Most Frequently Asked Questions

Our Customer Service Representatives talk to hundreds of collectors each day.  Often, the callers have questions like these.  So we’re sharing the answers to these common questions here, hoping you find them helpful. Continue reading

Posted in Beginner's Section, Frequently Asked Questions, General Stamp Collecting | 58 Comments

Lincoln, Slavery and the Civil War

Watch Eliot A. Landau Present His
Award-Winning Lincoln Exhibit

Now you can watch a video of Eliot Landau presenting his award-winning Lincoln, Slavery and the Civil War exhibit at the National Postal Museum’s 7th annual Maynard Sundman Lecture. Landau combines philately and genuine artifacts to explore Abraham Lincoln’s presidency, the Civil War, and African American history.

His collection tells the story from a unique – and personal – perspective using objects such as letters, an abolitionist newspaper, photographs and genuine shackles worn by a slave. The discussion is entertaining, thought provoking ­– and personal for Landau.  Landau fought for desegregation and equal voter registration rights in the south before serving as Justice Thurgood Marshall’s law clerk.  He’s also an author who has contributed to Linn’s U.S. Stamp Facts: Nineteenth Century, the Encyclopedia of U.S. Stamps and Stamp Collecting, and several stamp-related articles on Lincoln.

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Part Two

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Mystic Buys Stamps

Mystic spent over $72 million on stamps in the past five years, yet our need for stamps is still at an all-time high.  If you’re ready to sell your stamps, call Mystic and see why it’s always easier to deal with the best.

And although we’re America’s leading stamp dealer, we’re proud of our small-town values and can guarantee you’ll be treated by the “Golden Rule.”

• We pay full market prices for your stamps.
• We treat you with honesty, respect and professionalism.
• We pay you “on the spot.”
• We pledge that a Mystic Stamp expert will value your stamps.

We’ve been around for a long time – since 1923 – and we’ve always treated our clients the way we like to be treated – with respect, candor and honesty. Our spotless reputation ensures you’ll be paid what your stamps are worth. (It may be more than you think.) Call us today at 1-800-835-3609 and get an excellent price for your stamps along with the first-rate treatment you deserve.

Continue reading

Posted in About Mystic Stamp Co., Frequently Asked Questions, General Stamp Collecting | 55 Comments

Mystic’s Premium Grading Guidelines

Mystic’s Premium Grading Guidelines

Collectibles like baseball cards, coins, and stamps, are graded and priced according to their condition, scarcity, and overall appeal.   A group of 10 of the same stamp can have 10 different grades and values.  The starting point, or base, starts with the most typical grade and is graded up or down.  A graded stamp can be used or unused, have small faults or be fault-free.  A grade can make a big difference in the value and price of a stamp.

 Grading Mint Stamps 

The following gives an idea how stamps are graded.  As you will see later, there are 5 different eras, each with its own guidelines.  Stamp grading is best defined as categorizing stamps according to their characteristics, such as: centering, gum, and overall condition.  Sometimes a number is assigned, but more likely an abbreviation of the stamp’s grade is used.

 How to Grade Stamps

Stamps are like snowflakes, no two are alike.  Even today’s stamps seen side by side will have subtle differences in centering, ink color, and design.

Grading stamps requires a mix of science, history, and art.  The science part requires skill and expertise, and the art is an ability to analyze the item as a whole instead of focusing on individual parts. History can fill in the missing pieces.  Take a look at the stamps shown below.  Printed in 1914 without perforations, sheets were cut into single strips.  The strips were pasted together to form a coil roll for use in private vending machines.  Vending machines were on their way out and the leftover rolls of stamps were no longer needed.  Instead of being scrapped or destroyed, the stamps were perforated by hand to form a perforated coil roll.  Due to the mechanics of early perforating machines, the perforations were rarely in alignment with the center of the margins.

