Don Sundman to Receive Smithsonian Philatelic Achievement Award

Mystic Stamp Company President Don Sundman

We’re all quite excited here at Mystic!  It was a thrill to hear our own Don Sundman will be honored with the Smithsonian Philatelic Achievement Award this fall during a ceremony at the Smithsonian National Postal Museum.  We couldn’t be any prouder!

Why all the buzz?  Well, this is a big deal in the world of stamp collecting, and, naturally, here at home.  We all know Don has earned this award with his amazing life in stamps.  The award is given to recognize “…outstanding lifetime accomplishments in the field of philately,” including “exceptional service to the philatelic community, and the overall promotion of philately for the benefit of current and future collectors.”

When we got the news, we asked Don how he was feeling about the award.  He was overwhelmed:  “Oh my gosh, what a great honor!  I’m thrilled!  In 2002, I attended the ceremony when the very first Philatelic Achievement Awards were given to Prince Rainier III of Monaco, Keeper of Queen Elizabeth II’s collection Charles Goodwyn, and famous collector John Boker.  That’s such a distinguished group and I was happy the NPM honored them.  I never dreamed I would receive this award.”

Don went on to say, “I’m proud of our team of 100+ great people at Mystic Stamp Company who work with me to help both new and experienced collectors enjoy our hobby.  Our mission is to bring the fun of collecting to a wider audience… because collecting is relaxing, challenging, and just plain good for us.”

Here’s are some key events in Don’s stamp life:

Don donates a CIA Invert stamp to the Smithsonian

In 1985, Don acquired 50 $1 Candleholder Invert error stamps (US #1610c).  Curious about their origin, he submitted a Freedom of Information Request which uncovered the CIA’s involvement in the case.  When he broke the story, it, and stamp collecting, made headlines across the globe.

In 1998, Don bought the only privately held example of the US 1¢

Z Grill (US #85A), paying the highest price ever for a US stamp up to that time – $935,000).  Eight years later, after exhibiting it for collectors to see, he traded America’s rarest stamp for the unique plate number block of the 1918 24¢ Jenny Invert (US #C3a).  The $6 million trade with businessman and stamp

Don exchanges the 1¢ Z Grill for the Inverted Jenny Plate Block

enthusiast Bill Gross made headlines and helped our hobby gain attention around the world.

Don went on to exhibit the Jenny Invert block at stamp shows, boosting attendance and continuing to expose our hobby to new collectors.

The list also includes some of the many contributions Don has made to philately:

  • Paying a $100,000 reward for the safe return of two stolen Jenny invert stamps
  • Joining (and chairing) the Smithsonian National Postal Museum’s council of philatelists
  • Being a founding sponsor of the William H. Gross Stamp Gallery, which allowed thousands more stamps and related artifacts to be viewed by visitors to the National Postal Museum
  • Underwriting the Maynard Sundman Lecture Series at the National Postal Museum
  • Donating stamp rarities to the National Philatelic Collection (including an example of the $1 CIA Invert he cracked the story on)
  • Serving as a trustee of the Philatelic Foundation
  • Sponsoring a record 8,000+ American Philatelic Society members (and receiving the society’s Luff award for outstanding service)
  • Becoming a member of the Club de Monte-Carlo and exhibiting rare stamps in Monaco
  • Being named a fellow of the Royal Philatelic Society London
  • Co-authoring 100 Greatest American Stamps alongside fellow Philatelic Achievement Award-winner Janet Klug (1950-2023)
Don and Janet Klug sign copies of “100 Greatest American Stamps” for collectors

But wait, theres more…

  • Turning Mystic into an employee-owned business for the future benefit of both Mystic colleagues and collectors

Don will receive the Smithsonian Philatelic Achievement Award at the National Postal Museum Gala on November 4, 2023.

Share this Article