Copyright 2011-2018 John N. Lupia, III

Fig. 1. Photo of William R. Ricketts in 1934. H. L. Lindquist, The Blue Book of Philately (1935) : 312

William Reynolds Ricketts (1869-1956), was born on July 29, 1869, at Wilkes-Barre, Luzerne County, Pennsylvania, son of Colonel Robert Bruce Ricketts (1839-1918), a wealthy lumber and coal industry magnate, and Elizabeth Reynolds Ricketts (1842-1918).

In 1887, age eighteen, he became a collector of philatelic literature.

In 1892, he graduated Yale, Sheffield Scientific School, civil engineering.

Correspondence from Fish & Tackle Specialists, Turner & Van Scoy, Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, postmarked April 9, 1902. 
Courtesy Lupia Numismatic Library. For sale. 

Columbia Phonograph Company, New York correspondence on graphic illustrated advertising cover for the Columbia Graphophone, an early dictaphone, with Ricketts postmarked May 12, 1903. 
Courtesy Lupia Numismatic Library. For sale. 

Ricketts left for England in May 1905. In June, he stayed in London and and by mid month left for Edinburgh, Scotland. 

In 1905, he joined the Philatelic Society of London while he was visiting in England staying at the St. Ermins Hotel, Westminster. Above : a letter received from his family postmarked Ricketts, June 12, 1905. Courtesy Lupia Numismatic Library. For sale. 

A letter received from his family postmarked Ricketts, June 22, 1905. Courtesy Lupia Numismatic Library. For sale. 

Correspondence from Ephraim Bertie Jones (1868-1938), co-publisher of Philatelic Inter-Ocean with Ricketts postmarked October 13, 1905. 
Courtesy Lupia Numismatic Library. For sale. 

Post Office - Dead Letter Office correspondence with Ricketts postmarked December 7, 1905. 
Courtesy Lupia Numismatic Library. For sale. 

In 1906, he appears to have married Stella Mercer Shoemaker (1877-1907), and his wife appears to have died during childbirth.

In 1907, he became a fellow of the Philatelic Society of London.

The Economist Stamp Company 
correspondence with Ricketts postmarked mute but apparently deduced from received marking June 30, 1908. Courtesy Lupia Numismatic Library. For sale. 

Commercial mail sent to Ricketts from Thomas Meehan & Sons, tree 
nursery, postmarked Philadelphia, March 20, 1909. Courtesy Lupia Numismatic Library. For sale. 

The 1910, U. S. Census lists him as a business manager in the Ricketts family lumber and coal business and is listed as a widower living with his two-year-old son Robert B. Ricketts (born December 7, 1907-), and two housemaids.

Stanley Gibbons's New York Office correspondence with Ricketts postmarked March 7, 1910. 
Courtesy Lupia Numismatic Library. For sale. 

A. C. Roessler correspondence with Ricketts in 1911. Courtesy Lupia Numismatic Library. For sale. 

From February 1911 through December 1926, the APS published his American Philatelic Society Philatelic Index, American Philatelist Supplement.

A. C. Roessler correspondence with Ricketts in August 1912. 
Courtesy Lupia Numismatic Library. For sale. $900.

Correspondence from stamp dealer Edgar Stone Allen postmarked October 21, 1912 on antique obsolete Dashwood Medicine and Chemical Company, Fort Worth, Texas embossed postal stationery, uprated with 1c green Washington. Another specimen appears about the same time self stamped by A. C. Roessler (see his biography on this website to view the other cover) from Guam. Courtesy Lupia Numismatic Library. For sale

ROE-CC4. A. C. Roessler's Stamp News advertising cover sent to Hall of Fame W. R. Ricketts. Courtesy Lupia Numismatic & Philatelic Library. Write john@numismaticmall.com

ROE-CC4. A. C. Roessler correspondence with Ricketts postmarked September 23, 1913. Courtesy Lupia Numismatic Library. For sale. $900.

Correspondence from J. B. N. Robert, a stamp dealer in the Netherlands postmarked October 29, 1913. Back flap franked with promotion of tourism to Monte Carlo cinderella printed in green, others printed in red-brown, by Carl Jensen & Schwidernoch Wien. Courtesy Lupia Numismatic Library.

