My inaugural philatelic acquisition

My inaugural philatelic acquisition took place many years ago in 1978.

I’d turned 9-years-old just a couple weeks previous when I received a very curious item from an aunt.

I knew nothing of stamp collecting at the time, and the item I received was odd. An envelope with an orange stamp with an Eagle and a letter A on it. I didn’t think much of it, but thankfully the envelope made its way into my box with Cub Scout patches and certificates from various sports and activities in which I participated.

Philatelic meaning


The stamp is of course the 1978 Eagle A Denomination stamp. These were the first stamps the USA issued with a letter indicating the denomination, in this case 15 cents. They were printed because a change in the price of postage was forthcoming increase in the price of the stamp, which the price wasn’t 100 percent certain at the time. The non-denomination could be used for whatever price, if needed.

As you can see, this cover is a First Day Cover, postmarked on the first day of issue of the stamp. The First Day Ceremonies were held in Memphis. It is a philatelic item worthy of any cover collection.

We’re up to “H” but the “letter series” is hardly the only non-denominated stamps issued by the USA. The American Philatelic Society puts out a free album one can download to use for a collection of non-denominated US postage stamps. The album runs 26 pages long and does not depict all the non-denominated varieties.

Master Clay Morgan

For a long time, I was amused by how I was addressed on the cover. Master Clay Morgan. Master is considered an appropriate title for a boy not old enough to be called “mister.” At 9-years-old I certainly qualified.

Richard Pryor and Scott Schwartz from The Toy (1982).

Years later, I’d watch Richard Pryor’s The Toy. In it, Richard Pryor’s character acts as a toy for a wealthy man’s son named Eric Bates. Introduced to Pryor as “Master” Bates, I, at about 13 or 14, snickered as hard as Pryor’s character.

But that has no philatelic meaning!

What matters to me is I like covers and my collection has quite a large number of them.

This cover is always there, at the very front of my U.S. cover albums, holding a special and personal spot as my first philatelic item.

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