2009-08-21 / Columnists

Art On Envelopes

By Stephen Yaeger

Recently, I attended my second Americover 2009 bourse in Boxborough, MA. This is an annual event planned and organized by The American First Day Cover Society. The FDCS is an organization of cachet makers and dealers with a common interest. The event draws hundreds of dealers, cachet makers, collectors and buyers to participate in this largest gathering of its kind.

A few years ago my cousin showed me a First Day Cover (FDC) with a cachet. (Cachets were originally official seals or stamps affixed to an envelope.) She asked me if I'd like to create cachets on FDCs. I knew what an FDC was as well as the fact that many have cachets added to them for sale to collectors or those who want inexpensive art work. But I also thought that only the US Postal Service commissions cachets for their FDCs. It was then that I found out that anyone, artist or otherwise, can place a cachet on an FDC; so I took up another hobby.

As an artist I had a problem with the terminology that the cachet world uses in describing various types of cachets, postal service cancellations and stamp categories. A "hand-drawn/hand-painted" cachet is one in which the artwork is drawn and painted directly on the envelope. It's actually what any artist would call an "original." If the cachet maker produces, for example, 20 cachets in the issue, he would sign and note the number of handdrawn/ hand-painted originals he/she produced by indicating 1/20, 2/20.….19/20, 20/20 under their signature. This is puzzling since each one is an original with, of course, some differences visible in the individual artwork. Then there's the "mechanically produced/ hand-painted" cachet. Actually it's a black and white line-drawn print that is hand-painted. A mechanically produced cachet is a print. There are also "add-ons." An add-on is a cachet that has been placed on an FDC after the first day cover cancellation. For example if, today, I put a cachet on an FDC with a cancellation of, say, April 25, 2001, the cachet is considered an add-on and should be so indicated to the collector. In any case if more than one envelope receives the same cachet the issue is formally numbered. There are however, some cachet makers who do not number their issues. There are other cachet descriptions depending on how the cachet is placed on the envelope, but they are too numerous to mention here.

Cachet makers (many who are quite talented artists) produce cachets which are directly related to the stamp's subject or they can design anything that they feel.

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