The Making of a nice First Day Cover

Do you make your own covers by painstakingly sticking the stamps and cancelling them? Do you experience these:

1. Wrinkled stamps or miniature sheets?

2. Stamps or miniature sheets sticking loosely on the envelope?

3. Smudged cancellations?

4. Partial cancellations?

If, you answer yes to any one of the question, you should read on.

What is the trick to making a nice first day cover?

I was a very young student when I was still making my own covers. One day a Jabatan Perkhidmatan Pos (the precursor to Pos Malaysia) staff took pity on me and taught me how to stick stamps nicely. It was almost a decade later that I was taught how to cancel the stamps nicely. This was because in the old days, only the postal staff cancels the covers.

I would like to share what I have learned and I hope you can then share this information with others. You might have your own method, do share with the readers. Only by sharing can we improve. Collectors will always loose out to dealers if they do not share information, as dealers profit from keeping information away from collectors.

Sticking stamps or miniature sheets

1. Take a piece of tissue paper and wet it. Usually you just need to wet the tissue and squeeze the excess water out and it is ready for use. For “less sticky” gum e.g. the Lighthouse Series 2 issue, you just need to wet the tissue more.


2. Swipe the tissue in the direction show below. Well, you do not really need to follow the arrows in the direction shown. It is to give you an idea how to wet the stamp.

Applying water

3. Place your FDC in an inverted position. This allows you to align your stamps easier. Warning: Check the direction of your stamps before you stick them!!!

Salad FDC

Ooops, how about self adhesive?

Turn the self adhesive stamp over. Press it firmly on 3 of the 4 corners (or 2 of the 3 corners such as in Tri-nation) and peel the remaining corner upwards. The backing paper will come off nicely and you should just hold it at the tip with both hands. Sorry, no time to take a demonstration picture.

Cancelling your First Day Cover

You have an option.

(1) Pass your cover to our friendly Pos Malaysia staff.

(2) Do It Yourself.

If you want to make a nice cancel yourself, here is a method.

1. Place a stack of paper to ensure that when you apply the cancel, it will allow some cushion to give a better cancel.

2. Test the ink. If it is the paste type used in GPO KL then you will not have much problem. If it is water based (such as Shah Alam), try not to wet it too much as it does not stick well on any special effect (e.g. gold printing).

3. Press the cancel softly at the four corners. Apply even pressure. Press harder if the stamp is thick. Do not press too hard or the ink will smudge out.

Refer to the picture below.


4. Place a piece of paper over the cover to absorb excess ink. Only remove the paper when you are home. This year I learned another method used by the Thai dealers. They put the “Post-It” over the cancellation to absorb the excess ink. It worked quite nicely and the paper will not move accidentally and cause a smudge!

5. If the postmark is the metal circular type, grip firmly with one hand and apply pressure with your other hand from the top. Press in all directions. The trick is a thick layer of paper at the bottom!

Hope you find the above useful. As usual, feel free to share your ideas and comments. No shortform or SMS type of spelling.



4 thoughts on “The Making of a nice First Day Cover

  1. There is no need to use the waterbased ink provided by some post offices. You can always use your personal perfect stamp pad when make FDCs in other post offices.

    1. I did the same many years back after post office at my hometown switched over to use water based ink. Too bad outcome from my stamp pad was merely slightly better. Any recommendation on how to select stamp pad suitable for FDC?

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