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FAQ's : What is the market like for FDCs?
Before 1965, first day covers (FDCs) were designed & produced by either stamp dealers, private individuals or in many cases, by the organisation that was closely related to the place, person or purpose for the new stamps, and/or a new special postmark, being issued by the SA Philatelic Services.

In 1965, Philatelic Services decided to issue official FDCs and to a large extent, privately issued FDCs ceased to exist as the majority of collectors became interested in only official FDCs only. The first official FDC was issued on 17th May 1965 for the ITU commemorative. The FDC was produced in a postcard format and initially, 5000 cards were printed with 3 diamonds on the reverse below the text. Preliminary orders exceeded supply, so a second printing was produced which differed from the first in a few ways, but is easily identified by only two diamonds at the base. 4000 cards of the second type were issued, making a total of 9000 cards. A special ITU canceller was made to cancel these cards, although some were cancelled by collectors at their local post offices. These are not considered official in the true sense of the word and are worth considerably less. This FDC reached a price peak of R750 and is catalogued as such in the latest SA Colour Catalogue, but the market is so weak at pr esent, they are almost unsaleable today. These cards were not numbered and the official series were only numbered from no 3 onwards.

Demand for these official FDCs grew with every issue as collectors caught onto the new fashion of collecting FDCs, which was not only local but also an international phenomenon. By the time FDC no 3 was issued in May 1966, printing quantities had risen to 70,000 and continued to climb, reaching 185,000 covers during the early 1980s. Collectors were not only buying one FDC for their collections, but were buying duplicates for their children or for speculation and the chance of making huge profits, while the post office continued to meet the growing demand with supply. In the early 1980s, the world economic situation took a turn for the worse and it was at this point that collectors began to sell off their collections to meet their financial obligations, and slowly the market began to weaken as supply began to exceed demand.

The market dropped and this led to more sellers appearing to try and cash in while they could, causing a further increase in supply and a further downward spiral in demand. The post office began to find that they had unsold FDCs and printing quantities began to fall for the first time in many years. The market continued to weaken and has since all but collapsed, while printing quantities have fallen to figures well below the numbers issued back in 1965, so much so that figures are not even being published, but we understand that around 5000-6000 FDCs is the norm in SA today. It is our sincere belief that it may soon become uneconomical for the post office to continue to print and distribute official FDCs. There is a strong possibility that the issuing of FDCs may again fall back in the hands of private individuals and companies. The wheel has almost gone full circle!

The fact of the matter is that the market had been developed, and then exploited by greedy postal authorities worldwide and they are now paying the price for killing the goose that laid the golden eggs. This has spilled over into all areas of stamp collecting and affects almost everything issued from 1960 onwards, be it FDCs, stamps, control blocks, miniature sheets, maxicards etc, etc. The market is flooded, demand is weak and the future for most of these issues, barring only a few very scarce or unusual items, is bleak. It may recover sometime in the future but it is our feeling that the market has moved on and any recovery is a very long time away.

The real value in these issues is in their educational value and historical record and as such, they are worth to retaining as a family heirloom.



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