Captain James Cook: Third Voyage 1776-1780 First Day and Event Covers.
Published by the author.
Two volumes. 495 pages.
Daryl Kibble has published this collection of covers as a two-volume set of 495 pages, in 8½ inch by 11 inch format, with hundreds of illustrations, accompanied by descriptions of the material. Kibble explains in the Preface, that he has had an interest in Cook since the age of fifteen, and began collecting philatelic material shortly after. For the past twenty years, he has focused exclusively on first day and event covers relating to Cook, and more specifically to Cook’s Third Voyage. This book represents a culmination of his studies and collecting. There are six chapters spread over the two volumes.
Preface: Kibble describes his evolution as a devotee, collector and exhibitor. In 1982 he joined the Captain Cook Study Unit (CCSU), a philatelic organization, which was the predecessor of the current Captain Cook Society (CCS). His two long term objectives were to “develop a FDC exhibit on the Third Voyage, and to publish a philatelic book on the covers of Elwood Etter”. He explains his interest in the renowned Etter, a designer and producer of a series of covers, and acknowledges the assistance of two CCS members, Doug Gibson (CCS-A) and John Mahoney (CCS-US) in expanding his collection of Etter material.
Introduction: Kibble describes his Star Rating system that he assigns to covers, in comparison with other Cook FDCs and event covers. The components of his rating system include scarcity, importance, condition, supply and demand. Taken together, a price can often be estimated, when other factors are also considered, such as the identity of the designer, whether the cachet is a “first made” by the designer, and whether the cover is signed by the artist. The Scope of the book includes Kibble's criteria for inclusion, generally limited to first day and event covers for which a cachet directly relates to the Third Voyage. There are some exceptions to this general rule, excluding FDCs issued after 1979 by “dubious stamp authorities, or from countries which have no valid connection with the subject matter”.
Catalogue Numbering: A system of numbering the many entries in his collection, based on whether the cover is a FDC, Elwood Etter, Exhibition, or Event cover. FDCs have the format: “F/year of issue/unique assigned number/extras”; most are then in alphabetical order by cachet maker. The Etter cover format is “ETT/unique number/extras”. Exhibition covers are “X/year of show/unique number/extras”, shown in date order of the exhibition. Event covers are “Event code/unique number/extras”, with event code including the year of the event being recognized, such as the birth of Cook. The display for each cover also includes the Star Rating.
Chapter 1, USA FDC 20 January 1978: This is a huge collection, including covers produced in conjunction with two 13¢ first class stamps issued by the US Postal Service on 20 January, 1978. One features the portrait of Cook by Nathaniel Dance, and is inscribed “Alaska”. The other shows Resolution and the coastline in Hawai`i by John Webber, and is inscribed “Hawaii”. Kibble includes an extensive description of the process of design and manufacture of these stamps, with a sample image of one pane of 50 stamps, including both stamps, as well as historical perspectives from Hawai`i and Alaska in response to the stamp issues.
What follows is, to me, an astonishing collection of covers with “official” and “unofficial postmarks (PM)”, with wonderful cachets by individual artists, of limited production runs, as well as by commercial makers, such as Artcraft and Colorano, who produced covers in the thousands. Each cover bears either, or both, of the 13¢ stamps. Each page contains multiple images of covers, cachets, PMs, and stamps, with explanatory notes and/or detailed technical descriptions. The Kibble catalogue number appears below each cover, as well as his star rating. The images are all in color, with black text and color highlights. All images are quite easily seen and read. With so much information on each page, I found that some were a bit overwhelming, especially when a description refers the reader to a different page for additional detail.
Chapter 2, Worldwide FDC 1928-2018: The covers in this chapter include a myriad of stamps issued over a period of ninety years, by numerous countries, all relating to the Third Voyage, and enhanced by a wide spectrum of cachets and PMs. At first glance, it can be challenging to remember how these pages are organized. It is chronological, by date of issue of the stamp, then alphabetical by cachet maker. There is a page index at the beginning of the chapter, listing the year of issue, and the subject of the stamps. Each page then includes a full image of the cover, or detailed views of the stamp, cachet or cancel, with explanatory notes. For example, on 26 April, 1978, Canada Post issued two 14¢ stamps, one a portrait of Cook, the other with Resolution at Nootka. The multitude of covers associated with that issue occupies fourteen pages, with cachets including designers ranging from Etter to Fleetwood, and numerous PMs.
