Looking Back on 90 Years –
The Story of Mystic Stamp Company
In 2013, Mystic celebrated its 90th anniversary. It’s fun to think about how many people began collecting stamps with our help, and humbling to know hundreds of thousands of collectors placed their trust and loyalty in Mystic. We’re also proud of our growth – after beginning as one-room, one-man operation, Mystic has become America’s Leading Stamp Dealer. That gives us the chance to be a powerful advocate for you, for the hobby, and for the future of stamp collecting. Let’s take a look back at the journey that brought us to where we are today…
Mystic’s story began in 1923, when Lawrence K. Shaver purchased starter stock from Mekeel’s Weekly Stamp News. Shaver then rented a room in the post office building in Camden, a small village in upstate New York. He named the company after the Mystic River in Boston, Massachusetts. Over the next few years, his company grew from a single employee occupying one room to nearly 100 workers on three floors.
Over 300 miles away in Connecticut, Maynard Sundman had begun selling stamps to his grade school classmates around 1935. Ten years later, after serving his nation in World War II, he founded Littleton Stamp Company in New Hampshire with his wife Fannie. Like Mystic, Littleton began in a single room office with a handful of employees. What set Sundman’s business apart were advertisements in newspapers and magazines, which introduced stamp collecting to a larger audience.
He also offered his customers stamps “on approval,” allowing them to examine stamps in the comfort and privacy of their own home before paying for them. The notion that you could look over valuable stamps based on trust and goodwill was revolutionary, and Littleton Stamp Company grew quickly.
The Sundman family grew, too, as Maynard and Fannie welcomed three sons. In 1974, Maynard purchased Mystic Stamp Company from his old friend Lawrence Shaver. He then recruited his son Don to serve as the new company President. Only 19 at the time, Don quickly realized the company didn’t have enough stamps – or the right stamps – and began restructuring the company in a way that provided the best products and service to its customers. Taking a cue from his father’s success, Don advertised in catalogs, newspapers and magazines, as well as introducing Mystic customers to the popular approval service.
Over the years, Mystic purchased the wholesale dealer Ben-Art Stamp Company and Littleton’s stamp stock after that company decided to focus on coins. A few years later, Mystic purchased the International Collector’s Society, Morville Worldwide Stamp Packets, and Fleetwood, the world’s premier First Day Cover producer.
Along the way, Mystic’s staff of 150 and inventory had outgrown its home and the company moved to a brand-new 50,000 square foot facility. To serve its rapidly expanding customer base, Mystic spends several million dollars each year to purchase stamps – $72 million in the past 5 years alone.
The company is also active in the community, donating thousands of dollars each year for to worthwhile causes including the Relay for Life, Heart Run and Walk, local fire and rescue departments, Rotary, Lions, public school projects, and many other local and national charities.
Nationally, Mystic actively supports the National Postal Museum, American Philatelic Society, and The Philatelic Foundation. Mystic President Don Sundman is the chairman of the NPM’s Council of Philatelists and was the first recipient of the APS’ 50 Centuries Award. Don was honored for recruiting a record number of new members – 5,000!