AFDCS Honors Three for Service

The American First Day Cover Society has given its top honors to three of its long-time leaders, Michael Litvak of California, Mark Thompson of Tennessee and Tris Fall of Pennsylvania.
 
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Litvak, who recently stepped down for health reasons after more than 31 years as Executive Vice President, was named an Honorary Life Member, the first person to receive the society's highest award in 13 years. In addition to serving in that post, Litvak had also chaired the AFDCS Fundraising Auctions, helping bring them to a new level of funding for the organization, and is a founding member of one of the most active chapters, the Claude C. Ries Chapter #48 in Southern California. Until recently, the former public schoolteacher was Ries Chapter President.

He is shown here receiving the award from Jim Tatum.
 
Litvak also served on the AFDCS Board of Directors for many years, was president of the American Ceremony Program Society (another AFDCS chapter), and has written dozens of articles for the AFDCS journal, First Days.
 
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Thompson and Fall received the Distinguished Service Award for their meritorious service to the AFDCS. Thompson is currently AFDCS Treasurer and has been the advertising manager for First Days for the past nine years. The treasurer position is normally an auditor, but in the dark days following the sudden death of executive director Douglas Kelsey, Thompson was instrumental in reconstructing and restructuring the society's financial records and accounts.

At right, Thompson receives the DSA from President Lloyd de Vries.
 
As advertising manager, he cleared up and collected thousands of dollars in past-due accounts, to the point where, today, no advertisers are in arrears beyond the current cycle. His exhibit "Women of the Black Heritage Series" has won gold medals and proven to be a crowd-favorite with nine most-popular awards at national shows.
 
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Tristram R. Fall III, shown at left, is an attorney in Philadelphia. "Tris" was advising the AFDCS on legal matters regarding intellectual property — one of his specialties — even before he became General Counsel in 2014. He writes or examines all contracts involving the AFDCS. In addition, when necessary, he acts as parliamentarian for AFDCS meetings and is a member of the Bylaws Committee. His wide-ranging collecting interests include the U.S. Bicentennial, aviation, and space.
 
"Being the attorney for a stamp society isn't a flashy post, but oh so necessary in this litigious age," said AFDCS president Lloyd. A. de Vries. "Tris has helped keep us out of trouble."
 
DSA recipients are chosen by a vote of past DSA recipients. Honorary Life Memberships are recommended by the Honors and Awards Committee (currently chaired by James Tatum, Jr.) and confirmed by the Board of Directors.

FDC Teaching Aids Available

Using First Day Covers In Education:
AFDCS Makes Free Teaching Aids Available


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First day covers are the perfect philatelic medium for education, because the cachets allow more information about the events and people on the stamps. Now, teachers and other educators can download from the American First Day Cover Society website eight booklets, each consisting of 12 to 19 lessons, using FDCs.

They were developed by AFDCS director Kris McIntosh, a retired high school social studies teacher with nearly 40 years of experience in education. The lessons cover American and Texas history from the colonization of North America through the Gilded Age and the Great Depression and into Barak Obama's presidency. The e-books McIntosh has prepared include illustrations of FDCs, discussion, quizzes and reviews.

"First day covers are primary sources that can add diversity in a teacher’s tool kit," writes McIntosh.

The lessons can be downloaded on this page. Membership in the AFDCS is not required to use the lesson plans.

AFDCS Donates to Boston 2026

AFDCS Donates $5,000 to Boston 2026 International Show

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The American First Day Cover Society has donated $5,000 to Boston 2026 World Stamp Show, the next internationally-sanctioned stamp collecting exposition in the United States. The contribution was approved in a unanimous vote of the AFDCS Board of Directors.

Leaders of Boston 2026, the American Philatelic Society and the AFDCS have been working toward making first day covers a separate class for exhibits at an international show. Currently, FDCs are part of the "Other" catch-all class.

"We want to send a message that the AFDCS is a major player in the hobby, not just another organization," said AFDCS board member Foster Miller, who proposed the donation. "We also want to send a message to the international stamp community that first day covers are important."

