- I. How Do I Get Covers?
- -Ask friends and relatives to pick them up for you.
- -Ask for them when going into any business that might have
them (hotels, restaurants, clubs, gas stations, etc.).
- -Run a local ad in an advertising circular offering to buy
accumulations (there are a lot out there) (3-8 cents each for
- -Take advantage of the freebie tables at your local club
meetings, swapfests, and conventions
- -Participate in room hopping at swapfests and conventions.
- -Trade with other collectors
- -Participate in auctions (from club bulletins, hobby web
sites, swapfests, and auctions)
- -Buy collections (depending on your financial circumstances)
- 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
- -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 tape)
- -Don't leave covers in sunlight. The colors will fade.
- -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
- -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 they're expensive
- -Slotted pages: these are paper pages with pre-cut
slits allowing covers to be inserted. These were the standard
pages within the hobby from the 1960s-1990s.
- -Plastic pocketed pages: These have become the preferred
pages within the last ten 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 page.
- IV. Bookkeeping
- Organization is the difference between a collection and an
accumulation. 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, etc.
- -Many collectors also find it helpful to keep a running tally
of how many covers are in collection.
- -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. 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.