First day and commemorative covers.
First day covers (FDC) and commemorative covers (CC) are special postal envelopes that become valued collector's items.
*FDC envelopes come with newly issued postage stamps affixed and postmarked on the first day that those stamps are placed on sale by the Royal Mail.
*CC envelopes are issued to coincide with dates of special events or anniversaries. The stamps affixed will not necessarily be those issued on those dates.
The covers (or envelopes) are available in a variety of styles, which can be split into two categories: stock (or standard/ commercial) covers and official (or sponsored) covers.
Official and sponsored covers.
*Official covers are normally defined as covers produced by private organisations or cover producers who at the same time sponsor a special handstamp to use on their cover.
This is the main area of activity for BFPS. Military Units, Ships, RAF Stations and others connected to the Armed Forces sponsor covers to raise funds. Over the years hundreds of thousands of pounds have been raised for Service-related charities through the sale of special covers.
Stock (or standard/commercial) covers.
These are produced primarily for general sale to collectors who buy the blank envelopes (i.e. without stamps or postmark) in order to affix their own stamps and then arrange to have them postmarked with a chosen handstamp from those advertised in the Philatelic Bulletin.
There are many suppliers offering stock covers (Benham, Buckingham, Cotswold, Stuart) and of course Royal Mail produce their own blank envelope, which is also available 'fully serviced' (i.e. complete with stamps and cancelled) from the Royal Mail Philatelic Bureau in Edinburgh. (www.royalmail.com/stamps).
* As defined by "Collecting British First Day Covers" by Adrian Bradbury
Example of a first day cover
Example of a commemorative cover
Example of an official/sponsored Cover
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