WILBER, HARRY BENNETT

Copyright 2011-2018 John N. Lupia, III

Harry Bennett Wilber (1872-1945), was born on March 6, 1872 at Cambridge Springs, Pennsylvania, son of John Bennett Wilber (1830-), a wealthy lumberman and hardware merchant, and Mary Alice Wilber (1837-).

He worked in his father's hardware store as a schoolboy where began collecting coins trading the unusual, old and odd ones for his pay. Typical of schoolboys in the 1880's he traded tobacco tin tags for stamps, coins, and other tin tags. Later on he began selling them through advertisements in magazines.

In 1886, he graduated from Cambridge Springs High School.

Fig. Harry B. Wilber correspondence with Frederick A. Thomas, postmarked February 29, 1888. Courtesy Lupia Numismatic Library.

Fig. Fifteen year-old Wilber's advertisement for his earliest known publication Tag and Stamp Gazette in The Exchangers' Monthly, Vol. II, No. 10, August (1887).

Throughout the nineteenth century stamp magazines frequently also had material in them about coins since they are two branches of the same hobby, numismatics. Although the branch of stamp collecting bears the name philately it is not separate and distinct from numismatics and the collectors and dealers in the nineteenth century were more aware of that than people today.

Fig. The Philatelic News, by Wilber. In the March 1888 issue of Curiosity World, page 9, John Hubbard announced the new publication of Philatelic News published by Harry B. Wilber, Cambridgeboro, Pennsylvania. Note the coin and stamp advertisement on the back cover by William Francis Greany (1857-1924). 
Courtesy Lupia Numismatic Library.

In September 1888, he was the Secretary pro tem for the Pennsylvania Stamp Collectors League, reported in the Halifax Philatelist, Vol. 2, No. 10, October (1888) : LXXXI.

Fig. Notice published in The American Philatelist, June (1890) : 222, that Harry B. Wilber is authorized to make and sell badges for the APA. Courtesy Lupia Numismatic Library.

By 1890, he was established as a printer of philatelic literature. In 1891, he publishedDealing in Postage Stamps by Alvah Davison. Also A Directory of the Principal U.S. and Canadian Stamp Dealers. Vol. 4. 4 vols. Philatelic Library. Cambridgeboro, PA: H.B. Wilber & Company, 1891

On January 25, 1893, he married Mary Stanislaus May (1872-1919) at Jamestown, New York. They had four sons : Harry Russell Wilber (1893-), John Roland Wilber (1896-1987), and Paul Francis Wilber (1898-1979), and Theodore Joseph Daniel Wilber (1908-1989).

By the late 1890's, in addition to his publishing work and dealing in coins, stamps, and curios, he was also the manager of Sayles Opera House, Cambridgeboro, Pennsylvania. 

In 1900, they lived in Knoxville, Pennsylvania, where he worked as a printer composing advertisements for the Pittsburgh Times newspaper. 

In 1908, they lived in Michigan where their last child Theodore was born.

In 1910, they lived in Detroit, Michigan, where he worked as a printer for Frederick Stearns & Company.

Later he worked as a printer for John Mack Printing House, Inc.

In 1930, they lived on Sheridan Road,  Chicago, Illinois, where he worked as a printer for the Harvestor Company. 

He died on Thursday, August 23, 1945, in Chicago, Illinois. His funeral was held at the Schrader Funeral Chapel, Northville, Wayne County, Michigan. He is buried at Rural Hill Cemetery, Northville, Michigan.

Bibliography :

History of Crawford County, Pennsylvania (1885) : 819 bio of father John B. Wilber

Harper's Young People (1885) : 705 selling tobacco tin tags.
McClean’s Stamp Collector’s Guide (Boston : W. S. McLean, 1889) : 44
The American Philatelist, June (1890) : 222 advertisement

The Julius Cahn's Official Theatrical Guide,  Vol. 4 (1899) : 584

Profitable Advertising (1900) : 90, 154, 218
The Printers' Ink, Vol. 24, March (1901) 46
Typographical Journal (1904) : 184
Detroit News, Friday, August 24, 1945, page 27
Philatelic Literature Review, (1987) : 134
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