Chapter 3, Exhibitions and Shows 1951-2009: This chapter begins with a chronological index of the contents. It includes 47 pages of primarily covers, cachets, and PMs, with less focus on the relevant attached stamps. Many of the listed exhibits are familiar to collectors, beginning with HAPEX 51, and concluding with PIPEX 2009. In between are several exhibitions that are likely to be familiar to more knowledgeable collectors, such as the David Thompson Stamp Club 78. The covers are produced by the sponsoring organization, often in cooperation with participating post offices. The result is a colorful, varied collection of material. For me, it was difficult to follow the logic of Kibble’s catalogue sequence beyond the year of the exhibition or show. It does not seem to follow the cachet designer, alphabetically, as in the earlier chapters. Understanding the detailed explanatory text requires concentration; it cannot be done simply by looking at the many illustrations.
Chapter 4, Cachets of Elwood Etter 1976-1981: Elwood Etter is arguably the most famous maker of cachets relating to Cook. Kibble details Etter’s history from childhood in Ohio, to his interest in stamps and Cook, and ultimately to his lofty position as an artist and technician. In 75 pages, the reader can follow Etter’s early efforts using a manual printer technique to produce the first covers with his early cachets, through the evolution to use of novel techniques. Etter became an early member of CCSU. He used a mirror image of a Cook portrait on the masthead of the first issue of Cook’s Log to produce his early cachet Type III. Later, through his contact with an early and current member of CCSU, Ralph Swap, of Alaska, Etter began to incorporate birch bark in his covers, which became his signature technique. Establishing contacts worldwide, Etter was able to obtain service on his covers from far-flung locations. Displaying a bit of whimsy, covers ETT-189 and 190, page 344, show the PM of Yorkshire, Ohio!
In the introductory section, the three-column format makes it difficult for readers to follow the flow of text, the links to the illustrations, and the captions attached to the illustrations. From page 290, the illustrations and text are more easily read and understood.
Chapter 5, Event Covers: This chapter has 98 pages, detailing covers that “celebrate an event or anniversary”. It is organized chronologically by the date of the historical event being noted. At first glance, the focus is a bit obscure. But remember that covers are included only “where the cachet design itself (image or typography) directly relates to the Third Voyage”. Keeping that in mind, one can understand how any given cover came to be included. There are large numbers of covers tracing Cook’s path up the west coast of North America, past Alaska, into the Bering Strait, and finally back to the Hawaiian Islands, where Cook met his fate. There are several covers featuring maps made by Captain Charles Burroughs, an experienced cartographer, as well as many by Leo Hawryszkiw (HASKA), a prolific cachet maker. Kibble adds a huge amount of commentary on the history of the events, as well as of the covers themselves.
Chapter 6, Large Gold Medal Cook FDC Exhibit: With 22 pages, this chapter includes much of the material that the author presented at his first national competition, and with which he won a Large Gold Medal, and Best in Class. In doing so, he fulfilled the first major objective he had set for himself. The scope of the material traces the history of settlement of islands in the Pacific, to exploration by Europeans before Cook, Cook’s voyages, and finally Cook’s legacy in the Pacific. The covers document the broad sweep of Cook’s exploration, the subsequent settlement of indigenous lands, and finally monuments to Cook. Some of the pages, where noted, are the actual exhibit pages.
Conclusion: Glossary of philatelic/cover terms; Acknowledgements of assistance and support; Bibliography; Index of cachet makers and artists.
Even though I am a relative novice and amateur, it is clear to me that this major work by Daryl Kibble must be unique in the philatelic literature. The two volumes include an enticing, handsome hard cover, and seem sturdily bound. At some point in reading, and reviewing, it occurred to me how many permutations might be possible when stamps, cachets and cancels are applied to an envelope, transforming it into a cover. Kibble has spent much of his life researching and collecting covers pertaining to Cook, in particular his Third Voyage. Each section has not only a large numbers of covers, but also copious text offering explanations of artists, cachet designers, and the historical events and exhibitions for which the covers were produced. In addition, Kibble provides technical details about the production of the stamps, cachets and cancels that for me were mind boggling.
This is not a book that lends itself to being easily read, cover to cover. In many respects it is a reference work. However, many sections, in particular the introductions to chapters, are quite readable, and provide an understanding of the context for the covers. The index of cachet makers is useful. After pulling a couple of my own covers from some shoeboxes, I hoped that I could match them with the covers in the book. I found this was not easily done, unless the maker of the cachet was known.
But, in the end, I found that paging through this beautiful book revealed a lot of history. And, it is just plain fun. I can certainly recommend it to Cook philatelists, and to those with a general interest in Cook, for history revealed through covers.
Originally published in Cook's Log, page 62, volume 43, number 2 (2020).