1996 saw the Centenary of the AFL issue by Australia Post. It included gummed stamps, peel & stick stamps, sheetlet, booklets, maximum cards, postcards, stamp pack and postmarks. It was the largest issue by Australia Post to that time.
It seemed to stimulate Australia Post into the AFL Collectables field with the subsequent production of yearly Footy Stamp Issues, medallion covers, souvenir sheets for Premierships and Brownlow Medalist, more postmarks and subsequent stamp issues for the 150th anniversary of the first match, Football Legends, Lets Get Active etc.
Prior to 1996 AFL covers were mainly produced for stamp issues by Wesley Cover Services and Australia Post. The exception was Frankston Stamps in 1982 who produced a 15 cover set of 1 Cover with VFL Logo and logos of each club, 12 covers with the logos of each VFL club, 1 Carlton cover overprinted with “Premiers 1982” each with VFL Grand Final PM (APM12220) and 1 cover with WAFL Logo and logos of each club, and WAFL Grand Final PM (APM12110), all in special Folder.
Following 1996 the Alexander family, “The Boys from Ballarat”, who had been a producer prior to 1996, ramped up their cover production to reportedly become Australia Post’s largest philatelic customer. They produced covers under the names of Havilah Enterprises, First Class Collectables, OnlyCovers and Alpha Covers and sold on ebay under various seller’s names. This was no doubt related to an increased market sporned by Ebay and the internet. The quality and relevance of their covers were high with computers making everyone an expert cover producer. Their only philatelic misdemeanor was the printing of cachets, “add-on”, on previous postmarked PPE and PSEs.
Following the new centenary they were joined by Sydney Based Lawrence Bove (lobo8), Adelaide based StampsOz and Brisbane based Peter Hatcher (CoversPlease) along with other Ebay sellers. Wesley Cover Service tried to fill the niche not used by Australia Post and produced a lot of FDCs of sheetlets, Peel & Stick stamps and stamp booklets. They also continued to produce football related covers.
Around 2006 the Alexanders started producing more and more covers with self produced “Local Post” stamps, called vignette stamps and self produced postmarks with no postcode or the name Australia. Although the covers were often professionally made their philatelic value was next to nothing. Debate about illegality was commenced on the Philatelic Chat and Bulletin Board, “Stampboards”. The conclusion seemed to be that if you liked it and wanted to collect it then go for it. They are still active on Ebay with AFL related collectables.