Boston 2026 World Expo takes place May 23-30, 2026, at the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center. Full show details may be found at boston2026.org and on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Whooping Cranes FDC Presentation

AFDCS YouTube Video Details Whooping Crane Stamp’s FDCs

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A new video presentation on YouTube looks at Whooping Cranes on stamps and first day covers for the U.S. issue of 1957. In her program, Susan Jones, calls Sc. 1098, “one of the most beautiful stamps the Post Office Department put out.”

The quickest way to “The Whooping Crane“ and other videos on the American First Day Cover YouTube channel is to click this link.

Jones presented a talk at a virtual meeting of the Claude C. Ries Chapter (Southern California) of the AFDCS in June 2022. In addition to discussing and showing various cachets and postmarks, she also talks about the postmarks and poster stamps associated with the issue, and why it was issued.

AFDCS & ATA Tour Set

AFDCS Convention Tour Returns, Better Than Ever

The American First Day Cover Society is again hosting a tour of the area in connection with its annual convention, with a few changes. The excursion takes place on Monday, August 29, the day after Great American Stamp Show in Sacramento, Calif. Membership in the AFDCS is not required.

Among the differences: The tour is co-hosted with the American Topical Association and will be held on the day after the show, which runs August 25-28. The AFDCS’s traditional tour day — before the show — is just too full of other events, including board meetings, booth setups and exhibit mounting.

The tour begins at 8 a.m. when the bus leaves the Sheraton Grand Hotel, across the street from the convention center. A short guided tour of the California capital follows. Next, the group goes to the California State Railroad Museum (below).

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The afternoon will be spent in Old Sacramento with its shops and restaurants, then with a guided tour at the Leland Stanford Mansion State Historic Park.

The $55 per person includes transportation, admission and the tours. Tickets may be purchased via this link.

The AFDCS and ATA are co-hosts of Great American Stamp Show, along with the American Philatelic Society. The AFDCS has a superbooth at the front of the convention center hall and will have unserviced cachets for the Pony Cars stamps that will be issued at the show, along with serviced FDCs and publications. The AFDCS will also hold its annual membership meeting and banquet at GASS, and has scheduled several seminars.

Bylaws Updated

The American First Day Cover Society has made minor revisions to its bylaws to bring them up to date and in line with current practices.

The AFDCS may now send a separate mailing to its members for its annual board election. Previously, the ballot and other materials had to be included in an issue of the official journal, First Days.

The changes, approved by the Board of Directors, change the name of the rules of order which guide the society's meetings from "the Sturgis Standard Code of Parliamentary Procedure" to "the American Institute of Parliamentarians Standard Code of Parliamentary Procedure," the current name of the book. "Slide programs" was changed to "audio-visual presentations."

The revisions also assign the AFDCS auctions to the Sales Department, and consolidated responsibility for the Archives to the Recording Secretary. In addition, the reference to the "Journal Department," which has not existed for many years, was removed.

The proposed changes were first reviewed by the AFDCS Bylaws Committee, chaired by Matthew Liebson and including AFDCS General Counsel Tris Fall and Todd Ronnei.

Churchill FDC Exhibit Seminar April 3

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Todd Ronnei, whose exhibit on the 1965 Churchill stamp has won top honors on many occasions, will guide a tour of his exhibit live on Zoom on Sunday, April 3, at 8:00 pm EDT. It will be offered afterward on the American First Day Cover Society's YouTube Channel. During the seminar, he will explain what is included and why and provide tips about exhibiting in general.

"The U.S. Winston Churchill Memorial Stamp and Its First Day Covers" has won 13 Gold and Large Gold awards, three of them Reserve Grands. The most recent of those was at the Americover 2021 exhibition at Great American Stamp Show.

Ronnei's exhibit began in 2007 with five frames, and has since grown to ten. It is a traditional FDC exhibit. Reflecting Churchill’s stature on the world stage, Scott 1264 was a five-cent stamp issued less than four months after the British statesman died. A memorial issue for a non-American issued so quickly after death was, and remains today, nearly unprecedented.

