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In philately, a cover is an envelope or package, typically with stamps that have been cancelled.


The term originates from the practice of covering a letter by folding a separate sheet about it to physically protect and prevent infringement of confidentiality. In the first half of the 19th century it became the fashion to cut the cover into a diamond or lozenge shape. This was the precursor version of the envelope as it is known today. Its popularity was ensured in Britain when the lozenge design was adopted for the special pre-paid postage envelopes and covers issued at the launch of the postal reforms of 1840.

Styles and types

A first day cover is typically an envelope with a postage stamp cancelled on its first day of issue. The design or theme of the stamp is printed on the cover to enhance its appeal to the philatelic community.

A pre-stamped cover is a cover that has the stamp image pre-printed on it, or embossed.

A stampless cover is of another description and generally also refers to any item of mail sent before the issuance of postage stamps; but it can also refer to mail sent unpaid (as was permitted in many countries) even after postage stamps were introduced.

A coin cover also called numismatic cover is one which is used to commemorate a newly minted coin. It is mounted in a special plastic bubble in which the coin is placed. This bubble is then mounted inside the envelope with opening punched out on both sides to make both sides of the coin visible. This envelope will be stamped and cancelled with the first day cancel of the date of issue of the coin . In some cases the coin and stamp issues are done jointly as in the case of the Matterhorn issue by the Swiss Post in 2005, when a single numismatic cover with a CHF 10 coin and a CHF .85 stamp commemorated the Matterhornmarker mountain .

A commemorative cover has a commemorative design and special postmark to mark the date of a specific event. A stampless cover is an envelope or folded outer sheet bearing an address and manuscript or ink-stamped postal markings without prepaid adhesive postage stamps, normally from the period before adhesive postage stamps became available or common in the mid-to-late 19th Century.


See also

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