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My "First Day Covers" Cover

Undated handwritten copy of original written to the First Day Cover Society

While looking through an accumulation of covers for a friend, I ran across a most interesting cover which I would like to share with the membership. I call it my "First Day covers" Cover, a strange name but one I think aptly fits the cover shown in the photo. (figure #1)

The Armed Forces Issue of 1945-46 (Scott#929, 934-6, 939 & 940) were issues in tribute to the efforts of our entire armed forces and merchant marine in world War ll. Starting with the Iwo Jima issue, the series included, following in order, the Army, Navy, Coast Guard and Merchant Marine, concluding with the Discharge Emblem Issue. All issues were released at Washington, DC with the exception of Navy and Merchant Marine issues which were released at Annapolis MD and New York City, respectively. According to FD figures, there are at most 391,650 complete sets of 6 FDC's, that figure being the amount of the lowest issue, the Iwo Jima.

However, a cover I ran across while doing an evaluation on an estate, had the entire issue on one large sheet arranged in such a way that each stamp was cancelled on it's own First Day of Issue, but is still part of one larger cover!
As one can see from the enclosed photo, the cover begins at the upper left with the Iwo Jima issue, followed by the Army Issue in the upper center, and the Navy issue at the upper right. The bottom row begine with the Coast Guard Issue at the lower left, the Merchant Marine Issue at the lower center and the Discharge Emblem at the lower right. All are hand cancelled.

Now come the questions. (any other feasible explanations would be most welcome.) Given the postal regulations of the time which did not allow handback service, how did this cover get through the mails? I examined the cover carefully, even using a 50 power magnifying glass and I can find no trace of pencil marks or label remnants. Thus I can conclude that the item never passed through the mail and the person who prepared this item received handback sevice from at least 3 differenct clerks, and possibly even six. The preparer must have had someone else service the cover at Annapolis and NYC, or else went there himself. Regulations now allow handback service and as many cancels that can be fit on a cover. So this 1945-1946 item can truly be classed as a forerunner, albeit an illegal one. I don't care what category it falls into. All I know is that it is an interesting item and will provided some conversation if it is framed and hung on a wall.

If anyone has a similar piece or wishes to comment on the cover, I will be glad to respond, but please include a self-addressed stamped envelope when writing. And I must say that the cover is not for sale.

Editors Note: To this date I have only found one FDC "Navy 1945 Issue" that Jerry alludes to in this article within his personal collection.