How-To Guides

Stamp Identification Guidelines

Mystic’s 3-Volume American Heirloom Album

At Mystic, we understand getting started in stamp collecting can be a little confusing, but it’s a lot of fun and we’re here to help.

Below we’ve put together a good way to sort stamps when you have a large number of U.S. issues to put in your album…

Continue reading

Posted in How-To Guides | Leave a comment

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

Posted in Beginner's Section, How-To Guides | 4 Comments

Philatelic Glossary

ADHESIVE: A postage stamp intended for affixing on letters and other mail.

AEROPHILATELY: The collecting, preservation, and study of airmail stamps. Catalog Designation: “C”

AIRMAILS: Stamps issued specifically for use on airmail letters.

AMERICAN BANK NOTE COMPANY: Printed U.S. stamps from 1879 until 1894 as well as the Overrun Countries and other issues. Continue reading

Posted in Beginner's Section, Frequently Asked Questions, How-To Guides | 6 Comments

How to Identify a Die Cut Perforation

Die-cut perforations are cut by a metal device to produce perforation-like wavy lines for separating stamps.  Self-adhesive stamps are die-cut.

Die Cut U.S. #4750

Die Cut U.S. #4750


Water activated stamps are not and have regular perforations that need to be physically torn to separate the stamps.

#299 is not die cut

#299 is not die cut

Posted in Beginner's Section, Frequently Asked Questions, How-To Guides | 5 Comments

Stamp Collecting Resources

The Smithsonian National Postal Museum – and its William H. Gross Gallery – is a mecca for stamp collectors around the world.  Their website is also a handy tool and a fun place to explore.

Want to go in-depth?  Arago is your resource to the study of philately and postal operations, using items from the National Postal Museum’s collection.

Keep up with the latest collecting news

There are numerous magazines and newspapers pertaining to stamps, which are published weekly or monthly.  Collectors appreciate these publications because they always contain the latest news and events and actually let you see how news, history and stamps can all be tied together.  Here’s two of our favorites:

Continue reading

Posted in Beginner's Section, How-To Guides | 2 Comments

Long-term Stamp Storage

Storing your stamps for a period of time?  Follow these tips to keep them safe…

Whether at home or in a storage unit, stamps and covers should be kept where humidity and temperature are at safe and fairly consistent levels.  High temperatures and humidity can activate the gum on the back of many stamps, which may cause them to stick to each other or to pages in stock books and albums.  Stamps that are kept in cold temperatures may become brittle, which can also be damaging.  Ideally, stamps should be stored at room temperature with a relative humidity of 50%.  (Tip – silica gel, which is available at most hardware and craft stores, is an easy and affordable way to control humidity.) Continue reading

Posted in Albums & Supplies, Frequently Asked Questions, How-To Guides | 30 Comments