BARTELS, JOHN MURRAY

Copyright 2011-2018 John N. Lupia, III


Fig. Photo of J. M. Bartels in 1944.

Julius "John" Murray Bartels (1871-1944), was born as variably reported by himself as July 15th and also as October 29, 1871 at Warrenton, Fauquier County, Virginia, son of Hermann Friedrich Bartels (1841-1912), a farmer from Hamburg, Germany, and Sally Innes Forbes Bartels (1844-1881). His father came to America in 1867 and became a naturalized citizen of the United States in 1884. His mother was a direct descendant of George Washington's grandson, Lawrence Washington. He was a member of the Sons of the American Revolution.

His private life, marriage(s), divorces? are somewhat a mystery. A John Murray Bartels, Jr. was born in 1909 in Germany, who appears to be his son who seems to be a different Jay Murray Bartels, Jr., born in 1912 at Canada.

Bartels was a very important figure in the history of American philately as an expert on stamps, embossed stamped envelopes and a leading stamp auction cataloguer and from 1898 to 1944 held or conducted 337 philatelic auctions. His career is divided into two distinct periods resulting from his residence along the eastern seaboard of the United States.

Boston Years

In 1898, he began his stamp career at Boston, Suffolk County, Massachusetts.

In 1904 he co-authored Postage Stamps of the Philippines.

In October 1905 he traveled to Liverpool, England.

In 1910, while at Boston, Suffolk County, Massachusetts, he published the Philatelic Gazette.

New York Years 

In the winter of 1910, he incorporated as J. M. Bartels Company, New York City.

Fig. In January 1911, he published the 4th edition Bartel's Catalogue United States Stamped Envelopes. (New York : J. M. Bartels Company). Courtesy Lupia Numismatic Library.

In November 1911, he traveled to Liverpool, England.

In 1912, his son Jay Murray Bartels (1912-1984), was born in Canada.

In 1914 he traveled to Rotterdam.

The 1920 U. S. Census reports he was single and lived on West 57th Street, Manhattan.

Fig. J. M. Bartels in the 1920's.

In September 1922 he traveled to Southampton, England.

In September 1925 he traveled to Southampton, England.

From 1930- 1934 he traveled annually to Hamburg, Germany.

Herman  Herst, Jr., Nassau Street, relates a story about Bartels receiving a woman and her daughter into his Nassau Street shop one day and "displayed the cover, and asked for an offer. When they were reluctant to put a price on it, but insisted on an offer, Bartels told them (as he later testified), "It's worth $10.00 to me." The woman accepted the offer. Bartels  subsequently sold the cover for a tremendous sum in four figures, and as luck would have it, the original owner found out about it and brought suit to recover part of the profit, claiming that Bartels' appraisal took advantage of her ignorance. . . . Bartels lost the case and the woman won her damages."

According to Herst, Bartels business in his final years grew less and less. He moved to a smaller office at 17 John Street, near where John W. Scott once had an office at No. 40. During his last few months his employees used to call stamp dealers by phone when he went out to lunch asking them to come over and would sell stamps and covers to gain enough income so Bartels could pay them their weekly salary.

The 1940 U S Census reports him living with his 27-year-old son Jay Murray Bartels in Brooklyn, Kings County, New York. His son Jay worked for him in his stamp shop,

He died on October 5, 1944 at New York City, New York.

Bartels was named to the American Philatelic Society Hall of Fame in 1946.

Fig. 
Prescott Holden Thorp, Thorp-Bartels Catalogue of the Stamped Envelopes and Wrappers of the United States, 6th Edition or Century Edition, 1954. Courtesy Lupia Numismatic Library.

For Bibliography see below advertisement.

Bibliography :

Prescott Holden Thorp, Thorp-Bartels Catalogue of the Stamped Envelopes and Wrappers of the United States, 6th Edition, 1954.

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