Category: Prominent St Louis Philatelist

David M. Kols

David M. Kols

September 13, 1950 – March 13, 2018
Saint Louis, Missouri

David Michael Kols graduated from Lehigh University – Class of 1972, where he majored in Economics, and was a member of Sigma Alpha Mu fraternity. After college, David moved to New York City where he started a wholesale travel company in the Bronx, later moving it to Connecticut.

In 1984, Kols established Mississippi Computer Corp. to provide software to the wholesale travel industry.

In 1990, he opened Regency Stamps, a philatelic retail store and auction house located in Warson Woods, moving the company to Le Chateau Village in Frontenac, and finally expanding to the Central West End in St. Louis.

In 1992 he bought Superior Galleries of Beverly Hills, CA incorporating many other collectibles forming Regency-Superior Auctions. David was a true entrepreneur.

A stamp collector since childhood, he revamped his business eight years later as Regency Stamps Ltd. and opened a street-level retail stamp store in the St. Louis area. The shop remained open for a quarter century and included a United States Postal Service substation and philatelic window.

Working with hobby leaders in the St. Louis area, Kols and his wife Penney, founded and supported the St. Louis Stamp Expo (EXPO), which held its first show Oct. 1-3, 1993. Expo quickly earned accreditation as an APS World Series of Philately show and has maintained that status for well over two decades. With Kols as executive director, the show was the first major stamp exhibition in the St. Louis area in nearly 20 years. It made a significant effort to engage youngsters in the first year by bringing in more than 900 schoolchildren in a single day and providing activities and gifts for them.

For 2002-2005, Kols authored the Stamp Market Tips column for Linn’s Stamp News.

In 2016, Kols was diagnosed with a rare and aggressive cancer requiring him to shut down his businesses and step down as the Executive Director of the St. Louis Stamp Expo.


Dr. Elizabeth Jane Nettles

Dr. Elizabeth (Betty) Jane Nettles

September 3, 1933 – April 11, 2014
Saint Louis, Missouri

Dr. Elizabeth Jane Nettles, known to everyone as “Betty,” was a prominent St. Louis psychologist and psychotherapist and internationally known philatelist. Betty began to collect stamps at age eight while recovering from polio.

She attended the College of William & Mary and earned a B.S. in psychology there in 1955. She moved to St. Louis in 1956 and has resided in the area since. She attended Washington University from 1956 to 1962 under a fellowship sponsor by the National Institute of Mental Health and earned her PhD in clinical psychology in 1978 after completion of her dissertation “Ego Development and Sex Role Expectation in Marriage.” She began her private practice as a clinical psychologist in 1960 and quickly became recognized as a specialist in psychological testing of children and adolescents to diagnose difficult cases. Betty served as a consultant in Family and Children’s Services in St. Louis for over 30 years. She also worked as a psychological consultant for the Girls’ Home, St. Louis Hospital for Children, Clayton Public Schools, The Miriam School, Mary Institute, Lutheran Family Service and St. Joseph Institute for the Deaf. She worked as a research consultant for Family Services of Memphis, Washington University Medical School, Jewish Hospital, and Illinois Children and Family Service. She was the Chief Clinical Psychologist for the Ellen Steinberg Division of Child Psychiatry at Jewish Hospital in the early 1960s. She was a long-term member of the Missouri and American Psychological Association and served as a chair of the Missouri Association Legislative Committee for many years. In recent years, she served as a supervisor in those seeking licensure as clinical psychologists. She was a skilled therapist for all age groups. In recent years, she developed expertise in forensic evaluations for criminal cases. Betty’s primary focus as an adult was her family and her clients/patients.

In her middle age, she developed a passion for her philately and became known widely in the community as a serious stamp collector and as an accomplished exhibitor. She built award-winning exhibits of St. Louis postal history and the 1904 Louisiana Purchase. She was a member of numerous national societies including the American Philatelic Society, the Women Exhibitors and Hawaiian Stamp Study Group. Some of her prized Hawaiian material is on long-term loan in an exhibit at the Smithsonian Institute.

Nettles at Awards Banquet (1996)
Dr. Betty Nettles in 1996 presenting an Award
at the Shows Awards Banquet

In St. Louis, Betty was an active member of the Mound City Stamp Club, 1904 World’s Fair Club and especially the Webster Groves Stamps Club, in which she was the long-term program chair, inviting outstanding speakers who collectively comprised one of the strongest club program schedules in the nation. She was founder and leader of a St. Louis area exhibitors study group, the St. Louis Bears, and for many years was in the Exhibits Chair for the St. Louis Stamp Expo, which grew to become one of the most competitive exhibitions in the country. Many of the visiting speakers and other guests were welcomed into her home, which she proudly called “The Nettles Philatelic Hotel.” Her gracious hospitality was legendary as were her Virginia style crab cakes.

