Beginner’s Section

History of International Stamp Exhibitions in the U.S.

Hamilton Bank Note Co. Cinderella Stamp

Hamilton Bank Note Co.
Cinderella Stamp

The first international stamp exhibition to be held in the U.S. took place in New York City in 1913. The Post Office Department hadn’t yet created a division to cater directly to stamp collectors, so there were no U.S. stamps issued to commemorate the event.

However, the Hamilton Bank Note Co. of New York produced a set of four Cinderella stamps to mark the occasion.

A lot had changed by the time of the second U.S. international philatelic exhibition in 1926.  The U.S. Post Office Department was more actively engaged with collectors and so they issued a special 25-stamp sheet with an inscription in the margin to commemorate the show. Continue reading

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Discover the History of Confederate Printing Press No. 3

August Dietz with the historic No. 3 hand-press used by Hoyer & Ludwig to produce the South’s first postage stamps. Dietz was a printer’s apprentice in the early 1880s and learned the art from older men who had worked at the firm during the Civil War.

August Dietz with the historic No. 3 hand-press used by Hoyer & Ludwig to produce the South’s first postage stamps. Dietz was a printer’s apprentice in the early 1880s and learned the art from older men who had worked at the firm during the Civil War.

Mystic President Don Sundman with No. 3.

Mystic President Don Sundman with No. 3.

Did you know Mystic now owns the only surviving printing press used to produce the first Confederate postage stamps? It’s true – and we love having this direct connection to the Civil War displayed in our headquarters. Let me tell you the story of the press’ 150-year journey from the heart of Dixie to rural upstate New York… Continue reading

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What is microprinting?

Maybe you’ve heard the word Microprinting but you’re not sure what it is. Microprinting is tiny type added to a stamp’s design. The type is so small, it can’t be read without a magnifying glass or microscope. The printing is usually made up of letters, numbers, and symbols.

Microprinting is a security measure to prevent counterfeiting. The use of counterfeited stamps means lost revenue for the U.S. Postal Service. Producing and selling fake stamps is a federal crime.

When forgers try to reproduce a microprinted stamp using a scanner or photocopier, the text may appear as a solid line or blur. It’s too small to make a clear copy.

You’ll need a magnifying glass with at least 4x magnification to see the microprinting on your stamps. (See our 3” acrylic dome magnifier here. Or for portable convenience and greater magnification, get our 10X folding magnifier with built in LED light offered here.)

The first stamp to be microprinted was U.S. #2655, the 1992 Stream Violet stamp. If you look closely at the 29¢ denomination, you’ll see shading made by microscopic dots.

US #2655

Continue reading

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Watch CBS’ Stamp Collecting Show

Outgoing Postmaster General Patrick Donahue and Rita Braver

Outgoing Postmaster General Patrick Donahue and Rita Braver in the National Postal Museum’s William H. Gross Gallery

Did you miss the recent stamp collecting segment on the CBS Sunday Morning show? Good news – just click on this link and see why so many collectors were thrilled to see our hobby in the limelight!

CBS did a nice job. There were a few subtle Mystic connections in the show. You’ll need to pause the video at specific times to see these tidbits.

Part of the story was filmed at the Smithsonian National Postal Museum Gross Gallery. At 4 minutes 22 seconds, if you look really close on the far-right you’ll see Mystic’s name on a sponsorship plaque at the Gross Gallery. Mystic sponsored the Miller Collection display at the Gross Gallery. Continue reading

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Explore stamp-related videos

Did you know there are hundreds of stamp collecting videos online, including the National Postal Museum’s Maynard Sundman Lectures?  They’re entertaining – and a great way to discover more about the World’s Greatest Hobby!

This Linn’s article has the details on these and many more, along with tips on how to search for additional videos.  

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How to collect seldom-seen formats

Collecting stamp position blocks and pairs is fun and rewarding. The legendary “Farley’s Follies” are a good example.  They offer you the opportunity to own scarce stamps with a neat stamp story!

Each of the formats shown here can be difficult to find – “Farley’s Follies” were issued in large sheets that are way too big to fit in stamp albums. So smart collectors snapped up blocks and pairs in a variety of formats instead. They not only fit, but these key formats are an easy way to understand the stamp printing process.  Here are some of the formats: Continue reading

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