STAMP AND COIN GALLERIES©
'Buying and selling since 1958'
16060 Ventura Blvd., PMB 110A, Encino, CA 91436
Phones: 818.905.1111 or 818.515.1222
By appointment only, please.
Emails: email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
This website address: http://www.americanastampcoin.com
Jay Tell has more than 50 years experience as a rare stamp and coin dealer. He is a polished expert witness, consultant, buyer and appraiser. Jay has handled presidential and historical documents, rare autographs, currency, books, gold and silver. He was born in North Bergen, New Jersey in 1944 and is a former newspaper editor, publisher and lifelong writer.
Jay is The History Channel's Pawn Stars stamp, coin and currency expert. Pawn Stars is the number one reality show on cable and satellite TV with tens of millions of viewers from coast to coast, and is syndicated in many countries. To see Jay's Pawn Stars edited show segments (4/9, 4/23, 5/28/12), left click: http://sharpcut.com/jaytell.html
Jay began his lifelong love-affair with stamps and coins as a boy, and had his first show booth in 1958 when he was 14, shared with a friend, at the first New York Interpex Stamp Expo. At 14 to 17, Jay visited old masters on legendary Nassau Street (300+ dealers) for his specialty, misprints. He pioneered the tiny error field, which later grew to unimagined popularity. Jay came to be trusted by successful dealers who taught him 'your word is your bond', 'ethics are moral and good business', and, 'you're not just selling stamps, you are selling knowledge.' In the 1960's rents soared on Nassau Street (one block from Wall Street) so dealers moved, ending the hobby's Golden Age, the final years of which Jay treasures as an integral part of his values.
Jay has owned and operated five Los Angeles-area stamp and coin stores from the 1960's to the 1990's, starting in 1965 at age 21. He has handled more than 100,000 career transactions for perhaps $100 million. Jay has never had a complaint filed in his years as a licensed and bonded California stamp and coin auctioneer - and has been with the same bank since 1970.
Nobel Prize for physics and chemistry, inscribed: "For they
who bettered life on earth by their newly found mastery."
Jay made philatelic history when he bought and sold the only UNIQUE United States stamp, Scott #164, the 24¢ Winfield Scott. It was printed in 1875 on ribbed paper by the Continental Bank Note Company, so Jay dubbed it the Lost Continental. The original discoverer, from San Diego, California, was unable to sell it for 31 frustrating years (1968-1999). In three decades he had only one offer, $2,000. The stamp was rejected and belittled by the world's leading stamp dealers and auction houses who disparaged its legitimacy, convincing major players to 'stay away.'
When approached by the disheartened owner in 1999, Jay was certain the purple adhesive was authentic. He researched its amazing history and launched a major editorial, publicity and advertising campaign at his own expense. He boldly took on powerful interests who were protecting another stamp, the 1¢ Z Grill of 1868, Scott #85A, which was widely but 'incorrectly' promoted for 30 years as America’s rarest stamp. There are two known examples of the Z Grill, so, if Jay’s #164 (with only one known to exist) was validated with a meaningful sale, the famous Z Grill would drop to second place. Quite simply, one extant is rarer than two. Despite millions spent for three decades by industry leaders on hundreds of ads and articles ‘erroneously’ claiming the Z Grill to be the rarest U.S. stamp, it was soon to topple off its lofty perch.
Legendary philatelic authors were the pioneer stamp experts of the late 19th and early 20th century, Luff, Brookman, Chase, Perry, Ashbrook, and others, but they could only presume or surmise that #164 should exist, since none had ever been found. Undiscovered since 1875, lost to the sands of time until 1968, the Lost Continental was not truly acknowledged for 124 years until Jay's landmark 1999 sale.
