Intertwining of Philatelic and Social History by Calvet M. Hahn – Part 2- The Beginning of Philately

                                       Fin de Siècle Collectors and Dealers

Among the New England collectors at the close of the 19th century was Willard C. Van Derlip of Boston, (Figure 26) who according to the Philatelic Journal of America was one of the leading collectors of that city.  Also from Boston was druggist Harlow E. Woodward, (Figure 27), who collected British North American and had a 12d Canada in his holding as well as a number of U.S. provisionals on cover and U.S. and Canadian imprint blocks.  A member of the Massachusetts legislature, Henry D. Humphrey of Dedham, MS, (Figure 28), was an early member of the Boston Philatelic Society.  His U.S. collection was considered nearly complete while he had a holding of British Columbia and notes is greatest rarity was the Madison, Fla. provisional.  In Springfield, MS, another 1890s collector was librarian William C. Stone, (Figure 29) who chronicled new issues for the Philatelic Journal of America and other journals and edited the American Philatelist.  He began collection as a result of a sea captain’s wife, who gave him East Indian and Hong Kong stamps while his first purchase in 1870 was of the 15¢ 1869, which he bought from a schoolmate.  In Connecticut, one of the younger prominent collectors, (Figure 30) of the fin-de-siècle was Arthur B. Hubbard, of Middleton, CT. who had amassed 4,000 stamps in a fairly short time.


The earliest Rhode Island dealer, John B. Calder, sold a sheet of the Providence provisionals to Alpheus B. Slater, Jr., (1860-1936) (Figure 31) of Providence in 1867 for $2.50 starting him on the road for his most famous study, that of the Providence provisionals, published in 1930.  The 6’3” tall Slater is also well known as an early collector of blocks of four, which he began collecting in the 1860s at the instigation of Charles A. Hopkins, a collector employed by the Providence Gas Company the company of which Slater was eventually manager (his father had been a director), and also had a major holding of the 1847 issue.  In fact, he was the first to own a recognized orange 5¢ Franklin example, now in the Hahn collection.  Another older pioneer Providence collector was Providence mayor Frank F. Olney, (Figure 32).  He owned a Lady McLeod as well as a set of the orange-vermilion Newfoundland and all but one of the scarlet-vermilion

One of the prominent early New Jersey dealer-collectors was George B. Mason (1836-1889), (Figure 33) who began collecting in 1860 and dealing, with Yale students by mail, in 1861. As a result of having become paralyzed, he was, if not the first, one of the earliest mail order stamp dealers.  Another New Jersey collector was G. B. Reynolds of Morris Plains, (Figure 34). Born in 1866, Mr. Reynolds joined the Navy in 1881 and his foreign tours inspired him to collect. That collection he ‘sold for a song’, not knowing its value before his discharge in 1886.

A New Jersey pioneer in collecting plate blocks and sheets is W. Parsons Todd, (Figure 35) (1877-1976). He and his father headed the Quincy Mining Co. for 117 years beginning in 1848.  Todd was twice mayor of Morristown, N.J. and helped found several New Jersey museums.  As a teenager he began to purchase sheets of contemporary stamps at the postoffice beginning in 1890. In this fashion he formed one of the great holdings of late 19th and early 20th century plate blocks.

Another pioneer New Jersey collector is George H. Watson of Roselle, (Figure 36).  A partner in the Wall Street firm of Watson Bros., Watson was president of the Postal Card Society and edited the Postal Card newspaper, which he founded.  He supplied a major card exhibit to the Columbian Word’s Fair.

A young protégé of Hiram Deats was William H. Bodine of Flemington, N.J., whose family business in hardware in that town, (Figure 37).  He began collecting in 1877 as a schoolboy.

The leading collector in Trenton, N.J. was J. D. Rice, (Figure 38), whose business in clothing and whose philatelic specialty in U.S. stamps, particularly varieties and oddities.

In the New York area, one old time collector was August DeJonge, (Figure 39) who was president of the Staten Island Philatelic Society at the time of the Eden Musée exhibition in 1889.  He collected German states (Bergedorf, Heligoland, Schleswig.)

Another collector-sponsor of that exhibit was Henry Clotz, the treasurer of the Staten Island Philatelic Society.  Clotz, (Figure 40), worked for Charles Pfizer and was of German origin.

Charles Broadwell Corwin was another sponsor.  Corwin began collecting at 14 but stopped in his 20s to attend to business in the firm of Stevens, Corwin & Co. and sold his collection.  He began collecting again circa 1878, helped found the APS in 1886 and the Collectors Club of New York.

Corwin died in 1891.  He had a fine Confederate holding and was the first American collector to take watermark and perforation varieties seriously. Corwin, (Figure 41), wrote a series called ‘Olla Podrida’ abstracting the 1863 collecting situation as summarized in the English Stamp Collecting Magazine, which he published in the 1888-1889 American Journal of Philately.