From 1912-1914, he published his bibliography of articles on U.S. Postmaster provisionals, carriers, locals, and Sanitary Fair stamps, in the United Stamp Company Herald.
Fig. Correspondence from William Frederick Fratcher (1867-1947) of Michigan Stamp & Coin Company to W. R. Ricketts postmarked 1915. This is the original address of Fratcher's company, which a few years later moved down the street to 922 Michigan Avenue. Courtesy Lupia Numismatic Library.

In 1915, he and Hiram E. Deats discovered John Kerr Tiffany's 1889 unpublished manuscript : A Catalogue of Philatelic Publications, Arranged by the Decimal System.

Fig. Photo of Ricketts published in the American Philatelist 1915.

In 1916, he sold off all his stamp collections.

In 1916, he discovered an 1871 manuscript of John Kerr Tiffany at the Boston Public Library, A Reference List of Publications Relating to Postage-Stamps and their Collection, Compiled by Request for the Boston Public Library, 1871

On June 7, 1916, he married Margaret Lee Beach (1881-1950), at Saratoga, New York. They had two daughters Esther Bennett Ricketts and Elizabeth Reynolds Ricketts. Elizabeth married John Sterling.

Correspondence from Wit & Humor Publishing Company, Independence, Missouri, postmarked May 6, 1920. 
Courtesy Lupia Numismatic Library.

From 1920 - 1924, Ricketts sold off 45,000 acres to the Pennsylvania Game Commission.

In 1921, he was inducted into the Roll of Distinguished Philatelists.

In 1925, he was the librarian of the Collectors Club, New York. 

During the 1930's the land Ricketts sold to the Pennsylvania Game Commission was approved for a national park.

In 1934, he lived at 1577 Wyoming Avenue, Forty Fort, Kingston, Luzerne County, Pennsylvania.

In 1942, Ricketts sold 1,261 acres, the Falls and Glens area, to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania for a state park.

In August 1945, he sold the first part of his philatelic literature collection comprising 1013 lots through Paul Bluss, Sale #427.

On October 5, 1946, he sold the second part of his philatelic literature collection comprising 120 lots through Paul Bluss, Sale #450.

He retired moving to Ganoga Lake, Benton, Pennsylvania.

He died of prostate cancer on October 14, 1956, at Wilkes-Barre General Hospital, Luzerne County, Pennsylvania.

In 1988, he was inducted into the APS Hall of Fame.

The largest hoard of Philatelic Literature ever assembled was that of William Reynolds Ricketts (1869-1956). Ricketts was inducted into the Philatelic Society Hall of Fame in 1988 for his many years creating an index to all philatelic literature. The unsold portions of the Ricketts library were sold after the death of Paul Bluss to L. R. Stadtmiller. George Albert Atkins obtained the Ricketts library remnants after the death of Stadtmiller. The Ricketts Philatelic West hoard owned by Atkins was bought at auction in Eden, North Carolina by John N. Lupia, III. The Lupia Numismatic and Philatelic Library has the largest hoard of Philatelic West known comprising 1,600 issues. Everything is available for sale. Write john@numismaticmall.com

Among the hundreds of boxes of books and periodicals was a vast hoard of The Philatelic West. The hoards compiled by Ricketts were purchased by George Atkins, an insurance agent, and philatelist living near Durham, North Carolina. Atkins sold the vast hoards at Eden, North Carolina. 

Fig. 6.  Photograph of the George Atkins sale, Eden, North Carolina.


      John N. Lupia purchased all of The Philatelic West except for a few copies purchased by the American Philatelic Society (APS) for the American Philatelic Research Library (APRL). The Lupia Numismatic Library now has over 1,600 copies of The Philatelic West making it the largest known hoard of that title ever. The NumismaticMall.Com Book Store will be selling a near complete set, various complete volumes and issues. Please visit the Book Store at this website. Or, write john@numismaticmall.com

For Bibliography see below this advertisement.

Bibliography :

American Philatelist
Collectors Club Philatelist
Harry L. Lindquist, The Blue Book of Philately (1935) : 312
Paul Bluss, The Ricketts Collection of Philatelic Literature. (1945)
Paul Bluss, Postage Stamps Philatelic Literature. (1946), Ricketts lots 600-720.
James Negus and Brian J. Birch, "Unpublished Tiffany Manuscripts," Philatelic Literature Review, No. 62, 1st Quarter (2013) : 28-50

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