Jay’s ground-breaking #164 research was featured in stories, large ads, and his hard-hitting four-page Tell Tales column (12/17/99) in America's oldest stamp weekly, established in 1891. His media blitz headlined that 'the famous Z Grill was NOT America's rarest stamp' as top dealers and major auction houses had widely but 'incorrectly' promoted for three decades. Jay made an unprecedented, compelling case for the authenticity of the 1875 'ribbed paper' classic. The romance and excitement of Jay’s Lost Continental expose earned full-page editorials and comprehensive news coverage in the three top stamp publications. After 31 years of ridicule by so-called ‘experts’ with ulterior motives, in a special one-lot internet auction (12/21/99), Jay sold the #164 treasure for $397,838, the internet world-record price for a single stamp.
News of the historic event rocked the stamp world. It is by far the rarest, most valuable philatelic showpiece ever exclusively marketed on the internet. The sale earned banner news stories in the philatelic press and in daily newspapers, and Jay was interviewed on three TV news programs. In January, 2000, amid armed guards, the 1875 Lost Continental #164 was the top exhibit for three days at San Diego’s 28th annual SANDICAL Stamp Expo.
Scott #164 is now recognized by the renowned Scott Stamp Catalogue (established in 1868) as the only UNIQUE United States postage stamp. It is certified as the only authentic #164 by the prestigious Philatelic Foundation of New York (established in 1945) - the 'Supreme Court' of philatelic expertise. The Lost Continental is celebrated in the Court of Honor as America's Rarest Stamp by the American Philatelic Society (established in 1886) the world's oldest, largest, most respected stamp organization. Jay joined the APS in 1963, and is a Life Member.
No museum has #164, not even the Smithsonian, and no one can complete a U.S. stamp collection without the Lost Continental. Even the $8 million Zoellner collection, once the most valuable U.S. collection in history, did not have #164 which now resides in the fabulous Bill Gross stamp collection reportedly valued at more than $100 million. His award-winning 19th century U.S. stamp collection could not be complete without the unique Scott #164, the only one in the world. Jay’s 1999 acquisition of the Lost Continental and its historic sale for nearly $400,000 is the crowning achievement of Jay’s career, begun as a collector since the age of five, and as a dealer since at age of 14, in 1958, in his New Jersey attic.
In 1962, 18-year-old Jay was the first stamp and coin editor of the Las Vegas Sun, creating a Sunday magazine editorial, photo and advertising spread. The world’s largest stamp newspaper, Linn's Stamp News, reprinted some of Jay's articles. Jay attended Nevada Southern University (later to become UNLV) serving as editor-in-chief of the college newspaper. He worked nights in 1962 and 1963 as a busboy and waiter at the legendary Sands Hotel, epicenter of the entertainment world during the peak of the luminous Rat Pack era of Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and Sammy Davis Jr.
Jay co-managed his first political campaign at age 18, in 1962, before he could even vote, and the stunning victory of unknown Ted Marshall for Clark County District Attorney remains one of the biggest upsets in Nevada political history. A decade later, in 1971, Jay’s newspaper, the Las Vegas Free Press, ran an explosive expose preventing a 'cinch’ win in the City Commission race by the huge favorite, powerful but corrupt Las Vegas Sun columnist Paul Price. After his shocking defeat, Price sued for $500,000 for libel, but charges were proved and the case was settled totally in Jay's favor.
In 1964, at 19, Jay opened his first office, in downtown Los Angeles, soon opening a store on Spring Street in the financial district, the first of his five Los Angeles-area retail stamp and coin stores spanning four decades, the 1960's to the 1990's.
Considered one of the most beautiful stamps, this $1.00 Cattle in the Storm,
from a John MacWhirter painting, is part of the nine-stamp set (1¢ to $2.00)
commemorating the 1898 Trans-Mississippi Exposition in Omaha, Nebraska.
In 1965, at 21, Jay became the first stamp and coin editor of the Los Angeles Times, creating 'Stamp & Coin Corner' a popular column that ran for 30 years. In 1965, he leased the penthouse of the Lesser Building on Wilshire Blvd in Beverly Hills and installed the first nationwide coin teletype system. In 1965-69, his Fairfax store (near LA's Farmers Market) pioneered and helped create the modern stamp and coin business.
