A History of Rotary on Stamps

A History of Rotary on Stamps* (see RGHF’s links)

By Daniel F. Lincoln


Stamp collection is a hobby for many. Many start this hobby very young and continue it well into their adulthood. However, once commitments and responsibilities start increasing, many forget this hobby. We at Rotary want to bring such stamp collectors together and create a platform for them to discuss and feed their passion. When a fellowship event is organized for these stamp collectors, even a severe case of stomach flu cannot stop them. All they need is Detoxic and they are there on time to discuss about the history of some of the most precious stamps.

Attracted by the new stamp being issued in 1955 to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Rotary International, Jerry Husak of Lake Forest, Illinois (a non-Rotarian) suggested to the American Topical Association that they have a “Study Unit” devoted to these commemoratives. Ed Flatch, A T A Director of Units, assented and named Jerry as Secretary, and he in turn named Ed as President.  John Tapley of Kenosha, Wisconsin, became Vice-President.  Before the year was over, Ed sold his collection and resigned. Jerry became President and named Dan Lincoln of Jamestown, New York, as Secretary-Treasurer and Bulletin Editor.  Dan was a Past District Governor (PDG) of Rotary and the first Rotarian member of the Unit. Twenty-three Charter Members signed up and paid $1.00 annual dues.


The first thing we did was get in trouble with the United States Secret Service.  We had pasted up bits of half a dozen Rotary stamps using several languages and designs and no denomination or country as an attractive part of the masthead for our Bulletin and stationery.  We were promptly notified by the Secret Service (and I don’t know how they found out) that we were violating the Federal counterfeiting law and were told to “cease and desist.”  They admitted that it was not really a stamp, but “it looked like one.”  We were scared.  So we quickly burned all the paper, apologized all over the place and “ceased and desisted,” trying to keep out of jail.  We thought it was an attractive design, and now we can show it.  The law has been changed.


In that year, thirty-one more members were added.  Six Bulletins were issued.  Emerson Gause of the R.I. Secretariat, the liaison man working on the stamps, and Karl Krueger, Editor of The Rotarian magazine, were named as Honorary Members.  RoS received wide-spread publicity in the philatelic press.


Rotary International on Stamps, A T A’s Handbook No. 17, was published in 1957.  It was the most elaborate they had issued and the most profusely illustrated.  Reviewers gave it “raves,” and it became the “bible” of Rotary collectors.  Lauren Januz resigned and Dan Lincoln was asked to take over as RoS President.  Budd Simon of Pleasantville, New York, became Vice-President and M.G. Ringenberg of Bel Air, Maryland, Secretary.  The checklist reached 41 pages and completed the detailed coverage of all the issues.  The Bulletin had increased to 10 pages and the 100th member joined.  A new slogan was adopted -“In Philatelia Nearly Everybody Reads the Bulletin.”  The first U.S. Postal Cancellation for a Rotary District conference was authorized for use at Buffalo, New York (District 709), and following that example the first R.I. Convention postal cancellation followed it in June at Dallas, Texas.


Dr. Benjamin Steinberg of Hancock, New York, was elected President at the RoS Annual Meeting held at TOPEX ’59 in New York City.  Dr. J. Kler of New Brunswick, New Jersey, became Vice-President, and Ringenberg and Lincoln were re-elected. The first Unit cacheted covers were issued, and a Sales Circuit plan was put into operation.  The Bulletin continued to be a big help with news about newly discovered cancellations, cachets, seals and other related material from around the world.  Exhibits of Rotary stamps which won awards were noted and the columns were opened for free buy and sell advertisements.


The 1961 Bulletin was reduced to six pages and six issues per year.  Vol. VII, No.6 numbered its last page as “#340” and thus adopted a new page-numbering system.  By June, 1962, the membership stood at 200 and the treasury at $700.  For some inexplicable reasons, Rotary on Stamps went into a state of limbo for the next 6 years.  Nobody died; nobody ran off with the money.  There was just complete apathy and there was nothing much happening in the Rotary stamp world.


In December, 1968, Gene Atkinson sent out a six-page “inquiry” Bulletin to a dozen former members.  Rejuvenation had begun!  Vol. VIII under his tender, loving care, and an increasing number of members under President Frank Brasch of Oakland, California, sprang into service.  Anton Dekom (a non-Rotarian) helped the Sales Department and Gene became Secretary-Treasurer and Bulletin Editor.  Membership grew and the Bulletin expanded to eigQt pages.  An excellent Slide Film Program was made available to Rotary and stamp clubs through RoS and AT A.  It told a GREAT story.  Gene wrote the script.


