Mystic Heirloom Album Review
The Mystic Heirloom stamp album is made exclusively by Mystic Stamp Company, and is sold currently at 4 different price points:
1. The Mystic Heirloom 3 Volume US Stamp Album Sale Price $38.95 http://www.mysticstamp.com/viewProd...sp?sku=DS111
2. The Mystic Heirloom 3 Volume US Stamp Album Regular Price $58.00 http://www.mysticstamp.com/viewProd...sp?sku=DS112
3. The Mystic Heirloom 3 Volume US Stamp Album, (set of 3) $116.85 http://www.mysticstamp.com/viewProd...sp?sku=DS113
4. The Mystic Heirloom Deluxe 3 Volume US Stamp Album $68.95 http://www.mysticstamp.com/viewProd...sp?sku=DS114
The deluxe version of the album is the same album, but with higher quality binders. More on that later.
Mystic also makes optional slip cases available for the binders or $22.95. I can't find a link to them at the moment.
Mystic uses 3 ring binders with D rings that allows the pages to lie flat. The binders are green vinyl with gold silkscreened letters on the front and side with the words "America Heirloom Collection of United States Stamps"
Overall, I find the binders to be a little less than stellar. The "Deluxe" versions of the binder use a thicker vinyl, but I feel that the binder could stand to have some thicker cardboard in them, rather than thicker vinyl. My old Minuteman 2 post album has much thicker cardboard in it. The binders are 2" thick.
I give the binder a B+
I think the pages are what makes this album shine. They are 70 lb cream colored paper. The pages are standard US Letter Size (8 1/2 x 11) and three hole punched.
The pages are broken up into 3 volumes. Each volume has a cover page and a back page that are the same paper as the regular pages, but are covered in a clear plastic film on the side of the page that touches the binder. The back page usually has some stamp information. Each volume second page contains some nice artwork.
Volume I covers 1847-1984 and includes 2 blank pages. Page 2 has a nice picture of Thomas Jefferson and Monticello. The back page shows Mystic's display at the 2006 DC stamp expo.
Volume II covers 1895-1999 and contains 2 blank pages. The last page contains a nice writeup of the 1 cent Z grill stamp. The second page has a picture of the Signing of the Declaration of Independence and pictures of Franklin, Washington and Jefferson stamps.
Volume III includes 2000-2008 along with usuall back of book stuff - Semi Postals, Airmail, Airmail Special Delivery, Special Delivery, Certified and Registered Mail, Postage Due, Parcel Post, Special Handling, and Confederate Stamps. The back of the book has a number of ads for buying supplements and an order form for blank pages. The Page 2 artwork is title "In Tribute To The Past..." and shows a number of sovenier sheets issued by the USPS in the 2000s.
The Mystic Heirloom 2009 and 2010 supplements are included with the album also.
Like most US albums, the stamps are mounted on the right side and the page on the left is left blank. Mystic took the left blank page and added stamp descriptions to the album, making some use of this wasted space. The album also has clear illustrations for all the stamps and Scott numbers.
The pages, as good as they are, have caused me a very small amount of frustration.
The album is three volumes. Of the 3, Volume II is probably the smallest in terms of page count. When I added the 2010 supplement to Volume III it pretty much filled the binder up.
So I thought I could move some years such as 2000, and 2001 into the Volume II binder. Problem is, when I do that, I end up taking the description of the first page of Volume III to the end of Volume II. So, there's going to be some scanning and printing involved if I choose to go that route.
Something else that I noticed while "moving in" to the new album.
I started moving a good chunk of stamps from my old Minuteman album over to the Heirloom. The 1968 Historic Flag Series(Scott 1345-1354) will clearly fit onto one 8.5"x11" page, but Mystic wants me to break up the stamps instead of mount them as one long strip. I mounted the stamps as one strip across the middle of the page, but I might redesign the sheet to better show off the stamps.
The 1973 postal service employees strip (Scott 1489-1493) is also broken up into individual stamps, but I think that strip may be too long to fit in an 8.5x11 sheet of paper. I don't own the stamps, so I will need to measure it and see.
The 1974 Universal Postal Union Se-Tenant (Scott 1530-1537) is also to be mounted as individual stamps. The Se-Tenant block of 8 that I have will easily fit onto a single page. I mounted those stamps right in the center of the page. I may scan and redesign this page also.
Overall though, the pages are excellent and give the album some added flare and excitement by giving your stamps the descriptions friend and colleagues will appreciate when looking at the album.
I give the album pages an A-
The Mystic album is complete through 2008, and comes with supplements for 2009 and 2010. Mystic's supplements are very reasonably priced:
The Mysic 2009 supplement is available for $5.50 http://www.mysticstamp.com/viewProd...sp?sku=GS752
The supplememt includes pages from previous supplements that correct errors or complete series, so adding a supplement might involve some stamp remounting. The supplements include updates for US duck stamp pages. The duck stamp pages are a seperate set of pages you can buy from Mystic. I don't collect duck stamps, so I just put the pages aside for now.
Another nice thing about the supplements is the cover page, which is titled "The Year In Stamps." It contains pictures and text talking about the stamps issued that year. These pages are not meant to be added to the album, but they are a nice touch to keep you interested in your purchase.
The give the supplement an A+
Overall, the album is an excellent value for the money. The $39.00 price point is absolutely unbelievable. The problems I see with the st-tenant pages can be easily fixed with a scanner and some time.
My overall rating for the album is an B+
If Mystic had someone deisgn binders that sturdier, like the Scott National binders or White Ace, and included those in the deluxe album for, say, $99 I think they would have an A+ on their hands.