American Philatelic Society

Staff Profile

Mercer Bristow, Director of Expertizing

When I was eleven, my dad started placing used postage stamps in a small wooden butter mold (it still sits on my desk) and said if I every wanted to collect stamps, there was my start.

When I graduated high school in 1969, I followed in my dad’s footsteps again and started a four-year enlistment with the Navy. After graduating from Towson State University with a business degree in 1977, I was hired by Matthew Bennett as an auction lot describer. On December 1, 1981, I started my first day at work for the APS, headquartered at the time in State College, Pennsylvania.

Soon I got involved with local community efforts (township planning commission) and then ran for public office as a Patton Township supervisor for a six-year term. Our meetings were telecast live and I enjoyed the spotlight. After my term ended in 2001, I discovered that Penn State University’s College of Communications was always looking for actors to appear in student film productions. Usually playing grumpy old men, I’ve since appeared in fourteen films, plus an annual role in a State College Community Theatre production.

The day job remains constant though, and after twenty-eight years in the APS Expertizing Department (APEX), I think I’ve got the hang of it. Krystal Harter and I have worked together for almost as many years to serve our APEX clients. But I’ve have also enjoyed the opportunity to travel this job provides: taking in stamp shows around the country; doing some camping out west in years past (now hotels are preferred); visiting Rome, Berlin, London; participating in the annual APS StampCruises; and going as far away as Tahiti and New Delhi, India.

But I always come home. I don’t collect personally much anymore (Finland was a specialty), but I have continued an on-going education process by establishing and maintaining the APS Philatelic Collections of genuine and forged material. That and what I have accomplished as Director of Expertizing are what I hope to be my legacy to the hobby. I couldn’t find a better group of people than those in philately.

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