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Variety Can Spice Up Your Collection
by Marjory Sente
Most first-day cover collectors focus on assembling a group of cacheted covers. A cachet is a design that appears on the front of an FDC, customarily on the left side. Its pictorial design, sometimes combined with text, is intended to enhance the stamp that is being issued. The cachet frequently provides additional information about the new issue, or it may just be used to enhance the beauty of the cover.
A cachet can be hand-painted, printed, airbrushed or rubber-stamped. The imagination has never been limited regarding the production of cachets. Some collect a particular cachetmaker such as Artcraft, which has been making cachets since 1939; Ioor and Roessler, which no longer produce cachets; and Colorano Silk, which is still actively producing its distinctive designs. Other collectors focus their attention on a type of cachet, such as engraved, hand-drawn, or airbrushed varieties. I must admit a strong fondness for cacheted FDCs. But looking at a handful of designs that I recently acquired, I can not see any apparent rhyme or reason, or underlying logic, for their acquisition. I'm going to share them with you, because each spoke to me and gave me a good feeling to be able to include it in my collection.
Louisiana has always been known for its colorful politics and elections, so it should come as no surprise that a wannabe state official would use the 1962 Louisiana Statehood commemorative to promote his political fortunes.
As Figure 1 shows, at least one has ? but not from Louisiana. Francis May of Ohio used an FDC for the issue, and a cachet to try to garner votes. Mug shot notwithstanding, the text is an interesting combination of philatelic jargon and political propaganda: 'Tired of OLD ISSUES? Here's a NEW ISSUE! When you vote in MAY, Vote for MAY.' Frederick, Md., was the first-day city for the 1949 Francis Scott Key commemorative. The city is also the home of the Francis Scott Key Hotel.
Some enterprising collector used stationery from the hotel to service at least one FDC. True, no cachet graces this cover ? but it has great appeal to a topical collector. A commemorative for the bicentennial of Washington and Lee University also was released in 1949. Robert Fulton, of Fulton cachets, prepared by far one of my favorite cachets for-all-time for that issue. Fulton produced his handsome engraved cachets during a short period from 1947 until 1950. Frequently mistaken as Artcraft or Grimsland designs, the engravings were usually printed in a variety of colors other than black, and are unsigned.
Figure 3 shows the design that I find so attractive. It features a reproduction of the campus taken from an early print, and quotes by George Washington and Robert E. Lee about the school. Moving from the most formal of cachets to a simple printing style, I was thrilled to add what appears to be a woodblock or linoleum print to my collection, on the FDC shown in Figure 4.
This brown cachet, signed 'CPS3,' was made for the 1953 3¢ Ohio Sesquicentennial issue. The Chillicothe Philatelic Society design include a stone building and text explaining that Ohio's territorial legislature in 1801 met in that building, which later became Ohio's first capitol. The group prepared seven different FDC designs to celebrate the Buckeye State's anniversary. Many fine cachets honored stamps issued in conjunction with America's Bicentennial in 1776, such as the one on the FDC pictured in Figure 5.
Len Sautter was able to pack as much information on a cover as anyone. This cacheted FDC, prepared for the Interphil commemorative issued Jan. 17, 1976, is an excellent example. In addition to giving a narrative about international philatelic exhibitions held in this country, Len discussed Benjamin Franklin's connections to the stamp and the significance of the first-day date. Franklin was the country's first postmaster general, and was slated to be honored on a stamp issued in conjunction with the show. Also Jan. 17, 1976 was the 270th anniversary of Franklin's birth. Sautter took the connection one step further. He had the cover canceled at the B. Free Franklin Station in Philadelphia, making a great unofficial FDC.
My final acquisition, a gift from a fellow collector, was an FDC first prepared for the 32¢ Cinco de Mayo stamp issued in 1998. The cachet shows a stamp from Mexico that honors Benito Juarez, the first president of Mexico. Shown in Figure 6,
the cover also includes the first-day cancel for the redenominated 33¢ Cinco de Mayo stamp issued on April 27, 1999. Both adhesives were issued in San Antonio, Texas. Enjoy cachets as works of art. If you can't concentrate on collecting a particular cachetmaker or type of cachet, that is fine, too. The key is to enjoy the covers that you collect. Remember ? collecting should be fun!