Robin Harris to receive 2020 Geldert Medal this month

Stamp collector, cataloguer and author Robin Harris is the recipient of the 2020 Geldert Medal for the best article published in The Canadian Philatelist, the bimonthly journal of the Royal Philatelic Society of Canada (RPSC).

His article, “Becoming the Understudy: Canada’s Repeating ‘Canada’ Underprint,” appeared in the March-April 2020 issue (Vol. 71 #2) of The Canadian Philatelist. With “excellent original research on modern Canadian issues,” Harris’ article analyzes new printing techniques “to allow a better understanding and classification of varieties, an important area of modern Canadian philately,” according to the Geldert committee. The three-person committee added the six-page article “was well laid out and nicely illustrated to aid the reader” – another nod to Harris, who’s also the journal’s editor.

“I am deeply humbled to be joining past honorees of this award,” said Harris, a Manitoba resident who’s also the long-time editor of the Unitrade Specialized Catalogue of Canadian Stamps. “I hope other collectors have taken an interest in this intriguing area of modern Canadian stamp production as a result of the article, even though it requires looking at the back of the stamp.”

Harris will receive the Geldert Medal during the RPSC’s annual general meeting on June 14—the first of two parts of this year’s all-virtual convention, which concludes with a competitive exhibition plus seminars on Oct. 11-14.

On June 14, after the 5 p.m. AGM, which includes reports from various RPSC executives and committees, two RPSC officials will also host a Stamp Talks session.

During the AGM, officials will also honour volunteers who have boosted the hobby in Canada. The deadline for nominations, which must be submitted to the RPSC National Office with attention to Executive Assistant Lee Ann Stewart, is today, June 5.

Robin Harris, the editor of the Canadian Philatelist and Unitrade Specialized Catalogue of Canadian Stamps, will receive the 2020 Geldert Medal on June 14.

MEDAL ESTABLISHED IN 1967

Phyllis Geldert established the Geldert Medal in 1967 in memory of her late husband Dr. George “Mac” Geldert, an RPSC Fellow and president from 1958-67.

A notable stamp collector, Phyllis was prominent in many facets of RPSC work, including serving as a director from 1967-78. She also served as the society’s executive director and was named a Fellow in 1968. She died on Aug. 23, 2000.

“The standard expected of a Geldert award-winning article is high,” said RPSC President Ed Kroft, who’s joined on the Geldert Medal selection committee by Kevin O’Reilly and George Pepall, who are all RPSC Fellows. “If none is judged sufficiently worthy in a particular year, the award is not given.”

Some recent winners include:

  • Nino Chiovelli, of Edmonton, Alta., for 2010 (“Canadian Food Mail”);
  • Lane Robson, of Calgary, Alta., for 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., for 2012 (“Les Différents Papiers Utilisés pour la Production de la Série des Grandes Reines Victoria de 1868-1876”);
  • Kroft, of Vancouver, B.C., for 2013 (“Canada-Israel: Postal History and Rates: 1948-1952”);
  • David Piercey, of Edmonton, for 2015 (“The Montreal Steamers and the Newfoundland Mails 1885-1897”);
  • John Walsh, of St. John’s, N.L., for 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, for 2017 (“Transatlantic Mail between France and Canada before 1760”); and
  • Larry Margetish, of Victoria, B.C., for 2019 “(The Story Behind Canada’s 12¢ Parliament Stamp”).

In its 53-year history, the medal was unawarded only six times, including in 2018, 2014, 1984, 1976, 1975 and 1972.

After 1983, when Bermuda’s Dr. 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 first and only double Geldert winner.

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