Copyright 2011-2018 John N. Lupia, III

Fig. 1. Photograph of Dr. George Hetrich, M. D.

Dr. George Hetrich (1862-1928), was born on June 7, 1862 at Bernville, Berks County, Pennsylvania, son of Jonas Hetrich (1821-1907), a contractor/builder, and Mary Anlenbach Hetrich. His great-grandfather was an immigrant from Germany and was one of the first settlers in Berks County, Pennsylvania. Hetrich grew up as a youth in the village of Bernville attending the local school. Next he studied at the Oley Academy and taught for two years. Inspired by his boyhood physician Dr. W. G. Bayerle, he studied under him learning the medicine profession. He graduated Jefferson Medical College in 1885. [1] Later he studied dermatology under Dr. Shoemaker of the Philadelphia Skin Hospital. He became a member of the Berks County Medical Society and was one of the five incorporators in 1904. After completing his studies he began his medical practice in Monocacy, Berks County, Pennsylvania, staying there until 1891, when he moved to Birdsboro. [2]

On December 10, 1891, he married Laura Turner (1863-1895), at the German Reformed Church, Douglassville, Pennsylvania. They had three children but only one survived infancy, a son George Roberts Hetrich, Jr. (1893-1949), who fathered George R. Hetrich III, MD (1931-1992), an ANA Member 1982. This third generation of numismatists resulted in The Dr. George P. Hetrich Collection: Bowers and Ruddy Galleries Public Auction Sale January 28-30, 1982.

Hetrich was a very active Freemason and was a member of the Union Lodge, No. 479, F. & A. M.; Reading Chapter, No. 152; DeMolay Commandery, No. 9, K.T.; Harrisburg Consistory, Thirty-Second Degree; and Rajah Temple, A.A.O.N.M.S. He was also a member of the Huguenot Society of Pennsylvania.

He joined the ANA in September 1895 and became ANA Member No. 275.

In 1898, he became a member of the Berks County Historical Society.

He was an antique collector and specialized in china ware. He also was a curio collector and was said to have one of the largest collection in the country. He was also an avid philatelist and specialized in Match and Medicine stamps, which drew the attention of philatelists throughout the country. He was a specialist in Civil War Tokens amassing a collection of several thousand specimens. Being born at the outbreak of the Civil War these tokens fascinated him as relics of his childhood. His vast collection of Civil War tokens was eventually sold by Pennypacker Auctions Center (not identified in Gengerke), Reading, Pennsylvania, to a private collector, a young Hungarian-born, Barney V. Sipos (1913-1973) of Indiana, Pennsylvania. Sipos and his wife Mary Ann also obtained Hetrich's notes for his manuscript and loaned them to Melvin Fuld when he was writing with his son George mentioning this in the introduction of Civil War Store Cards (1975) : XVI.

He began purchasing coins directly from the Philadelphia Mint in the last half of the 1890's from 1895 - 1899. Dave Bowers mentioned this when cataloging proof coins in 1982. See The Numismatist, March (1982) : 652.

Fig. 2. Hetrich correspondence with the Chapman Brothers, postmarked April 10, 1902, franked with two Scott #279, carmine Washington, duplex cancel. This cover is on a type of acid paper that has become brittle and was salvaged by John Lupia just prior to a stamp dealer wanting to destroy it in order to save only the postmark and stamp for inventory. The ANS does not own everything, Ute. Courtesy of the Lupia Numismatic Library, Special Collection, The Chapman Family Correspondence Archive.

Fig. 3. Hetrich's Match and Medicine stamp collection takes the attention of the November issue of the Philatelic World. The Jayne black 2c stamp eventually sold posthumously in 1930 for $280. Philatelic West, Vol. XXII, No. 1, January, 1903.

He was a client of Henry Chapman, Jr., and frequently wrote to him and purchased Civil War tokens. There are many pieces of correspondence in the Lupia Numismatic Library, Special Collection, The Chapman Family Correspondence Archive.

Hetrich served as the Burgess of Birdsboro from November 1913 until retiring in December 1917; succeeded by Ward Harrison in January 1918.

Fig. 4. Hetrich correspondence with Henry Chapman, Jr., postmarked registered mail, December 26, 1921, franked with two Scott #504, blue 5c Washington, and Scott #542 green 1c Washington, uprating a green 1c Franklin embossed postal stationery. Courtesy of the Lupia Numismatic Library, Special Collection, The Chapman Family Correspondence Archive.

In April 1922, he read a paper Civil War Tokens before the New York Numismatic Club, published in the June 1922 issue of The Numismatist, pages 272-276 .

Fig. 5. Hetrich exhibited a miniature replica of a French guillotine used by a poulterer to decapitate chickens and fowl was found in an old barn in Amity Township. Reading Times, Thursday, November 7, 1922, page 6.

On March 13, 1923, Hetrich read a paper before the Berks County Historical Society, "The Scarcity of Small Change During the Civil War and How Berks County Merchants Overcame it."

In 1924, he collaborated with Julius Guttag in publishing their definitive study : Civil War Tokens and Tradesmen's Cards, listing tokens by HG numbers. This became the standard until the Fulds published using Fuld numbers in their series Patriotic Civil War Tokens, originally published serially in The Numismatic Scrapbook Magazine (Chicago, 1959); later revised and updated in a 4th edition issued by the Civil War Token Society (1994). Nevertheless, Hetrich and Guttag in their epic making pioneer opus described 8,345 specimens comprised of 1,194 patriotic tokens and 7,241 store cards.

In 1926, he retired from his medical practice handing it over to his son.

In August 1926, exactly two years prior to his death he attended the Hetrich family reunion party held in the home of Reilly Hetrich at Jefferson Township.

Fig. 6. Hetrich erected a monument to William Penn between Baumstown and Douglassville, Pennsylvania. Altoona Tribune, Monday, November 15, 1926, page 5.

He died of chronic interstitial nephritis on August 10, 1928. He is buried at Saint Michael's Cemetery, Birdsboro, Pennsylvania.

Fig. 7. Hetrich's stamp collection sold at auction in Philadelphia October 13, 1928 realizing $24,000. Reading Times, October 13, 1928, page 15.

His Match and Medicine stamp collection sold in October 1930.

On October 25, 2002, the Civil War Token Society (CWTS) inducted Hetrich into their Hall of Fame.


[1] The Numismatist incorrectly states 1884 as the year of graduation.

[2] The Numismatist incorrectly states 1892 as the year of moving to Birdsboro.

Bibliography :

The Reading Times, Wednesday, February 23, 1898, page 1

Book of Biographies : Biographical Sketches of Leading Citizens of Berks County, PA. (Buffalo, N. Y. : Biographical Publishing Company, 1898) : 208-211

JAMA, February (1904) : 541

The Reading Times, Friday, January 11, 1918, page 10

Scranton Republican, Thursday, January 11, 1923, page 8

Civil War Tokens and Tradesmen's Cards : A Tentative List of Civil War Tokens and Store Cards Issued by the Merchants of the United States and used as Money During the Period 1861-1864. (Kutztown, Pennsylvania, 1924)

Lebanon Semi-Weekly News, Thursday, August 19, 1926, page 7

The Numismatist, October (1928) : 618 Obit

The E-Sylum: Volume 9, Number 49, December 3, 2006, Article 16