The 6th Maynard Sundman Lecture

February 9, 2008

Janet Klug and Donald Sundman: 100 Greatest American Stamps

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My name is Alison Wickens and I'm the Director of Education here at the National Postal Museum.

And it's really a proud day for us to have both Donald Sundmanand Jenna Klug here as part, not only as part of the Sundman Lecture seriesbut also as part of our 15th Anniversary celebration here at the National Postal Museum.

So now I'd like to introduce you to Cheryl Ganz, who's giving directions to incoming people.

She's the Curator of Philately here at the National Postal Museum.


Hi everybody. Thank you for coming.

I hope you're going to take a moment to read the biography in here of Maynard Sundman.

He was really a legend in his own time. His son set up this annuallecture series while he was still living and he just died last year.

So this is a way we carry on the legacy of some really important people who work so hardto promote our hobby and to make it grow because they loved it so much.

How many in the audience collect stamps?

I hope not one person left their hand down because if you did I call you a potential collector.

And by the time you leave this room I hope you've changed your mind.

How many belong to a local Stamp Club?

Okay. If you did not put your hand up, I expect before you go home today to talk to somebody around you and find outwhere is there a local club and go. This is the lifeblood of our hobby and it'swhere you'll have a lot of fun too.

How many are members of APS, the National Society?

All right. Did you know your President is here?

For some of you who might not have met Nick.

Nick where are you?

Here he is. Your national president.

Say "Hello" to him afterwards.


How many are members of this museum?

Whoa! Not as many hands. Okay think about it.

Your money to membership in our museum creates programs like this, helps us reach out to new collectors.

Allen Kane is the Director of our museum, he's back in the corner.

Allen you want to put your hand up in the air?

And we do a lot of exciting things.

So your joining the museum helps support that.

If you join today you're eligible for a discount at the bookstore to buy this wonderful book and get it autographed.

I'm so honored to introduce these two speakers.

I can call them both outstanding philatelists and friends at the same time.

They're here to share their thoughts and ideas on this very creative book that they put out.

Janet Klug is probably one of the most visible people in our hobby in America.

She's the immediate past president of the American Philatelic Society, a judge, a columnist, an author, and exhibitor.

If it can be done in our hobby, Janet has done it or is planning to create it.

She has another book coming out later this year she did in cooperation with our museum, A Guide to Stamp Collecting.

It's going to be a great new book to bring new people into the hobby. So please watch for that.

Don Sundman has brought more collectors intoorganized philately, I think, than any other individual in Americaand he's promoted collecting to new audiences in ways that no one else has doneso creatively through Mystic Stamps.

He chairs the Council of Philatelists here at our museum.

It's a group of stamp collectors who help us do all kinds of special programs.

So I would ask a couple things before they come in, please hold all questions until the end of their presentationthen we'll have a question and answer session.

And as Alison said, we're going to have refreshmentsand a book signing out in the hallway.

So please help me and give a warm welcome to Janet and Don.


Oh good afternoon. Thank you for coming.

What a great turnout. This is fantastic.

And I don't know where the slides are, I'm sorry. Ah okay. Where do I point?

Yeah, perfect. Thank you.

This is the sixth annual Maynard Sundman Lecture as Cheryl was talking about.

And just as Cheryl also mentioned, my father passed away thispast October just after celebrating his 92nd birthday.

So I want to tell you a little bit about him before I start the the program and we talk about the stamps.

I'm not doing it. Down, okay. Trying to go up, and page down. I'm not...

There we go, okay.

There's my father.

My father started collecting stamps as a kid, about 12 years old.

And a boyhood friend of his, Billy Potter, showed hisstamp collection to my father, at that time who is not a collector.

My dad was just blown away he was so excited.

And my dad kept asking Billy where'd you get them?

Where'd you get these stamps?

And Billy said, Fraysic, which is a company no longer in business.

And then, Mystic, which is the company that I run that my father purchased in the 70s.

So my father was very excited, went home to his fatherwho thought stamp collecting was a waste of time.

And so my father said, I only want one stamp from each country.

And his father thought that sounded reasonable.

And then my father just never talked to his father about it for quite a while.

So that's how he started his collection.

He quickly wanted to be a stamp dealer and at the time a H.E. Harris in Boston was the largest wholesale stamp company and became the largest retailer for many, many years.

And so my father established a relationship with Harris.

He started with a small amount of money that he'd made from trapping rabbits or, yeah, trapping rabbits and also investing in the stock market.

His father ended up borrowing money on his life insurance, lent it to my father, who brought stamps from Harris.

First he dealt with Steve Harris and then with H.E. Harris himself.

Steve was H.E.'s brother.

My father had entered the service for World War II.

He had to shut down his business.

And when the war ended he and my mother moved to Littleton, New Hampshireand they started the Littleton Stamp Company.

Harris gave my father trade credit which allowed him to expand and his business took off.

And by the late 1960s, he employed about a hundred people.

In '74 he purchased Mystic Stamp Company in Camden, New York, near Syracuse.

We had about 20, 25 employees.

I moved to New York at the time and we've just grown since then.

My father's company, my brother David ended up taking over and is currently president of the company.

My father stayed involved in the company right up to the very end going to work every day.

He was very involved in advertising and marketing.

He read Linn's and he read all the catalogs we put out and Littleton puts out.

And he was just, his whole life was caught up in stamp and coin collecting.

He just loved the hobby so much.

The values of both of our companies are my father's values and my mother's values and it's that customers come first.

We have five core values, colleagues, the people that work at our companies are two, ethics, growth and profit because we can't stay in business if we don't earn a profit, and to contribute to the stamp world and our local area.

And so this lecture is one of the ways that we contribute to the stamp world.

My father became the Walt Disney or Betty Crocker up at Littleton and that he would be at his royal typewriter.

He never went to a computer.

But he was even on the company tour. People would swing by and say "Hello" to him.

His impact on the twin hobbies was very large.

Today our two companies employ about 500 people serving over a million stamp and coin collectors.

