Copyright 2011-2019 John N. Lupia III

A version of this article was published in the Journal of the New Jersey Postal History Society, May/June 2019.

Photo of sixty year old Fred W. Bernet in May 1947

The Bernet family stamp and coin business is the oldest continuing dealership in New Jersey, over 110 years old!

Frederick William Bernet (1887-1977), was born Friedrich Wilhem Berndt on January 9, 1887, in Silesia, Prussia (now divided among Poland, Czech Republic, and Germany), son of Polish Lutheran parents : Ferdinand Friedrich Berndt (1829-1887), and Marie Berndt.

Records vary regarding the year he arrived in America from Berlin, Germany.  The 1920 Census says 1901, or the 1910 Census reports 1904, or the 1930 Census claims 1908. We know for certain he arrived.

In 1908, he lived at 279 Fairmount Avenue, Newark, New Jersey.

In 1908, at the age of twenty-one, he founded the Newark Stamp & Coin Company, 169 Halsey Street, Newark, New Jersey, which later on was located at 82-89 Park Place, Newark, New Jersey.

In 1908, he married Anna Elizabeth Baude, from Hirschberg, and they had two children : Egon "Ed" Berndt (1910-1998), and Gladys Berndt (1914-).

Berndt used to travel to visit his family in Hirschberg, Prussia (now Poland), and bring back postal correspondence with its various franking and postal markings to sell to his clientele. 

On September 1, 1912, the Newark Stamp Club was organized and published their house organ the Newark Stamp News (1912-1915). It is not clear if Bernet was a member, but it seems very likely.

The Newark Stamp and Coin 
Exchange, 787 Broad Street, Newark, New Jersey,  advertisement in Montclair Times, Saturday, November 28, 1914, page 4

After April 6, 1917, when Congress declared war on Germany, Fred Berndt decided to change his family name from Berndt to Bernet for obvious reasons. However, this did not deter trouble, but may have invited it. Unlike Berndt, Roessler retained his German name which caused similar trouble for him during and following WWII, with U.S. postal officials.

After changing his name he did not escape suspicion by the U. S. government who arrested Berndt as an unregistered enemy alien. Mekeel's Stamp Weekly, November 30 (1918) : 304

Another philatelic publication, The Stamp Trade, December, Vol. 4, No. 6 (1918) : 2, reported that he was suspected of being a German agent.

In 1920, he lived at 499 Avon Avenue, Newark, New Jersey.

Bernet's S. A. S. E. on an FDC postmarked Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, May 26, 1928, franked with Scott #645 Valley Forge Issue, Washington at Prayer. Courtesy Lupia Numismatic & Philatelic Library.

649-50 ROE-1. Albert Charles Roessler cachet sent to all his clients on his servicing business. Fred W. Bernet was a subscriber and received all the Roessler cachets and First Day Covers (FDC's). FDC International Civil Aeronautics Conference December 12, 1928 in Green Slogan Cancels. sent to Fred Wm. Bernet. Courtesy Lupia Numismatic & Philatelic Library.

In the 1920's Fred W. Berndt located his shop at 86 Park Place, Newark, New Jersey.

Newark Stamp & Coin Exchange advertisement in The Record, Thursday, January 23, 1930, page 19.

In the exciting age of airmail evolution all new methods to transport mail aeronautically was the catalyst for synergy between Bernet and the great A. C. Roessler with cachets to mark these historic events for collectors, and posterity. Fred Bernet purchased Roessler's checkered air mail envelopes with a Zeppelin cachet, which were all printed by Roessler.  Consequently, one of Fred Bernet's legacies is the variety of Roessler zeppelin covers which he [sic Bernet] privately stamped "Bernet's Air Mail Service" with a very small lettered rubber stamp apparently made by Roessler for him. Like Roessler's famous zeppelin covers these stamped by Bernet are also coveted by many collectors.

He lived at 28 Hunterdon Street, Newark, Essex County, New Jersey.

Newark Stamp & Coin Exchange Order Forms for Packets of Stamps & Coins. 
Courtesy Lupia Numismatic & Philatelic Library.

In 1931, he formed the Newark Stamp and Coin Exchange, Inc., with Egon E. Bernet, President, August Schumacher, Vice-President, and Fred W. Bernet, Secretary-Treasurer.

