiques world one person’s junk can be another’s
priceless possession. If you like it treasure it, if you don’t
sell it is probably the most sensible approach and the rationale
behind numerous TV shows.
First day covers date from May 1840 when the first national postage stamps were issued, namely the famous ‘Penny Black’ and ‘Twopenny Blue’. Such covers will start at £25,000 and the “Kirkcudbright Cover” with a block of Penny Blacks is worth in excess of £500,000. It is currently in the Royal Philatelic Collection. No doubt close to those issued by Bletchley Park Post Office which Her Majesty has most graciously added to the collection.
Modern first day cover collecting started in the 1960’s with the first ‘official’ first day covers. These were covers designed specifically for a new stamp issue by specialist publishers of which Benhams is probably the most famous name. The next big change was the introduction of pictorial and themed stamps offering publishers greater creative opportunities. Just visit any of the thousands of cover sites on the web to discover just how varied they can be. But stay with us a little longer first!
Why collect Chapman and Mitchell Covers?
“Because we like them”, is the reason given by regular collectors and visitors to Bletchley Park Post Office and the web site.
any form of collecting it is a matter of personal preference. There
are collectors that have every cover we have ever issued (these
collection are now worth many £’000’s), others
just collect our Christmas editions, whilst some just buy the designs
or themes of special interest to them.
At Chapman and Mitchell Covers our philosophy is a simple one, take a new issue of Royal Mail postage stamps, look for a story to match, commission an exclusive design for the cover and postmark and carefully bring it all together as a collectable little piece of art and history. With hundreds of delighted collectors and high post issue values we must be doing something right!
The secrets of producing a highly collectable limited edition first day cover.
Our philosophy may be simple, but the production of a limited edition first day cover is a much more complicated process. Firstly, as an official cover producer you have to be registered with the Royal Mail and abide by their stringent regulations. We sometimes feel that the design of a new stamp issue is surrounded by more secrecy than was ever at Bletchley Park! It can mean from knowing the final stamp design just 13 weeks to research the story, commission the artist, agree the cover and postmark design, print and fold the covers, then hand fix the stamps ready for cancellation. As most collectors like to receive their covers close to the date of issue, there are the background inserts, numbering, packaging and posting to prepare as well. The shortest time we did this in was just 3 weeks for the HM The Queen Mother “In Memoriam” issue. We had a lot of news media interest in this one. Visit the Press Room to view some of the other news coverage our first day covers receive.
Large publishers, such as Royal Mail, service millions of covers using highly automated machinery. As a result these are only worth a fraction of their comparatively low issue price. In contrast the post issue value of our hand-finished covers can increase substantially. Mass producers often overproduce knowing they can reclaim the stamp value if they fail to meet their sales target. At Chapman and Mitchell Covers we commit to a predetermined limited edition number, usually 300-500, and have never ‘trashed’ a first day cover edition. Many editions are oversubscribed and if a few remain we hold them in stock knowing their value will rise. So if you want to become a regular collector make sure you are on the advance mailing list and can buy at the pre-issue offer price.
Now you know why Chapman and Mitchell Covers are so collectable this is a good time to visit the cover gallery and start your collection. Although we have been around for 10 years our existence is becoming less of a secret. And once our back issues start being offered on eBay who knows how those values will rocket?
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