Most stamps issued from 1861-1930 are centered like the stamp on the left and will have a grade of Very Good (VG).  The more evenly the design is centered or balanced between the four margins, the higher the grade and value.  (Stamps with flaws can have the same grade, but the value will be lower.)  A stamp with full, even margins that has never been hinged (NH), like the one shown here, is very scarce.  Stamps with this kind of centering are extremely rare – only two examples of the stamp above are known with centering like that shown.  They are known as “Gem” quality – the highest grade given.If centering is important to you, but you feel the price is more than you want to pay, you could opt for less good condition.   If condition is important and cost is an issue, centering may be less important to you.  In both cases the cost will be lower.  It’s a matter of choice and what is important to you.

Running Chicken—Waterbury Cancelation

Grading Used (Cancelled) Stamps

Canceled stamps follow the same guidelines as mint stamps except in relation to gum.  In 1847 postmasters were authorized to create their own cancels.  A piece of cork was dipped in ink and applied to the stamp.  It was important to obliterate or “kill” the face value to deter re-use.  The whole stamp except for the denomination was to be obliterated.  The more artistic postmasters would carve a design or object in to the cork.  Affectionately known as “fancy cancels,” these cancellations are highly prized by collectors.  The “running chicken” is the most famous fancy cancel and sold at auction for $300,000.

In many cases the stamps produced in the first two periods shown in the following information will have killer cancellations as intended by the Post Office authorities.  Remember, these cancellations were produced by early postmasters and were often hand-carved.

Mystic’s Centering Guidelines

The following guidelines are detailed definitions and samples of centering and grades from four different eras of printing.  These are the same guidelines our graders use.   These stamps are priced according to condition and how well the stamp is centered between the 4 margins.  Less than 25% of stamps issued are considered “premium” and less than 1% are perfect “Gems.”

Click the links below to view stamps and centering guidelines by issue:

1847-55 First Issues, Imperforate (Scott #1-17)

1857-61 Issues (Scott #18-39)

1862-69 Issues (Scott #62B-101)

1869 Pictorial Issues (Scott #112-22)

1875-93 Banknote Issues (Scott #145-218)

1890-93 Small Bank Note Issues (Scott #219-29)

1893 Columbian Issues (Scott #230-45)

1894 Regular Issues (Scott #246-84)

1898 Trans-Mississippi Issues (Scott #285-92)

1861-1900 Centering Guidelines 

1901 Pan-American Issues (Scott #294-99)

1902-03 Issues (Scott #300-13)

1907 Jamestown Commemorative Issues (Scott #328-30)

1908-09 Issues, Perf. 12 Coil (Scott #348//389)

1908-09 Issues, Perf. 12 (Scott #331-82)

1909 Alaska Yukon Pacific Expo Issues (Scott #367-73)

1910 Washington Franklin Issues, Perf. 8.5 Coil (Scott #390-96)

1912-14 Washington Franklin Issues, Perf. 12 (Scott #405-23)

1913-15 Panama-Pacific Expo Issues (Scott #397-404)

1915 Washington Franklin Issues, Perf. 10 (Scott #424-80)

1917-19 Washington Franklin Issues, Perf. 11 (Scott #498-519)

1919 Victory Issue (Scott #537)

1919-21 Coil Waste Stamps (Scott #538-46)

1920 Pilgrim Tercentenary Issue (Scott #548-50)

1922-25 Regular Issue (Scott #551-73//631//701)

1924 Huguenot-Walloon Issues (Scott #614-16)

1926-28 Rotary Issues (Scott #632-701)

1932 Washington Bicentennial Issue (Scott #713)

1901-1940 Centering Guidelines

1940 Famous Americans Stamps (Scott #859-93)

1955 Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts Issue (Scott #1064)

1974 Skylab Issue (Scott #1529)

2000-11 Self-Adhesive Sheet Stamps

2000-11 Self-Adhesive Coil Stamps

1940 – Present Centering Guidelines


 

Mystic’s Premium Grading Guidelines

1847-55 First Issues, Imperforate (Scott #1-17)

