DEATS, HIRAM EDMUND

DEATS, HIRAM EDMUND

© 2011-2017 John N. Lupia, III



Hiram Edmund Deats "the Sage of Hunterdon County" (1870-1963), was born at Brookville, Hunterdon County, New Jersey, on May 20, 1870, 
son of Hiram Deats (1810-1887) and Elmira Stevenson (1830-). His father was a very wealthy farmer and bequeathed to his son a fortune.

At the age of 16, he joined the American Philatelic Association (name changed permanently since 1908 to American Philatelic Society).

As a youth, Deats started collecting postage stamps of the United States and the Confederate States of America, and eventually created one of the 
finest collections of his era, eventually selling the collection. Deats specialized in the collecting of United States revenue stamps, and his collection, 
which in 1888 included the revenue collection of Edward Boker Sterling, was unsurpassed. George L. Toppan and Alexander Holland used this 
collection as a basis for writing, in 1899, An Historical Reference List of the Revenue Stamps of the United States Including the Private Die 
Proprietary Stamps, which was re-printed in 1979 as The Boston Revenue Book. Since 1880, he was an active Life Member of the American 
Numismatic and Archaeological Society. In 1890, he was a Fellow of the American Numismatic and Archaeological Society.




Fig. 1. Edward Boker Sterling (1851-1925), a stamp dealer from Trenton, New Jersey, correspondence postmarked Trenton, N.J., 
9 A.M. May 31, 1883, and backstamped Pittstown, N.J., RECEIVED 8 P.M. May 31, 1883. The  thirty-two years old Sterling was 
in his 6th year publishing stamp catalogues when he mailed this card to Deats. Sterling virtually always used "recycled used and 
unused corporate collateral postal cards" he either bought at a discount from companies that closed or changed their corporate images,
 or else reused used old ones franking them with a fresh stamp, to write his business correspondence. This postal card was from the 
Trenton Banking Company, chartered on December 3, 1804, announced its commencement and advertised in The Federalist, the local 
newspaper, on Monday, December 10th, 1804. It was officially incorporated on January 8, 1804 at the City Tavern, Trenton, New Jersey. 
This postal card was discontinued due to the retirement of Albert J. Whittaker (1826-1884), who not only served as secretary and cashier 
but published the history of the bank in 1880. The impetuous Sterling did not miss a beat and bought up the now defunct postal cards at a
 discount. His irascible message to thirteen year old Deats reads : "Do you intend to sell me the 6c envelopes or not? I supposed 
you would send them at once. Please answer and oblige." Deats became a business partner with Sterling in 1890 when the two purchased 
213 tons of printed engraved paper materiel from the United States Treasury Department that was earmarked as worthless. In 1997 Sterling 
entered the rolls of the Hall of Fame of the American Philatelic Society. Deats amassed one of the finest libraries of Philatelic Literature in the United 
States, rivaling that of John Kerr Tiffany and that abroad of Lord Crawford, which, in 1952, he donated to the Free Library of Philadelphia.

            Young thirteen year-old Deats discovered the 6c envelopes  together with "a number of revenue issues on old government documents 
stored in his father's office."(Bierman, 14)

The Lupia Numismatic Library, Special Collection, Hiram Edmund Deats Correspondence Archive, consists of of approximately 1,500 (One Thousand 
Five Hundred) pieces predominantly postcards in 20, 3-Ring Binders. However, not everything is archived in the  3-Ring Binders. Nor is everything yet catalogued. 
The following is a little more than half the data, and so it is very incomplete. The bulk and strength of the collection is from 1892 to 1903 containing mainly 
business correspondence with foreign and domestic dealers. The foreign correspondence consists of 322-pieces from 14 different countries. 
The bulk and strength of the foreign correspondence is from Great Britain & Ireland and Canada consisting of 245 pieces between them.