We're major buyers of stamps and coins from dealers and collectorsand we support the hobby with this lecture and there's a twin lecture, Maynard Sundman, that the American Numismatic Association runs about coins.

After my father passed away the New York Times reporter called me up and theywere going to do a story on his life.

And I was impressed and surprised honestly.

And because he was my dad, I didn't really realize that the New York Timeswould consider it worthy of their publication.

But the reporter said thathis editor considered my father one of the pioneers of modern advertising.

And I said, you know you're right that he started when advertising was so smalland through direct response he really did a lot to promote the hobby, and also advertising breakthroughs.

Mike Lawrence who was the editor publisher of Linn's Stamp News for many yearswrote me a nice note after my father passed away and part of the note he said is, two men made a large impact on the stamp hobbyin the 20th century, H.E. Harris and Maynard Sundman.

And so that's why we're here.

So, thank you.


I'll talk a little bit about, briefly tell you how the selection process for the 100 Greatest Stamps worked.

There's their book title.

Janet and I spoke with collectors and stamp dealers and we developed a list based onpopularity of stamps, the beauty, rarity, great stories, designs, and topics.

And we took all those suggestions and we gave it to Whitman, the publisher, and they put it in a ballot.

They sent it to American Philatelic Society membersand asked the members, a select group of the members, to vote for a hundred of the 150 or 200 stamps and to rank order, what's number one, number two, number three.

Whitman then organized all that data and gave it to us and that became how the list was selected.

So it isn't Janet's and my list. It's your list.

It's the APS member's list.

People voted online.

The write-ins, the stamps that did not make the initial list, are in the honorable mentions.


All right. So let's talk for a moment about what makes the stamp great.

All of us who are stamp collectors know what we like.

We have our own particular favorite stamps. Is that right?

Yes. I have some stamps that I love too, and that I'll be talking to you about very soon.

But, as Don has said there are several reasons that make stamps great.

They can be historically important.

They can be philatelicly important.

They can be stamp firsts, or they can be stamps of great beauty, or have a great story.

So let's look at some of the stamps that fit into these categories.

Stamps can be historically important.

If significant history was the overriding cause for greatness, this would be the greatest stamp in the world.

Look at it. This is actually a proof, I believe, but it's arevenue stamp that finished in 60th place.

Now why should it top the chart at number one?

It was issued in 1766.

Great Britain imposed a revenue stamp on the American colonies at that time.

And this stamp planted the seeds that grew into a revolution that changed the world.

You've heard the phrase, "no taxation without representation"?

This was the stamp I voted for number one and you see where I fell into the...


The first U.S. stamps are historically important.

The 1847 5-cent Washington and the 10-cent Franklincame in at number one and two which happens to be their Scott Catalogue number.

These stamps also fit into other categories that are a measure of greatness, philatelic significance, and firsts.

Many stamps fit into more than one category.

They also have great stories.

So it's understandable that stamp collectors would have picked these two stamps for the top positions.

Other stamps that are examples of historic importance includethe 1861 $2 Wells Fargo stamp that came in at number 16, and the 10 cent moon-landing stamp at number 39.

Alright, philatelic importance.

Philatelic importance can be looked atin a number of different ways.

But for the sake of brevity let's consider stamps that have promoted and enhanced stamp collecting.

Everyone, even non stamp collectors, knows this stamp.

It's arguably the most recognized U.S. stamp.

It landed upside down, I suppose, in third place.

In 1993, a 29-cent Elvis stamp came out which the U.S. Postal Service tells us, it is the most popular stamp ever with the general public.

This probably would have ended up in first place had the general public voted alone.

However it finished with stamp collectors as number 81.

And I think that's not bad because stamp collectors were very mixed aboutwhether this stamp should have ever been issued.

But it brought unprecedented publicity to stamp collecting.

Every television station and newspaper in the country hadcoverage on the first day of issue of the Elvis stamp.

The 1926 White Plains souvenir sheet number 56 in the 100 Greatestwas the first of its kind for what was then the U.S. Post Office Department.

And it initiated post office support for international stamp shows held in the United States ever since then.

Thank you, U.S. Postal Service.

Is Cindy still here?

Cindy here?


Stamp firsts can make a great stampand there are many firsts within the 100 Greatest Stamps.

The first commemorative stamps in the United States were the 1893 Colombians.

And this is the highest denomination of that set, $5.

It ranks at number four and 100 Greatest.

The first bicolor stamps - oh isn't that lovely - where the 1869s.

There were three values or four values in the 1869s that were bicolorsand this is the highest denomination of that, the 90-cent Lincoln which ranks at number five in the 100 Greatest.

Another first was the first American woman on a U.S. stamp withthe 8-cent Martha Washington issued in 1902 series.

Now I know some stamp collectors are going, oh, no!The first U.S. self-adhesive stamps and they are all self-adhesives now, or just about all, is one that was engineered to self-destruct.

As you can see, it's very mottled in appearance and that's probably a good one.

This first, it was the first self-adhesive, ranks at number 99 out of a hundred.

Now another Christmas stamp, the lovely 1964 Christmas stamps were the first se-tennant stamps.

That is, different stamp designs connected together.

This set of four ranks at 94.

Great beauty.

Many stamp collectors feel that this stamp, the 1898 $1 Western Cattle in a Stormis the loveliest stamp that was ever issued.

There are lovely stamps but that one is spectacular.

And, that's another one that's very popular with stamp collectors for sheer, utter beauty.

The 1871 documentary revenue stamps known it lovingly, I must admit, by stamp collectors as Persian Rugs because they are very large and very ornate.

But they are breathtakingly beautiful.

These stamps that I just talked about rank at number 6 and number 22 respectively.

These gorgeous stamps had stiff competition though.

For example, the 1865 5-cent newspaper stamp that ranks at number 98, and the 1922 $5 America ranking at number 9 are actually, this stamp is actually mislabeled and I think Don is going to talk about that a little bit more.

But it shows the statue of Freedom and it says America underneath there.