His next three retail stores were in LA's San Fernando Valley: Sherman Oaks 1973-74, Studio City 1974-83, and Tarzana 1984-92, his largest, a 2,000 sq ft retail showroom and auction gallery featuring rare stamps, coins, historical documents, rare autographs, currency, floor and mail auctions, jewelry, antiques, gold and silver.
Jay is a former newspaper publisher and editor. In 1970, the infamous Howard Hughes proxy trial was an epic battle for control of a vast empire. Federal Judge Foley admitted Jay's newspaper as evidence, saying from the bench, 'The Las Vegas Free Press is the only newspaper in the nation to get the story straight.' Among many other important stories, Jay exposed Las Vegas Sun publisher Hank Greenspun and Hughes-Nevada CEO Robert Maheu who, in an elaborate scheme, fleeced billionaire Hughes, then the world's richest man, of more than $20 million ($110 million in today's dollars).
Jay's fearless investigative reporting championed civil rights, protecting the environment, a drug-free healthy lifestyle and natural foods. He backed stronger health care coverage, equal opportunity and protection for all Americans. He supported equal pay for equal work for women, and backed the Public Defender so each accused gets a Constitutionally-required attorney, principles which were then controversial but are now widely accepted. Jay opposed the Vietnam war but supported our valiant troops and mourned his fiancee's brother and 58,000 brave U.S. soldiers who tragically died there. In the 1970's Jay owned Nevada's very first health restaurant, Food for Thought.
Bobby Darin was Jay’s close friend and business partner, and his death at only 37 in 1973 is still an irreplaceable loss. Bobby wrote and recorded 'Splish Splash' and 'Dream Lover', and sang 'Beyond the Sea', 'If I Were A Carpenter' and the mega-hit 'Mack the Knife' winning two Grammy awards. Bobby recorded 300 songs and outdrew Frank Sinatra at the Copacabana and other famous nightclubs. He co-starred in 13 films, was Oscar-nominated, and won a Golden Globe. In 1970, with life-threatening health issues and, in retrospection rethinking the meaning of fame and fortune, his career was quiet. Jay truly believed in Bobby's amazing talent, and negotiated (gratis, as a friend) Bobby's highest-ever salary, $40,000 a week, at top Las Vegas Strip resorts. A month of main room sold-out performances at the Landmark Hotel was followed by two engagements, of one month each, at the famed Desert Inn Resort. Bobby's career took off (again) and in his last year with us, before his 'final curtain', he starred in a weekly NBC-TV one-hour prime-time variety show. Since childhood, Bobby had suffered from heart-damaging rheumatic fever, and he knew, since the tender age of eight, that he would not live a long life - but boy, did he live a full one!
In 2003, on the anniversary of his friend's passing, Jay wrote the 'Bobby Darin 30th Anniversary Tribute', now published on more than 30 websites. Enjoy Bobby's story at:
Bobby Darin, his son Todd, his wife Sandra Dee
Jay's late father, Jack Tell, was an assistant editor at The New York Times. A relative was stamp editor of the New York Post, so Jay grew up within both the journalism and philatelic communities. He attended the University of Nevada, Reno and Las Vegas. In 1961, Jay's parents, Jack and Bea Tell, purchased Mark Twain's world-famous Virginia City Territorial Enterprise newspaper from history and railroad author Lucius Beebe and moved the family West. At 17, Jay cut his journalistic teeth writing, researching, editing, and setting headlines with ornate hand-carved wood fonts. He ran the same century-old Mealy flat-bed press actually used by Mark Twain and an historic line-o-type melting lead ‘pigs’ for hot type galley proofs.
The Tell family founded the Las Vegas Israelite newspaper in 1965 - well-respected, still going strong and still family-owned with Jay's brother, Michael Tell, at the helm.
