Buckingham Covers - First Day Covers

Frequently Asked Questions

This page is just about collecting first day covers and we hope it's useful for you. If your question is about dealing with us as a company, have a look at our About Us section instead.

If you have a question not answered here, don't hesitate to email us and we'll do our best to help.

Please click on a question below to view the answer.

First Day Covers Frequently Asked Questions
  • Can I Pay monthly or use deferred payments

    At Buckingham covers we are always happy to work around your budget, you can set up monthly installments starting at a future date of your choosing. Full details on how you can do this are found at our Flexible Payments page

  • How do I find out about previous covers and postmarks?

    There are lots of different ways to find out about previous first day covers.
     

    • Get your name on mailing lists
    First of all, make sure you are on the mailing list of any cover producers that you like. For example, Buckingham Covers regularly produces a free brochure called Cover Lover which shows many previous covers as well as up-and-coming ones.

    • Magazines
    Check out magazines such as Stamp Magazine or Gibbons Stamp Monthly as these often have reviews of previous covers. You might like to subscribe to the British Philatelic Bulletin which is produced monthly by Royal Mail and includes a review of recent covers. For more information about these magazines, see our Links and Resources page.

    • Exhibitions
    Go to the larger exhibitions such as Stampex, Philatex and the York Stamp Show. Find out which dealers are going to be there in advance and go to meet them. You can ask them to show you what covers they have available for certain issues. It is a great way of meeting people in the world of covers and also for hunting down those elusive items you are after! For more information about these exhibitions, see our Links and Resources page.

    • Ask for advice!
    Any cover producer should be delighted to help you and answer your questions. You are always welcome to phone, email or write to us at Buckingham Covers if you need advice or information. We’ll be happy to help. If we are going through a very busy period, we may take a few days to get back to you (we are only a small company so sometimes it is all hands to the deck!), but we will always give you as much help as we can.

  • How do I find out what other postmarks are available for each issue?

    You need to get hold of a copy of the British Postmark Bulletin produced by Royal Mail and available on subscription. This lists the details on all up and coming postmarks. If you produce your own first day covers, you can use the Bulletin to select a postmark for them. If you are buying first day covers, you can check which postmark was sponsored by which cover producer to see if your cover is official or not. For more information about the British Postmark Bulletin see our Links and Resources page.

  • How do i get in touch?

    Want to place an order, ask advice, get in touch for a chat or maybe come in for a cup of tea? We’d love to hear from you. 

    If you plan to visit us in person, please give us a call first if possible so we know to expect you. Warren House is an office rather than a shop, but we always love meeting customers and would be happy to give you a tour (although it won’t take long as we’re only small!).

    For details, please visit our Contact Us page.

  • How many stamp issues are there every year?

    The number of British stamp issues varies from year to year but there are usually 15-18 new sets of stamps issued annually. Anywhere between 5-10 of these stamp issues will have an accompanying miniature sheet.

  • How much does postage cost?

     

    Our postage costs are as follows:

    • UK Postage and Packing (for orders under £200)        £2.45
    • UK Special Delivery (for orders £200 and over)           £6.95
    • Overseas Post and Packing (for orders under £200)    £3.45
    • Overseas Special Delivery (for orders £200 and over)  £7.95

     

  • If i add a product to my Wish List, will it automatically be reserved for me?

    The short answer unfortunately is no. 

    This new wishlist is just for your shopping convenience and lets you save products for later. If you wish to reserve the product and be put onto the list for the next available one then please call or email us  and we will be happy to do this for you. We will be the ones to contact you if we source your product, and if you still want it we will then process your order for you. 

  • Should I buy signed or unsigned covers?

    This decision is really down to your personal preference and your budget. Signed covers of course are more expensive but are likely to make greater gains for you long term. However, unsigned covers are also likely to go up in value and are less expensive to buy at the time. You don’t have to strictly decide on collecting one or the other. For example, our unsigned Cover Club members often upgrade to a signed cover on some issues where they really like the signature while our signed Cover Club members occasionally swap to an unsigned cover if they don’t like the person signing or if they already have that signature on another cover in their collection.

  • Should I try and backfill my collection or just start from the latest issue?

    This is really a question of what you’d most enjoy. Tracking down the back issues can be extremely good fun and it is always nice to have a complete collection of the year’s covers from January to December. It is not always possible to get all the back issues from the producer however as some will have already sold out, so you may need to roll up your sleeves and start hunting through exhibitions, auctions and on eBay (see our Links and Resources page). You should also be aware that the price of back issues is more expensive than the price of new issues because the value of the covers goes up over time.

    The advantage of starting from the latest issue is that you can take advantage of new issue prices (the cover will be less expensive when it is new). If you join one of our cover clubs, you will also get an extra 10% discount off the new issue price of Buckingham covers to save you even more! New issue covers have the advantage of being easy to get hold of so you can start building your collection straight away. They are also right of the moment so you will be up-to-date with what’s going on now.
    In terms of future value, it doesn’t matter which way you decide to collect. A good cover is a good cover, whether you have a complete chronological collection or not.

  • What are commemorative covers and do I need to buy them?

    Commemorative covers are produced to mark a special date that does not have its own stamps. Though sometimes it may feel like it, the Royal Mail cannot issue a pictorial stamp for a big occasion, so it is left to cover producers, organisations or individual collectors to make covers that celebrate any dates not already featured in Royal Mail’s stamp calendar. Most cover producers will have many different commemorative covers on offer each year and if they have spotted an event that no-one else had thought of, it is possible that some commemorative covers will be unique to them.

