I do not collect first day covers. I’m not even really interested in what I call "mint" FDC, i.e. first day covers that have never travelled through the postal service. I think they are too much philatelic and not postal enough. Each time I attend to a first day ceremony, I’m impressed by the care taken by some collectors to prepare very nice covers to get them postmarked with the first day cancel. Some of them are really beautiful. Small pieces of art by themselves.
I always wonder if FDC have any specific value, I mean more than the cancelled stamps that they bear ? And can they be used for philatelic exhibition ? My feeling is that answer to both questions is no, except may be for old FDC.
Nevertheless, I like first day covers when they have been "used" through the postal service. Even if it means that they are not in perfect condition. I find them more authentic… After all, the main purpose of stamps is to pay for a postal service. Sometimes we forget it I think.
The cover I chose for this posting comes from China, from one of my philatelic pen pals. I like this cover for several reasons. First of all I like the stamps. They have been issued the 12th of March 2006 by China post. They picture what they call "relic species", i.e. species that have survived disasters due to geographical, geological, climatic or other special reasons. The species are (from left to right) :
- The maidenhair tree (Ginko biloba ) : this plant is often called a living fossil. This is the oldest tree on earth. It has appeared more than 300 millions years ago and has survived through all the climatic changes that our planet has experienced
- The Chinese swamp cypress (Glyptostrobus pensilis) : this species in almost extinct in wild areas due to over cutting for its scented wood. But it can be found in rice fields where it is used for its roots that help stabilize the soil by reducing erosion
- The Dove tree (Davidia involucrata) : it got its name because its flowers look like wings of a flying dove
- The Chinese Tulip tree (Liriodendron chinensis) : well, I don’t have much information about this one…