A Brief History of the Greater Richmond Stamp Club
The first stamp club in Richmond was the Virginia Philatelic Association (V.P.A.), which was founded in 1897 by several friends, including local printer August Dietz, who published The Virginia Philatelist. The V.P.A flourished until the outbreak of the Spanish-American War. Almost 30 years later, attorney J. McDonald Wellford, architect Charles L. Hoffman, and August Dietz announced an informal meeting on May 28, 1929 at the local Y.M.C.A. for the purpose of organizing Richmond’s stamp collectors. Thirty collectors came to the meeting and were considered charter members of the Richmond Stamp Club. Dues were set at 50 cents a month or $6 per year.
The first decade of the club’s history was one of growth, despite the Great Depression, with a number of dealers setting up shop in downtown Richmond. In 1942, the club welcomed female members with Dallas Cummings being the first female member of the club. After the World War II, Richmond emerged a more prosperous city, as did the club. In the 1950s, the club was very active in the issuance of stamps for local notables like Edgar Allen Poe and John Marshall. As the decade came to a close, twenty percent of the club was female.
Like the rest of the nation, the 1960s and 1970s were a time of change, with a majority of the members being general collectors/accumulators rather than specialists/exhibitors that had been so prevalent in the 1930s to 1950s. Many of the female members and first-day-cover collectors split from the club and formed the Carriage House Stamp Club. Other members started the Virginia Postal History Society. Additionally, the club became more inclusive, as the club welcomed its first African-American member, William Bentley, who was a mail carrier.
In 1979, the club celebrated its 50th birthday; however, just two years later in May 1981, the acting president resigned and called a special meeting on the survival of the Richmond Stamp Club. Luckily, enough were interested in the club’s survival and successful improvements were adopted that encouraged membership and bolstered the club. Throughout the 1980s and 1990s the club continued to grow guided by a number of very active members. Finally, in 2004, in the year of the club’s 75th anniversary, members of the Carriage House Stamp Club and the Richmond Stamp Club voted to merge back into one club under the name of the Greater Richmond Stamp Club.
In 2010, the club actively participated in the American Philatelic Society (APS) National Stampshow that was held at the Richmond Convention Center, by funding an exhibit of a printing press used by Hoyer & Ludwig, a Richmond printer of Civil War stamps. Given the success of the 2010, the APS National Stampshow returned to Richmond in August of 2017. Several current members joined the club as a result of our booth at the National Show.
In 2019, the club celebrated its 90th anniversary and today is over 50 members strong and meets once a month, on the second Tuesday. Dues are $10 a year and we provide member auctions, presentations from noted speakers, APS circuit books, and other special events.
Reference: “For Their Mutual Pleasure and Benefit: A History of the Richmond Stamp Club 1929-1994” by R. Randolph Trice and subsequent supplements.