THE HISTORY OF CONGRESS.
The first Philatelic Congress of Great Britain was held in conjunction with a Philatelic Exhibition at Hulme Town Hall, Manchester between the 18th and 20th February 1909. The business included the formation of a National Society or Federation, the desirability of a Collectors’ Catalogue, unnecessary issues, deceased collector’s stamps and an encyclopaedia of philatelic literature. From which we gather that nothing much has changed!
The Junior Philatelic Society of Scotland, the original name for The Caledonian Philatelic Society (the “Caley” as it is affectionately now known) sent three delegates Robert Borland, J.R. Donaldson and J.L. Thomas. The literature now available includes a verbatim report, a volume of papers and a history of the event which includes the second Congress of 1910.
The 1910 gathering was held in April at the Caxton Hall, London at the invitation of Herts. Philatelic Society. The Caley’s delegates were J.L. Thomas and H.A. Wise. The business included philatelic terms, unsolicited approval sheets, guarantees of authenticity – should they be for a definite period? and also the manufacture and sale of forged stamps. Still issues of today!
Barring interruptions due to war, they have been held annually ever since. The venue moves each year and Congress is the opportunity to meet with fellow collectors for a relaxing few days in pleasant surroundings. The events include discussions, displays and visits, plus the ever-enjoyable Congress Banquet.
The highlight for many is the occasion at which both the Congress Medal is presented, and the new signatories to the Roll of Distinguished Philatelists are invited to sign the Roll. More often than not, this is linked with a reception hosted by the town or city in which the Congress is held.
Papers are given on philatelic subjects at Congress, for instance at the 88th Congress in 2006, David Beech of the British Library gave a paper on "The Philately of the Edwardian era as shown in its literature".
Other organisations, particularly the major stamp auction houses, also often host special events during the Congress.
Maintaining a long tradition, the Association of British Philatelic Societies now organise the Philatelic Congress of Great Britain each year.