It never ceases to amaze me that, despite three in-depth articles1 researching Etter covers spanning almost two decades, new surprises can still be found! I have probably been more fortunate than most to have acquired during the past 10 years three of the larger Etter collections from the original subscribers to the program.
I was also fortunate to obtain an original letter written by Elwood Etter to John Mahoney shortly before Etter’s death. I have written an article about it that can be found on my website at: http://www.explorationcollect.com/ArticleView.asp?ArticleId=1
I have also identified some more additions to the lists previously compiled, and these are listed below.
22 March 1978
Arrival New Albion - Cape Flattery (Neah Bay, WA)
28 September 1978
FDC Tonga (Nuku’alofa). Cachet is the same as used for Etter #14 for Tonga visit, but has the words “First Day of Issue” added.
1 September 1978
FDC Upper Volta – Upper Volta Honoring Captain James Cook (Ouagadougou)
25 April 1979
United Republic of Cameroun honoring Captain James Cook (not a FDC)
28 June 1978
June 28, 1778. Arrived Unalaska. Obtained water.
Natives gave Cook a 2nd Letter in Russian. (Unalaska, AK)
I have formed an initial opinion that the FDCs for Tonga and Upper Volta are possibly unique or in such few numbers that they have not seen the light of day in the major collections of the past 20 years. I have the 1977 Tonga set spread across three FDCs, two of which are registered. They are all addressed to Etter himself. These are probably the pick of all the Etter covers ever made for thematic relevance of cover, stamp and postmark.
For Upper Volta I have one set with FDC, and one similar cachet cover also dated with the first day postmark, but not stamps attached (i.e. serviced without stamps). These again are addressed to Etter himself.
I have in my possession for the first time a cachet that is neither printed directly onto the envelope, nor on birch bark, nor on silk. This cachet is printed on a glossy stick-on and added to the envelope. It is the only one I am presently aware of, and it was used for item 70.1 off the list compiled (Elim, AK on 11 September 1978 – Explored Norton Sound).
Check inside your Etter covers for useful information. Etter produced his covers in very small numbers for the original subscribers (30 covers for each edition as a general rule-of-thumb). Some however are possibly unique (or unique over ‘one set’ of stamps making a few covers). On my exploration website I have copied an original hand-written message by Etter to one of the early subscribers. It is for the 16th Jan 1979 cachet (item 95.1, which is a typo and should be 96.1 on the previously published lists). This is to celebrate the bicentennial of Cook’s discovery of Kealakekua Bay, Hawaii. The note written by Etter states that only nine of these covers were made, and for the collector to keep this information private (so as not to offend and upset the other subscribers!). He also states that approximately 30 covers were made (normal production) for the 17th Jan 1979 cachet (item 96 where Cook lands at Kealakekua Bay).
As we now have five articles on Etter covers (including the one on my website), I am hopeful that we have completed the story on this remarkable Cook cachet-maker.
Many, if not the majority, of the Etter cachets can be seen on my exploration website at:
Originally published in Cook's Log, page 35, volume 27, number 1 (2004).
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