Another New Jersey dealer, Philip Heisberger, Jr., (Figure 42) began dealing in 1864 in Germany and specialized in philatelic literature.  He also owned over 16,000 postage stamps and 8,500 revenue stamps by the early 1890s.

In the Pittsburgh area one of the better-known collectors was Eugene Doeblin who was born in Stettin, Germany in 1842 and came to the U.S. in 1868 after service in the German army.

Mr. Doeblin, (Figure 43). was ad manager for a German paper in Pittsburgh as well as manager of a German theatrical library of some 2,000 plays.  He began collecting in 1859 but dropped out somewhat later and returned in 1876 when his son became interested in stamps. He specializes in issues prior to 1891. In 1913 he exhibited Great Britain (all plate numbers, watermarks and ivory heads) and owned but didn’t exhibit 32 reconstructed sheets. He also exhibited Germany all issues, including the Vineta (Scott 65B) and all four pairs of the 1889 imperfs.  In Wurttemberg he had a strip of five on cover of the 1851 18kr  (Scott 18).

Another pioneer collector in Pittsburgh was C. P. Krauth, (Figure 44) Born in 1848, Krauth was a schoolboy collector and gave it up when he went to the University of Pennsylvania, graduating in 1869 following which he was a superintendent of the Pullman service in New York and Boston and secretary of a manufacturing firm in Pittsburgh.  He again took up collecting and his European collection totaled some 7,000 varieties in 1894.  He was particularly interested in mechanical aids to collecting such as tintype plates and the use of the stereoscope for detecting counterfeits.  He also promoted the use of benzine for watermarking.  At least two of his children also became ardent collectors.

  1. T. Parker, (Figure 45), was a turn of the century stamp dealer in Bethlehem, Pa. and at #30 23rd Street, New York at the same time.  Independently wealthy he served as private secretary to several prominent men as well as working for a large Bethlehem firm, but finding himself overtaxed has devoted himself to his own business

In the Baltimore/Washington, D. C. area C. F. Rothfuchs of Washington began collecting in 1859 and became a professional dealer in October 1885, (Figure 46) with a large stock of U.S. departmentals.  It was he who acquired the February 10, 1882 Garfield special printing example seen by Luff.  In Baltimore the leading fin de siècle wholesale dealer was (Figure 47), W. van de Wettern, Jr., who sold off his retail operation in 1882 to William E. Baitzell.

One of the pioneer collectors (born 1849 in Cincinnati) in the Chicago area, (Figure 48), was Washington Hesing, its postmaster appointed by Grover Cleveland, and who began collecting in 1861 when on a European trip he brought back a large bag of German and Italian stamps, which he used to trade and build a collecting community in Chicago.  He attended the University of Chicago as well as Yale and helped build stamp-collecting communities at both.  By 1890 his holding was considered one of the finest collections in the Midwest, with a strong focus upon condition quality.  He limited the European section to pre-1886, the date of his last trip to that continent.  Another Chicago collector is E. Lipkau, a Parisian native who began collecting in 1871 and who ran a tobacco business in Chicago, (Figure 49).  His first collection, formed in Europe was stolen, but he formed a second collection circa 1890 and managed to draw his Chicago business partner into collecting as well as his son.

Another 1890s collector from Chicago was George J. Katkenberger, (Figure 50) a young lawyer who began collecting at age ten.  By 1895 his collection was considered among the largest in the area.  A second young Chicago collector was professor Samuel Leland, (Figure 51) who was president of the Chicago Philatelic Society in 1895.  He too had begun collecting as a child, but gave it up prior to going to Harvard where he graduated in 1877 but then took up collecting with renewed zeal.

A third younger Chicago collector is Frank J. Moese,(Figure 52), who was born in Berlin in January 1869 and came to the U.S. in 1872.  He was drawn into collecting by the advertising of Duke cigarettes, when that company began one of the first promotions using stamps by giving away chromo pictures with a stamp on the back in the 1880s.  By 1894 his collection consisted of 6,600 postage and 1,500 revenue stamps, while not neglecting other collecting activities that included minerals, numismatics, antiquities and pottery. The final Chicago collector, Charles E. Severn (1872-1929), (Figure 53) began a writing career with Mekeel’s in 1891 and consolidated it by winning a $50 prize for the best review of that firm’s new 1894 Postage Stamp Album of the World. When the firm was reorganized in 1897, Severn became the proprietor and editor until he retired in 1926.   He was one of the first Americans to sign the British Role of Distinguished Philatelists when it was inaugurated in 1921.

The final Illinois collector is N. W. Chandler of Collinsville, IL who was APS Treasurer in 1895.  Chandler, an accountant,(Figure 54) was also a part owner of the firm that published the Philatelic Journal of America and a close friend of John Tiffany as well as a rival in collecting U.S. entires.

