By: Judith Kaplan
The catalyst of creating the Women’s History Series of First Day Covers was the “aha” moment I had, when I realized that there is an enormous missing piece in our educational system. This omission is vividly illustrated when we look at the issuing of new postage stamps. Postage stamps are one way a country “advertises” what it values to its citizens and to the rest of the world. When I began this project, it was clear to me that the U.S. did not value the achievements and contributions of women to its history and culture. Out of approximately 35 new stamps issued yearly, on average only 3 might honor women, directly or indirectly.
I personally collected Women’s History on US first day covers that were envelopes, called covers, cancelled on the First Day of a new stamp. I wanted to transform the appalling ratio of women to men on new stamps that I discovered, while at the same time promoting women’s history. Any person or entity may make an FDC for themselves, as gifts, to sell. They illustrate the cover typically with their artistic interpretation of the new stamp’s subject. The artistic illustration is called a cachet.
As my motivation was to change the 3:35 ratio of subjects of new stamps, I created the series whereby my cachet illustrations would link the subject of every new stamp to a person or event in Women’s History. The series lasted from 1976 to 1980 and consisted of 180 different first day covers. I know the series influenced the subjects issued later as several of the subjects of my cachets were subsequently honored on new US postage stamps.