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FDCs: Unofficial sites can be highly imaginative

by Marjory J. Sente

The past couple of months I have been teaching a course on FDCs, one in a series of courses that the American Philatelic Society is offering via the Internet. One of the assignments was to pick a stamp and describe what sites you'd choose to service unofficial first-day covers.

Unofficial FDCs are canceled on the first day at a site other than the officially designated first-day location.

Shown here is an unofficial FDC of the 1977 stamp honoring the 50th anniversary of Lindbergh's solo transatlantic flight. Stamps were taken from the designated first-day site in New York, to St. Louis, Mo. The St. Louis cancels were very appropriate, because Lindbergh's plane was called the Spirit of St. Louis.

Responses to the assignment were interesting and creative. Here are a few:

'I chose the 2¢ Frank Lloyd Wright because of my interest in architecture.

'First site: Richmond Center, Wis.; Wright's place of birth.

'Second site: Wilmington, Del.; [Site of] A house he designed in his later years called the Dudley Spencer House . . .

'Third site: Bear Run or (Uniontown), Pa. [Site of] One of his best-known projects 'Fallingwater,' a favorite of mine . . .

'Fourth site: New York, N.Y. The Guggenheim Museum.

'Fifth site: Chicago, Ill. [Site of] the Robie House, one of Wright's better-known projects in the Prairie style . . .'

Another student who said he was not a golfer, selected the 1981 18¢ Bobby Jones commemorative for his exercise, and started by noting that he lives in Augusta, Ga., 'known worldwide for the Masters Golf Tournament. Bobby Jones designed the Augusta National golf course, which is used for the Master's Golf Tournament. He is so revered in Augusta that one of our major expressways is named after him . . .

'Therefore, my first unofficial FDC location would be Augusta, GA 30904. I chose this particular ZIP code because it is where the Augusta National golf course is located . . .

'I would attempt to obtain the first-day cancels from Golf, Ill., 60029; Driver, AR 72329; Bunker, MO 63629; Wood, SD 57585; and Eagle, CO 81631.'

Another student wrote, 'I chose the current 'Year of the Snake' stamp as my topic for unofficial cancellations: Swamp Branch, KY 41240 . . . Moccasin, CA 95347 . . . Viper , KY 41774 . . . Diamond, OR 97722 . . . Timber , OR 97144. I am the office manager for a consulting forester, and one of the hazards of cruising timber is snakes! Snake boots are a requirement here.'

Can you think of any better sites for this issue?

Another student wrote, 'The stamp I have chosen for the unofficial FDC exercise is the Thomas Wolfe issue. Since I am not sure from the assignment whether to be as fanciful when it comes to where to get the covers canceled as in choosing a stamp to work with, I will stick to a scenario that might possibly work-that is, with determination and luck. (A helicopter might also come in handy.)

'First, I would seek a postmark in Asheville, NC, Wolfe's hometown . . . Under a different name, Asheville is the setting of most of Look Homeward, Angel, Wolfe's first novel, and his home has been made into something of a museum.

'Second, Chapel Hill, N.C., where Wolfe went to college . . . Wolfe was heavily involved in campus life, particularly the theatre - The Playmakers' Theatre - which appears in fictional form . . .

'Third, I would try to get a cover postmarked in Altamont, N.C. - the name given to Asheville in Look Homeward, Angel and Of Time and the River. . .

'Fourth is Wolfe, Va. The name's relevance is obvious . . .

'Fifth is Gant, Tenn. The chief character in the two novels mentioned above, as well as other assorted pieces by Wolfe, is named Eugene Gant. And the entire Gant family finds its way into these books . . .'

These examples demonstrate the creativity that can be expressed when making unofficial FDCs. With the aid of modern transportation and a network of collectors around the country, you literally can be several places at once servicing unofficials. Try making a few soon!