Very Good (VG)                                       Design is not centered within the margins, which is typical of this issue.  One or two sides cut or touch the design.  Four margins may not be equal in size.
Fine (F)                             Design is noticeably off-center.  Two sides may just touch the design.  Three margins may not be equal in size.
Very Fine (VF)                Design is slightly off center.  Two sides come close but don’t touch the design.  Two sides may not be equal in size.
Extremely Fine (XF)                                                     Design is well centered between four margins.  One side may come close to the design but will not touch it.  One or two sides may not be equal in size.
Superb (S)                                                                     Design looks perfectly balanced and has equally balanced margins on all four sides.  Under 1-X or 2-X magnification, one side may be slightly larger or smaller than the other three.

1857-61 Issues (Scott #18-39)

1857-61 Small Margin Issues

These stamps were not designed to accommodate perforations.   The stamp perforater was invented around this time period.The same plates from the first issue were used and the sheets were perforated with the newly invented Stamp Perforator.  Margins were not considered and the stamps were perforated leaving extremely small margins.

Very Good (VG)
Design is not centered within the margins, which is typical of this issue.  One or two sides cut into the design.  At least three margins are not equal in size.
Fine (F)
Design is noticeably off center, two sides touch or slightly cut into the design.  Small margins may or may not be equal on two or more sides.
Very Fine (VF)
Design is slightly off center, two margins touch or cut the design on one or two sides.  Two sides are noticeably larger or smaller than the rest.
Extremely Fine (XF)                                                                            Design is well centered between four margins.  Two margins may touch the design or lightly cut into the design.  One or two sides will be visibly larger or smaller after a closer look.
Superb (S)
Design is visually perfectly centered between four margins.  One side can just touch the frame line.  Under 1-X or 2-X magnification, one side will be just slightly larger or smaller than the other three.  Extremely rare and valuable.

1862-69 Issues (Scott #62B-101)


1869 Pictorial Issues (Scott #112-22)


1875-93 Banknote Issues (Scott #145-218)


1890-93 Small Bank Note Issues (Scott #219-29)


1893 Columbian Issues (Scott #230-45)


1894 Regular Issues (Scott #246-84)


1898 Trans-Mississippi Issues (Scott #285-92)

1861-1900 Centering Guidelines

Very Good (VG)                                      Design is not centered within the margins.  Two sides can touch the design or one side can cut slightly into the design.
Fine (F)                            Design is off center, one or two sides may come close to the design but not touch or cut into the design.  There will be a visible white space between the margin and the design.
Very Fine (VF)               Design is slightly off center, full margins clear the design on all sides.  Two or three sides will be visibly larger or smaller.
Extremely Fine (XF)                                                        Design is well centered between four adequate margins.  One or two sides will be slightly larger or smaller.
Superb (S)                                                                    Visually perfect centering, design is balanced between four large margins.  One side will be just slightly larger or smaller under 1-X or 2-X magnification.

1901 Pan-American Issues (Scott #294-99)


1902-03 Issues (Scott #300-13)


1907 Jamestown Commemorative Issues (Scott #328-30)


1908-09 Issues, Perf. 12 Coil (Scott #348//389)


1908-09 Issues, Perf. 12 (Scott #331-82)


1909 Alaska Yukon Pacific Expo Issues (Scott #367-73)


1910 Washington Franklin Issues, Perf. 8.5 Coil (Scott #390-96)


1912-14 Washington Franklin Issues, Perf. 12 (Scott #405-23)


1913-15 Panama-Pacific Expo Issues (Scott #397-404)


1915 Washington Franklin Issues, Perf. 10 (Scott #424-80)


1917-19 Washington Franklin Issues, Perf. 11 (Scott #498-519)


1919 Victory Issue (Scott #537)


1919-21 Coil Waste Stamps (Scott #538-46)


1920 Pilgrim Tercentenary Issue (Scott #548-50)


1922-25 Regular Issue (Scott #551-73//631//701)


