Copyright 2011-2018 John N. Lupia, III

William Frederick Fratcher (1867-1947) was born on November 18, 1867 at Utica, Oneida County, New York, son of David W. Fratcher (1845-), and Mary Weidle Fratcher (1846-).

He appears to have been a stamp collector from his youth.

About 1884, he moved to Detroit, Wayne County, Michigan. 

Fig. In the December 1963 issue of The Numismatist on page  1203, Jack W. Ogilvie, ANA Historian wrote an account of the printing press sold to Heath by Fratcher along with a photograph of that press. 

Around late Fall or Winter Fratcher traded Dr. George Francis Heath (1850-1908), of Monroe, Michigan, a small 12" x 8' printing press in exchange for a collection of postage stamps. A few years later in 1888, Dr. Heath began to print The American Numismatist on this press with help from Fratcher getting the press to work properly. This is a reminiscence of Fratcher published in the October 1925 issue of The Numismatist on page 501. Also, The Numismatist, July (1932) : 444 story of his 51" bicycle ride to help Dr. Heath. But, as reminiscences go the facts a bit fuzzy were straightened out when a series of three letters from April to May 1886 were published in The Numismatist in July 1932, page 443. Obviously Fratcher was not 17 years old as he originally thought but nearly 18 and a half.

Fig. Three letters between Fratcher and Heath in 1886 published in The Numismatist in July 1932, page 443. The story of the bike ride was expanded on as covering 40 miles in the September 1938 issue of The Numismatist on pages 735- 736.

 He married Luella Maude Jackson (1869-1937). They had a son Vernon Claude Fratcher (1890-1964). They lived on Seventh Street, Detroit, Michigan.

In 1890, his candy store on the corner of Grand River Avenue and Seventh Street, Detroit, was robbed by two boys John Beck age 13, Fred Kirwin age 15.

In 1891, he ran a cigar and sundries store at 465 Grand River Avenue, Detroit, Michigan. He lived at 839 Humboldt Avenue, Detroit.

Fig. Fratcher's advertisement for his excessively expensive twenty-cent dinners in the Detroit Free Press, Saturday, May 7, 1892, page 5

In July 1891, he moved to 61 Michigan Avenue, opening as Fratcher's New Dinning Parlors, where the following year he also sold cigars at discount.

In 1894, he is listed in The American Philatelist as APA Member No. 1086

He is listed in the 1896 Detroit City Directory as a Confectioner located at 344 Michigan Avenue, Detroit, Michigan. These 19th century confectionery shops typically sold newspapers and tobacco.

In October 1898 he advertised buying U. S. Postage Stamps in the Detroit Free Press, Sunday, October 16, 1898, page 21. On November 13th the ad included Canadian and Revenue stamps. In September 1899 he advertised looking for pre-1851 canceled U. S. Postage Stamps.
Fig. Fratcher caught in stamp scam by Charles Clark who was arrested. Detroit Free Press, Friday, March 9, 1900, page 5

In April 1902 he advertised selling his soda fountain for $800 including the marble counter-top.

He is listed in the 1903 Detroit City Directory as a Cigar dealer located at 256  Michigan Avenue, Detroit, Michigan. This is the same address as his home which typically was the overhead apartment above the store.

Fig. Earliest known advertisement by Fratcher buying old coins and paper money.  Detroit Free Press, Sunday, February 11, 1906, page 22.

Fratcher advertised in the April 1909 issue of Popular Mechanics, selling old coins selling an Illustrated  Buying List for 10 cents.

Fig. A. O. Hart of Cleveland, Ohio, postal card to Fratcher postmarked January 13, 1910, requesting a coin catalogue. Note Railroad Cancellation of the Cleveland Circuit R.P.O. and RMS killer. This is an extremely early Fratcher item as a coin dealer. Courtesy Lupia Numismatic Library. Rare. For Sale. Write

The 1913 Detroit City Directory lists his Cigar Store as a Confectionery Store also manufacturing and selling ice cream.

Fig. Mekeel's Weekly Stamp News, Vol. 29, January 16 (1915) : 19

Fig. Fratcher's very early correspondence with APS Hall of Fame William Reynolds Ricketts, postmarked 1915. Courtesy Lupia Numismatic Library. Rare. For Sale. Write
In 1915, his confectionery, cigar and ice cream shop expanded to include a stamp and coin shop at 256 Michigan Avenue, Detroit called Michigan Stamp & Coin Company.