    You do not need to buy commemorative covers any more than you need to buy any cover, unless you really like it. You could make a decision early on to only collect first day covers and ignore commemoratives or do just the opposite and specialise just in commemorative covers that fit your own special interest (such as military history, railways, motor racing or sport). If you want to do that, we recommend that you check out our themed cover clubs! Alternatively, you could be more relaxed in your approach and just pick and choose covers that you personally like, regardless of whether they are first day or commemorative.

    Many people enjoy collecting commemorative covers because the date of the postmark is especially meaningful. Instead of being the date that the stamps were issued, it is the date of a particular event such as the last flight of Concorde or the 60th Anniversary of VE Day.

    Tip! If you are collecting a commemorative cover, look at what stamps have been used. The cover producer will have had to hunt to find the most relevant stamps possible. How well have they done? Some of our best examples include the Victoria Cross stamp from the 1990 Gallantry set on our commemorative 150th Anniversary of the VC cover in 2004 and our Golden Arrow stamps on our commemorative Golden Arrow cover.

  • What are Your Terms and Conditions

    All the information you need to know about our terms and conditions and how we use your data can be found at our Terms & Conditions page. 

  • What is the difference between your covers and those produced by Royal Mail?

    Although we are not the most expensive covers on the market, Buckingham Covers are arguably the best. We produce luxury limited edition covers. A huge amount of love goes into these miniature works of art. We often work with a relevant organisation or charity to make our covers official. We sponsor our own special handstamp (postmark) and offer a relevant signature on all our new issue covers. We do not produce more than a maximum of 2500 covers for any issue (and usually produce far fewer than this). We do not put addresses on our cover as this destroys the value. We work with top artists to find the best illustration for our envelope and our covers, postmarks and Cinderella stamps are designed by UK’s leading cover designer, Cath Buckingham. On top of this, we are always looking for relevant ways to make each cover more special. For example, we’ve carried covers on maiden voyages and onboard Concorde. We’ve flown covers in Spitfires and Lancasters, carried them on mail coaches and in submarines and taken them around the world to get extra postmarks. We aim to make our covers a delight to own and that also hopefully offer an excellent investment prospect.

    Royal Mail covers on the other hand are at the cheap and cheerful end of the market. They are very affordable but have no future value at all. Around 125,000 Royal Mail covers are produced for each issue. All of these have the same (unexciting) postmark, which is printed on at the same time as the buyer’s name and address. Royal Mail sells the idea that their covers are personalised because your name and address will be printed on them. Many people like this and if you are one of them, then that’s terrific. We must point out though that addressed covers will not have a value in the future. Royal Mail do not offer signed versions of their covers (funnily enough, no one really wants to sign over 100,000 covers in one-go!) and nor are their covers ever carried. In short, Royal Mail covers may be a fun way of collecting very basic covers but they are not an investment.

  • Why are there so many versions of the same issue and do I need to buy them all?

    There are often a bewildering number of covers for each issue. For starters, there are different brands because, for each new set of stamps issued by Royal Mail, there are covers made by lots of different cover producers. Then on top of that, many cover producers offer a choice of more than one cover for the same stamp issue, perhaps with a different envelope illustration, postmark or signature. The important word here is choice. Extra versions are all about choice. You don’t need to collect everything (although some people like to). Just decide which one you like best!

    At Buckingham Covers, we often do a variety of different covers for the same issue, particularly if we think the stamps are exciting. For example, if you look at our World Heritage Sites covers from April 2005, you’ll see we have 2 cover designs (Blenheim Palace and HM Bark Endeavour) and many different versions of each cover some with 4 stamps, some with 8, some carried, some signed and so the list goes on. We like to keep life interesting in this way (if only to encourage our hair to turn prematurely grey. See Producing a First Day Cover: What Could Possibly Go Wrong?)

    Should you buy every version? No! Not unless you want to. Although some collectors enjoy buying every single version of the same issue, most only want one cover. We produce this large variety to give collectors lots of options. If they are working on a tighter budget, for example, the uncarried HM Bark Endeavour cover with just 4 stamps is the most affordable option. If they want something really special, they could choose the HM Bark Endeavour cover with 8 stamps, that has been carried onboard the ship herself and signed by the Captain, Chris Blake OBE.

  • Will my collection be worth less if I don’t buy every issue?

    As a collection of first day covers, it will be worth more if it is complete. However, remember that, above all, you should be collecting for fun so if you don’t like a cover one issue, or if you can’t afford to buy a cover one month, don’t worry. A good cover will always hold its value, regardless of whether it is in a complete collection or not. So if you have a great collection of covers that are not necessarily chronological, you still should hopefully have a very good investment.

  • With so many dealers on the web, who should I buy from and why?

    Some people like to stick to one brand of cover, others like to collect lots of different brands. Above all, your rule should be: buy what you like! This is your hobby and you should enjoy it.

    If you are dealing with a cover producer, choose one you can trust. They should be prepared to refund your money if you are not happy with a cover and sort out anything that goes wrong. Look for excellent customer service (we hope we always provide this.

    If you have experienced anything less from us, please let us know).

    As a general rule, if a producer is making a sensible number of covers each issue (anything up to 5000), they will be a popular brand and probably well-known and trustworthy. Producing in bigger numbers is good because it shows there is a confidence in the product, and a strong market for these covers. It also usually means the producer can afford to use quality materials. On the other hand, if a cover producer is only making tiny numbers (under 100), they are likely to be producing less well-known or popular covers which may not have a market in the future. Also, it is quite usual for covers produced in small numbers to be printed on a home-computer because it isn’t economic to get such a small amount professionally printed. The danger with this is that the ink may well smudge or erode in the future. Check the quality of extremely small limited edition covers before you buy. You should also be aware of the opposite problem, when a producer makes a huge number of each cover (over 5000) as it is likely that their covers are overproduced and not worth much!