1924 Huguenot-Walloon Issues (Scott #614-16)


1926-28 Rotary Issues (Scott #632-701)


1932 Washington Bicentennial Issue (Scott #713)

1901-1940 Centering Guidelines

Very Good (VG)                                      Design is not centered within the margins.  Two sides can touch the design or one side can cut slightly into the design.
Fine (F)                            Design is off center, one or two sides may come close to the design but does not touch.  There will be a visible white space between the margin and the design.
Very Fine (VF)               Slightly off balance, full margins clear the design on all sides.  Two or three sides will be visibly larger or smaller.
Extremely Fine (XF)                                                        Well balanced between four adequate margins.  One or two sides will be slightly larger or smaller upon closer inspection.
Superb (S)                                                                    Visually perfect centering, design is balanced between four large margins.  One side will be just slightly larger or smaller upon close inspection.

1940 Famous Americans Stamps (Scott #859-93)


1955 Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts Issue (Scott #1064)


1974 Skylab Issue (Scott #1529)


2000-11 Self-Adhesive Sheet Stamps


2000-11 Self-Adhesive Coil Stamps


Note: Stamps issued from 1940 to present are at least fine centered and generally never-hinged.

1940 – Present Centering Guidelines

Fine (F)                            Slightly off balance, full margins clear the design on all sides.  One or more sides will be visibly larger or smaller than the others.
Very Fine (VF)               Well-balanced between four wide margins.  First glance will show margins are visibly larger or smaller on one or two sides.
Extremely Fine (XF)                                                        Very well-balanced between four generous margins.  One or two sides will be visibly larger or smaller upon closer inspection.
Superb (S)                                                                    Visually perfect centering, design is balanced between four large margins.  One side will be just slightly larger or smaller upon closer inspection.
Posted in About Mystic Stamp Co., Frequently Asked Questions, General Stamp Collecting | Leave a comment

William H. Gross Gallery’s First Anniversary

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Join Mystic and its family of collectors in congratulating the National Postal Museum on the first anniversary of the William H. Gross Gallery. The hard work of the gallery’s generous benefactors, talented staff and dedicated volunteers has resulted in a national treasure without parallel. It has also built a solid foundation for the future, promising more remarkable successes in the years to come.

A Year of Achievements…
Since its Grand Opening on September 22, 2013, thousands of guests have enjoyed the activities, tours and programs held in the William H. Gross Gallery. Moving through six distinct areas of the 12,000 square foot gallery, visitors have thrilled to displays, interactive exhibits, pullout frames containing over 20,000 items and much more.9824293414_4a628c3a4a_m

The response has been enormous, and the National Postal Museum experienced dramatic growth as a result. The website tripadvisor.com ranked the museum #28 out of 253 attractions in our nation’s capital. The number of visitors increased by double digits, the NPM website traffic grew by 63% and the museum’s social media boomed. 85% of guests reported they would return for another visit.9918635875_0bc7796cae_m

Perhaps the highest tribute came from non-collectors, with 27% of them saying their visit to the gallery had inspired them to begin a stamp collection.

… And a Bright Future
The team at the Gross Gallery aren’t resting on their laurels, though. Instead, they’re working on a new exhibit showing the black American experience from the Civil War to the Civil Rights movement. A story time for younger children and a teacher workshop are also planned.9824838394_e8b914c3c8_m

These achievements benefit all stamp collectors. The National Postal Museum preserves our country’s stamp treasures, introduces the joys of collecting to new generations and provides invaluable services to those of us who love the hobby. So again – congratulations to the staff and sponsors of the National Postal Museum’s Gross Gallery on a fantastic first year, and best of luck for the future.