Ronnei is a paralegal in Minneapolis. He is also Exhibits Chair of Minnesota Stamp Expo and Exhibiting Chair and webmaster of the AFDCS. Other recent exhibits include first day covers for 1967's Urban Planning (Sc. 1333) and the Fort Snelling stamp of 1970 (Sc. 1409), and stamps and FDCs for Churchill's centenary in 1974. He has also written articles for First Days, Scott Stamp Monthly and others.

The Zoom seminar for the tour of "The U.S. Winston Churchill Memorial Stamp and Its First Day Covers" can be reached VIA THIS LINK or the meeting ID 879 5273 7174 with a passcode of 974882.

Cachetmakers Directory Updated

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A new edition of the AFDCS Directory of Current Cachetmakers is now available. The February 2022 version can be downloaded for free by clicking this link. Printed versions are available for $5.00 postpaid from AFDCS Sales, PO Box 44, Annapolis Junction, MD 20701 or may be ordered from the AFDCS Marketplace page.

Compiled by John White of North Carolina, the directory seeks to list every individual or company currently producing cacheted first day covers, whether or not they are members of the AFDCS. There is no charge for listings; cachetmakers who wish to be included in a future edition should fill out this online form.

New editions of the directory are published when there are a number of additions or changes, so the next version may be next month or next year. The link to the latest edition — whatever it is — is on the home page. The February 2022 edition adds five cachetmakers, removes four and updates two.

Contest Rules Corrected

There was an error in the description of Category 5 for the Cachetmakers Contest: It should read “including on a printing press,” rather than “not on a printing press.”

To download the corrected rules and entry form, CLICK HERE.

The submission deadline remains April 15, 2022.

Litvak Resigns as Executive VP

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Executive Vice President Michael Litvak has resigned, due to ill health. He is the longest-serving officer in AFDCS history: He was first elected EVP in late 1989, after election to the Board of Directors earlier that year. He joined the AFDCS in 1980, chaired several committees and wrote a column on first-day ceremony programs for First Days, "Not Without A Program." He has also served as president of the AFDCS’s Claude C. Ries Chapter and the American Ceremony Program Society. A 1965 UCLA graduate, he taught high school mathematics in southern California for many years.

"Michael was a dedicated member of our leadership for decades, providing a calm but perceptive influence at our meetings," said AFDCS president Lloyd de Vries. "We will miss him, but wish him well and look forward to his recovery.”

Rooms Available for 2022 Show

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The Sheraton Grand Sacramento, the official show hotel for Great American Stamp Show 2022, is now accepting reservations at the special show rate of $150. To book online, visit this page on the American Philatelic Society website.

The American First Day Cover Society is a co-host of the philatelic event, along with the APS and the American Topical Association. GASS is being held August 25-28 in the SAFE Credit Union Convention Center's Halls C and D, on the J Street side of the building. The Sheraton Grand is the closest hotel to the stamp show, right across the street.

GASS will be the biggest stamp collecting show of the year, with top exhibits and dealers and meetings of nearly every major philatelic society. The U.S. Postal Service will issue its Pony Cars stamps at the show, with the California Auto Museum just a mile away. The USPS will also have a fully-stocked sales counter.

The Sheraton Grand itself is a combination of old and new. The front portion, seen above, was originally a public market – a forerunner of today’s modern grocery store and mall. It was a three-story building where fresh produce, baked goods, clothing, and bulk feed were sold, with coffee shops and lunch counters.

Today, that area houses the hotel’s lobby, restaurants and meeting/banquet rooms, while a new 28-story tower houses 503 guest rooms and suites. All those registering with the GASS discount will receive free Wi-Fi in their rooms. Digital check-in, mobile key, room service, a 24-hour fitness center and valet parking are available to all guests.

The "senior" rates for most other hotels in the area start at about $100 more per night; even the nearby Quality Inn is $147. Parking near the convention center for those staying out of town for cheaper hotel rates will soon even the score, at $20+ a day. Staying in the show hotel is also much more convenient, since some meetings and events will be held there.

The AFDCS will hold its open Board of Directors meeting at the Sheraton Grand and likely its President's Banquet, a nightly hospitality suite and a free breakfast for its Life and Charter members. The Monday post-show tour organized by the AFDCS and ATA will depart from the hotel, too.

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