Different Kinds of First Day Covers

Browse an issue of Mystic’s Stamp Showcase or MysticStamp.com and you may notice offers for First Day Covers described as made by Fleetwood, Mystic, “Silk” or “Common.”  Those terms all refer to the cachet maker that produced the cover. Here’s the differences:

Fleetwood began producing First Day Covers in 1941 with the Vermont Statehood issue.  Mystic acquired Fleetwood in 2007 and is proud to continue its tradition of excellence today.  Many Fleetwood cachets (designs) are full-color works of original art.  Most Fleetwood First Day Covers feature interesting information about the stamp subject.  Fleetwood First Day Covers are produced for both commemorative and regular issue U.S. stamps of all denominations.  Fleetwood covers may be addressed or unaddressed.

Mystic began producing First Day Covers in 1992 with the Pledge of Allegiance issue and ended in 2007 with the Henry W. Longfellow issue.  With few exceptions, Mystic First Day Covers have full-color cachets, neat information about the stamp subject, and feature commemorative U.S. stamp issues at the first class rate.

“Silk” First Day Covers produced by Colorano were introduced in 1971 with the America’s Wool issue  and finished in 2016 with the Snowflakes issue after Mystic purchased Colorano’s stock in February 2016.  Each color illustration is printed on  satin-finish fabric, fastened to the cover and surrounded by a luxurious gold embossed border.  “Silk” First Day Covers feature regular issue and commemorative stamps.  They have no additional information about the stamp subject.

Mystic and Silk First Day Covers are unaddressed.

Classic First Day Covers are from various sources and can date from the 1920s to the present. Classic covers are interesting because of the diversity of their cachets.  Classic First Day Covers  may be addressed or unaddressed, illustrated or unillustrated with printed or rubber design in one or more than one color.  They may feature regular issue or commemorative stamps. (Important note – because of their nature, Classic cover cachets will likely vary from those pictured.)

Posted in General Stamp Collecting | 19 Comments

MysticStamp.com Makes Collecting More Fun!

All the great stamps and supplies you’d expect are here, but we’ve added a lot of stamp information – stories, facts and much more. It’s a great resource – a reference library right at your fingertips.

And our website is available on your mobile device – so you can get the stamp facts you need anytime and anywhere. It’s like having our Stamp Experts at your beck and call 24/7.

Here’s just a few examples of what you’ll find on the site:

• Mount sizes for U.S. stamps

Mount information is included for most U.S. stamps.

Mount information is included for most U.S. stamps.

• Issue date, quantity and First Day of Issue city

Each U.S. stamp on Mystic's website includes important facts and interesting stories about the stamp.

Each U.S. stamp on Mystic’s website includes important facts and interesting stories about the stamp.

• Information on additional formats like pairs and blocks

Complete access to Mystic’s Discovery Center

Browse stamps by country

Videos from the annual Maynard Sundman Lecture

Our Reward Points program

The online Mystic U.S. Stamp Catalog

Learn how to sell your stamps

• Shop for Limited-Edition Fleetwood First Day Covers

Foreign stamp identifier guide

Philatelic glossary

Our popular daily This Day in History

And there’s lots more.  Be sure to bookmark our site – you’ll be glad you did!

Posted in General Stamp Collecting | 2 Comments

History of Mystic Stamp Company

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… Continue reading

Posted in About Mystic Stamp Co. | 49 Comments

Stamps and the Norwegian Spy

Collectors sometimes “lift” stamps on covers to see what kind of paper the stamp was printed on. “Lifting stamps once helped save the free world from Adolf Hitler’s evil empire. Here’s a neat story about stamps, espionage and a 200-mile race across snowy mountains…

Germany invaded Norway in the spring of 1940. Sven Somme, a marine biologist, and his brother Iacob joined the underground resistance movement. Iacob plotted to sabotage the hydro plant in Telemark, where Germans were building a nuclear bomb. He was caught and executed in 1944.

In spite of the risk, Sven continued. His assignment was mapping strategic German military bases and photographing their military torpedo batteries and submarine bases along Norway’s west coast. Sven then mailed the intelligence to his Allied handlers on microfilm – hidden underneath the stamp on the envelope!

Click here to see images of Sven and one of the letters he hid beneath a stamp.

The plan worked until German soldiers spotted the sun glinting off his camera lens as Sven snapped pictures of a U-boat base on the island of Otteroy. He hid his camera under a rock as the Germans ran toward him, firing shots. Sven told them he was bird watching. His cover fell apart when the soldiers found his camera before he could get off the island.

Sven was taken to the mainland by boat and confined to the vessel overnight to await his execution. When his guard fell asleep, he slipped off his handcuffs and walked casually past five armed soldiers, who mistook him for a civilian. Sven fled into the countryside.