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Privacy Policy

 

Mystic Stamp Company’s Privacy Policy
Thank you for placing your trust in Mystic Stamp Company! We are committed to the security and privacy of your personal information. Mystic Stamp Company’s privacy policy describes the information we collect, how we use it, and how we secure it. If you have any questions or feedback regarding this privacy policy, contact us at:Mystic Stamp Company
9700 Mill Street
Camden, NY  13316Toll-free phone: 1-866-660-7147 (from anywhere in the U.S.)
Fax: 1-800-385-4919
Info@MysticStamp.com

At Mystic Stamp Company, we know understanding our customers’ needs and expectations for products, services and information is an important part of building an enjoyable, interesting and satisfying long-term relationship. We’ve created this page so you can have easy access to information about our privacy policies and how we use the information we may collect.

Contents
•    What Information We Collect
•    How We Use the Information We Collect
•    Sharing Information with Others
•    How We Use E-Mail
•    Links to Other Sites
•    Security
•    Privacy of Children Using Our Website
•    Policy Changes
•    Questions and Comments

What Information We Collect
We request information from you (including name, address, telephone number, e-mail address and, when necessary, credit card information and customer number) when you:

•    – Place an order from our catalogs, website or from an advertisement
•    – Subscribe to our e-mail newsletter
•    – Return or exchange an item
•    – Receive a gift order

We maintain this information you provide to us, along with a record of your purchases, in a secure database.

We also collect any e-mail messages that you send to Mystic Stamp Company, including information on your resume, if you send it to us.
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How We Use the Information We Collect
The information we collect enables us to:

•    – Process and track your order
•    – Provide the services you request
•    – Contact you about the status of an order
•    – Send you catalogs or promotional offers we believe will be of interest to you
•    – Send you Mystic Stamp Company Newsletters
•    – Personalize our communications to you
•    – Provide information concerning products you have purchased

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Sharing Information with Others
We contract with other companies to provide business services, including credit card authorization, shipping and e-mail distribution. We provide these companies with only the information they need to perform their services, and work to ensure that your privacy is respected and protected.

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How We Use E-Mail
Mystic Stamp Company sends e-mail to confirm orders you place online. We may use e-mail to contact you with questions regarding your order. We use e-mail to answer your online questions to us or requests for information. We send e-mail newsletters containing promotions of products and services, news, trivia, and information about upcoming events. We do not share your e-mail address with any other business or organization. Occasionally, we may contact you via e-mail to ask for permission to reprint what you have written, as a testimonial, for use on our website or in our printed materials.

Links to Other Sites
On our website, we provide links to other sites that we think you will enjoy. These other sites operate independently of Mystic Stamp Company and have established their own privacy and security policies. We encourage you to review the privacy and security policies of any sites you visit.
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Security.
Protecting your information is important to us.  MysticStamp.com is a VeriSign Secure Site. This means when you submit credit card and other sensitive information to our site with the assurance that all the information sent to us, if in an SSL session, is encrypted, protecting against disclosure to third parties. To verify now, please click on the VeriSign Secure Site logo.

We use various technologies and processes for protection of our customer data, and we limit the information we provide to outside companies with whom we contract to what they need to carry out their responsibilities.

When you make a purchase, request a catalog or create an account on our website, you are doing so via our Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) protocol and 128-bit encryption technology to provide the highest level of security available.

Mystic Stamp Company security features are automatic for shopping, payments, catalog requests – you do not need to take any action. Once you click on the Checkout, your browser checks for a digital certificate to confirm it is communicating with MysticStamp.com and then allows you to continue with your order.

Mystic Stamp Company uses VeriSign to enable the use of digital certificates. Whenever you see the VeriSign logo, you can click on it to verify that MysticStamp.com is a secure site (this verification actually occurs automatically in the background every time you place an order on our site).
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Privacy of Children Using our Website
Mystic Stamp Company’s website is not intended for use by children under the age of 18, and we do not knowingly collect personal information from anyone under 18.
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Policy Changes
Our privacy policy will be updated periodically and these changes may affect the way we use your personal information. We suggest that you periodically review our privacy policy.
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Questions or Comments?
If you have other questions or suggestions, please contact at the address, phone, fax or e-mail provided above in this policy.
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Posted in About Mystic Stamp Co. | 3 Comments