And this is one of my favorite stamps, the 14-cent American Indian. I think that's a lovely stamp.

All of those stamps could win beauty contests.

Great rarity.

Rarity is an important factor to stamp collectors because you know that's one of the things that helps determine greatness.

This is the infamous one-cent Z Grill and it ranks at number 15.

The man next to me, over here, traded this stamp for a plate block of Inverted Jennys.

Did he get a good deal, do you think?

I think he did, too.

The 1869 Inverts are also great rarities ranking at number 17.

And the 1852 13-cent Hawaiian Missionary stamp ranking at 52.

And the Alexandria Blue Boy ranks at number 61.

They're all recognized as great world-class rarities.

And finally there are stamps with great stories such as the 1986 $1 Rush stamp invert that has become known as the CIA Invert because of where it was originally discovered. That ranks at number 66.

The 1962 dag Hammarskjold ranks at number 90 which was a rare stamp for just a couple of weeks.

It's an invert and in it's wonderful wisdom the U.S. Post Office Departmentreissued them purposely with the yellow inverted.

That made a couple of guys really angry who thought that they hadbeen made wealthy by their discovery.

And now we all have them multiple copies of them in our stamp albums, right?

Stamps issued by the Confederate States of America mark a rebellion, the bloodiest war in American history.

This 5-cent value 1861 Confederate States of America Jefferson Davis stamp ranks at number 54, and it tells this sad tale of death and destruction.

So let's start looking at some of our favorite greatest American stamps, Don.

I'm going the wrong way here.

This is my favorite. It's number 3 on the list.


I used to have a different favorite but it's changed.

I'm fickle.

Janet mentioned this and of course it is the most famous stamps, I think, in the world.

I actually thought it would be voted number one and so I was surprised that it was number three.

But it has, I think, everything.

It has rarity, it's beautiful, has a great story, it has eye popping prices.

The discovery sheet in 1918 was sold to Colonel Green.

And that's just part of the start of the such an amazing story.

And Colonel Green was a very wealthy man.

His mother Hetty Green was called the witch of Wall Street.

And she took their family fortune that was made in the whale oil business before we had Standard Oiland she went to Wall Street and multiplied it many times.

Colonel Green ended up with this unbelievable amount of money and he spent some of it on building world-class stamp and coin collections.

And he was just an amazing collector.

But he was eccentric too.

And all that weirdness made these stamps so famous at the time.

People couldn't believe that an individual would pay $20, 000 for a sheet of stamps in 1918 which is just a phenomenal amount of money.

Here's a photo of Colonel Green and that's one of the first car radios, if you can imagine.


He wanted to have the first of everything because he was the Bill Gates of his time in terms of wealth.

And he had one of the first automobiles and then he put that car radio, he had that put on his a car.

And you can see, he's listening to the headphones.

Colonel Green also put a stamp in a locket and gave it to a friend that disappeared for many years.

It showed up a few years ago at a Segal auction.

The Miller copy, the Miller exhibit is here at the Postal Museum.

That stamp was stolen from the New York Public Library.

The perfs were trimmed and then it was recovered years later.

There's a block stolen at an APS show called the McCoy Blockand they're slowly getting those stamps back one by one.

And then just recently a stamp sold for almost a million dollars, $977, 000.00, which was a record price for a U.S. stamp.

Another part of the the story is, it's the history of airmail, that they rushed this stamp into production, and, just as they were starting the airmail process.

And there's books, a book called The Jenny, and it tells his story of thefirst flight was a comedy of errors of the pilot heading out up towards New York and going south and circling around and it really wasn't that effective.

But as Janet mentioned, we traded the 1-cent Z-grill for the plate blockof the Jenny invert in 2005.

And that was an exciting thing that was covered in the New York Times and received a lot of publicity for our hobby.

Alright now, you see Don's favorite stamp.

There's mine.

Now I know what the collectors here are saying.

Well that's not much of a favorite stamp.

But I was pleased and a little bit surprised that my favorite U.S. stamp, this 1869 3-cent locomotive, not only made the cut of the 100 Greatest but landed in 18th place.

Very surprised about that.

This stamp is seldom found nicely centered.

It's not rare or difficult to acquire.

It's not expensive.

Even being just shy of 140 years old, it can easily be found Mint, used, on cover, and if you're not fussy about condition, you can buy itfor you know, just a couple of books, a pittance.

So why is this stamp my favorite stamp?

Probably because of all of those reasons.

It's not rare. It's not expensive.

And so it was the very first single stampthat I bought for my collection that didn't come in a packet.

I purchased it as a youth for about 40-cents which is about what my copy is still worth today.


Now I'll tell you why I bought that.

Why would a little girl in Ohio buy that locomotive stamp?

Well, I became somewhat despondent.

If my mother was still alive she would say that I was kind of a brat at the timebecause the first page in my stamp album, it was an H.E. Harris Traveler Stamp Album, didn't have any stamps on it.

All of the other pages had at least one stamp on it.

But that first page was in U.S. 19th Century andthere were no stamps on that page even though there were spaces for stamps.

So my mother took me downtown. There was a department store that had a stamp counter.

Some of you will remember department stores that had stamp counters.

And I see a lot of heads going yes, yes, yes.

So I spent about maybe two hours looking in the counters trying to find a stamp that would go on the first pageand that's the one that I saw that I could afford and that I liked.

It filled all of my requirements.

Number one, I could afford it.

Number two, it was pretty.

And number three, it didn't have an old dead guy on it.


So guess what?

It was love at first sight.

I took it home, hinged it on the first page of my album, and I have loved this stamp ever since.

So, if my copy is typically poorly centered it has a somewhat unattractive cancel, and it has certainly not appreciated much in value.

But I still love it very much.


Thank you.


I'm out of sequence on with my notes, I'm sorry to say.

This was my number one favorite stamp for many years.

That's the 1-cent Z-grill.

It's, I think, what's exciting about it, is the rarity in the price. There's only two known.

