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To illustrate the point I am thinking specifically about the relative ease with which anyone can produce interesting philatelic and commercially used covers. Scarce philatelic covers that commemorate particular events or add a relevant twist to a first day of issue can quickly command premium prices. So too can commercial covers that pass through the postal system bearing stamp and postmark combinations that will prove very rare in future. These covers can sometimes become the hard to find "postal history" of the future.

In my time I've taken the trouble to use the Royal Mail Special Handstamp Centres or travelled to small Sub-Post Offices to acquire relevant postmarks on various stamps used on registered covers. While I get enjoyment from the creativity involved I also find the cash that can be made by selling such covers useful to help fund my serious long term stamp collecting aims.

Examples of covers I've produced over the years include BFPO postmarked items when I was serving in the RAF, various final flight commemorations for the British Airways Concorde aircraft, last day of use covers for the various TPO postmarks back in 2004 and getting relevant registered postmarks from Sub-Post Offices applied on commercial covers for the first day of issue for many commemorative stamp sets over the years.

While I have a high regard for the established professional cover producers such as Benham, Bletchley Park etc. I personally get a great deal more pleasure from researching, planning and eventually producing my own postally used or philatelic covers and it isn't as difficult or expensive to do as many might imagine.

On commercial covers the idea is to produce genuine mail items that have actually passed through the Royal Mail system meaning illustrated envelopes or cachets are certainly not required. But even with philatelicly motivated covers, perhaps using the services of the Royal Mail Special Handstamp Centres, if the combination of stamps and postmarks are relevant to an interesting event and scarce, the absence of illustrations or cachets on the covers is rarely a problem.

With it being easier than ever for individuals to market and sell covers on sites like eBay, all you need is a little imagination, research and effort to make a handy few pounds to help offset your regular collecting costs.

Going back in time this kind of creative enterprise was a lot more common than it is today. Many individuals and small dealers would create covers based on local interest events, as souvenirs of special occassions or even unique hand illustrated covers for their own collections. Some of these items are now very desirable and expensive for collectors to obtain. So, while many purists may turn their nose up when they see people being entrepreneurial about todays stamps, I'd argue these people actually add a lot to our hobby and it's longer term prospects by creating the rarer, more unusual, bespoke and locally historical items for future generations to seek out and collect.



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