Royal Reels: Gambling


This possibly unique cut-down cover was sent from the Australian National University, Canberra (pen-deleted) airmail with 26 all coil stamps (block 12 of orange ½d roo, plus blocks of 8 and 6 of the green 3d QE II) were postmarked with 7 copies of the AIR MAIL/ 1-P-5AP56/ CANBERRA A.C.T. postmark, the total postage being 4/- (shillings). The cover was addressed to Dr. Lowell Ragatz, Box 146, Worthington, Ohio, USA. The reverse had no postall markings (Figure 1).

Dr. Lowell Joseph Ragatz (July 21, 1897 -October 29, 1978) was a life-long student of philatelic fakes, forgeries and bogus stamps. Using the pen name, “George Van Den Berg” his Philatelic Notes column was published in Stamps from 1933 through the early 1960s. The column was devoted to stamp collecting, collectors, and the changing philatelic customs of those times.

Ragatz reprinted many of the important early works on fakes, forgeries and bogus issues adding his own comments and clarifications. Among these were Fred Melville’s 1923 work, Phantom Philately (1950), Atlee and Pemberton’s 1871-1876 The Spud Papers (1952), R.B. Earee’s 1882 (with reprints in 1892 and 1906) Album Weeds (1954), Capier’s 1939 Les Timbres de Fantasie (1954) and Bacon’s 1899 Reprints of 19th Century Postal Adhesive Stamps and their Characteristics (1954). He was a long term member of the Society of Philatelic Americans which he joined in 1910 when it was the Southern Philatelic Association. He was inducted into the American Philatelic Society’s Hall of Fame in 1979.

Lowell Joseph Ragatz was a professor of history at George Washington University from 1924-49, and served as chairman of the department from 1934-37. After receiving early education at his home town of Prairie Du Sac, Wisconsin, Ragatz went to the University of Wisconsin where he graduated B.A. 1920, M.A. 1921, and Ph.D. in 1925. He continued his graduate study at the University of Pennsylvania in 1921-22, the University of Grenoble in 1922, University of Paris in 1922-23, College of France in 1922-23, Ecole Libre des Sciences Politiques in 1922-23, and the London School of Economics in 1923.

He was teaching fellow at the University of Wisconsin in 1920-21 and at the University of Pennsylvania in 1921-22 before coming to GW in 1924. He was a delegate to the second Congress of the Pan-American Institute of Geography and History, a lecturer at the War Department in 1942 and the Lend- Lease Administration’s African Mission Training School at Washington, D.C. in 1943 (the lecture was published as Introduction to French West Africa and Introduction to French North Africa), and a consultant with the U.S. Information Office in London during 1947-48.

Dr. Ragatz was regarded as a pioneer of African studies in the United States. He was a member of the American Historical Association, the American Association of University Professors, the Inter-American Bibliographical and Library Association, Societe d’Histoire Moderne, Societe d’Histoire des Colonies Francaises. He edited twenty-eight volumes for the American Historical Association from 1929-42, and authored seventeen books from 1922-62. He was awarded the Justin Winsor Prize of the American Historical Association in 1926 and a Guggenheim Fellowship for 1933 and 1934.

Addendum: Lowell Ragatz operated the Reliance Stamp Company from 1916-1924. Used the trading names George van den Berg and Janet van den Berg when dealing with stamps. After his death his wife Janet sold his stock under the same pseudonym.

Categories: Philatelists, Professors