It's thought that perhaps a thousand were printed.

A man named Stevenson was an expert in grills which are like the embossing on stamps that the post office was experimenting withto allow the ink to soak into the stamps to prevent reuse of the stamp.

It probably wasn't needed on a 1 cent stamp.

It was more apt to be reused and the ink removed on the high-value stamps.

But anyways, Stephenson was a stamp expertand prior to him collectors considered grills all the same stamp.

But Stephenson studied it and he said, no, there's actually several different grills that were used as the post office was changing the size of the grill to get a better product.

And so Stephenson categorized the grills into families A, B, C, D, in what he thought was the order that they're issued.

And this was a mystery to him so he called that the Z-grill and put it at the end.

And later students believe that it's an early grill, about the same time as the A-grill.

Stevenson found the only two examples that are known.

He sold one to a dealer who sold it to Miller.

And so it was here on display at the Postal Museum last year as part of Miller One.

Stevenson kept this copy in his own collection.

He died in the '50s in Chicago and that's when the stamp came on the market.

And then it went through a series of collectors.

But it was almost an unknown stamp in the '50s and '60s because there was only one and it rapidly appreciated in price.

In the late '70s, it sold for about $100, 000 and then it sold for $418, 000 to Robert Zollnerwho put together a fabulous collection of stamps.

And then when the Zollner Collection was sold I thought it would be a great stamp for our company to own, Mystic Stamp Company, because I looked at it as the Michael Jordan of stamps.

I thought it would be an endorsement for our company and so I'll see if I have the slide.

Here it is. This is 10 years ago and I was with my son who is, gosh 10 years old at the time.

We went to New York and we bid on the stamp and he was so excited about the bidding.

We were there to buy this stamp and perhaps one other.

And he kept seeing, we were following along in the catalogueand there were, the Zollner Collection had Fadwa stamps, wonderfully centered, that may have had a modest catalog value but sold for huge premiums.

And Zach would look at the catalogue and he'd say, Dad this is five dollars, I think I can afford that.

He was so anxious to get his paddle up.

And I said now we had to keep our powder dry for the stamp we really wanted.

So we bought this and then Scott Trepel, the auctioneer, stopped the auction and we had a photo taken which was fun.

So my son is now 20 and he occasionally goes to stamp showsand works our booth if we take a booth.

We traded the, let's see, yeah here we go, and then this is the trade, Charles Shreve representing Bill Gross, traded the Jennie plate block for the 1-cent Z-grill that Mr. Gross wanted for his collectionin front of the Washington show.

And so that was again a fun moment and I think a great story for our hobbyand it was covered in the New York Times and elsewhere.

Many collectors think they have a 1-cent Z-Grill that we probably get a few hundred people a year that call us up and say, I've got one, I've got another.

And so we used to tell people, well it's unlikely but now we just say, isn't that exciting, send it in and get a certificate from the Philatelic Foundation and then we'd love to buy it.

And so of course it's just a rare stamp and unfortunately people don't have that stamp. They have 63.

I know Don's son Zach and he is a fine young man.

He works the stamp booth at stamp shows sometimes and he's always so courteous and sweet but he's still very miffed at Dad for trading his stamp away.

All right another favorite stamp of mine is this Pony Express stamp.

Is there any mail delivery system in the world more famous than the Pony Express?

You just hear those two words, Pony Express, and you are immediately transported back to the days of the Wild West cowboys and Indians, stagecoaches, all of those wonderful things from our American West.

With all those romantic notions going around in our head, isn't it surprising to remember that the horseback relay a mail delivery methodwas a private enterprise, not a postal service enterprise?

It was operated by the Central Overland California and Pike's Peak Express Company for whom Wells Fargo became agents.

The fame surrounding the Pony Express also overshadows the fact that this service only operated for 18 months, from April 1860 to October 1861.

The pony riders successfully carried mail along a 2000 mile routefrom St. Joseph, Missouri to Sacramento, Californiain about ten days, whittling the transportation time of sending the mail across the continent from eight weeks to ten days.

But sadly, the Pony Express operated at a financial loss to its investors.

Even without the burgeoning debt, the Pony Express days were numberedbecause construction of the Transcontinental Telegraph was completed on October 24th, 1861 and technology made sending messages cheaper and faster, not unlike email is doing today, a century later.

The $2 Pony Express stamp ranks at number 16 in the 100 Greatest.

It was released in April 1861 when the rate for a half-ounce letter had been reduced from the initial $5, which if you put that into today today's money that would be $125 to mail a half-ounce letter, to $2 which is still a hefty $50 in today's money.

DonNumber six on the list of the 100 Greatest American Stamps is the $1 Trans-Mississippi stamp.

And, most collectors, many collectors, consider this one of the most beautiful.

It's just so richly in engraved and it's a quintessential western scene.

And it's just a wonderful series.

This came out in 1898. Of course 1893 was when the Colombians were issuedand the post office issued the Colombians in $1, $2, $3, $4, and $5 stampswhich were beautiful stamps and we love them today but at the time collectors realized they were being gouged.

And the stamps ended up, for quite a while, selling as discount postage below face value.

So several years later I think the post office reacted and they issued a $1 and a $2 stamp as the high value.

So didn't go all the way up to $5.

But it's still an awful lot of money back in 1898.

The stamp was to be a bicolor stampand this is similar to the way it would have been printed in 1898.

Janet mentioned the prior bicolors in 1869.

And so this many years later the Bureau of Engraving and Printingthought that they could actually print bicolors but then something happened, The Spanish-American War.

Remember the Main?

The ship that exploded in Havana Harbor in Cuba happened and at that time, income taxes didn't exist.

And so when we went to war the government put all kinds of taxes on all the transactions, bank checks, and legal transactions.

And so the Bureau of Engraving and Printing instead had to print all these tax stamps, some of which show a battleship in 1898.

And so that's why the stamp was only printed in one color.

They didn't have the press time to do the second press and print the whole series in two colors.

