By Jesse Robitaille
With the death of another towering figure in Canadian philately, it’s high time these colourful characters are celebrated on – what else? – stamps.
In late December, CSN received a letter from long-time philatelist and Canadian Armed Forces veteran Dick Malott, of Ottawa. A regular face at Orapex (plus other national and international shows in years past), Dick told us about his recent cancer diagnosis – a result of his service in Vietnam in the early ’70s.
“Several of my Comrades have died already from cancer of different types. Now I guess it is my turn,” wrote Malott, who added he was unsure exactly how much time he had left.
“However, I have had a good life and appreciate your friendship over the years.”
He died in early February.
“Dick Malott was the foremost Canadian aerophilatelist for many years,” according to Chris Hargreaves, past president of the Canadian Aerophilatelic Society (CAS).
Not just a collector of aviation-themed stamps and postal history, Malott was an accomplished researcher, exhibitor and judge while also working to advance Organized Philately by planning shows and serving on executive committees.
His work with Canadian airmail began in the 1950s, and over the years, he took home 12 large golds and five small golds at the international level, among other exhibiting honours (he was also an international judge).
In Organized Philately, his presence was far-reaching. In addition to commanding the CAS from 1993-2008, Malott previously served as a director of the Royal Philatelic Society of Canada (RPSC); the chair of the American Air Mail Society (AAMS) awards committee; the national commissioner for Capex 96; and the Canadian commissioner for many international shows.
Philatelic societies around the world recognized his achievements and contributions. In 1986, Malott was named a Fellow of the RPSC. A decade later, he was inducted into the AAMS Aerophilatelic Hall of Fame. The Royal Philatelic Society London named him a Fellow in 2005, and the following year he received the British North America Philatelic Society Lifetime Achievement Award. In 2008, he was the annual Orapex honouree, and in 2009 he was awarded a “Golden Pin” from the Swiss-based Fédération Internationale des Sociétés Aerophilatéliques. Later that year, the CAS named Malott a Fellow.
He was also the oldest living member of the invite-only Philatelic Specialists Society of Canada (PSSC), which he joined in 1969. He was made an honorary member in 2013.
“In spite of all his achievements and awards, Dick never seemed to slow down,” said Hargreaves, who added Malott was a judge at Orapex 2018 and served on the show’s organizing committee last year.
Of course, Malott wasn’t alone in his tireless efforts to advance the hobby he loved.
A cursory look at the PSSC’s “Prominent Members” page highlights some of the philately’s most iconic champions. These groundbreaking collectors built much of the hobby’s foundation – an act of service to which we all owe some thanks.
G.M. Geldert successfully petitioned the government for royal patronage of the Canadian Philatelic Society, which then became the RPSC.
Fred Jarrett, known as the “first dean of Canadian philately,” wrote the country’s first philatelic handbook, Stamps of British North America.
Robert Lyman developed the hobby’s current cataloguing methods by conducting the first statistical study of Canadian stamps.
And that’s not to mention the iconic dealers – Richard and William Maresch, James Sissons and Allan Steinhart, to name but a few.
While we, as collectors, know these names, their legacy is perhaps best remembered on stamps – the small but not-inconsequential bits of paper these collectors decided to devote at least part of their lives to.
While a “Legends of Canadian Philately” set might not have the mass appeal of Leonard Cohen, for example, it would be an appropriate commemoration for those people whose hard work placed Canadian stamps on a pedestal.
If not, there’s always Picture Postage.