In 1958, Jay's first major ‘find’ was an 8¢ Liberty plate # block with only one plate number instead of two. It was rejected as a ‘fake’ by major New York stamp dealers. The owner disagreed, since he’d purchased it at the post office. Veteran dealers referred him to an 'error specialist’ across the Hudson River in New Jersey. He was shocked and amused when the ‘Mr.' Tell turned out to be 14 years old with three attic rooms of Lionel trains, planes, toy soldiers, stamps and coins. The man’s asking price was only $3.75 which included 50¢ for his round trip bus fare. After inspection, Jay purchased the widely scorned item and was thrilled to get a certificate of authenticity from the Philatelic Foundation in New York. He soon sold the error for $250, a fortune for a ninth grader in 1958, and a life-changing confidence builder. It was the first of only five 8¢ Liberty (Scott #1041) one-number errors ever discovered, and Jay has handled three (ask for the full Tell Tales story gratis, via email).
At 14 years old, Jay's first major 'find' with only one plate number instead of two.
Of five of these rarities known to exist, Jay has handled three, including the first.
In 1959, at 15, Jay published a 16-page illustrated price list, the first solely devoted to stamp errors, now a classic in the field. Jay has announced major finds of rarities and errors not in catalogs. In 1961, dealer Morris Greebel consigned a Jenny Inverted Center (Scott #C3a) to Jay who sold it for $4,500, turning a tidy $500 profit for the 17-year-old. Today, Jenny Inverts are the world's most famous stamps, which have sold for $150,000 to $900,000 each (depending on condition). From the only sheet of 100 Jenny Inverts discovered, in 1918, 98 are known (request the exciting Tell Tales story).
The Jenny Invert unique Plate # Block of Four - the 'stuff of dreams' - sold in 1951 for $18,250, in 1989 for $1.1 million, and in 2005 for $2.97 million, an increase of 16,274%. Along with many other philatelic treasures, the Jenny Invert Plate # Block is displayed in the new 12,000 sq feet Smithsonian National Postal Museum's William H. Gross Gallery.
1918 Jenny Inverted Center, the unique Plate # Block of Four sold for $2.97 million in 2005.
In 1966, at 22, Jay helped list $1,000 silver dollar bags on the New York Mercantile Exchange, on which Jay owned a seat which he later sold for a profit. Silver dollars became America’s newest commodity and the landmark event earned a spread in Fortune Magazine. Jay was interviewed on TV and radio, including the nationwide Joe Pyne Show broadcast on more than 200 stations. Jay urged listeners and his clients to invest in rare stamps and coins with a finite (diminishing) supply and strong demand, which have since greatly appreciated.
Normal stamp Black 100% omitted
A few years later, a major discovery of Jay’s was again news. The 20¢ multicolored 1982 'Love' stamp plate # block of four contained the only two copies known to exist with the purple color 100% omitted, a unique rarity certified authentic by the Philatelic Foundation of New York. Jay's publicity yielded front-page stories and the one-of-a-kind showpiece sold for a record $22,000. The treasure is now listed without a price as a major error (#1951e) in the Scott Stamp Catalogue.
Jay is a former consultant to the prestigious Scott Stamp Catalogue, since 1868 the premier annual philatelic reference essential for millions of collectors, dealers, and investors around the world; the indispensable 'standard of the industry'.
Jay has handled world-class rarities, famous errors, proofs, essays, covers, 19th/20th century classics, unique treasures, one-of-a-kind showpieces. Jay has bought and sold perhaps 300 U.S. inverted centers, probably more than any other dealer except major auction houses. Most collectors and dealers have never owned even one prized inverted center in their lifetime.
24¢ 1869 Pictorial INVERTED CENTER depicting 23 Founders at the signing
of the Declaration of Independence. Of 90 known, Jay has handled perhaps 12.
Phones: 818.905.1111 or 818.515.1222