First day of issue
A First Day of Issue Cover or First Day Cover is a postage stamp
Postage stamp
A postage stamp is a small piece of paper that is purchased and displayed on an item of mail as evidence of payment of postage. Typically, stamps are made from special paper, with a national designation and denomination on the face, and a gum adhesive on the reverse side...

 on a cover, postal card
Postal card
Postal cards are postal stationery with an imprinted stamp or indicium signifying the prepayment of postage. They are sold by postal authorities. In January, 1869 Emanuel Herrmann of Austria described the advantages of a Correspondenz Karte. By October, 1869 the world's first postal card was...

 or stamped envelope
Stamped envelope
A stamped envelope or postal stationery envelope is an envelope with a printed or embossed indicium indicating the prepayment of postage. It is a form of postal stationery.-Use in the United States:In August 1852 an act of the U.S...

Franking are any and all devices or markings such as postage stamps , printed or stamped impressions, codings, labels, manuscript writings , and/or any other authorized form of markings affixed or applied to mails to qualify them to be postally serviced.-Franking types and...

 on the first day the issue is authorized for use within the country or territory of the stamp-issuing authority. Sometimes the issue is made from a temporary or permanent foreign or overseas office. There will usually be a first day of issue postmark
thumb|USS TexasA postmark is a postal marking made on a letter, package, postcard or the like indicating the date and time that the item was delivered into the care of the postal service...

, frequently a pictorial cancellation, indicating the city and date where the item was first issued, and "first day of issue" is often used to refer to this postmark. Depending on the policy of the nation issuing the stamp, official first day postmarks may sometimes be applied to covers weeks or months after the date indicated.

Postal authorities may hold a first day ceremony to generate publicity for the new issue, with postal officials revealing the stamp, and with connected persons in attendance, such as descendants of the person being honored by the stamp. The ceremony may also be held in a location that has a special connection with the stamp's subject, such as the birthplace of a social movement, or at a stamp show.

Other types of first day covers

Computer vended postage stamps issued by Neopost
Neopost is a manufacturer of postage meters and mailroom equipment. It claims to rank number one in Europe and number two worldwide in mailroom equipment and logistics systems....

 had first-day-of-issue ceremonies sponsored by the company, not by an official stamp-issuing entity. Personalised postage stamps of different designs are sometimes also given first-day-of-issue ceremonies and cancellations by the private designer. The stamps issued by private local post
Local post
A local post is a mail service that operates only within a limited geographical area, typically a city or a single transportation route. Historically, some local posts have been operated by governments, while others, known as private local posts have been for-profit companies...

s can also have first days of issue, as can artistamp
The term artistamp or artist's stamp refers to a postage stamp-like art form used to depict or commemorate any subject its creator chooses...


Event covers

Event covers
Event covers
Event covers are decorated, stamped and canceled commemorative envelopes. They are created to celebrate an event or note an anniversary.The design is generally placed on the left side of the envelope...

, instead of marking the issuance of a stamp, commemorate events. A design on the left side of the envelope (a "cachet") explains the event or anniversary being celebrated. Ideally the stamp or stamps affixed relate to the event. Cancels are obtained either from the location (e.g., Cape Canaveral, Anytown) or, in the case of the United States, from the Postal Service's Cancellation Services unit in Kansas City.

Earliest known use

The earliest known use (EKU) of a stamp may or may not be the same as the first day of issue. This can occur if:
  • Stamps are inadvertently sold or stolen, and cancelled on an envelope or package by unaware postal officials prior to the first day of issue.
  • Minor changes, such as a different perforation, are noted by postal officials, and no one knows when they first went on sale. This is also true of some major stamp issues, especially during periods of civil unrest or if government records have been lost.
  • Some earlier stamps, especially high values, have not found any customers using them on the day of issue, or those uses have been lost. EKUs for these may be weeks or even months after the official first day.
  • Some stamps have not have had an officially designated first day of issue and instead were simply placed on sale whenever the stamps were needed.

The search for EKUs of both old and new stamps is an active area of philately
Philately is the study of stamps and postal history and other related items. Philately involves more than just stamp collecting, which does not necessarily involve the study of stamps. It is possible to be a philatelist without owning any stamps...

, and new discoveries are regularly announced.
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