Foreign Correspondents by Country & Quantity

Argentina = 1
Austria = 1
Belgium = 2
Canada = 116
Czech = 1
France = 32
Germany = 21
Great Britain & Ireland = 131
India = 1
Italy = 7
Netherlands = 2 
Spain = 2
Sweden = 2
Switzerland = 5

Foreign Correspondents by Country & Year

Argentina, 1896 (1)
Austria, 1906 (1)
Belgium, 1894 (1), 1895 (1)
Canada, 1891 (2), 1892 (27), 1893 (25), 1894 (31), 1895 (8), 1896 (9), 1897 (6), 1898 (3), 1901 (1), 1902 (2), 1908 (1), 1909 (1)
Czech, 1897 (1)
France, 1891 (1), 1892 (5), 1893 (14), 1894 (7), 1895 (1), 1896 (2), 1900 (2)
Germany, 1890 (1), 1891 (1), 1892 (3), 1893 (1), 1894 (2), 1895 (4), 1896 (3), 1897 (1), 1901 (1), 1903 (1), 1905 (2), 1913 (1)
Great Britain, 1892 (9), 1893 (12), 1894 (25), 1895 (17), 1896 (20), 1897 (9), 1898 (12), 1899 (8), 1900 (4), 1901 (3), 1902 (1), 1903 (2), 1906 (2), 1907 (3), 1908 (1), 1909 (1), 1917 (2)
India, 1898 (1)
Italy, 1892 (1), 1894 (1), 1897 (1), 1898 (3), 1899 (1)
Netherlands, 1894 (1), 1896 (1)
Spain, 1896 (1), 1900 (1)
Sweden, 1893 (1), 1904 (1)
Switzerland, 1894 (1), 1896 (2), 1898 (1)

All 814 Pieces of Correspondence by Year + approximately 700 pieces U.S.A.

1883 = 2 pieces
1886 = 1 piece
1887 = 3 pieces
1889 = 6 pieces
1890 = 6 pieces
1891 =11 pieces includes 2 stock certificates advertisement Deats & Sterling
1892 = 114 pieces
1893 = 152 pieces 
1894 = 90 pieces 
1895 = 53 pieces
1896 = 69 pieces 
1897 = 45 pieces
1898 = 44 pieces
1899 = 27 pieces
1900 = 24 pieces
1901 = 22 pieces
1902 = 24 pieces + 4 Sheets + 1 Unused Columbian Postal Stationery
1903 = 23 pieces
1904 = 14 pieces
1905 = 7 pieces  
1906 = 7 pieces + 1 Sheet
1907 = 13 pieces
1908 = 8 pieces
1909 = 6 pieces
1910 = 3 pieces
1911 = 2 pieces
1912 = 10 pieces
1913 = 6 pieces
1914 =6 pieces
1915 =3 pieces
1916 = 2 pieces
1917 = 5 pieces
1918 = 3 pieces
1919 = 2 pieces
1930 = 1 piece


Brief Biography

DEATS, Hiram 1865-07-14 Pittstown Merchant Farm equipment

DEATS, Hiram 1874-02-19 Pittstown Partner firm dissolves: Deats, Case & Co.
CASE, Rhutsen 1874-02-19 Pittstown Partner firm dissolves: DEATS, CASE & Co.

DEATS, Hiram 1876-10-05 Frenchtown Factory owner Buys the Frenchtown Foundry from Andrew Roberson

DEATS, Hiram 1880-01-01 Flemington Property owner will build on his Main St. lot, opposite Mine St


DEATS, Hiram E 1895-09-04 Pittstown Mill owner is putting in roller machinery to make buckwheat flour

DEATS, Hiram E. 1891-12-30 Flemington Publisher of The Jerseyman , a quarterly journal of historical articles

DEATS, Hiram E. 1895-04-24 Pittstown Entrepreneur has a peach basket factory at Pittstown

DEATS, Hiram, Jr. 1881-01-27 Pittstown Partner new firm: Deats, Little & Co.
DEATS, Hiram, Sr. 1881-01-27 Pittstown Partner new firm: Deats, Little & Co
LITTLE, Porter C. 1881-01-27 Pittstown Partner new firm: Deats, Little & Co.
Manufacturing Agricultural implements. Succeeding Lemuel M. Deats & Co., at Pittstown.

DEATS, Hiram, Jr. 1881-12-22 Brookville Property owner will sell 5 properties

DEATS, Hiram, Jr. 1887-03-23 Pittstown Manufacturer Pittstown Agricultural Works; farm plows & equipment

DEATS, Hiram, Jr. 1889-04-10 recently appointed 
Pittstown Postmaster 

He lived his adult life at Flemington, New Jersey, where he operated a large farm. Early in his farming career, he set up a weather observation

 post at his farm and supplied data to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Mr. Deats served without pay. Later, it was taken over by the Department 

of Interior.

                He was on the Board of Governors ANA and is Charter Member No. 36. He collected colonial New Jersey state coinage copper cents.

