I recently purchased a few FDC's on eBay, when I received them some had addresses erased, something u could not tell in the eBay photo. Does this lessen the value? Does it make a difference whether a cover is addressed or unaddressed? Which is worth more to a collector?
The current trend in first day covers is unaddressed. This trend first happened when collectors wanted their name on the cover and later became no name on the cover. Value of covers with erased names on them will be lower than the value of the same covers with no name on them. How much lower will depend on the scarcity of the first day cover and the demand. Without demand the cover has nominal value regardless of scarcity.
Can I interest you in a bunch of first day covers of US postal stationery? (My specialty)
The two prior posts have said most of what I was going to say. For most FDCs (BTW, not "FDC's"), the difference will be minimal because the total value is not that great, but addressed will almost always be worth less than addressed.
If you have pencil addressed FDCs and should you try to resell them someday, the honest thing to do is to put that in the description. If the ones you have still have some of the pencil marks that can be seen, get a good quality rubber eraser and gently erase until gone. That will improve their appearance in your collection, but it would not be right to ever try to sell them as unaddressed; most collectors will not be put off if you describe the condition as "pencil-addressed, erased."
A First Day Cover has usually more stamps than necessary and if unaddressed lacks authenticity. It is just a philatelic souvenir. An addressed FDC with multiple stamps has at least the saving grace that it was once owned by a collector. Sad in a way. But at fairs, I have picked up FDcs addressed to the same person at the same house from the 1940s thru 1960s. I can certainly understand that people erase names/addresses but to me they have no interest. on a slightly different note, vintage postcards with names/addresses and messages are often emotional.
Quote: A First Day Cover has usually more stamps than necessary and if unaddressed lacks authenticity. It is just a philatelic souvenir. An addressed FDC with multiple stamps has at least the saving grace that it was once owned by a collector. Sad in a way. But at fairs, I have picked up FDcs addressed to the same person at the same house from the 1940s thru 1960s. I can certainly understand that people erase names/addresses but to me they have no interest.
Since FDCs are apparently of little interest to you, I am not sure why you bothered to comment. The shift to preference among FDC collectors for unadressed covers occurred over several decades. During that time, there were subscription services that some collectors used that accounts for the covers addressed to the same person you describe. Those are precisely the covers that often have little value or attract little interest from FDC collectors. Telling us that they are philatelic is just a snark. Of course they are philatelic. No serious collector believes otherwise. But different strokes for different folks, and some people like to collect FDCs. Philately is a "big tent" with lots of different ways for people to pursue philatelic interests.
Besides FDCs, I collect selected WWII patriotic covers. Those, too, are primarily philatelic, though some used patriotic covers to send mail at the time. Like FDCs, the cachet is a major point of attraction. One area of collecting that I specialize in is the use of patriotic covers for airmail FDCs during WWII. There were only two US airmail FDCs issued during the war, and while each had the usual cachet artists creating first day cachets, a lot of people serviced first day covers of those stamps using patriotic covers of the day. It is an interesting niche.
While I prefer unaddressed covers for modern FDCs, I actually prefer addressed covers for the wartime patriotic covers. Those usually went through the mail stream, though the covers were usually empty. It is interesting to see the variety of ways they get franked at the time, since they could be sent third class as long as the flap was unsealed.
Then there are aerophilatelic event covers, which are philatelic also. Don't get me started on that!
For me personally, the one area I've yet to get interested in is traditional postal history.
As someone who has collected (and exhibited) FDCs for a long time I think Basil is spot on. First of all everyone should collect whatever suits them. Thats what makes the hobby great! For my personal preference I tend toward unaddressed for more recent and addressed for older FDCs. But there are sometimes when a particular cachet is very scarce thatI am just happy to acquire it addressed or not.
FDC's are worth very little, so generally it doesn't matter much whether they've been sent through the mail or not. In fact, they might very well look better and be cleaner if they weren't sent through the mail. In any case, you can't really tell either way unless there are additional postal markings on the cover.
As for erasing pencil addresses, a lot of FDC collectors did that over the years, addressing covers to themselves lightly in pencil so they could erase the address later to make the cover look more pristine. It wasn't unusual, and it's not a bad idea, but I'd certainly make this known to any seller. Naturally, if the remnants of a pencil address or the impression of one are visible on the cover that would hurt its value. But most modern FDC's have very little value, anyway, so it may not matter much.
Starting n the late 1920s and 1930s, FDC's were avidly collected by many collectors. This was most likely because they were relatively inexpensive and marked the first day of a stamp's use which seemed to make them a kind of historical souvenir of a certain type. The same went for "first flight covers" and many others. Collecting such covers took off with the Great Depression of the 1930s when FDC's could be had for relatively little money, the same era in which stamp collecting itself boomed. It was a mildly historic collectors' hobby that involved new issue stamps mailed to your home for very little money, so it appealed to a lot of people as a hobby they could afford.
