Penny Black First Issues Collectors Club of stamps and philatelic material

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Collecting First Issues

This links to a YouTube talk on collecting First Issues by FICC member Kurt Streepy.

How do you collect the world without breaking the bank or the need to reinforce your floor to handle the shelves of albums?  In the January 2021 AP, John Seidl shared his method of collecting the world, by collecting one stamp from each country.   This is a great way to continue to learn about the history and culture of countries, both dead and alive, but did not want the bulk of every issue.  Collecting first issues of the world adds a layer of structure to that method of collecting.    
What does collecting first issues entail?  The quick answer might be collecting catalog #1’s from each country.  That is a common method employed by many first issue collectors, but not the only method.  The First Issue Collectors Club (FICC), APS affiliate #232, embraces a ‘collect what you like’ mentality.  With no pre-printed album to put boundaries on the collection, the collector can make the collection as rigid or flexible as they desire.  We see a few common themes

Here are some ideas for you to ponder:

Believe it or not, this is just the beginning.  We did not even mention offices abroad, local stamps, military stamps, occupation issues and all the other Back-of-the-Book issues! 

This leaves an opportunity for the collector to define their terms.  Does a “country” include issues for armies (Russia Army of the North #1), revolutionary governments (Philippines Y1), international organizations (India IC – Cambodia #1), etc. we often reference stamp issuing “entities” instead of countries.

Mounting your first issue collection can provide an opportunity to be creative.  Many of our members create their own album pages which beautifully display the stamp and provide background on the issue. If you prefer a printed album, the Smithsonian album of the world offers a spot for most stamp-issuing entities.  Another option for album pages is the Stamp for Every Country Album available as a free download on the Stamp Smarter website.

How can you complete a collection that requires Hawaii #1 or Mauritius #1?  You might not be able to add those, but you could add Hawaii #74 (1st issue of the Republic) or Mauritius #225 (stamp-on-stamp Mauritius #1).  There are hundreds of #1’s valued below $10, so no need to focus on the minority that might be out of reach.   

For the postal history enthusiast, you can attempt to assemble a first issue on cover collection.  Finding low-value first issues on a non-philatelic cover can provide hours of treasure-hunting cover boxes at stamp shows or late nights searching eBay.  Pairing a stamp with the cover on an album page adds to the story you can share.  One of our members created an award-winning exhibit on first issue covers that is available on our website.

This just provides a taste of how you can develop a first issue collection within your parameters and budget.  A first issue collection can be used to collect the world, in a more confined manner.  You can build a representative collection and enjoy the history and politics that come along with these areas.  To learn more about collecting first issues, check out the FICC website at or tune in to Collecting First Issues of the World on the APS YouTube Channel. 

Page created 17 Nov 2015 Page updated 29 May 2016 Page rewritten 31 Oct 2022