He began collecting philatelic literature and stamps in 1886 and then joined the American Philatelic Association during the same year it was 

founded. He inherited his father’s estate in 1889. Deats, Sr., also left in his will $40,000 to be donated to establish a Children’s Home for Homeless

 Children in New York. Edward Judson was left in charge to manage these funds in order to establish the home. He was still attending the Peddie 

School, Hightstown, New Jersey when he inherited his father's estate, and graduated in 1890. The young Deats wasted no time spending large 

sums on coins and stamps and philatelic literature. The New York Times in 1890 says Deats is only 18 years old and his legal guardians allowed 

him to spend $7,000.00 on his stamp collection. He specialized in the collecting of United States revenue stamps, and his collection, which in 

1888 included the revenue collection of Edward Boker Sterling, was unsurpassed. George L. Toppan and Alexander Holland of the Boston Philatelic 

Society used this collection as a basis for writing in collaboration with Deats, in 1899, An Historical Reference List of the Revenue Stamps of the 

United States Including the Private Die Proprietary Stamps, which was re-printed in 1979 asThe Boston Revenue Book. The Deats Collection of 

Proofs and Essays of United States Documentary and Proprietary Revenue Stamps was sold in 1912 by New England Stamp Company.

He became partners with Edward Boker Sterling, a stamp collector and dealer living in Trenton, New Jersey.

He joined the ANA in 1891 and is member no. 15. He was elected a member of the National Geographic Society on May 4, 1896.

He served on the first Board of Trustees of the ANA. He was also a member of the ANS. He collected New Jersey coppers, Masonic medals, curios, stamps, 

and paper money. Collected especially encased postage stamps. He was a Fellow of the ANS in 1890. He was an active life member of the ANS since 

January 20, 1880. He advertised looking to buy the deluxe editions of Frossard’s  Nos. 161, 163, 165, 166, and 170 printed on thick paper. He also advertised

 to buy encased postage stamps.


Fig. 2. Corporate Advertisement of Deats & Sterling Sept 28-Oct 2, 1891, using a cancelled Revenue Stamp engraved with the portrait of Zachary 
Taylor and signed by Amos Smith, Jr. Specimen in the Lupia Numismatic Library - Special Collection - Hiram Edmund Deats Correspondence Archive.



Fig. 3 Corporate Advertisement of Deats & Sterling using a cancelled Revenue Stamp engraved with the portrait of Aesculapius sitting between a still and 

casked and bottled spirits or liquor. Specimen in the Lupia Numismatic Library - Special Collection - Hiram Edmund Deats Correspondence Archive.


                Dr. George Heath ran a notice in the May 1892 issue of The Numismatist stating that Deats has forsaken the study and collection of coins to devote 

his attention exclusively to philately. He further noted that Ed Frossard was to sell his coin and curio cabinet in mid May. However, in the June issue of The 

Numismatist, it is announced as June 12-13th.

In 1895 he purchased from E. B. Jones some 22,900 philatelic publications. In 1900 he purchased J.-B. Moen’s library upon his retirement. Shortly prior

 to his death he sold the majority of his library to the Free Library of Philadelphia, He is listed as ANA dues paid in 1897.

Mr. Deats served as a member of the County Board of Agriculture, Master of Darcy Masonic Lodge, high priest of the Royal Arch Masons, and for many 

years was a trustee of the Peddie School of Hightstown, where he graduated in 1891. In 1912, he was president of the New Jersey Library Association.

On September 27, 1893, Deats married Eva Augusta Deats Taylor, and they had three children : Elsie May Deats (d.1902), Marian Deats Abegg (1897-1982),

 and Charles T. Deats.

He also served as the Recording Secretary and Librarian of the Hunterdon County Historical Society; Life member of the American Historical Association; 

Life member of the Virginia Historical Society; Secretary Board of Trustees of the Peddie School; Trustee of the Agassiz Association; and served as a 

Trustee of the New Jersey Historical Society; Member of the New Jersey Genealogical Society, Sons of the American Revolution and the Founders and 

Patriots of America.

He owned an office building at 122 Main Street, Flemington, New Jersey, where he maintained  his own genealogical offices and collection of historical 

information of Hunterdon County, and his stamp and coin collection.

Beginning in 1891, he was the editor and publisher of The Jerseyman. A Quarterly Magazine of Local History and Genealogy. Principally of Hunterdon County, 

New Jersey.