In 2010, Betty received the Elizabeth C. Pope Award from the St. Louis Stamp Expo for her great contributions to philately. It was fitting that Betty should be honored with the award named for and first bestowed upon her longtime friend, Elizabeth C. Pope

Source: APS written by Alan Barash

David Lee Straight

David Lee Straight

May 31, 1955 – October 16, 2012
Saint Louis, Missouri

In a short life, David L. Straight accomplished more in philately than many do in a many decades-long career. David was a prolific writer and researcher. He published more than 250 articles ranging from pneumatic mail, to the history of the Registered Mail system, to the disgraceful treatment of E. G. Lewis by the Post Office Department, to extreme back-of-the-book topics. He had made acquaintances within the U.S. Postal Service who gave him access to more information about Post Office forms than has ever been published.

A librarian by training and vocation, David retired at the age of 55 to write full time. He was constantly researching some esoteric subjects, whether at the Yale Library, the Library of Congress, the National Postal Museum, or the Postal Service archives. His research notes fill many file cabinets. His articles appeared in The American Philatelist, The American Stamp Dealer & Collector, Stamp Collector, Confluence (devoted to Missouri history), and countless others.

David was quite vocal about making technology work for philately, at the same time realizing that files must be constantly upgraded to new technologies to keep them viable. He was one of the organizers of the Winton F. Blount Symposium on postal history and the impetus behind Volunteer Work Week at APS Headquarters, He was also the driving force behind the Philatelic Union Catalog, the Philatelic Librarians Roundtable, and Stamp Camp USA, serving as its first Chairman.

David was a long-time member of the board of the American Philatelic Society, a trustee of the American Philatelic Research Library, a vice president of the Postal History Society, presented several topics at Summer Seminar, and served several terms as an officer of the Greater Mound City Stamp Club, APS Chapter 4, and Webster Groves Stamp Club (all three in Saint Louis). He spent more than fifteen years on the Board of St. Louis Stamp Expo, filling more shoes than many realized. David was also curator of the Hawaii exhibit that was one of the opening exhibits when the William H. Gross Gallery opened at the National Postal Museum in 2013.

Straight was honored in 2011 by becoming a Fellow of the Royal Philatelic Society London and in 2012 was presented the Elizabeth C. Pope Award for Lifetime Contributions to Philately by Saint Louis Stamp Expo.

Elizabeth Pope

Rebecca Elizabeth (Callis) Pope

November 21, 1925 – October 11, 2007
Saint Louis, Missouri

Rebecca Elizabeth Callis was born on November 21st, 1925 in Germantown, Tennessee to Jack and Bettie (Owen) Callis.

Elizabeth “Liz” Pope was a remarkable figure in American philately. Liz evolved from a serious stamp collector in her teens to one of the truly great figures in American commercial philately. In her youth, she married John D. Pope III, a St. Louis lawyer and lifelong serious specialist in U.S. classic stamps and covers. For decades before his death, she and John traveled extensively to attend scores of major stamp shows and to give expert presentations at large and small stamp clubs. This vigorous activity helped Liz become an astute philatelic expert in her own right. And when John passed away in 1983, Liz hardly paused in her national-level activities. Not only did she oversee the auction of his vast U.S. collections at Siegel’s in 1984, she became determined to learn the stamp auction business. Her contributions spanned several areas, and her impact on the hobby was profound.

The late Hans Stoltz, Liz’s dear lifelong friend, was employed as an executive of Robert A. Siegel Auctions Galleries when, in the 1980s, she learned from Hans that he had a dream to one day own and operate his own business. Liz was always looking to help people in the world of professional philately. She “engineered” Hans’ move to her hometown of Webster Groves where he opened a stamp shop, with Liz as co-owner, in a commercial office building Liz owned just down the street from where she lived. It quickly became a formidable “hangout” for locals as well as visiting philatelists from around the country.

Her knowledge of world philately, and in particular 19th century U.S. and Confederate States issues, was legendary—but more than that, her circle of friends includes the owners of most of the important stamp collections assembled in this country over the past 60 years.

Highlights about her fascinating life:

