AIHP Marks 50th Anniversary of Pharmacy Stamp With “First Day Cover” Collection

For many interested in the history of pharmacy, November 10, 1972, stands out as the momentous day the U.S. Postal Service issued a commemorative stamp honoring the pharmacy profession. AIHP is marking the 50th anniversary of the stamp’s issuance by posting on its website a collection of pharmacy stamp “first day covers,” courtesy of pharmacist (and first day cover collector) Daniel Shifrin. Click this link to access Mr. Shifrin’s first day cover collection.

In stamp collecting parlance, a “first day cover” (FDC) refers to a postal card or envelope bearing a stamp postmarked on the day of the stamp’s issuance. Sometimes the postal card or envelope used for the first day cover may contain a printed design or inscription – called a “cachet” – related in some way to the new stamp. These cachets may be designed and produced by specialized design firms for organizations, businesses, or individuals with a particular interest in the commemorative stamp. Such “cacheted FDCs” are highly collectible.

Mr. Shifrin credits the late George Griffenhagen – a legendary historian of pharmacy and longtime AIHP member – with sparking his interest in philately (stamp collecting) and his particular interest in collecting pharmacy stamp FDCs. Indeed, Mr. Shifrin advises that Mr. Griffenhagen drafted the text describing each of the FDCs in the posted collection.

Example of First Day Cover

To mark the 10th anniversary of the pharmacy stamp’s issuance in 1982, AIHP sponsored an exhibit of pharmacy stamp FDCs at the annual meeting of the American Pharmacists Association. The exhibit was comprised of more than 80 cacheted pharmacy stamp FDCs from the collections of Mr. Shifrin, Mr. Griffenhagen, and two other collectors. 

AIHP is pleased to reprise, at least in part, the 1982 exhibit to now mark the 50th anniversary of the pharmacy commemorative stamp. We thank Mr. Shifrin for his assistance in making his collection available to us.

Posted: August 23, 2022

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AIHP COVID-19 ProjectThe American Institute of the History of Pharmacy is documenting and preserving pharmacy stories and experiences during the COVID-19 global pandemic for the benefit of future historians and scholars. We seek to record the effects of this public health emergency on all types of pharmacy experiences. We invite you to share your pharmacy stories, photos, videos, artifacts, and other documentation of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

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Upcoming events of interest to historians of pharmacy, pharmaceuticals, medicines, science, and related fields. (Event information current when posted. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, please double-check the status of all events):

May 28-31, 2024: Kremers Seminar in the History of Pharmacy webinars.
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