    In 1911 he wrote the introduction to the book by Oliver Scinkel Hart, Some Notes on the New York Postmaster’s Provisional Five Cents, Black, 1845.

He served as a member of the Grand Jury, which indicted Bruno Richard Hauptmann in 1934 for the kidnap murder of Charles A. Lindbergh, Jr.

In 1952 he donated his philatelic library to the Free Library of Philadelphia. Deats signed the Roll of Distinguished Philatelists in 1933 and was 

named to the American Philatelic Society Hall of Fame in 1963. He served longer than any other New Jerseyan as a bank director. He held such a 

post for more than 50 years with the Flemington National Bank and Trust Company.

He died at the age of 92 at the Union Forge Nursing Home near Clinton, New Jersey. His wake was held at the Holcombe Funeral Home, and was 

buried at the Cherryville Mountainview Cemetery, Flemington, New Jersey. After his death on March 16, 1963 his son Charles T. Deats, of Plainfield,

 New Jersey, sold the remaining numismatic literature to Allen Levine who years later sold the bulk of them to John N. Lupia. Lupia also purchased a 

portion of the Deats archive of about 600 pieces from a stamp dealer. Today the Lupia Collection has over 800 pieces of mail in the Lupia Numismatic 

Library, Special Collection, Hiram E. Deats Correspondence Archive in 12 binders, and additionally several pieces sent to the Chapman Brothers are 

conserved in the Lupia Numismatic Library, Special Collection, the Chapman Family Correspondence Archive.

Work:

“U. S. Cotton Tax Stamps,” McLean’s Stamp Collectors’ Guide (1889) : 19-20

Hunterdon Historical Series (1891)

The Jerseyman. A Quarterly Magazine of Local History and Genealogy. Principally of Hunterdon County, New Jersey. (1891-)

The 150th Anniversary of the Erection of the Fleming House, Flemington, N.J., May 23, 1906 (1906)

Tombstone Inscriptions of Hunterdon County Cemeteries (1910)

Brief Account of the Higgins Family of Hunterdon County (1916)

Marriage Records of Hunterdon County, N. J., 1795-1875. (1918)

Report on the Condition of the Public Records of the State of New Jersey, by a Committee of Citizens : Nelson B. Gaskill, Hiram E. Deats, William Libby, et alia. (1919)

Dedication of the Restored Fleming House (1928)

The Hunterdon County New Jersey Militia 1792 (1936)

Bibliography :

“Our Numismatic Directory,” List No. 11, No. 219, The Numismatist, Vol. 3, Nos. 21 & 22, November (1891) : 95

 “The Numismatist, Vol. 3, Nos. 19 & 20, October (1891) : 81

 “Postage Stamps Exhibited : Annual Convention of the Philatelic Association,” The New York Times, Wednesday, August 6, 1890, page 8

The Numismatist, Vol. 4, No. 1, January, (1892) : 15; No. 5, May (1892) : 75; No. 6, June (1892) : 96;The Numismatist, Vol. X, No. 1, January (1897) : 20;

Proceedings of the American Numismatic and Archeological Society (1903) : 25

ANA Membership List and Directory (1927) : 78

The Numismatist, Vol. 7, No. 6, June (1894) : 117; Vol. 8, No. 1, January (1895) : 26; Vol. XV, No. 1, January (1902): 23; No. 3, March (1902) : 88; No. 4 April (1902) : 120; No. 6, June (1902) : 185; No. 7, July (1902) : 216, 217; No. 8, August (1902) : 250; No. 9 September (1902) : 283; No. 10, October (1902) : 317;

Gnecchi, Ercole and Francesco, eds., Guida Numismatica 4th edition. (Milano : U. Hoepli, 1903. Edition) : 538, No. 5501

Adams, Vol. 1, 76

The Columbus Philatelist, Vol. 1, No. 4, April (1901) : 19

Trenton Evening Times, March 18, 1963 (obit)

Stanley M. Bierman, M. D., More of the World's Greatest Stamp Collectors (Linn's Stamp News, 1990) : 12-25

Jim Walker, "Hiram E. Deats, Hunterdon's Farmer-Philatelist,"  Journal of the New Jersey Postal History Society, Vol. 34, No. 4, November (2006) : 183-192

Barbara A. Harrison, “A Special Meeting Place For A Stamp Club : The Hiram E. Deats Building” The American Philatelist, Vol. 125, October (2011) : 920



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