  1. Philatelic Expertise and Publications:
    • In the 1980s, Elizabeth Pope assembled, wrote, and published the six-volume series titled “OPINIONS: Philatelic Expertising: An Inside View” for The Philatelic Foundation.
    • Her expertise in expertizing and authentication was highly regarded within the philatelic community.
  2. St. Louis Stamp Expo and Webster Groves Stamp Club:
    • In 1992, she worked closely with David Kols to found the annual St. Louis Stamp Expo, a World Series of Philately national exhibition.
    • For over 50 years, she actively served as an officer, board member, and program director for the Webster Groves Stamp Club, one of the American Philatelic Society’s largest and oldest chapters.
  3. Christie’s Auctions and Tutelage:
    • Elizabeth Pope commuted weekly between her home in Webster Groves and her apartment in New York City, where she oversaw Christie’s auction firm’s philatelic division.
    • During her time at Christie’s, she handled significant philatelic holdings, including the renowned Honolulu Advertiser collection of Hawaiian classic stamps and postal history.
    • She also mentored Charles Shreve and Scott Trepel. Trepel later became President of Siegel Auction Galleries.
  4. Legacy and Recognition:
    • Elizabeth Pope’s achievements led to her induction into the American Philatelic Society Hall of Fame in 2021.
    • Elizabeth Pope was inducted into the American Stamp Dealers Association (ASDS) Hall of Fame
    • In recognition of her lifetime contributions to philately, the Elizabeth Pope Award (named after her) was presented to her at the St. Louis Stamp Expo in 2001
    • Her personal collection of philatelic history and memorabilia found a new home with fellow Missourian and longtime friend Randy Neil who passed in 2024.
    • Her impact on the hobby continues to inspire collectors and dealers alike. 

Source: APS

Charles H. Mekeel

Charles Haviland Mekeel

December 1, 1861 – October 13, 1921
Saint Louis, Missouri

Mekeel was one of America’s greatest stamp dealers and editors. He became a dealer in 1877 and continued for the rest of his life. His editing began in 1881 with The Stamp Collectors’ Bureau (later called The Collectors’ Bureau).

In 1885 Mekeel published Philatelic Journal of America, which became one of the country’s leading philatelic journals. It continued for 25 volumes, through 1917, except for volumes 15 to 19 (1901-1905) when it was called Mekeel’s Stamp Collector. At the same time, Mekeel published Mekeel’s Drummer (1900-1901), Mekeel’s News and Trade Journal (1905-1912) and other shorter journals. In 1896, he issued philately’s first “daily,” The Daily Stamp News, publishing 285 issues between January and December 1896.

His most famous publication was his Mekeel’s Weekly Stamp News, which he began in January 1891 and continued to edit through 1897 (Volume 9). It was the weekly journal of record. He then sold it to his brother Isaac who added Charles Severn and Willard Wylie to the editorship, keeping it as the country’s leading weekly into the 1940s.

Mekeel collected and wrote on the stamps of Mexico. He wrote The Mexican Postal Stamp Catalog (1890) and The Postage Stamps of Mexico (1911). For three years (1892-1895) he published a St. Louis-based Spanish language journal, La Revista Filatelica.

Mekeel figured prominently in a famous find of St. Louis Postmaster Provisionals — the St. Louis Bears — that took place in Louisville, Kentucky in 1895. The find, also called the Tyler and Rutherford find, settled any lingering doubts about the plating of the stamps and authenticity of the 20-cent value. It also verified the findings of his colleague, John K. Tiffany, published in 1894. Mekeel wrote The History of the Postage Stamps of the St. Louis Postmaster, 1845-1847 in 1895.

Source: APS

John Kerr Tiffany

John Kerr Tiffany

February 9, 1842 – March 3, 1897
Saint Louis, Missouri

Tiffany was America’s most prominent philatelist of the 19th century. He began collecting as a student in France in the late 1850s, continuing for the rest of his life. In the 1860s he decided to begin collecting “every printed matter connected to the hobby of philately,” and by the 1870s he had built an incomparable philatelic library.

In 1874 Tiffany published The Philatelical Library: A Catalogue of Stamp Publications, a listing of the known philatelic works, nearly all of which were in his library. He wrote other articles on, and catalogs of, his philatelic library during the next two decades. In 1889 he wrote Part 1 of The Stamp Collector’s Library Companion, and in 1890, an Addenda.

At his death, Tiffany’s library was the largest and most complete ever formed. James L. Lindsay, the Earl of Crawford, acquired it intact. On his death, Lindsay’s library went to the British Museum (now located in the Philatelic Section of the British Library).

When the American Philatelic Association (now the APS) was organized in 1886, Tiffany was elected president and re-elected for the next ten years until he decided not to run again. He was an ardent collector, building important collections of U.S., British North America and Afghanistan, among others. In 1894 he wrote a seminal monograph, “A St. Louis Symposium,” setting out the correct plating of the St. Louis Postmaster Provisionals (the “Bears”) based on the limited material available. His analysis was verified by subsequent finds of the Bear stamps.

Tiffany wrote the first comprehensive book on the stamps of the United States. It was first published in French by the Belgian dealer, J.-B. Moens: Les Timbres des Etats-Unis d’Amerique (in three parts, 1883). He subsequently revised and expanded it, and it was published in 1887 as History of the Postage Stamps of the United States of America.

In an 1890 poll taken by The Philatelist (NY) (Vol. 2, No. 4, June 16, 1890), Tiffany was named the second “most prominent philatelist” – second only to the “Great and only Scott” (J.W. Scott). In 1921, when the Roll of Distinguished Philatelists was begun, Tiffany was named as one of the “Fathers of Philately.”