May 26, 2018

Mystic Stamp Company

I have never been a dedicated or diligent stamp collector and decided the time had come to see if what I had was worth anything.  An internet search of places near me that would evaluate stamp collections brought up Mystic Stamp Company in Camden.  I called and was told I could drop off my collection any day they were open. 

I expected to find a little old man with a green visor and a magnifying glass bent over examining stamps in a dusty, old store front.   Boy, was I wrong.  The first indication that I had it all wrong was the crowded parking lot and the spiffy building.  I asked the receptionist. “Who belongs to all those cars?” “The workers.”  Turns out that over 100 people work at Mystic
 Stamp Company doing everything from designing first day covers to evaluating collections to creating their catalog.  I asked about tours and they said they do tours but prefer that people call ahead for a reservations but I was in luck there was someone available togive us a tour. 

Shawne Denison, the guide, started the tour in the lobby where there is a Confederate printing press on display. We proceeded down the hall of honor with a Z Grill stamp poster displayed.  I had never heard of Z Grill so Shawne explained it to me but I did know that the Jenny Inverted plate was the rarest of stamps. In 2014, Donald J. Sundman sold his Inverted Jenny plate block to an anonymous buyer for around $5 million! Sundman is the owner of Mystic Stamp Company, it was gifted to him on his 19th birthday by his father. Nice. 

Needless to say there is a lot to learn about stamping so they have a
special training room.  All stamps are catalogued according to the numbers in the Scott Stamp Catalogue where all stamps are listed both American and worldwide.  

There are people who sort stamps and file them according to the Scott Catalogue number and/or by topic. If I was going to start or continue collecting stamps – which I am not – I would collect by topic.  There are just too many stamps worldwide so it gets confusing.  I think I’d focus on US presidents but there are people who collect only Elvis or Lady Diana Stamps.  The file cabinets are extensive. 

Some employees put single stamps into mylar cards for filing. No large boxes of loose stamps like the one a man brought in while we were there. It is possible to buy a grab-bag of stamps and for that they have a tumbler that keeps them from sticking together and it also weighs them ready for shipping. Another area is devoted to filling orders.  They get about 75,000 pieces of mail each month and send out 150,000 mailings. After someone complained about a stamp company sending out mail that has been automatically stamped they started putting stamps on all mailings.  There is one area that has envelopes with stamps organized by weight ready to go. 

One department takes care of customers. They have a toll-free
number where orders can be placed and questions answered. Amazingly, customers can receive stamps on approval. Shawne said, “You can trust most people.” They try to process orders within 48 hours.

Working here must be a Valhalla for philatelists. One primary buyer travels all over the US buying big stamp lots and collections. To say we were impressed would be an understatement.