American Philatelist — October 2011
A Special Meeting Place for a Stamp Club
The Hiram E. Deats Building, Flemington, New Jersey
The Coryell’s Ferry Stamp Club, of Lambertville, New Jersey, recently had the unique opportunity to hold its summer “Philatelic Flea Market” meeting in the Hiram E. Deats Building, 122 Main Street, Flemington, New Jersey. The present owner of the building, Karl Lackemacher, is a member of the club and volunteered to provide the venue for the meeting. The Lackemachers purchased a half interest in the building seven or eight years ago from brothers Sam and Dick Stothoff, who had purchased it from the Deats Estate after Hiram’s death in 1963. The impressive brick building has undergone some renovation and modernization, such as a modern elevator and restrooms, and is presently being used by a variety of small businesses.
Deats’ office was on the second floor of the Deats Building, in the left front. Being a generous philanthropist, he donated the lot to the left of the building to the town for the construction of Flemington’s first Free Public Library, stipulating that the building must be set back so that he could have a clear view up Main Street from his office. That small building is still in use today as the Flemington Public Library.
The club met in a large, comfortable third-floor meeting room, just above Deats’ former office (left side of building), which was formerly used by the Eastern Star and currently is not used commercially. The right side at one time had been used by the Masons, of which Deats was a member. The meeting room has numerous high windows and beautiful dropped ceiling fixtures of brass with etched glass globes that accommodated both gas and electric, when electricity came into use (1890s). Upon close inspection, you can see various Masonic symbols in the brass fixtures.
Karl Lackemacher provided rows of tables upon which members spread out their many philatelic items for sale, which included albums of U.S. and foreign stamps, a huge variety of philatelic reference books, FDCs, postcards, postal history, loose stamps, foreign covers, supplies, and much more. Club members and guests had a very enjoyable time choosing items to purchase.
Many philatelists are familiar with the name of Hiram E. Deats (1870–1963) the well– known New Jersey stamp and revenue collector who accumulated one of the finest and largest philatelic reference collections of his time. His library included auction catalogues and copies of virtually all philatelic publications. In his office, he not only housed his stamp collection but also his coin collection. He was a founder of the National Numismatic Society, and an active member in many prestigious societies such as Collectors Club of New York and the Royal Philatelic Society London. He was No. 36 of the founding members of the American Philatelic Association, and served as American Philatelic Society President in 1904–1905.
He also was a dedicated and well-known genealogist, and maintained his own genealogical offices and a collection of historical information about Hunterdon County, New Jersey. His vast storehouse of records, rare books, data, and old newspapers filled every corner and wall of the Deats Building to the ceiling!
Some of the other hats worn by Hiram Deats were those of a successful farmer, inventor, banker, publisher, and businessman. He served as secretary to the Hunterdon County Historical Society and New Jersey Historical Society of Newark, in addition to membership in various patriotic societies such as Sons of the American Revolution and the Founders and Patriots of America Society. He had a weather observation post at his farm and supplied data to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, serving without pay. He was foreman of the Grand Jury that indicted Bruno Richard Hauptmann in 1934 for kidnapping the Lindbergh baby. That trial occurred just a few blocks up the street in the historic Hunterdon County Courthouse.
It was such a privilege to see the inside of this lovely old building, where such a giant of our hobby had worked, studied, enjoyed, and accumulated such vast and important philatelic holdings. Some of the finest Confederate material, revenues, proofs, essays, and government records purchased by Hiram Deats were once located in this very building. If only we could go back in time! If only those walls could talk!
Barb Harrison is a retired executive secretary, who has been a dedicated stamp, cover, and antique postcard collector for more than thirty-eight years. She enjoys exhibiting and has won many medals and special awards, including the AAPE Diamond Award in 2009 for her Display Exhibit, “Grandma’s House.” Current interests are the life of Queen Elizabeth, a collection based on her dad’s World War II letters and memorabilia, and a collection using philately to illustrate her family story. She enjoys providing monthly stamp and postcard exhibits for the Ringoes, NJ, Post Office, and is a member of APS, AAPE, RPSL, Coryell’s Ferry Stamp Club, Merchantville Stamp Club, and Washington Crossing Card Collectors Club.