The other part of the story that I like because I look at this and you think of the Old West is that the painting is actually based on cattle in Scotland in a snowstorm.

And so, yeah. It's just amazing, I think, when you hear that.

Well we're going to talk about Elvis again.

On January 8th, 1993, the U.S. Postal Service released its best-selling stamp of all time, -cent Elvis Presley, which ranks at 81 in the 100 Greatest.

Elvis was known as the King of Rock and Roll.

He would have been 58 years old on that day.

His millions of fans stood in lines in post offices all around the countryto buy this stamp bearing his image.

Post offices ran out of stamps duringthe days time and it really made the most out of it.

The U.S. Postal Service, a year earlier, polled postal patrons and music loversand asked them to vote on which Elvis they would like to see on a stamp, the young, hip-gyrating Elvis that they would only shoot on television from the waist upbecause he was considered to be very, very controversial and too sexy for television.

Gee, how times have changed now, right?

Or, the Vegas Elvis in a spangled jumpsuit?

That brilliant marketing ploy that generated all of that interesta whole year before these stamps were ever issuedis in this room right now.

Allen Kane?

Allen, where are you?

He stepped out.

He's now the Director of this museum.

On the day of issue postal workers all over the country dressed in 1950s style.

The post offices played Elvis tunes all day long.

My post office, I live in a little town in Ohio, my post office had Return to Sender on a loop all day long.


Would you like me to sing a little bit of it?

Every television station and newspaper in the country carried news about the stampsthat had people standing in these long lines.

This kind of favorable press coverage, we in this hobby could never have afforded that.

That was a huge wonderful marketing ploy by the U.S. Postal Service, the brainchild of Allen Kane who just stepped back in, Allen.


Number 9 on the list is the 1922 to '25 $5 America stamp.

And again this is an expensive stamp, mint condition it's several hundred dollars.

But in used condition it's just maybe $20.00.

In sound condition and perf ends and so forth are about $10.

I think it's just such a beautiful stamp, red, white, and blue, fabulous engraving.

It's a high a value. In 1922 $5 is a lot of money.

And so a lot of these stamps, many of these stamps were used by banksthat they would ship currency or coins by registered mail, and, because average individuals didn't have a lot of use for such an expensive stamp.

So as a dealer I would see a lot of perf ends in blocks of fourwere the stamp was put on a tag that was attached to the money bagand it would be sent from one bank to another, the Federal Reserve Bank, to a bank.

It says, America, and in the book we tell the story about how the stamp was to be issuedand the engraving already existed and had been mislabeled, America.

It's actually the statue that's at the top of the Capitol building which, Roger, what's that called?

The Statue of FreedomOkay.

And it was just refurbished too, a few years ago.

It's an amazing statue 15 feet high.

But the engraver took the title off of the file which was an error, and put it on the stamp.

And then Roger and I were talking last night and Roger had brought it to the attention of the Postal Servicewhen they reprinted the stamp for 2006 that they could change it and fix it but it was too late.

The stamp was already in production.

So, it's funny how those errors just continue to perpetuate themselves.

Well I picked the 1893 $2 Columbian to represent all of the Columbiansso that I could tell you about how this book was actually being written.

The essays in the 100 Greatest, each stamp has an essay going along with it.

And so Don and I divvied up the writing of the book so that we would each have 50 to write.

Essentially when we found out from Whitman, the publishers, which stamps made the cut, we started picking out the stamps that we were going to write about.

Of course you pick out your favorites first and then you pick out some more and honestly there were no disagreements.

But there were sometimes stamps left over that didn't get picked by either one of us, sort of like that geeky kid in high school who doesn't get picked to be on the basketball team.

So that took some negotiation.

So anyway, I picked the Columbians and Don took the Trans-Mississippi.

I took the 1869s. Don took the Pan Ams.

Well the first essay I wrote for this book was The Columbians.

And I wrote them in rank order however they landed in the voting.

I did the first one, and then the second one, and then the third one.

So that meant that I wrote about the $5 Columbian first because it ranks at number 4, and then the $1 Columbian which ranked at 24, and so on.

There are were 16 stamps in this series and six of them made 100 Greatest.

The $2 was the lowest ranking one in the ranking of the 100 Greatest.

So it was the last one that I wrote about.

So, by the time I got to the $2.00 value, I was going kind of loopy writing about Christopher Columbus, trying to figure out what was true and what was false.

Here is a man that we celebrate in this country as being the discoverer of the New World.

He is a heroic figure to all of us in America, but he never set foot on the continental United Statesas shown on the $2 denomination of the Colombians.

He ended up being returned in chains to Spainafter having been accused of a lot of things among which was tyranny.

So after writing about all of these ColumbiansI could hardly wait to begin writing about the 1869s which I love dearly anyway.

But I decided I was not going to go in rank order anymore because it was just too, you know, too strict for me to follow that.

I was just going to draw one out of the hat and start writing about it.

As luck would have it, the one I pulled out of the hat to write about first ranks at number 47.

It's the 15-cent denomination of 1869, The Landing of Columbus.


This is number 22 on our list and Janet had already given you a bit of an overview on this.

This is $500. Just such an amazing amount of money.

Again, the civil war occurred, no income taxes, the North had to pay forthe war so they tax the heck out of all the transactions and $500, I think, was mostly used on railroad bonds and very large transactions.

There's 75 or 80 of these stamps that are known.

It was printed on a little sheet of one. One by itself.

And the interesting thing, I believe, that's unique with this series is that the plate that printed this stamp is in three parts, and so the black is one plate, and the orange is another, and the green a third, and they interlock.

And so they would ink each section by itself.

They'd put it together so with interlock, and then they wouldmake the impression and print the stamp.

And part of that is they wanted a verydetailed design because they didn't want the stamp reused or be counterfeited.

$500 is a phenomenal amount of money and that was real money to the government.

And it's just made such a rare stamp that is gorgeous.

Most of us in this room today will remember this event, the first man on the moon.

