By Jesse Robitaille
A yearly harbinger of summer, the annual convention of The Royal Philatelic Society of Canada (RPSC) welcomed back both sunshine and stamps this June.
Beginning June 21 – the first day of summer – hundreds of collectors gathered in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) for the massive three-day show and exhibition co-hosted by the Bramalea Stamp Club, West Toronto Stamp Club and CSN.
“This Royal had the best vibe of all the Royals I ever attended,” said Ingo Nessel, a member of The RPSC and Bramalea Stamp Club and president of the Philatelic Specialists Society of Canada (PSSC).
Through the show website managed by CSN at rpscroyal.com and The RPSC’s use of social media before, during and after the convention, this year’s show also boasted a strong online presence, added Nessel, who was one of three RPSC members elected to the society’s fellowship on June 22.
“We have to drag philately into the Internet age and the social media age, and that’s a big part of it.”
This year, RPSC members gathered under the banner of “It’s Your Royal,” a theme chosen by the convention’s organizing committee to promote the society’s recently revised strategic plan, which was unveiled at last year’s Royal in St. Catharines, Ont.
“What we’re trying to do – as the Royal’s theme indicates – is ensure the Royal is for everybody,” said RPSC President Ed Kroft, who’s also a member of several RPSC committees, including those overseeing finance, ethics, judging, strategic planning, volunteer recognition and the Geldert Medal.
Since last year, the society’s executive has shifted its focus to “improving transparency,” something they hope will entice collectors – and volunteers – to participate in The RPSC’s initiatives while promoting philately at large.
“As a result of this transparency, people are asking us questions about how the Royal works, if they can get involved and how they can get involved, and that’s quite reassuring,” said Kroft, who added The RPSC “needs volunteers; we’re looking for people with ideas to come forward.”
A full review of The RPSC’s annual general meeting will be published in a future issue of CSN.
A ‘GREAT SHOW’ ALL AROUND
Although it was convention chair Joe Trauzzi’s “first rodeo” at the helm of a show – any show – his work in the months leading up to this year’s Royal, and throughout that weekend, was lauded by fellow organizers, dealers and show-goers alike.
“It’s been a great show,” said Kroft.
“We’re very pleased with the reactions from dealers, attendees and others as to the show’s location and the quality of the service people have received.”
Québec dealer and RPSC director Hugo Deshaye, owner of Hugo Deshaye (Philatelist) Inc., echoed these positive comments.
“It was a great show, and I think the Royal is going in the right direction,” said Deshaye, who added he saw several new faces on the bourse this June.
“That’s rare,” he added, about Canada’s close-knit stamp-collecting community.
But for Deshaye, the “best part of the show” is – perhaps surprisingly – after the show, when dealers and collectors meet for dinner and drinks.
“It’s about fellowship and camaraderie. You have people from across Canada – Newfoundland, Ontario, Québec, the west coast – coming together for stamps.”
The show’s communal quality, Deshaye said, relates to his time in the military as a Canadian Forces master warrant officer.
“The group – or the unit – is an important thing, and with the army mindset, you never leave anyone behind,” said Deshaye, who was invested as a member of the Order of Military Merit last June. “If someone is sitting alone in the corner, you tell them to come over and join you.”
With its solitary stereotype, stamp collecting is sometimes seen as a solo pursuit; however, regular shows contrast this often-misleading label.
“We go away for two months and study our stamps, but then we all come together for a big show, and it’s really a special thing.”
Trauzzi, a member of the Bramalea Stamp Club, added the convention “was very positive, and I’m really happy with all the hard work from our organizing committee.”
Three RPSC members – Ian Kimmerly, Rob Lunn and Nessel – were also inducted into the society’s fellowship, which includes nearly 150 philatelists called to join the ranks since 1960, when Fred Jarrett was named the first Fellow.
It’s the top honour a philatelist can receive from The RPSC, according to the society’s historian and past president Charles Verge, who introduced the new Fellows at the June 22 awards banquet.
For a philatelist to be inducted, they must promote the hobby regionally, nationally or internationally, said Verge, who was named a Fellow in 1997.
“You have to be a part of writing and researching the hobby, you have to be a part of organizing the hobby – being a member of the board of directors of the Royal or spending years regionally or locally running a club or maintaining its viability – and you have to also participate in a number of things that make our hobby vibrant.”
The current Fellows are responsible for electing their successors – upwards of four a year – from a list of nominees.
Kimmerly, of Victoria, B.C., is a long-time collector, exhibitor, dealer and auctioneer who formerly served on Canada Post’s 12-person Stamp Advisory Committee, among other notable positions; however, his election into the RPSC fellowship is mainly owed to his past mentorships.
“He’s been a mentor of the next generation of philatelists in this country,” said Verge, offering Chris Green, owner of Chris Green Stamps, and Stéphane Cloutier, past president of the Postal History Society of Canada, as leading examples.
“He has done that for years, and that’s the most important aspect of keeping the hobby going.”
Lunn, of Fredericton, N.B., is a long-time RPSC director, is involved in the hobby provincially and has previously exhibited “important collections,” Verge said, including his award-winning single-frame exhibit, “Internal Mails and Postage Rates of Pre-Confederation Prince Edward Island,” which won the Single-Frame Grand Award at Orapex in 2014.
“He’s still young and still participating, and he’ll be organizing the Royal in Fredericton next year.”
Lastly, Nessel, of Brampton, Ont., is “well-known for certain things, but unknown for others,” Verge said.
“He has been involved with the PSSC for more years than he wants to count – as treasurer, vice-president and president – but he also has a very long career with other organizations.”
Among his many roles, Nessel is a former vice-president of the Grand River Valley Philatelic Association, the “heart and soul” of the Hong Kong Study Circle, a frequent event organizer and promoter of youth philately.
“I’m elated, very very happy,” said Nessel, who added he was “partially surprised but very gratified to get some recognition.”
“I’m a pretty modest guy – I don’t try to brag too much – but I truly do put a lot of my personal hours into the hobby at different levels and for different things, so to get that recognition is a big deal.”
For more information about this year’s show, visit rpscroyal.com.