US Stamps

Jay Bigalke

Quest for completion: first-day events in 50 states

October 08, 2018 09:00 AM

  • Stamp collector and first-day cover enthusiast Chris Lazaroff presents a gift of a framed example of the new Winter Birds Blue Jay forever stamp to Linn’s editor-in-chief Jay Bigalke. Both Lazaroff and Bigalke have attended a first-day event in all 50 states.

Philatelic Foreword by Jay Bigalke

Some collectors strive to complete an album page, a country collection or an exhibit. I took the task of completion a bit further in wanting to attend a first-day ceremony in all 50 states.

It all started on Aug. 1, 1996, when my father took me and my brother to the Iowa Statehood stamp event in Dubuque, Iowa. I had read about the ceremony in Linn’s and was thrilled that my father agreed to the three-hour drive from our hometown in Wisconsin.

In the late 1990s, Wisconsin also had a number of first-day events, helping the quest continue.

In 2001, my friend Chris Lazaroff showed me how to purchase airline tickets via the Northwest Airlines website. At the time, he was also trying to attend a first-day ceremony in each state, a goal he accomplished in 2016.

On Sept. 22, 2018 — 22 years, one month and 21 days after my quest started — I accomplished the goal after attending the Birds in Winter first-day event in Queeche, Vt.

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So what’s next? Well, there are a couple of U.S. territories left on my list: American Samoa and Northern Mariana Islands. (I’ve been to ceremonies in Guam, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Washington, D.C.)

Or I might have to look north to Canada for some of its stamp launches. Either way I will continue my adventures, and I hope you will continue your collecting adventures, too.