By Jesse Robitaille
Toronto philatelist Sam Chiu has received the 2021 Geldert Medal from the Royal Philatelic Society of Canada (RPSC).
Established in 1967 and awarded most years since then, the Geldert Medal recognizes the best article published in the Canadian Philatelist, the RPSC’s bimonthly journal. Chiu’s winning article, “Adding New Knowledge: Canada’s C-Force in Hong Kong,” ran in the journal’s November-December issue.
“Overall, the Committee was impressed by the article’s contributions to social philately through its integration of the philatelic material and the story told about the forces,” reads a statement the RPSC issued this February, when it announced the 2021 winner.
The Geldert committee, which since 2019 has included RPSC President Ed Kroft plus Kevin O’Reilly and George Pepall, noted Chiu’s article was “well organized, shows very good original research based on a review of several extensive sets of correspondence and is well referenced.”
“The article also adds to the philatelic knowledge relating to this important event in Canadian history. The Committee further noted the application of primary and secondary sources, the helpful factual summary of the conflict for the unfamiliar reader and the emphasis on the tracking of the postal service emanating from the campaign.”
Chiu, whose article also earned a gold medal in the Sarasota National Stamp Exhibition’s literature competition this January, said he is “happy beyond words” to receive the Geldert Medal.
“(I) feel privileged and yet humble to join the ranks of the so many eminent, famous and prominent philatelic writers who had won this award,” added Chiu, who has served as the RPSC’s vice-president since 2017.
Also the newly named editor of the Journal of Chinese Philately, Chiu will be presented with the Geldert Medal at the RPSC’s 2022 annual general meeting later this year.
Phyllis Geldert established the Geldert Medal in 1967 to honour her late husband George “Mac” Geldert, an RPSC Fellow and president from 1958-67.
In his first of nine years as the president of what was then known as the Canadian Philatelic Association (CPA), “Mac” Geldert played an instrumental role in seeking permission for the society to use a “Royal” prefix. In April 1959, 71 years after the CPA was formed, it received permission to use the title from Queen Elizabeth II. It was renamed the RPSC a month later.
“This honour was due to the untiring efforts of the late Dr. G. M. Geldert,” wrote British-born philatelist Kenneth Rowe, the RPSC’s Senior Fellow from 2006-14 and a signatory of the Roll of Distinguished Philatelists, in the January-February 1969 issue of the Canadian Philatelist.
Geldert’s wife, who was also a notable stamp collector, served the RPSC as a director from 1967-78 and as its executive director for three years. She was named an RPSC Fellow in 1968 and died on Aug. 23, 2000.
In its 54-year history, the medal was unawarded only six times – in 2018, 2014, 1984, 1976, 1975 and 1972.
After 1983, when Bermuda’s John Carstairs Arnell, an RPSC Fellow, won his second Geldert Medal, the rules were changed so the honour could only be bestowed to an author once. Arnell remains the only two-time Geldert Medal winner.
Other winners from the past decade include:
- Nino Chiovelli, of Edmonton, Alta., in 2010 (“Canadian Food Mail”);
- Lane Robson, of Calgary, Alta., in 2011 (“Registered Victorian-Era Letters from Canada to the Peabody Medical Institute in Boston” and “Streets of Late Victorian-Era Toronto”);
- Richard Gratton, of Windsor, Qué., in 2012 (“Les Différents Papiers Utilisés pour la Production de la Série des Grandes Reines Victoria de 1868-1876”);
- Kroft, of Vancouver, B.C., in 2013 (“Canada-Israel: Postal History and Rates: 1948-1952”);
- David Piercey, of Edmonton, in 2015 (“The Montreal Steamers and the Newfoundland Mails 1885-1897”);
- John Walsh, of St. John’s, N.L., in 2016 (“1897 Newfoundland Red; Red and Black Trial Surcharges: Examination of why they are trial surcharges” and “Explaining the 1897 Newfoundland Trial Surcharge Overprint: Missing Surcharge Mystery – An Opinion”);
- Peter Moogk, of Vancouver, in 2017 (“Transatlantic Mail between France and Canada before 1760”);
- Larry Margetish, of Victoria, B.C., in 2019 (“The Story Behind Canada’s 12¢ Parliament Stamp”); and
- Robin Harris, of Beausejour, Man., in 2020 (“Becoming the Understudy: Canada’s Repeating ‘Canada’ Underprint”).