Arms of the medieval German scholar Albertus Magnus (1193-1280), from a first-day cover for the 1961 stamp issued in his honor by the West Berlin post office in their “Famous Germans” series.
A beautiful rendition by Jeffery Matthews of the maiden arms of Lady Diana Spencer, on a commercially issued cover marking her 1981 wedding to Prince Charles.
Flag of the Royal Brunei Police, from an official 1971 Brunei first-day cover.
Left: The cachet from a first-day cover issued in 1978 by the Rotary Club of Clacton-on-Sea, England. But although it was its first day of issue, the associated stamp had nothing to do with Rotary or Clacton – the cover was a Rotary fund-raiser. The ship has an armorial sail, in the colors of Clacton’s arms and showing a scallop shell from the sail in the crest.
Right: the design from the official patent of arms, the source of the image on the cover. The details of the ships (a medieval type called a cog often found in heraldic designs) match closely, but the ship in the crest, and its sail, were not in the livery colors (the two main colors of the arms) – this was an innovation by the designer of the cachet.
Arms of the City of Derby in England, issued to celebrate its royal charter as a city issued the year before.
Emblem of the City of Jogjakarta, Indonesia, on an official cover marking the city’s 200th anniversary in 1956. The heraldic style of the arms shows mixed local and European influences.
A postboard ( Posttafel ) from 1782, of the type displayed outside Austrian post offices under the old régime. The arms above are a simplified version of the Austrian imperial arms of the time; the arms below are those of the princely family of Thurn und Taxis , who held an imperial license to operate the post office as a monopoly. The legend means Imperial Government Post Thiengen 1782 . The cover was issued by the West German Post Office in 1979 as part of the annual “Europa” series marking the meetings of the European Conference of Postal and Telecommunications Administrations .
From an issue commemorating the admission to the United Nations of the new African nation of Dahomey (now Benin). The doves, a fantasia on the colors of the national flag, also appear on the stamps.
Arms of the City of Boconó in Venezuela, from a cover for a stamp commemorating the anniversary of its establishment in 1563.
Official Nigerian first-day cover honoring the University of Ibadan.
An especially vigorous rendition of the tiara and keys, emblems of the Papacy. This cover has a curious origin. It is franked by Filipino stamps, and is obviously of Filipino manufacture because the legend is in English. But the two stamps are from different issues, both quite unrelated to the Papacy, and the 1971 postmark is not from the first day of issue for either of them. My guess is that the envelope was left over from a cover prepared for another stamp, marking Pope Paul VI’s visit to the Philippines the preceding year. But the Pope was attacked and almost assassinated as he arrived at the airport on November 27, 1970 – perhaps the first day ceremony set for that day was cancelled, and the envelope was not used?
An exuberant privately issued design based on the royal cypher of Queen Margrethe II of Denmark. The daisies are a play on the queen’s name: margarit is Danish for daisy. The associated stamps were part of a definitive issue – that is, not commemoratives, but just ordinary stamps with the Queen’s portrait.
Fifteenth century azulejo (Portuguese glazed tile) from a first day cover for a stamp commemorating an exhibition in Lisbon in 1981
Arms of Malawi, from the official first-day cover issued for Independence in 1964. Note the high relief.
This privately issued Australian cover, also in very high relief, was used on the first day of a stamp honoring the Sydney Stock Exchange.
Seal of the Allahabad High Court in India, from an official first-day cover for its centenary.
Arabic calligraphy, from a 1978 Malaysian pro-Palestinian propaganda cover .
Emblem of the Portuguese National Guard, from a 1961 official first-day cover marking the 50th anniversary of its establishment.
Same (1971) for the Malawi Police.
The sponsor of this cover is not clear, and it carries ordinary Rhodesian stamps and cancellations. But the postmark date (March 3, 1980) was the last day of the so-called Election Period, the final active phase of the Rhodesian Ceasefire Monitoring Force, whose operational patch this was.
An especially elegant Art Deco wartime design by R. V. Sadworth, on an American wartime patriotic cover from 1944. It is not usual for cachets to be signed, as this one is (just below the eagle’s tail).
From a French cover issued for the anniversary of the Croix de Guerre (War Cross), an important military decoration. The three ribbons represent the three versions of the decoration: that for World War I (left), for World War II (center), and for service in “external theatres of operations,” mostly French colonies.
The Crown of Thailand, from a 1977 cover issued to mark an anniversary of Chulalongkorn University, a royal foundation.
From a 1954 commercial cover on the stationery of a Spanish book dealer. The eagle with the halo is an iconographic emblem of St. John the Evangelist. Placing this eagle behind the Spanish national arms (which this shield approximates except for the added motto) was the practice of the Fascist regime of General Franco. The motto, in a border in distinctive Spanish style, is that of the Sociedad de Bibliofilos Españoles (Society of Spanish Book-Lovers), a publisher of Spanish bibliographic and antiquarian works, and means what our ancestors wrote should not be lost. Its use on this letterhead implies a professional connection between the bookseller and the society.
From a 1901 New York City hotel cover, showing an only approximately correct rendition of the arms of New Amsterdam (as the city was called under the Dutch).
Sometimes the stamps themselves are of interest. This is a British commemorative stamp issued to honor a Scottish order of chivalry, used on a first-day cover in 1987.
A stamp with surrounding material, like the one from a 1988 Mongolian cover, is called a souvenir sheet.
Often the heraldic importance of a piece lies in the artistic interplay among cachet, stamp, postmark and secondary marking. Here, in a first-day cover for a 1978 Swiss semi-postal issue (meaning that an extra charge above the postage value is collected for charity), note that the cachet combines the principal charges on the arms of two of the stamps.
Here only the envelope itself (from a Uruguayan international pen pal club) is of interest