Fred Collins is my favorite contemporary First Day Cover maker. He has been producing them since 1978, and recently wrote a book about his experiences. If you've ever wondered what it takes to make a successful business at FDC's, Fred's book is a great place to start. He does not yet have a website, but intends to have one in the near future. He produces an FDC for EVERY stamp the US issues, most of them as singles, including the current Celebrate The Century series, which will encompass 150 stamps over two years when the USPS issues the final pane this year.

(Click on any image to see a higher-resolution version.)

(And if the topic of hand-painted FDCs interests you, visit the excellent web site of Chapter 73 of the AFDCS - here is a link to their article on the history of HDHP-FDCs, at )

This is the first Collins cover, for the Quiltmaking issue of 1978. As his first, it is in great demand, and retails for around $500. He produced only 280 of this one, whereas his current production is about 500 each.

Fred has a good stock of his older covers, and sells them for less than FDC dealers, as a rule, so if you want to get started collecting his work, write and ask for his current catalog:

Fred Collins
PO Box 2000
Hewitt, N.J. 07421

You will find a sampling of Fred's covers scattered throughout my exhibit. I do not collect everything he produces, preferring to focus on my two favorite topics, Trains and Olympics, plus the Great Americans Series, Transportation Series coils, and older setenant issues.

Click on any of the three images immediately below to see my separate pages on Fred's Trains, Olympics, and Federal Duck Stamp FDCs.



Click HERE to see my pages on Poster Stamps of the Olympic Games.

Duck Stamps

Below are a few more of my favorites, presented more or less in chronological order. Considering that he has produced over 1500 covers to date, this is only a small sampling of his work. (Click on any image below to see a higher-resolution version of that image.)

The covers above illustrate Fred's early style, with a small cachet, usually bordered, on one side of the cover. Since 1985 most of his cachets have been "all-over" designs, like the ones later on this page. This series of stamps, American Architecture, was a favorite of mine.

Space is a popular collecting topic. The covers above illustrate one of the problems that confront FDC makers - how to handle setenants, especially when they form too large a block to fit on a standard cover, while leaving room for a cachet. I prefer to see them kept together as much as possible, but consider this a reasonable compromise. Click here to see how another maker chose to handle this same block.

For the Ballooning issue Fred did two versions of the same basic cover, and to conserve space, overlapped the stamps. Multi-stamp issues like this lent themselves to his multiple cancel approach (see below).

Definitives can be a challenge, since their designs tend to be generic. I like Fred's interpretation of this stamp - it's patriotic, makes a relevant statement about progress and technology, and most important, fits the stamp. This was the first US stamp issued to pay the basic Express Mail rate, and was also the highest face value US stamp issued to that date.

These four covers illustrate several more ways to handle setenants as a group.

In the early years, Fred liked to use two stamps on each cover, one with the official FD cancel, the other with an unofficial FDC cancel, and often traveled far afield to do it. And while the official cancel can be obtained up to month after the release date, the others could be obtained only on the issue date, so adding them was a nice way of restoring meaning to the "First Day" concept. Since he evolved his all-over design style he has used mostly single official cancels. The cover to the right has just a single stamp, but a clever unofficial cancel - and you can see Fred is not afraid to incorporate references to sensitive issues. (An unofficial FDC cancellation is one from a city other than the one designated by the USPS as the official release site of a stamp.)

Another thing I look for in a FDC maker is an awareness of the relationships among stamp issues. These two sets - one of Arctic explorers, the other of Antarctic explorers - were issued two years apart, but obviously belong to the same series, and I like that Fred's designs reflect that kinship.

For the Statue of Liberty centennial issue (below), Fred created two covers. The one on the right is a true Joint Issue cover, with both the stamps and the official FDC cancels of both countries.

He has done three other Joint Issue FDCs, the US-Morocco issue of 1987, the US-Australia issue of 1988,and the US-Sweden-Finland issue of 1988 (his John McCormack cover of 1984 did include the Irish stamp, but lacked the appropriate Irish FD cancel).

John McCormack (6/6/84)

US-Morocco Friendship (7/17/87)

Australia BiCentennial (1/26/88)

New Sweden (3/29/88)
US stamp and two Swedish stamps
from Joint Issue booklet showing
famous Americans of Swedish ancestry

New Sweden (3/29/88)
US stamp and Finnish stamp

New Sweden (3/29/88)
US stamp and Swedish stamp

Fred obviously had fun with this issue, creating not only the very simple and dramatic pair of covers with all four stamps, but the clever and innovative single cover as well (see the cutout from the stamp? It could not be cancelled, since it is no longer valid as postage, once so altered.)

These are two of my all-time favorite Collins covers. The cranes issue was a favorite of mine to begin with, which seemed to inspire many FDC makers to produce exceptional covers, and Fred was no exception. The O'Keefe cover was a fitting tribute to one of the greatest American painters of the century.

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Revised -- 05/16/2002