On May 25th, 1961, President John F. Kennedy challenged Congress and theAmerican people with these words, I believe that this nation should commititself to achieving the goal before this decade is out, of landing a man on themoon and returning him safely to earth.

Now put those words in the context of the time.

The Soviet Union had launched Yuri Gagarin the first man in space just six weeks earlier.

The United States' own Project Mercury had barely gotten offthe ground with just one successful manned sub-orbital flight under its belt, and here was the President of the United States steering America on a course thatwould have a man on the moon within eight years, boldly going where no man had gone before.

Now how cool was that?

Okay, so fast-forward eight years to July 20th, 1969when U.S. astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed on themoon in a vehicle that looked like it was made from a child's erector set and aluminum foil from which Armstrong made that fateful giant leap for mankind.

Along with Aldrin and Armstrong and their little lunar landing module, I knew I was going to screw that up, was a piece of engraved steel thatbore the image of a man exiting the lunar vehicle and putting that first human footprint on the moon.

That piece of steel was a die for making a plate of postage stamps.

When the astronauts returned safely to Earth the stamps went into production, and on September 3rd, 1969 the 10-cent First Man on the Moon stamps were issuedallowing collectors and non-collectors alike to have, own, and use a little piece of lunar history.

DonHere's a few stamps that did not make the cut.

The $100 marijuana stamp which came from here really.

It hit the marketplace, the Internal Revenue Service in the '50s, I believe I'm not sure exactly, but gave millions of stamps to the National Postal Collectionwhich was part of American History at the time.

And then they were auctioned a few years ago to raise money for the museum collection.

And this is just, I think, a really interesting stamp.

The, as I understand, that marijuana wasn't outlawed in the '30s but it was acontrolled substance and so researchers could could get a permission from thegovernment to buy it and use it for research purposes.

And so there's low values that is what the researchers paid for there when they want to buy the marijuanato do whatever, I don't know, the researcher would do with it.

But then the rules were written so that if you were not a researcher you could haveyour marijuana but you had to pay a $100 tax to the government.

In the 1930s, just imagine $100 and then you also had to register withthe government so they knew who you were.

And these stamps are very rare and there's 500 that were sold by the museum a few years ago.

And so it's just a great stamp for collectors.

And we're really fortunate the museum would keep these stampsfor all these years and then allow us the opportunity to buy them.

Another set of stamps that didn't make the cut are the overrun nation stamps.

On September 1st, 1939 Nazi Germany invaded Poland setting off a series of eventsthat led to what we now call World War II.

months after the United States entered the war June, 1943the U.S. Post Office Department initiated a series ofgorgeous stamps and tributes to those nationsthat had been overtaken by the enemy.

First came Poland, then Czechoslovakia, followed by Norway, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Greece, Yugoslavia, Albania, Austria, Denmark, and Korea.

The 5-cent stamps covered the rate of sending a single letter by surface rates to overseas and that showed the United States to beallies in the struggle against fascism.

The stamps were a philatelic first for the USA.

In the middle of the war there was rationing of almost everything.

The American Bank Note Company went the extra mile and printed these stamps using three or four colors, a technique that had not been usedpreviously for the United States postage stamps.

They were then, and still are, stunning to look at and fascinating to collect.

DonStamps that didn't make the cut.

13-cent George Washington. I just really like the stamp.

I think it's a pretty color. It's more pretty in person.

And when I first was involved in stamps, I was so confused with watermarking and perfingand I just love these stamps where there can only be one stamp.

You didn't have the watermark it or perf it.

And so i Very much wanted it to be in the 100 Greatest.

JanetI see nods of recognition here.

We stamp collectors love mistakes.

The U.S. Postal Service does not.

So in 1994 when a pane of Legends of the West stamp was found to have a picture of the wrong guy for the legendary cowboy African American Bill Pickett, the Postal Service was pretty embarrassed.

Worse, some of the stamps had inadvertently been released before the official issue date which meant that some of the wrong Bill Pickett stamps were in public hands.


The U.S. Postal Service recalled the sheets that were in post offices allaround the country and reprinted the sheets with the correct Bill Pickett.

But then they had a whole bunch of error sheets and a whole bunch of irate stamp collectors that didn't get the error sheets.

What to do?

What to do?

The Postal Service established a lottery for a 150, 000 sheetsof the error Legends of the West stamps.

Collectors could send a check for $5.80 to the U.S. Postal Servicewhich then randomly selected 150, 000 winnerswho received one sheet or more than one, as they sent in multiple requestsand were really really lucky.

The process still left some collectors disgruntled. Big surprise there, right?

But it was an easier contest to win than most and there was definitely a cash payoff.

For the $5.80 today these error sheets command about one$150 on the open market.

Now you may want to know what my success rate was.

Well I sent in one for me and one for my husband because you were supposed to limit yourself to just one.

So we each sent in for one and we each were successful.

I came across one of these disgruntled collectors and he was going to give up collecting U.S. stamps because he didn't get a Bill Picket.

So rather than lose a really good collector and a good friend of mine, I gave him mine.

And about, oh, six months later when the price for these had gone up to around $190, I came across another disgruntled stamp collectorand the other one went flying out the window.

And so I spent $10 no $11.60 keeping two stamp collectors in the hobby.


Stamps didn't make the cut.

This is the offset of 1918 1-cent George Washington.

During World War I when World War I broke out, the printing inks that we used to print our stamps, the chemicals that made up the inks came from Germany, the high quality chemicals.

There is an embargo after the U.S. entered the warand so we didn't trade with Germany.

And so we had to use inferior chemicals that wore out the printing plates way too quickly.

So the post office ended up switching from steel engraved plates, you can see the stamp on the left is steel engraved, to a cheaper process offset printing which is the way newspapers are printed or used to be anyways.

And so the stamp is a smooth surface.

It doesn't look as nice but it was cheaper for the post office to print.

And I just think it's a fascinating story how war affects stamps and stamp collecting, and we as hobbyists end up preserving that little bit of history.

Well there are some stamps that didn't make the cut of the 100 Greatest, and stamps that didn't even make the honorable mention.

