US Stamps

Naval covers as a byway of first-day cover collecting

Feb 18, 2016, 4 AM

By John M. Hotchner

First-day cover collecting certainly has many byways, and I like to go back to it every so often because it is one of my roots in the stamp hobby.

I recall with pleasure sending off for FDCs (with the help of my father) in the late 1940s and early 1950s.

My FDC collecting today has gone into some of those niche areas, and this column has covered some of them in the past: FDCs created by members of Congress, FDCs with commercial enclosures, and FDCs with cachets by nonphilatelic organizations that are connected to the subject of the stamp being issued.

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Another of my collecting areas is Navy ship-canceled FDCs, and non-FDC Navy ship cancels that relate to the subject of a stamp.

This is a relatively new direction for me, and I don’t have many such covers, but they are certainly fun to look for and find.

An example of the non-FDC is shown nearby. This cover is franked with the 3¢ Iowa Statehood Centennial stamp issued Aug. 3, 1946 (Scott 942). The cover is canceled Dec. 28, 1946. That is the date, 100 years earlier, that Iowa entered the Union. Why the stamp was issued almost five months earlier I don’t know.

The USS Iowa (BB61) was one of the last battleships constructed. The ship was commissioned on Feb. 22, 1943, and finally decommissioned in 1990.

The USS Iowa serves as a maritime museum at the Pacific Battleship Center at the Port of Los Angeles.

In the category of FDCs, I have the 2¢ and 5¢ Aeronautics Conference stamps (Scott 649-650) canceled on three different ships: the light cruiser USS Concord (CL40), and the destroyers USS Dale (DD353) and USS Billingsley (DD293). All are canceled on the Dec. 12, 1928 first day.

Two of the three FDCs have Philadelphia backstamps. All are addressed to George Hall in Philadelphia.

The official first-day city for the Aeronautics Conference issue was Washington, DC., with the official first-day cancel in green. I like my covers better. They certainly are more unusual!


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