The History of Dawn
This article shows a small selection of items produced by Dawn Covers during the last 5 decades. We are just scratching the surface to show you some of the rarities and to tell you some of the stories behind the items that make up a catalogue of work spanning over 40 years.
What few people will know is that Stuart Renshaw’s first commercial cover venture was in 1966, when he made a handful of first day covers for the World Cup Winners stamp. They were a big hit with his friends and colleagues and sold out immediately. It is unlikely that many will have survived.
Suddenly, things took off
The next cover came three years later, when Stuart designed one to commemorate the 20th Anniversary of NATO and RAF Wildenrath’s first public open day.
As secretary of the air base stamp club, Stuart was asked if he had any ideas about what might be done to celebrate the open day. He knew that a large number of the local German residents were very keen stamp collectors and suggested that a postal cover might prove popular. The idea appealed to a visiting Senior Air Officer, and Stuart was subsequently asked to come up with a design.
The covers did indeed prove to be a big hit with the locals and it’s worth noting that Stuart also designed the handstamp for this cover.
A Series of Fortunate Events
A year later, to test the waters, Stuart produced an experimental football cover series to commemorate some of the season’s main footballing events. In all, 11 basic covers were issued during the 1970-71 season. The first two were issued on the same day and both carry the same Manchester postmark. All Pre-Series covers were issued in fairly small numbers and all were a sell-out. Some covers were hand-coloured and can be found in a variety of colour combinations.
All Pre-Series covers are now very sought after.
Following the success of the pre-series covers, Stuart formed Dawn Cover Productions and found a commercial backer.
The Official Football Cover Series was born.
In partnership with Runcorn Stamp Centre (RSC), Dawn acquired the sole rights to produce Official League covers and, with the co-operation of the clubs, produced eleven basic covers in the first series.
However, the first cover almost proved to be a disaster. Due to an oversight, the name of Arsenal’s European Cup first round opponents was misspelled. Instead of the correct spelling of their Norwegian opponents’ name - Stromsgodset Drammen - the name Stroemsgordset Dammen was printed on the covers. The latter spelling was taken from a newspaper article at the time and was used on other contemporary souvenirs of the match.
The error was only noticed after the covers were sent to Arsenal's commercial manager, Jack Kelsey, for his approval. Apart from a handful of survivors, the whole stock of covers had to be destroyed and reprints were ordered. These survivors are now very sought after.
Sign of the Times
From the earliest days of production, autographed covers have been very popular with collectors and hundreds have been produced over the years. All of Dawn’s signed covers are certified and, with small numbers being produced (usually about 250), they are another popular item with collectors.
On the First Day…
Dawn’s first ‘First Day Cover’ was produced on the day of Manchester City’s 1972 UEFA Cup 1st round tie against Valencia, which coincided with the release of a set of BBC stamps. It was only realised at the last minute that an FDC was possible and only a very small number was produced using the official match day handstamp. An even smaller number of covers were cancelled with a Bath First Day of Issue handstamp. In either case, these covers are extremely rare and command a lot of interest when they come up for sale.
From the early days of production, ‘multiple used’ covers have been an interesting feature of Dawn’s output. Where possible, covers were used for each leg of an important cup game, or when two teams met again some years later. A few even followed teams on every leg of a competition.
The Greeks have a stamp for it
When Liverpool met AC Milan in the 2007 Champions League Final in Athens, Dawn arranged to have a small number of covers serviced in Athens using the Greek post office’s specially designed handstamp. When the order for stamps went in, the Greek authorities offered to produce a special combination of stamp and label to commemorate the match.
Only 450 of these personalised stamps were printed and all of them were used on these covers, making them of equal interest to both cover collectors and collectors of Greek stamps.
You might recognise the artwork on the short series of phone cards that were produced in collaboration with the Junior International Fonecard Collectors Club (JIFCC). The artwork used was the same as that used on Dawn cover designs for the Coca Cola Cup Finals from 1993 to 1996.
The Die is Cast
The Railways is another of Stuart’s passions and when he met up with the late Sid Cooper, a renowned railway artist, a new series of designs was born. Sid was commissioned to produce a series of paintings; each depicting one of the 25 Footballer locomotives that were built in the 1930’s and operated, in some cases, until as late as the 1960’s.
The designs went on to be used for postcards, covers and a small number of Lledo die-cast ‘View Vans’ produced in collaboration with Stevelyn.
When Rails of Sheffield commissioned a short run of replica Footballer Locomotives from Hornby, they contacted Dawn to see if there was anything that they could do that might be of added interest to Hornby collectors. In response to this, matching footballer postcards were serviced on significant dates for either the locomotives or the football clubs with which they were associated. Only 250 of each loco and special postcard were produced.