Pop! Culture and Dolley Madison
Stamps and First Day Covers

Dolley Madison Commemorative StampThere has only been one stamp issued in the United States commemorating Dolley Payne Madison. That is the fifteen cent stamp you will see in this collection issued as part of an American First Lady series in 1980. Thus, the stamp collecting interest in Dolley Madison is not as a stamp, but as a "first day cover." So let us begin with some definitions.

The stamp: The United States first began issuing postage stamps in 1847, after the creation of envelopes themselves. If you would like to see how letters were addressed earlier in the 19th century or in the late 18th century we have provided some examples:

enlarge the envelopeenlarge the envelope

The Cover: The cover is the cancelled envelope. The "first day cover" (FDC) is the one cancelled on the first day a new stamp is issued and which bears that stamp. The oldest known American FDC dates to 1851, but this is by accident, rather than design.

The Cachet: The cachet is a design of words and/or pictures which refers specifically to the stamp on the FDC. The cachet is usually placed on the left-hand side of the envelope, although some take up all available space.

Americans began collecting FDCs in the 1920s and 1930s. But these FDCs were largely straightforward envelopes with postmarked stamps and perhaps an official picture or explanatory text. In the mid-1970s, however, the production - and collection - of FDCs exploded. This was due to the mushrooming of hand-painted FDCs, although technically a cachet can be printed, rubber stamped, or pasted on as well as hand created. While there has been only one stamp issued in her honor, estimates of the number of First Day Covers reach one hundred.

FDC: Dolley and James Madison

Mellone, Michael A. 2000 U. S. First Day Cover (1999).
Eiserman, Monte. The Handbook for First Day Cover Collectors (1979).