Along here somewhere, Rotary International thought the idea of our “interest-group” was a good one and proceeded to create their “World Fellowship Activities to encompass a broader contact with Rotarian hobbyists.  R.I. Pamphlet #729 established the criteria for participation and RoS humbly (and proudly) took some of the credit for the idea.  As a Convention Service, RoS arranges annually for a “Mixture Pickin’ Table” where hundreds of thousands of stamps supplied by RoS members, clubs and the Secretariat offices are made available to conventioneers (young and old) to “help themselves. �  RoS members are assigned to the area to talk stamps with all interested collectors.


PDG Robert Horion of Antwerp, Belgium, was named Vice-President in 1977.  The Bulletin was improved with better illustrations and more pages, and with a continuous stream of newly discovered cancellations, cachets and several new stamps.  New interest was created for all readers.  Membership from all over the world sprang to new highs.  Dr. Dave Huang of Thousand Oaks, California, was named as Sales Circuit Manager, another RoS service to collectors.


In anticipation of increased interest due to the 75th Anniversary observance, the Handbook Rotary International on Stamps was reprinted in 1980 and designated as “Vol. I 1929-1956.”  Dan Lincoln was named Editor-in-Chief of a Vol. II, 1956-1979, which would include an extensive Addenda to Vol. I. Vol. III, 1980-1984, was also planned for early publication and Dr. David Huang was named as Editor-in Chief of that new volume.  Each new volume followed the same format as Vol. I and was profusely illustrated and documented to give Rotary collectors a complete reference source.


In 1980 came the deluge of worldwide issues observing Rotary’s 75th Anniversary.  With it came PDG James Martin of Old Town, Maine, as President.  Membership shot up to near 400 and the annual dues to $5.  The Bulletin increased to twelve pages, improved its illustrations and was issued five times a year.  The Handbook’s second printing was sold out in 1981.  An attractive set of cacheted covers was designed by George Mann for the Dallas International Convention.  A third printing of the Handbook was ordered.  A Library of Congress Card Catalog Number was assigned to the Handbook and the new volumes copyrighted.


J. Paul Van Nest of Kingston, Ontario, Canada, was named Coordinator of Affairs for the Toronto Convention.  Peter Offer of Coventry , England, was named First Vice-President, and PDG Bryce Kendall of Salem, Ohio, as Second Vice-President.  Dan Lincoln was elected Treasurer and Huang and Atkinson were re-elected Sales Manager and Secretary.  New Directors all from outside the U.S. were H.J.C. Van Beek (Netherlands), Moti J. Pariyani (India), Andres J. Abad (Argentina), Amu J. Shah (Tanzania), and E.H. van Broeknuzen (Netherlands).  A new Slide film Program was prepared with copies on loan from RoS, R.I., ATA, and A.P.S. without cost.  Vice-President Offer was named to serve as Coordinator for RoS Affairs and the 1984 Birmingham Rotary International Convention.  New promotional pieces and Membership Applications (in several languages) were prepared.


In the summer of 1983 RoS issued its “Century Edition” Bulletin.  The course to #100 was fitful but fun.


Rotary on Stamps -from the 80s into the new Century


by R. J. Dickson


As the Rotary world began to issue more and more stamps to honor the International organization, an “Addenda to the Addenda” was added to the Bulletin to help keep members up-to-date with new issue information.  Rotary on Stamps national groups sprang up in Argentina, Netherlands, Israel and France in the early 1980’s.  Jerry Seufert of Long Island, New York, represented RoS at the 1985 ASDA show in Madison Square Garden in New York City.  Visitors were able to view an exhibit, purchase Handbooks and attend lectures on Rotary and stamps.  George Mann continued to design cachets for the International Conventions in Kansas City (1985), Las Vegas (1986), Munich, Germany (1987), Philadelphia (1989) Seoul, Korea (1988), and more.


Bryce Kendall of Salem, Ohio became the President, with Michael Gosney of Farnborough, England First Vice-President and Ivan Kaldor of Rehovot, Israel Second Vice-President.  Atkinson and Lincoln were re-elected as Secretary and Treasurer.


