- I. How Do I Get Covers?
- -Ask friends and relatives to pick them up
- -Ask for them when going into any business
that might have them (hotels, restaurants, clubs, gas stations,
- -Run a local ad in an advertising circular
offering to buy accumulations (there are a lot out there) (3-8
cents each for most covers)
- -Take advantage of the freebie tables at
your local club meetings, swapfests, and conventions
- -Participate in room hopping at swapfests
- -Trade with other collectors
- -Participate in auctions (from club bulletins,
hobby web sites, swapfests, and auctions)
- -Buy collections (depending on your financial
- II. Cover Care
- -At least 95% of collectors take the matches
out and just collect the covers.You can certainly collect full-books
if you wish, but you're going to complicate your life with trading,
mailing, safety, and storage problems (try telling your insurance
agent that you have a house full of matches!)
- -Carefully remove matches by taking staple
out. Be certain to soak matches in water before you discard them.
- -Matches that have art work on the sticks
should not be removed. Those are Features or Printed
Sticks and are collected as full-books.
- -Once the covers are stripped, they normally
need to be flattened so that they lay straight, especially the
older covers which are thicker and hold their creasing more stubbornly.
- -There are all sorts of ways to do this,
but basically all involve small stacks of covers at a time being
subjected to opposing weights for at least a couple of days.
For example, a small vise works admirably (just take care to
protect the covers).
- -Don't use rubber bands to hold stacks of
covers. They bind and bite into the sides of the top and bottom
covers. Also, with time, they can fuse onto the surface covers.
(paper bands work much better = paper strips held with scotch
- -Don't leave covers in sunlight. The colors
- -Don't leave covers in any humid environment
for any long period. Strikers will corrode and deteriorate.
- -Don't leave covers at floor level in case
of bursting water pipes and Great Deluges.
- III. Storage
- -Most collectors eventually house at least
most of their covers in 3-ring binders, which come in a variety
of sizes and colors. Albums allow you to organize your collection
and know exactly where everything is...which is important in
this hobby because you're probably going to have tens of thousands
of individual covers!
- -Some collectors use trays rather than albums.
Trays can be anything from shallow cardboard boxes to
low wooden or metal drawers. Trays are especially effective when
having to store extra large collections (i.e., 60,000 Bank covers
would be fairly expensive to house in plastic pages and albums)
or lots of dupes (extra covers of the same type).
- -A temporary solution, at best, but boxes
are better than cans and jars. At least boxes will allow you
to lay your covers or stacks of covers flat. That's harder to
do with cans and jars, and both infer that you're just simply
going to throw covers in them loose and haphazardly...and that's
how covers get damaged.
- -Using albums requires some type of pages
that covers can be mounted on and then inserted into the albums.
There are several different types:
- -Hand sewn pages: this was a common
option of early collectors in the 1930s and 1940s, especially.
I only know one collector today who is willing to put
in the time and effort required for such home-made pages.
- -Blank paper pages
using photo album corners: These have been used off and on by
some collectors for decades. They don't work well. The corners
tend to dry out and come loose. Also, they make the pages very
bulky in the albums.
- -Blank photo adhesive pages with plastic overlays: These don't work well either...bulkiness...and
- -Slotted pages:
these are paper pages with pre-cut slits allowing covers to be
inserted. These were the standard pages within the hobby from
- -Plastic pocketed pages: These have become the preferred pages within the
last twenty years. They're not cheap, but they afford the best
protection for your covers, and you can see both sides of the
cover without actually having to handling it. The earlier plastic
pages were thick, heavy, and became stiff when the room's temperature
dropped, but today's pages are thinner and much more supple.
Several of the regional clubs act as outlets for plastic pages,
and there are other distributors on our Supplies
- IV. Bookkeeping
- Organization is the difference between a
collection and an accumulation. You're going to be dealing in
covers by the thousands, most probably, so organization is imperative.
Good bookkeeping also keeps things running smoothly and efficiently.
Computers are invaluable for this.
- -Covers should be organized in any way that
makes sense to you. Normally each category is looked upon as
a separate collection. You can organize the covers within that
collection by size, age, manumark, state, city, subject matter,
- -Many collectors also find it helpful to
keep a running tally of how many covers are in their collections
so that he or she always knows how many there are.
- -If you end up trading by mail, especially,
good record keeping is a must. Who sent how many covers when?
Whom do you owe covers to? Whom are you expecting return trades
from? Which categories does each trade want? etc.
- -You'll also need to keep track of things
such as when your various club dues are due. See the Clubs
page for a helpful schedule.
- -If you participate in hobby auctions, you'll
need to keep track of your lots, whether buying or selling.
- -Over the years, individual collectors have
compiled listings of exactly what covers are know to exist in
specific categories. Many of these listings run into the the
thousands and are nothing short of labors of love. When the lister
eventually passes away, another collector usually steps up to
continue the listing. Some collectors use lists in their collecting;
some don't. They are very helpful, though, in showing you, the
collector, just what exists and how many there are currently
known. They also serve as very useful checklists for what you
actually have. The Girlie catalog and the COMBINE listing of
Navy Ship covers are good examples. Refer to the Master List
of Lists page at The Vault to
see just what's available.
- -Depending on the specific categories, collectors
also often reach a point where it's very helpful to generate
want lists of specific covers they are looking for.
- -Most collectors don't have their collections
insured, except, perhaps, indirectly under their home insurance.
You can get specific riders to cover your collection. The collections
might have to be evaluated by an expert to determine value, though...and
since there are no set values on any of this hobby material,
that's a very murky area.
- -Eventually, we all either pass on or get
to the point where collecting is no longer possible. You should
plan ahead of time as to just exactly what happens to your collections
in that event. The disposal of those collections...the ones you
have spent years of care, time, and effort putting together...is
your choice. Make one! More than one collection has simply been
thrown out by a disinterested and ignorant relative.