With an increasing flood of new stamp issues beginning in the 1960s and 70s, it became more expensive to maintain a collection of every new stamp on a FDC. Gradually, many collectors gave up or began to specialize only in certain stamp-related products, but not others. At the same time, more and more companies sold FDC's through subscriptions, often suggesting they were investments of some kind, so even as the number of new FDC's increased, the market for each individual cover got over-saturated with products which tended to keep prices low when collectors sought to resell their covers. That also may have been disillusioning, driving more collectors away from FDC collecting at least as an "investment" -- which it never really was. For a few decades, there was a lot of this with many FDC subscriptions being offered to non-collectors, flooding the market with more covers. Gradually the number of FDC collectors fell. Today most common FDC's from the last 75 years or so can be bought for far below a dollar a cover with only a few exceptions such as high-value stamps, and so on. I've bought very clean, unaddressed (the preferred way today) FDC's for 25c a cover quite often. I'm not sure why I buy them as they will never have much value, and they take up a lot more space than stamps.
In the U.S., a First Day Cover does not have "usually more stamps than necessary" but that may be the case in other countries. A U.S. FDC usually has just the stamp being issued as long as it makes the first-class mailing rate. I don't know why an unaddressed cover would lack "authenticity". It's as authentic as any FDC as you can get. Yes, it is "just a philatelic souvenir" but then so are "souvenir sheets" (it's in the name!) and people collect those -- also baseball cards, autographs, teaspoons, thimbles, and string. And stamps which are also a kind of philatelic souvenir if you think about it. At least if you don't use them to mail a letter which is, after all, their purpose. What else would you call unused (or even used) stamps sitting in an album?
As most of this discussion is addressing () more modern FDCs, it is true that the monetary value is very little for most. There were many cachet makers from the 1930s to now that provided FDC service for the stamp issues, so they became very common, but then the challenge became collecting many or all different cachets. There are probably many reasons that the trend then changed later to unaddressed covers (presentability, "clean" covers, addresses distracting and being more personal, a shift to focus on cachet makers, etc.).
I don't like altered covers, and suspect most others don't as well, so if a cover was originally addressed and sent in the mail, knowing that it was addressed, but the address was removed does not magically make it an unaddressed cover! If it is done, and if there is no detectable evidence that it was once addressed (which, BTW, I don't believe can really be done), it can be represented as unaddressed (which is fraud).
Generally, though, regarding the value - it depends (one of my favorite answers). Very early FDCs did not have cachets at all, and were sent on regular mail without ceremony (), so all were addressed and not necessarily philatelic. Many of these FDCs are "finds", since their posting on the first day of issue were coincidental, or at least not having origination notation of being posted on the first day of issue.
Starting about in the early 1900s, and it can be argued earlier than that for Commemorative stamp issues that were sometimes affixed with multiple denominations on a single cover, there were attempts to mail them on the first day issued. All of these would be addressed and sent in the mail.
Early cachets on envelopes, and picture/illustrated postcards exist that commemorate stamps (pre-1930), but are much scarcer than those without a cachet. These still are almost all addressed. Scott prices all pre-#772 covers without a cachet and addressed. Those with a cachet are more expensive. There are also specific cachet makers that are desirable, as well as hand-painted cachets starting in the 1940s (or slightly earlier) that are extremely collectible. Most of these are addressed as well. So in the pre-1940 era, unaddressed FDCs are not generally expected to be available. Post-1949 FDCs are priced in the Scott catalog without an address.
Quote: Not an FDC collector so I must ask, isn't it more desirable to have ones that were sent through the mail system? Or do most collectors just get the favor cancels and call it good?
In the modern era, for "serious" FDC collectors its more about the cachets than whether it went through the mail or not. I have an exhibit of the Hap Arnold 65 cent US stamp in the Great Americans series. Judges could not care less whether the cover went through the mail, except perhaps in some special cases. They do, though, want you to tell them everything you can about the cachet.
Quote: In the U.S., a First Day Cover does not have "usually more stamps than necessary" but that may be the case in other countries. A U.S. FDC usually has just the stamp being issued as long as it makes the first-class mailing rate.
While this may be true as far as sheer numbers go, FDCs with "more stamps than necessary" are still quite common, and there is even a term of art for them: "combo covers." Some who create FDCs will often add other stamps that are thematically related to the actual first day stamp on the cover.
Serious FDC collectors will also watch for "UO" covers, those with unofficial postmarks. Some cachet artists make a point of getting their covers postmarked with unofficial postmarks (Collins and Bevil, for example).
DrewM also wrote:
Quote: FDC's are worth very little, so generally it doesn't matter much whether they've been sent through the mail or not.
Again, while true as a generalization, there are exceptions. Some handpainted FDCs can be quite valuable. The value here is not so much that they are an FDC, but because of value associated with the artist that created them. A FDCs few are valuable because of circumstances that led to them being relatively scarce. Also, the correct way to refer to them in plural is FDCs, not FDC's.
One more complication is that on modern FDCs many professional preparers of these along with more than a few ordinary collectors who were knowledgeable did not use pencil for addressing but rather used stickers that could be peeled off that had the addresses on them. Sometimes if a collector or dealer did not peel off the stickered address very soon afterwards the glue from the sticker started to migrate down into the paper of the envelope leaving a slightly yellowish shadow that is that bit of glue that is now embedded in the paper and there is no way to get it out. Such FDCs likewise go for even less than ones that were purely over the counter hand-backs but if the stickers were removed as soon as they were received it can be hard to tell if they ever had a sticker address. But as has been stated, all of this doesn't mean very much anymore on modern (post WW2) FDCs as almost all of them can be had in bulk or wholesale for very little.