So I'd like to talk to you about a few of those stamps that didn't make the honorable mention and should have.

As I state in the introduction to the book, the problem with selecting only one hundred stamps as being the greatest means that a whole lot of stamps are going to be overlooked.

For example, I was really disappointed that there was no representation of the U.S. Postal Service's longest-running stamp series the Black History series.

For each year since 1978 the postal service has introduced us to such notable Americans as Harriet Tubman, the courageous woman who helped over 300 slaves escape to freedom, Nobel Prize winner Martin Luther King, who led the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s, Ragtime composer and musician Scott Joplin, and my personal favorite, the lovely young Bessie Coleman.

Bessie had a dream to fly.

She couldn't find a flying school in the southern state of Texas that would accept a black female student, so she kept looking.

She went to Chicago and earned money working as a manicuristand then went to France who would accept a black woman for flying lessons.

She returned to the United States in September, 1921 the first black womanto have ever earned a pilot's license from the International Aviation Federation.

She barnstormed.

She appeared in a movie.

She lectured.

She earned enough money to buy her own plane.

Bessie's young life ended in an unfortunate flying accidentin a plane piloted by someone other than herself.

She was a determined young woman who achieved her goals even over the odds.

The black history series is 30 years old this monthand it contains some of the greatest stories in American history.

I hope the series will continue for a long time as the U.S. Postal Serviceissues stamps and introduces us to other extraordinary American citizens.

Well many of us sitting in this room will recall the international stamp show Ameripex held in Chicago in 1986.

The U.S. Postal Service released a booklet of stamps promoting stamp collectingwell in advance of the show.

The booklet had a stamp that was a joint issue with Sweden.

Some of the stamps showed the tools of stamp collecting and even a membership card from the American Philatelic Society.

That particular stamp was in there to honor the APS' 100th birthday that took place that year.

I believe the APS is now 122 years old.

The cover of the booklet was actually a free admission ticket into Ameripex.

And this booklet helped promote the show to thousands of peopleand increased the admission by, probably tenfold.

It was a very best stamp show stamp show promotion ever done by the U.S. Postal Service in my opinion.

This wonderful National Postal Museum became a reality in 1993.

The U.S. Postal Service issued a block of four stamps to mark the opening of this museum.

The set shows some of the larger-than-life Americans that you will see when you visit the museumand some of the great stamp rarities that you will see while you are here.

The stamps that were issued in 1993 are wonderful tributes to the museum, to the museum staff, and to the museum Director Allen Kane.

They're not on a slide.

I'm sorry they're not on a slide.

We have no way of knowing how many thousands and new collectors this museumbrings to us every year.

But each of us here owes the National Postal Museum a debt of gratitudefor promoting the hobby and giving stamp collecting the unprecedented level of respect and significance.

Happy 15th Birthday National Postal Museumand a big thank you to the staff who makes the magic happen.


We're going to mention a few of the things, the lessons we learned from writing the book.

And I think one of the first things is the most important lesson, is that to ask people for help.

That everybody that we asked was very eager to help and it's we waited a little too long on some things to ask.

But people in this hobby are just fantastic and want to share.

And so we received a lot of images from auction firms and individuals, if we didn't have the right image that we're looking for both the collateral images and even some of the stamps.

I'd say start as early as you can because many things go wrong, things that we don't plan for.

For example the scanning of the stamps and the images, we had to do it three times which took a lot of time.

At first the publisher, there was a communication issueand we were given the wrong specifications on what they needed.

Then we were given the right specifications but we didn't understand itso we scanned them again all the wrong way.

And then the third time after the publisher said, well this won't do, we got it right.

And so we understood the specifications and we scanned it, but it was a lot of wasted effort.

Another issue is that, and it's kind of technical, but we at our company we put together the textand we use a program called Quark which is common in publishing, and the publisher uses they wanted all the text in Word.

And so as the changes went back and forth, yeah, we were surprised in Word, that that caused some formatting issues and again a little bit of wasted issue.

And time was always an issue.

We went right to the deadline and then had to push the deadline back a bit.

So better planning would have helped.

And Janet you learned some things too, I think.

I'll stay beside you if that's okay.


I will be brief.

I learned two very important lessons from doing this book, the first was that it was a reminder to me as a collector who sold my U.S. collection about 15 years ago, that all the U.S. stamps have great stories to tell even weird ones.

And we have to keep our minds open to what our stamps are telling us because there's great history, great fun, to be had in those.

The second lesson, I learned is a very important one for all you aspiring writers and I am speaking from experience now so here it goes.

Never, ever try to write two books at the same time.


As Cheryl said earlier I have another book coming out and next month or in April I'm not sure which, entitled The Smithsonian Guide to Stamp Collecting.

And I was writing for both of these books at the same time.

They were both due on April 15, 2007 along with my taxes, and so for the six months prior to that date I became a philatelic zombie hermit whose fingers were just attached permanently to the keyboard.

And I thank my husband, my understanding husband Russwho stood with me through that whole time period because it was not fun.

And I would add one more thought that I've had, that if you're going to write a book, write it with Janet.


[unintelligible question from audience]The U.S. Postal Service actually has National Stamp Stamp Collecting Monthwhich is the month of October and they usually have some special stamps that come out and a promotion around that.

It's kind of faded off they don't do it as much now as they did maybe fifteen years ago or ten years ago but we have National Stamp Collecting Months in this country so hold October aside for that.

And we celebrate it here at the Postal Museum.

Any other thoughts about what you heard today?

[question from audience:] You have the National Parks as one issue but the Columbians, and the 1869s, and the Trans-Miss are as individuals.

How did you come up, was it the National Park put in as a single one to vote on?

Do you remember?

I know we do show the whole set, but do we, I think we, I'd have to refresh myself. I'm sorry that, I know that we weren't consistent on some things and we just used artistic license to do what we thought would be make a great book.

That's right.

Anything else?

How many stamps were in the original survey that was narrowed down to 100?