In 1985, Don Fiery of Hanover, Pennsylvania became the Secretary-Treasurer and also was named Editor of the Bulletin.  A period of fiscal growth followed during which several debts were paid off and a profitable sales program inaugurated.  The Bulletin celebrated its 30th Anniversary under Don’s leadership and membership continued to grow.  A detailed checklist was developed and published in the Bulletin – 8 pages of small handwritten information listing all the stamps and their varieties.


After a year’s preparation, Ernst-Theodor Juergens of Augsburg, Germany (a non-Rotarian) published a 240-page ftlll-color catalog of his Rotary collection, the most thorough listing of all Rotary items to date.  Dr. Dave Huang prepared Handbook Vol. IV 1985-1991.  Another new RoS publication came into being when R. J. Dickson of Weems, Virginia submitted his design for a Rotary album.  Quickly adopted by RoS, Dickson made his album available to all collectors and introduced It at the Orlando Convention in 1992.  It has since been expanded to over 300 pages and includes illustrations of all the stamps, souvenir sheets, and many of the cinderellas.  At the Orlando Convention, Dickson and Huang began discussions of revising the Handbooks, with the possibility of a new combined edition in mind.  That new publication evolved into this present RoS Encyclopedia.


At the 1996 Convention in Calgary, Canada, Edward Robinson of Leeds, England was elected Chairman, R. J. Dickson and Ivan N. Kaldor were re-elected Vice-Chairmen, Don Fiery was re-elected Secretary- Treasurer.  The Constitution and By-Laws were amended to reaffirm our historical roots as a Study Unit of the American Topical Association and as a part of the Rotary International Recreational Fellowships program. Also, a new Life Member category was established to strengthen the long-term membership of RoS, the offices of President and Vice-President were redesignated Chairman and Vice-Chairman in keeping with the policy of Rotary International for its Fellowships.


The mid-1990s saw the loss of several long time and outstanding members in the passing of Tony Dekom, Dan Lincoln, Justin Bachrach, Bryce Kendall, and George Mann.  Their many contributions and friendship to many members will be missed.


1999 saw the introduction of a new special album for imperforate stamps and souvenir sheets, 2001 brought a new book for the Conservation Year overprints, 2002 a new album for Specimen overprints.


In the middle of 2003 RoS underwent a major change with the retirement of Donald E. Fiery of Hanover, Pennsylvania as Secretary- Treasurer, a position he held since 1985. Past Chairman and current Bulletin Editor and Director of Publications Richard J. Dickson of Virginia, USA agreed to fill the Secretary- Treasurer vacancy, and the offices of RoS were moved from Pennsylvania to Irvington, Virginia. At the Convention in Brisbane, Australia, the first RoS Catalog listing all RoS items, many illustrated, was introduced. Prices are in US dollars and reflect averages of sales and purchases as reported by members.


In 2003, Rotary on Stamps received a gift from Donald E. Fiery of his complete collection of RoS commemoratives, covers, matchbooks, and other Rotary related material.  The new Secretary-Treasurer, Richard J. Dickson, was named by Fiery to serve as the curator of this historic collection.  Since RoS is a US designated tax-exempt non-profit organization, U.S. members may now donate their collections to the Fellowship, and either take a charitable contribution tax deduction in that year, or designate it as a charitable gift in their estate plan.  RoS will maintain an archival collection of all RoS items donated to the Fellowship, with the provision that we will sell duplicates to help offset our operational expenses.


Chairmen of Rotary on Stamps


1955 Ed Flatch, Jerry Husak USA

1956-57 Lauren R. Januz USA

1957-59 Daniel F. Lincoln USA

1959-60 Dr. Benjamin Steinberg USA

1962 (Group Disbands)

1971-77 Dr. F. 0. Brasch USA

1980-82 Dr. James G. Martin USA

1984-85 Bryce Kendal1 USA

1986-87 Michael Gosney England

1988-89 George T. Mann USA

1990-92 Amu J. Shah Tanzania

1992-94 Dr. David T. Huang USA

1994-96 Dr. Ren� Lagarde France

1996-98 Edward W. Robinson England

1998-2001 Richard J. Dickson USA

2001-05 Gerald L. FitzSimmons USA

2005-     Kenichi Hamana Japan