Two of the fin de siècle collectors in San Antonio, Texas also deserve mention.  The first is E. W. Heusinger,(Figure 55), who specialized in Mexican and American revenues postal cards, and postal stationery; he also had a general U. S. collection. The total of all these was about 8,000 items. The other is Albert Steves, (Figure 56) a lumber merchant who was born in Texas and was a collector of Confederate Texas provisionals such as the June 23rd Victoria cover (now ex-Caspary, Muzzy and Boker) and a damaged off-cover example, both of which he discovered.   He also owned at least five copies of the Goliad’s. These included the Type II 10¢ in both the GOILAD error and regular form (two of the three off-cover examples known today) as well as a type I 10¢.   He began collecting in the 1870s and was a general collector but began to assemble a fine specialized holding of Mexico particularly the stamps of Guadalajara.

In Canada, the fin de siècle president of the Canadian Philatelic Association and president of the Quebec Philatelic Club was Capt. Earnest F Wurtele of Quebec, (Figure 57) the treasurer of the Quebec Montmorency & Chalevoix rail company. Born in 1860 he began collecting at age 12 while attending the Collegiate Institute at Galt, Ontario, lost interest for almost a decade and began again in 1886 while in the Royal Rifles.  He specialized in Canadian revenues and postal cards.  Another Canadian, W. Kelsey Hall of Peterborough, Ontario,(Figure 58), was considered to have one of the finer holdings philatelic holdings in Canada in the 1890s.  He began collecting in the mid-1880s and specialized in postmarks in addition to a holding of some 10,000 coins, many of which he picked up at auctions. He became a dealer in the mid-1890s.

Overseas Luis Sobrino of Buenos Ayres, Argentine,(Figure 59) represents the first of fin de siècle Latin American contingentA native of Spain he is the largest dealer in the Argentine and took over publication of the Josa Bosch Guia Filatelica Sud Americana in the 1890s.  Representing Brazil, C. A. Caversazzi of Campinas, Brazil, an Italian from Milan went to Argentina in 1885 and settled in Brazil in 1889 as a civil engineer, (Figure 60). He lost track of his childhood collection between 1880 and 1889 but took it up again in Brazil so that in 1895 he had between 10,000 and 10,500 stamps and about 4,000 covers and postal cards all issued prior to 1892.  Among his rarities he had Reunion #1 and #2 obtained from family correspondence, an almost complete collection of Italian states including all or almost all of the rarities of Tuscany and Two Sicilies.  His Latin American holding was complete for early Brazil, the Argentine Republic (including the Rivadavias) and Uruguay, the three countries in which he specialized.  The third Latin American is Ernest V. Duperly (Figure 61) of Bogota, Colombia, a professional photographer, whose collecting interests focused upon philatelic literature.

A brief look at some of the younger fin de siècle Europeans would include the multi-generation Mahé family of Paris whose patriarch, Pierre (1833-1913) was a Parisian stamp dealer from a printing firm family, and curator of the Ferrari collection, while his 30 year old son, Edward M. Mahé, (Figure 62) was associated with his father in the dealership in the mid-1890s and took over purchases for the Ferrari holding when his father died.  The young 18-year old daughter served as a philatelic translator for visitors as well as being a collector in her own right.  A similar old timer, Charles Roussin (1842-1902), (Figure 63) was still active.  He and Mahé destroyed many Hamburg local fakes as well as numerous U.S. locals they both felt were forgeries in a series of massive bon fires.  Also active was old-time dealer Alexandre Baillieu (1842-1899).  In Belgium Moens was still active in Brussels, while a young dealer (born 1865), François Van Riet,(Figure 64) set up in Antwerp.  He was solely a collector from 1875 to 1883 when the sale of his collection financed his entry into philatelic dealing.  Another of the younger European collector-dealers was R. Hollaar of Amsterdam, Holland,(Figure 65). In Hamburg, Germany, Julius Lossau, (Figure 66) was another collector-dealer (born 1865).  His private collection chiefly of France and French colonies numbered 8,200 stamps including the surcharges.  A budding collector in Italy, (Figure 67) was G. F. Elena de Villafarald of Genoa (born 1871) who began collecting at age seventeen and who had a very good holding during the last decade of the 19th century.  Finally, in Dundee, Scotland, Thomas Martin Wears, (Figure 68), developed a reputation as a student.  Born in 1861, he began collecting as a 16-year old specializing in British adhesives.  He began contributing British notes to foreign publications in 1881, developed a holding of about 100 volumes of philatelic literature and authored monographs on the Sydney views in 1884, the Mulready envelopes in 1887 and philatelic poetry in 1889.


[1] Dr. Trenchard states he died unexpectedly from a ruptured appendix in 1897; however, the Linn’s 2000 Almanac states he died in 1907 and other sources record 1903.

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