Those who have been collecting stamps for a number of years will remember the name H.E. Harris. He was a giant in the stamp-collecting world, and his innovative idea of selling stamps on approval led to significant growth in the hobby. H.E. Harris Stamp Company, the business he began as a 14 year old, grew to be “The World’s Largest Stamp Firm.” In addition to being a very successful businessman, Harris was also a mentor to young entrepreneurs with their own small stamp companies. One of the men he invested his time and talent in was Mystic Stamp Company founder, Lawrence Shaver.
In 1923, Shaver answered an H.E. Harris ad in Mekeel’s Weekly Stamp News directed toward would-be stamp dealers. The young man paid $500 for a starter stock of stamps, and began his business in a rented room in the same building as the Camden, New York, post office. A short while later, Shaver traveled to Boston to meet Harris in person. When H.E. found out the new business didn’t have a name yet, he suggested naming it after the Mystic River that flowed by his office. Mystic Stamp Company was born. Over the following years, Shaver’s connection to H.E. Harris grew from professional to personal.
Shaver wasn’t the only stamp dealer who was mentored by H. E. Harris. In 1935, recent high school graduate Maynard Sundman began his stamp business in Bristol, Connecticut. His success soon caught the attention of Harris, who taught the young entrepreneur about the mail order business. Ten years later, Sundman moved to New Hampshire and established the Littleton Stamp Company, where the business continued to prosper.
In 1974, Shaver sold Mystic Stamp Company to Sundman, who was a good friend as well as a competitor. The new owner’s youngest son Donald became president. Mystic continued to grow under Don’s leadership and in 1989 the company moved into a brand-new 50,000-square-foot facility.
Mystic Stamp Company is now America’s leading stamp dealer. Its early success was due in large part to H.E. Harris’ willingness to share his knowledge with two young stamp dealers.