First Colorano Silk FDC
First Colorano Silk FDC
On January 19, 1971, the USPS issued a stamp honoring the 450th anniversary of the wool industry in the United States. It’s believed that sheep and wool were first brought to the Americas in 1521 by Hernando Cortez during his conquest of Mexico. This stamp was the first issue for which Colorano produced a Silk Cachet First Day Cover.
The founder of Colorano, Ray Novak, was born in Brooklyn in 1928. He began collecting stamps when he was 12. Over the years, he gained an interest in music and eventually played the trumpet with the 88th Infantry Division Army Band. After World War II, he continued to pursue music as well as real estate.
Then in 1957, Novak rediscovered his stamp and cover collection and was inspired to join the stamp business. He thoroughly studied Linn’s Stamp News and realized that there weren’t very many First Day Cover dealers. Soon, Novak and his wife vastly increased the amount of worldwide First Day Covers available in America.
In 1958, Novak was still in real estate and happened to meet Ludwig W. Staehle, the king of early cachet making. Novak asked Staehle if he would design some cachets for his company and he agreed. Their first cover together was for the Second United Nations International Conference on the Peaceful Uses of Atomic Energy. A few years later, Novak got the name for his company from a friend, who suggested he call it “Color-Ray-Novak,” which he shortened to Colorano.
Staehle continued to produce cachets for Novak and soon Novak became interested in producing Maximum Cards instead of covers. His first Maximum Card came in 1965 for the Churchill issue. He continued to produce Maximum Cards but also wanted to find an inventive way to make full-color First Day Cover cachets. Then in 1970, Novak came across some silk cachets from the French company Ceres. He knew this was the direction he wanted to take and immediately began looking into how he would produce these covers.
Novak’s silk cachets were full-color designs printed on fabric, usually satin cloth. The cachets got their name from their silky feel. After the designs were printed, each individual cachet was applied to the envelope with a permanent bond. These works of art were then framed with a warm, golden border and transported to the site of the First Day of Issue ceremony.
The first stamp for which Novak produced a silk cachet was the America’s Wool stamp, issued on January 19, 1971. He produced just 1,200 covers, which proved quite popular and he quickly became known as the premier designer of “luxury” covers.
For most of the issues Novak produced in the first two years, he only made about 1,200 of each cover. The amount increased over the years, reaching about 10,000 covers per issue in 1981. Novak sold Colorano to Paul Schmid in 1995. Schmid continued to produce silk cachets until 2016 when he sold the company to Mystic.
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