The Z Grill – U.S. #85A

The 1868 1¢ Z Grill

Did you know the 1868 1¢ Z Grill (Scott 85A) is America’s rarest stamp?  One of the legends of philately, this Z Grill was purchased by Mystic in October 1998 for $935,000 – setting a record price for a U.S. stamp.

Currently valued at $3 million, the stamp is the finest One-Cent Z Grill known and the only one available to collectors.  (Only one other exists and it’s permanently locked into the New York Public Library’s Miller Collection.)

The Z grill is one of several embossed grill patterns used to break the fibers of certain early U.S. stamps.  Ink was absorbed into the grill when the stamp was cancelled, making removal of the cancel and reuse of the stamp impossible.

The Z grill pattern is approximately 11 millimeters by 14 millimeters (13 to 14 x 18 grill points.)  This pattern is unique due to the horizontal orientation of the tiny grid projections.

Charles F. Steele introduced the practice of grilling stamps, which was used for only a few years during the late 1860s. The classification system for grills was developed in the early 1900s by William L. Stevenson and is still in use today.

For several years, Mystic featured the Z Grill in our advertising and as a sort of ambassador at stamp shows, displaying it for the benefit of collectors.  In 2005, Mystic traded its Z Grill for the unique 1918 Jenny Invert Plate-Number Block, which is America’s Greatest Stamp Rarity.  The one-for-one trade of two legendary U.S. stamp treasures with a combined value of $6 million generated international headlines and interest in our hobby.

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Let Mystic Help Your Collection Grow

Did you know Mystic offers a wide range of services that makes it fun and easy to enjoy your hobby time, whether you’re a new collector or a seasoned pro?  It’s true!  Just look at a few of the ways we can help you

• FREE Mystic U.S. Stamp Catalog… a complete, fact-filled guide to help you make the most of your collection.  Printed in color to show off our beautiful U.S. stamps, it contains prices, fun and interesting facts about different stamps, and a list of all the latest equipment and supplies you need.  Request your free catalog when placing an order, with your approval selection, or contact our Customer Service Department.

• FREE At-Home Examination Service… Mystic offers a “see-before-you-buy” service for collectors who wish to receive stamps “on approval.”  Selections are mailed to your door; you may purchase all, part, or none of the selection, returning the items not purchased.  And you have up to 21 days after receipt of the stamps to make your decision!

• Fast, Convenient Service… by using Mystic’s convenient shop-by-mail service, you get fast, personal service right to your mailbox – without the hassles of driving, parking, or lack of time.  You always make up your own mind, and shop the hours YOU choose!

• Guaranteed Satisfaction… all purchases from Mystic are backed by a money-back guarantee of satisfaction.  If you aren’t completely satisfied with any stamp or collecting supply ordered from Mystic, simply return it to us within 90 days.  We will gladly issue you a credit voucher or refund your money, whichever you prefer.

• Customer Service… if you ever have a question, problem, or need, you can write, call, FAX , or e-mail Mystic’s Customer Service Department at:

Mystic Stamp Company
9700 Mill Street
Camden, NY 13316
1 (315) 245-2690
8:00 AM – 6:00 PM Eastern Time Monday-Friday
Toll-free Order Phone 1 (866) 660-7147
Toll-free FAX (anytime) 1 (800) 385-4919
E-Mail: info@mysticstamp

Mystic’s team of 150 stamp professionals are eager to provide you with prompt, friendly service.  So if there’s anything we can do to help you, please let us know.  Thank you for choosing Mystic to help your hobby grow!

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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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