The American Philatelic Society will be honored to host the first day ceremony for two Marshall Islands souvenir sheets on August 10, 2023, at 4 p.m. on the Great American Stamp Show main stage. The event and souvenir sheets will celebrate the 100th anniversary of the first pre-printed, cacheted first-day cover and its creator, George W. Linn.
A first day cover created by George W. Linn and serviced in Marion, Ohio. Courtesy Jay Bigalke, Linn’s Stamp News.
When President Warren G. Harding died in office on August 2, 1923, the United States Post Office Department raced to produce a commemorative stamp honoring the popular president. Despite the tight timeline, the release of this stamp was advertised in advance, allowing George W. Linn (a devoted philatelist, printer, and native Ohioan, who would later found Linn’s Stamp News) to prepare. Linn pre-printed several hundred black-bordered covers in three different sizes with a simple memorial message before driving 45 miles to Marion, Ohio – Harding’s hometown and one of the first day cities for the commemorative stamp. On September 1, 1923, Linn was first in line to purchase the stamp in Marion, and “stopped off at every small post office on the way [home] and even drove several miles out of [his] way to get them used at difference offices.”
The historic innovation not only resulted in the official first day cancellation we know today, but also created a new and valuable facet of the hobby of philately – and ever since, FDC collectors have submitted covers of all shapes and sizes to receive the hallowed cancel.
The Souvenir Sheets
To celebrate the centenary of the cacheted FDC, the Marshall Islands have created two souvenir sheets honoring Linn’s achievement. The first sheet features a portrait photograph of Linn with his cacheted FDC prominently displayed and partially included in the design of the postage stamp. The sheet was designed by Jay Bigalke, editor-in-chief of Linn’s Stamp News and Scott catalogs.
The second sheet features four stamps, each celebrating an aspect of the historic innovation: the 2¢ Warren G. Harding stamp (Scott 610), a photograph of President Harding, a stylized reversed image of Linn, and the cacheted FDC. A photograph of Linn is shown in the selvage area. The sheet of four was designed by the Inter-Governmental Philatelic Corp., the official philatelic agent for the Marshall Islands and a number of other stamp-issuing entities.
The Marshall Islands will issue two souvenir sheets commemorating the 100th anniversary of the pre-printed, cacheted first day cover August 10 at the Great American Stamp Show in Cleveland, Ohio.
All five stamps in the two sheets are denominated “$1.00,” to represent the numeral 100 in honor of the anniversary.
Both sheets will be available for purchase at the Great American Stamp Show, and a first-day cancellation from the Marshall Islands will be available. Additional information about the event and a potential event on the September 1 anniversary date will be covered in a future issue of Linn’s Stamp News.
APS members can read more about the history of first day covers in “Collecting U.S. First Day Covers” by Lloyd A. de Vries in the May issue of The American Philatelist.