Photo of Egon "Ed" Bernet in January 1930

Roessler USS Akron Zeppelin post to Fred Wm. Bernet, Newark, New Jersey. Courtesy Lupia Numismatic & Philatelic Library. 
For sale $200

Roessler USS Akron Zeppelin post  printed on aluminum tinted paper to Fred Wm. Bernet, Newark, New Jersey. Courtesy Lupia Numismatic & Philatelic Library. For sale $200

ROE-FZ4a Roessler USS Akron Zeppelin post imprint in myrtle green ink on his checkered envelope sent to Egon Bernet, Newark, New Jersey. Courtesy Lupia Numismatic & Philatelic Library. For sale $200

ROE-FZ4a Very rare Roessler cachet on postal stationery Scott #U436 Entire with imprint Airmail - Atlantic Fleet Maneuvers - USS Akron, sent to Egon Bernet, Newark, New Jersey, postmarked August 1, 1932. Courtesy Lupia Numismatic & Philatelic Library. For sale $400

Courtesy Lupia Numismatic & Philatelic Library.

Courtesy Lupia Numismatic & Philatelic Library.

Courtesy Lupia Numismatic & Philatelic Library.

Courtesy Lupia Numismatic & Philatelic Library.

Newark Stamp and Coin Exchange, Inc., promo in the Jewish Chronicle, Friday, December 1, 1933, page 8

He is listed as an applicant to the ANA in May 1934. In June 1934 he is ANA Member No. 4460. In February 1943 his ANA Member No. 9381.

In 1935, Bernet donated an award cup for the best junior entry in the Fifth Exhibition of the New Jersey Philatelic Federation held that year in the Mosque Theatre, Newark, New Jersey.

ROE FZ12 customized by A. C. Roessler for Fred W. Bernet. A variety were printed and Bernet began to stamp them in a similar small rubber stamp as Roessler used for his customers "Bernet's Air Mail Cover Service", which was also most probably made by Roessler for him. Zeppelin covers  - (Top) Roessler checkered envelope with the ROE FZ12 design in myrtle green, postmarked October 5, 1936, franked with Mi #600-602 German Winter Olympic Games postage stamps, and four Winter Relief SG 
#622 2pf, #623 3pf, #624 3pf, #629 15pf. For sale $500. (Center) ROE FZ12 design in brown, postmarked June 20, 1936, franked with 3pf, 5pf, and 12pf, Mother and Child postage stamps, and five 6pf Otto van GuerickeFor sale $500. (Bottom) ROE FZ12 design in myrtle green, postmarked May 7, 1936, franked with 40pf Ten Years of Flight postage stamp, and  50pf Zeppelin stamp. For sale $500. Courtesy Lupia Numismatic & Philatelic Library.

1922 "No D" worth $2. Newark Star Ledger, Sunday, January 5, 1947, page 7

Berndt exhibited a century old franked letter with two Scott #1, postmarked New York, July 24, 1847. Newark Star Ledger, Wednesday, May 21, 1947, page 40

New Twist to Ford 1943 Copper Cent 
Folklore.  Newark Star Ledger, Wednesday, April 23, 1947, page 42

Bernet buys a sheet with misperforated Scott #805. The Record, Saturday, May 23, 1948, page 11

In the 1950's Newark Stamp & Coin Exchange moved to 760 Broad Street, Newark, New Jersey.

Craze for 1960 small date cents creates hoards and depleted stock. Trenton Evening Times, Friday, July 29, 1960, page 29

Coin crooks try to sell stolen collection to Bernet during police trap. Daily Review, Sunday, February 28, 1965, page 16

On January 17, 1972, Fred Bernet was robbed of an estimated $24,000 in coins and stamps. Taken from a report published in The Record, April 5, 1976, page 1.

Berne's obituary in the Newark Star Ledger, Monday, October 31, 1977, page 10

Fred W. Bernet died October 30, 1977 at Irvington, New Jersey.

The family business is currently run by Fred Bernet's grandson Fred W. Bernet.

Bibliography :

Newark City Directory (1907) : 1584
Newark City Directory (1929) : 328
The Record, Thursday, January 23, 1930, page 19.
Asbury Park Press, Friday, November 22, 1935, page 6
The Numismatist (1948)
Newark City Directory (1957) : 284
The Philatelist
Bob Wilcsek, " The Bernet Covers from the 1930 SAF," Airpost Journal, Vol. 71, No. 11, November  ( 2000) : 469
Arthur Knoth, "Newark Stamp & Coin Exchange : "The Berndt Family"