01 March 2013
The sixteen stamps issued to mark the fiftieth anniversary of Doctor Who have grabbed headlines and excited collectors around the world, but there any plenty more souvenirs to pursue including Doctor Who first day covers… ...
As with most modern stamp issues, you will be able to find commemorative covers showing the Doctor Who stamps in their natural environment – on an envelope and cancelled on the day they were issued.
For the producers of first day covers, each stamp issue brings new challenges, as the artwork for the envelope is decided upon and sourced, and the stamps are placed alongside.
For the Doctor Who issue, the eleven ‘Doctor’ stamps and five other values on a miniature sheet mean there is little space to play with, unless special covers with one or two stamps are produced.
‘Our designs have to tie in and complement the theme of the stamps but not overwhelm them,’ says Liz Martin of Cotswold & Stuart Covers. ‘The stamps themselves are the stars of the show.’
First day cover copyright issues
The challenge of including multiple stamps on a cover and also featuring unique artwork is one thing, but when the subject of the stamps is as high profile as Doctor Who, then the matter of copyright also comes in to play.
The Association of Great Britain First Day Cover Collectors (GBFDC) recently warned cover producers of the dangers of using images without permission. ‘A word of warning to anyone hoping to design and produce their own covers, copyright issues surrounding Doctor Who are the strictest I have ever come across,’ a spokesperson for the Association explained.
Different Doctor Who designs
Thankfully, these obstacles have not put off too many producers and an array of first day covers have been issued to mark the stamp issue, including a cover from the GBFDC themselves, available to the group’s members. ‘It was very challenging to come up with suitable cover and handstamp designs that were acceptable to the BBC and did not infringe copyright,’ admits Phil Sheridan, GBFDC’s official cover designer. Choosing to focus on the ‘Classic TV’ aspect of the stamp issue, the GBFDC cover shows a more generic logo with no mention of Doctor Who, but the handstamp that cancels the miniature sheet will please many Association members, coming from the tiny village of Stargate in Gateshead.
With a limited run of just 200 copies of each of his first day covers, long-time cover producer Adrian Bradbury of British First Day Covers, also chose a more generic design for the envelope artwork, letting the stamps speak for themselves; the dalek and cyberman cancellations adding a relevant and official feel to the souvenirs.
For Buckingham Covers, the decision was made to use official imagery, and the results are impressive. Across a pair of covers we see all eleven ‘Doctor’ stamps with ‘Tardis’ and ‘Gallifrey’ Cardiff postmarks; while the miniature sheet is featured on a ‘Tardis’ cover with a sonic screwdriver Cardiff postmark.
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