I think it was 165.

Is that it?

I believe it was between 150 and 200.

And it took quite a while, you can imagine, to not only select the 100 but then to rank order, and once you get beyond your favorite 20, you know, what's 21, 22, 89, something like that.

Did the Farley's come in anywhere?

I don't remember the Farley's, and we had the national parks, the perf set. But, no, they did not, I believe.


[unintelligible question from the audience]Can you repeat the question?

I don't think everybody heard.


It was a question about when we traded the 1-cent Z-grill for the Jenny plate block.

It's a obviously a long story but I purchased the stampand then I put it for sale and asked a lot of money two and half million dollars.

And I did that in part because I thought it was I would have paid a million a half dollars for it at the time, so I felt it was worth more than that since I'm a dealer.

And so I was going to put it for sale for two million dollars and then I like the gee whiz factor in stamps, I figured it was very unlikely to sell right away.

And I thought well two and a half million dollars is a lot better than two million dollars in terms of, gee whiz, you go home and you tell somebody who's not a collector, I just saw a stamp that's worth two and a half million dollars.

So then eight years went by and the market had changed alot and I thought I'd fallen in love with the stamp.

I thought I really want to keep it. I don't want to sell it.

So, I pulled it off the market.

And every year or so Charles Shreve, who represents the Bill Gross, would call me up and say, are you interested in selling the stamp?

And so I said, no, I'm not selling it.

And, as the another year went by or whatever, I told Charles the reason why I didn't want to sell it is that I would have to buy something and then I felt I would lose because I would pay taxes, I'd have less money.

What else would be, in my mind, as good as the 1-cent Z-grill?

I couldn't think of anything.

So then, actually when the Jennie plate block I came up for sale, Charles and Bill Gross discussed it and they pitched the idea to me.

And they said, what if we buy it and trade it for the 1-cent Z-grill?

And I thought, well, there's a hundred Jenny's, there's one 1-cent Z-grill. I don't know.

And so I kind of vacillated back and forth.

But the more I thought about it, the more I warmed up to it.

And so then, we were discussing before the sale, what to do.

And so Charles said, I'll buy it and I'll say that it's for you because we're trading.

And I said, no, no, let's break it into two stories because the sale of the Jenny plate block will probably get pressand then a couple weeks later we'll do a tradeand then that'll be a whole, other story.

And we thought that's exciting for the hobby.

Bill Gross is a great supporter of the hobby and Charles Shreve is excellent too at this.

And so that's what we did.

We ended up having a little ceremony at Charles' office in New York and Allen Kane came up and other people.

And it just generated a lot of positive buzz for the hobby.

But it really was their idea.

First I was reluctant. Then I warmed up to it and then certainly happy how it turned out.

Thank you.

I'm sure you probably all have other little questions in your head but both Don and Janet will be available to answer themduring the book signing today which will happen outside in the Benjamin Franklin Foyer.

So let's give them another round of applause.


Before I do let you go I have a few more announcements to make, and I'll keep it brief.

But I do want to...

I want to make sure that everybody knows that some of the highlights of these top 100 are actually on display in our galleries today.

So while you're getting your book signed make sure you stop into both Rarity Revealedand our stamp pull-out frames roomto see, we've got Cattle in the Storm there, of course the Inverted Jenny on display, Zeppelin's on display.

So, you know, make sure you stop by there.

And I did want to make sure everybody knew here that the National Postal Museum research library now has Saturday hours. They're open the third Saturday of every month.

So if you have an opportunity or need to use that library and you're busy during the week, I hope you mark your calendars for those days. You can come down and use that library.

The books are available for sale in the museum shop.

If you are a member you get a discountand if you sign up for your membership today that discount applies today.

If they do sell out of books, we also have wonderful commemorative sheets for you to get signed today to put in your book that you buy later.

So, or if you weren't planning to buy a book and would like signatures on the sheet with the date on it, you're welcome to pick one of those up from the table.

Thank you guys for coming! Thank you very much.

Mystic Stamp Company president Don Sundman and American Philatelic Society past president Janet Klug talked about their new book, 100 Greatest American Stamps. In this lively, illustrated talk, the authors discussed how they selected the hundred greatest stamps, highlighted their favorites, and spotlighted some stamps that didn’t make the cut. A book signing and reception followed the talk.

About Janet Klug and Donald Sundman

Klug and Sundman with cover of their book

Janet Klug is a lifelong collector who specializes in British Pacific and military postal history. She also enjoys a long, deep-seated interest in history. She writes, “Collecting stamps and letters from bygone days is a way for me to connect on a very personal level with people and events from those times. History is not just about famous people and events. It also encompasses ordinary people doing ordinary things, overcoming the challenges that happen in their lives, surviving and thriving.” Klug is immediate past-president of the American Philatelic Society and a member of the National Postal Museum's Council of Philatelists. She has served on the Board of Directors of several philatelic organizations and has chaired the Committee on the Accreditation of National Exhibitions. She judges for the American Philatelic Society. She previously managed computer departments for several corporations.

Donald Sundman is president of Mystic Stamp Company and serves on the Philatelic Foundation’s Board of Trustees. He is actively involved with the APS and has sponsored over 5,000 collectors for membership, a record number in the history of the APS. Sundman co-sponsors the NPM Maynard Sundman Philatelic Lecture series. His Freedom of Information Request unraveled the mystery of the legendary “CIA Invert” stamps, and he donated one to the NPM National Stamp Collection. To protect collectors from a controversial U.S. Postal Service decision, Mystic filed suit to prevent the destruction of the recalled 1994 Legends of the West error sheets. In 1998 Mystic purchased America’s rarest stamp, the 1868 1-cent Z Grill, for a record price of $935,000. In 2005, the 1-cent Z Grill was traded in an even exchange for the unique 1918 Jenny Invert Plate-Number Block, valued at $2.97 million. The historic exchange of America’s most famous and valuable rarities was covered by the worldwide media, captivating the imaginations of collectors around the globe.