The Kelley House Museum is on the lookout for a local stamp collector who can help them evaluate three albums of First Day Stamp Covers. An inquiring mind might ask, “What is a First Day Cover?” 

Several colorful images of coral reef stamps with a postmark

An example of one of the hundreds of “First Day” Stamped Envelopes saved by an unknown collector in special albums and given to the Kelley House Museum.

With the debut of new U.S. postage stamp designs, people can, for one single day, go to a post office and buy an envelope and on it would be the new stamp cancelled (postmarked) with the day’s date. Some enthusiasts never missed the issuing of a new stamp, and there is even an American First Day Covers Collectors Society.

Three albums were donated to the Kelley House that contained 236 First Day Covers from October 28, 1979 to August 6 1984. Only one stamp issued in that time is missing. 

The envelopes in the albums contain an amazingly diverse assortment of stamps. Some are arranged in blocks, where four or eight stamps fit together to make a larger picture, with topics like Space Exploration, Cactus of the Southwest, 1984 Olympics, and Coral Reefs. Others display just a single, beautiful stamp design, each a miniature work of art.

Even if someone is not a philatelist (a stamp lover), seeing the themes that were chosen for commemoration over forty years ago is illuminating. One design is an artistic expression of the word “Love,” others show famous artworks, notable architecture, the Knoxville World’s Fair, or legendary sports stars of the day. The albums contain stamps with Christmas images, hot air ballooning, lovely flowers, earth and sea habitats, and well-known labor leaders. Women honored included Eleanor Roosevelt, Frances Perkins, Helen Keller, and Edith Wharton.

The Kelley House is often gifted with items that, while historical and interesting, are not part of our focus on north coast history. They are donated with the understanding that they could be sold, and the funds used to sustain the museum’s educational programs and activities. Such is the case with these stamped envelope albums. Unfortunately, we have no expertise in this field. The three albums should be sold as one unit. That’s why we need a knowledgeable stamp collector. If you do know one, please contact

Speaking of collections – the Museum has just opened a new exhibit in our “Coastal Collections” series, this time featuring the fascinating door hardware that Larry Sawyer and Harriet Bye have collected over many years as vintage door and window vendors with their company Albion Doors & Windows. Colorful, intricate, charming, yet functional, this assemblage provides a peek into some of the everyday objects people handled in former days. 

Jewelry For Doors – Vintage Doorknobs From The Larry Sawyer & Harriet Bye Collection will run from Thursday, September 2nd until Sunday, October 31, 2021. Museum hours: Thursdays through Sundays, 11 am to 3 pm. The Museum is located at 45007 Albion Street in Mendocino. Go to or contact us at (707) 937-5791, or email for more information.