Fig. James B. Pelletier, Coin and Stamp Dealer, New Orleans, Louisiana correspondence with Fratcher postmarked registered Mail July 29, 1916. Courtesy Lupia Numismatic Library. Rare. For Sale. Write

The 1917 Detroit City Directory lists him as the president of the Michigan Stamp & Coin Company. The Confectionery, Ice-Cream and Cigar store are now listed as run by his son Vernon C. Fratcher.

Fig. Fratcher correspondence sending coins to Walter H. Robinson, Providence, Rhode Island, registered mail postmarked April 23, 1925, twenty cents postage. Note the new address 912 Michigan. 
Courtesy Lupia Numismatic Library. Rare. For Sale. Write

In 1925, he is listed as an ANA Member 2780 living at 912 Michigan Street, Detroit, Michigan.

Fig. Fratcher correspondence with J. A. Hunt, Woburn, Massachusetts postmarked 
 registered mail August 6, 1925. Courtesy Lupia Numismatic Library. Scarce. Note the new stationery with new address. For Sale. Write

Fratcher was also a member of the Detroit Coin Club in the 1920's.

In January 1930, Fratcher moved from 912 Michigan Street, Detroit to 2429 Fifth Street, Detroit, Michigan.

Fig. Fratcher's Mail Auction Bid published in The Numismatist, June (1930) : 422

In December 1930, Fratcher moved from 2429 Fifth Street, Detroit, to 1434 Michigan Avenue, Detroit, Michigan.

In November 1934, he moved to 1032 Michigan Street, Detroit, Michigan.

Fig. Photo circa 1935-1942 of Michigan Stamp & Coin Company, Detroit, Michigan. Courtesy Library of Congress Print and Photo Department. LCCN Permalink

In July 1935, he moved to 1913 Fifth Street, Detroit, Michigan.

In August 1936 he appears to be assembling a complete set of The Numismatist since he is advertising to purchase volumes he is lacking.

Fig. Fratcher's advertisement in the October 1936 issue of The Numismatist, page 872.

Fig. Fratcher correspondence from E. W. Breitkreutz, San Marino, California, postmarked Los Angeles, California, June 4, 1937, special delivery air mail postage, Scott #CE2-APSD2 Red. Courtesy Lupia Numismatic Library. Scarce. For Sale. Write

Fratcher's advertisement in the December 1939 issue of The Numismatist, page 1067. Note the address change to 1911 Fifth Street, Detroit, Michigan.

In January 1940, he ran a notice of a special price list selling Commemoratives in The Coin Collector's Journal, on page 21.

Also in 1940, he advertised in Hobbies Vol. 45, selling Confederate Paper Money, still at 1911 Fifth Street, Detroit, Michigan.

He died on December 2, 1947. A notice was published by the Detroit Coin Club in their minutes published in the January 1948 issue of The Numismatist on page 69.

Donald Cornell wrote his obituary published in the March 1948 issue of The Numismatist on page 200, recounting the story of the printing press and 40 mile bike ride to fix the machine.

Bibliography :

Detroit Free Press, Sunday, March 10, 1889, page 9
Detroit Free Press, Thursday, February 13, 1890, page 5
Detroit Free Press, Tuesday, February 9, 1892, page 6
1891 Polk's Detroit City Directorypage 508
Post Office, Vol. 2, No. 85 (1892) : x
The American Philatelist (1894) : 73
1896 Detroit City Directory, page 578, column 1 top.
1899 Detroit City Directorypage 2070, column 2 top.
Detroit Free Press, Sunday, April 6, 1902, page 31
1903 Detroit City Directory, page 2934, column 1 top.
1907 Detroit City Directory, page 1063, column 2 bottom.
1913 Detroit City Directory, page 933, column 1 bottom.
1915 Detroit City Directory, page 3205, column 1 top.
1917 Detroit City Directory, page 888, column 2 top.
The Numismatist January (1925) : 21
The Numismatist February (1925) : 95
The Numismatist October (1925) : 501
The Numismatist January (1930) : 32
The Numismatist, June (1930) : 422 Mail Auction Bid
The Numismatist, July (1932) : 444 story of his 51" bicycle ride to help Dr. Heath 
The Numismatist, March (1948) : 200 Obit
Pete Smith, American Numismatic Biographies 
Martin Gengerke, American Numismatic Auctions
"Michigan Stamp and Coin Information Sought," E-Sylum, Vol. 19, No. 15, April 10, 2016

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