First Day Covers

Lloyd De Vries has a good article in the November 29th edition of Linns in which he talks about the First Day cover market and specifically First Day cover prices. Each country has its own twist on collecting its own stamps. For example, the British collect (or did ) Traffic Light gutter pairs(pairs with the colored registration markings on the gutters between panes) and Israel collectors collect tabs. Americans have always saved plate blocks and FDCs. Even today, older people you meet who report being collectors when they were younger tell you that they collected plate blocks and First Day covers. But both these subspecialties of US philately are withering and for the same three reasons. First, there is a shortage of new collectors. When every young boy collected stamps, the subset of collectors who also collected plate blocks and FDCs was relatively large. Video games (or whatever is their latest incarnation) have replaced philately among young boys and so the pool of potential collectors of these two favorites is small. Second, postage value costs alone of US stamps often run well over $100 per year so that FDC or plate block collecting can run hundreds or even thousands of dollars rather than the pennies it cost in the 1950s. And third, decreasing popularity of plate block and FDC collecting has led to serious price declines in older material which in turn has led would be collectors of this material to question whether it is a worthwhile venture. I think that nice quality, scarcer stamps from almost any country are still a decent long term investment play. But the huge glut of plates and FDCs make those areas unlikely to be good financial performers.

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