About an hour later, the Germans realized he was gone and sent 900 soldiers and a pack of hounds after him. By now Sven had crossed streams in his light shoes and was climbing up snowy mountains, where frostbite was a real possibility. With the Germans in pursuit, he sometimes swung from one pine tree to another to avoid leaving footprints in the snow. A family sheltered him and exchanged a pair of boots for his shoes. Sven made it to a safe house, where he hid for five weeks while false papers were made for him. He walked across the border into Sweden and arrived in Great Britain for a private audience with the exiled King of Norway. Sven had walked more than 200 miles in brutal conditions during the two-month escape.

Sven married an English wife and had three children before dying of cancer in 1961. After the death of his wife, his daughters found an archive of secret documents – envelopes with tiny maps hidden under the stamps, instructions from the resistance written in invisible ink, a map used during his escape and a Nazi warrant ordering Sven’s arrest and execution. Amazingly, the family that sheltered him was found – and they had kept his shoes, preserving even more of this 70-year old story.

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Famous Collectors

Who’s Delivering Your Mail?

What do legendary football coach Knute Rockne, President Harry Truman and the serial 2376killer known as the Son of Sam have in common? If you guessed they were all postal workers at one time, you’re right! Actually, a lot of famous people helped move the mail before becoming household names. Let’s take a look at a few…

Before he became one of the most famous college football coaches of all time, Knute Rockne worked as a postal clerk in Chicago. The USPS honored Rockne with a commemorative stamp on the 100th anniversary of his birth.

Harry S. Truman, Abraham Lincoln, and abolitionist John Brown, who led the raid on Harpers Ferry, were once postmasters. (Truman accepted the position, but gave the responsibilities and salary to a widowed neighbor.)

Noah Webster of dictionary fame worked as a special agent for the postal agency. Truman, Lincoln, and Webster have been pictured on U.S. stamps.

Novelist Charles Bukowski worked as a postal worker in Los Angeles for three years. In 1969, he wrote to a friend to say he was making a career change. “I have one of two choices – stay in the post office and go crazy… or stay out here and play at writer and starve. I have decided to starve.”

Sherman Hemsley, who portrayed George on the television series The Jeffersons, and Bing 1355Cosby were mail clerks. Walt Disney and Rock Hudson worked as letter carriers. Disney was pictured on a 1968 U.S. stamp.

Novelist William Faulkner worked as a postmaster in Mississippi before he realized he wasn’t suited to working with the public. Faulkner reportedly told his boss he was resigning because “…I will be damned if I propose to be at the beck and call of every itinerant scoundrel who has two cents to invest in a postage stamp.”

Comedian Steve Carell, star of The Office, quit his job as a mail carrier because his boss told him he wasn’t very good and needed to be faster. Bill Nye – aka “The Science Guy” – was the postmaster of Laramie, Wyoming. William S. Hart, honored in the 2010 Cowboys of the Silver Screen set, was once a mail clerk in New York City.

Imagine what a bright future might be in store for your mailman!

Posted in Beginner's Section, General Stamp Collecting | 4 Comments

Special Event Covers

Chances are you’re familiar with First Day Covers, which feature a newly-issued stamp, an official cancellation marking the issue date and often artwork that complements the stamp design. But Special Event Covers are also fun to collect. Often overlooked, these are important souvenirs of special moments in history that complement your stamp collection nicely.

M892Special Event Covers are limited editions, created and cancelled to mark occasions ranging from stamp shows to Space Shuttle flights, like the one pictured here. The cover to the right was carried aboard the Challenger’s STS-8 mission. It bears the 1983 $9.35 Express Main stamp and a color cachet picturing the mission’s official patch. The cover was postmarked on August 14, 1983, at Kennedy Space Center to commemorate the shuttle’s official launch.

Take-off was delayed, however, until the 30th of that month. A second cancellation was added on that date, along with a third postmark on September 5th to mark the return to Earth. Additional markings commemorate NASA’s 25th anniversary. This cover is also a direct connection to three historic landmarks – STS-8 was NASA’s first night launch, its first night landing, and the first space flight by an African American astronaut, Guion Bluford.

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This set of two Special Event covers marked the end of one millenium and the dawn of the next, showing another neat way to combine stamp collecting and history. One cover was postmarked December 31, 1999, at New Year’s Eve Station. The second cover was cancelled January 1, 2000, at Celebrate 2000 Station. Notice how the cachets complement the stamp design and the cancellation’s type fits the topic.

Even sporting events like the World Series and the Iditarod make great topics for Special Event covers. The 2010 Iditarod Race cover pictured below was personally autographed by DeeDee Jonrowe, the world’s most celebrated female musher.

FD1112The cover bears the Alaska Statehood, Pony Express and Transpacific Airmail stamps plus a map of the route and cancellations marking the beginning and end of the 2010 race. Only 100 Iditarod covers were autographed and carried by Jonrow as she braved the grueling 1,049-mile race across Alaska, fighting bitter cold and the elements.

Like stamp collecting in general, prices for Special Event covers range greatly. But supply and demand has less of an impact on the cost of these covers – even though they’re created in small numbers and can never be reproduced, many of these scarce covers can be purchased for just a few dollars.

Posted in General Stamp Collecting | 2 Comments