- THE BVI PHILATELIC SOCIETY: CARVING ITS NICHE, LOCALLY
- Established 13 years ago, the British Virgin Islands Philatelic Society
has become one of the best organised
- clubs in the territory , staging seven successful exhibitions and taking
a number of initiatives that have quickly projected a very positive image
of the non-profit-organisation. The Society caters for the needs of collectors
in general, be it stamps, coins or phone cards, and has consistently promoted
the cultural aspects of the hobby.
- PHONE CARDS TOO
- "It is not just stamps, the Society has held in the past slide
shows on ancient and Renaissance coins, and the standard reference worldwide
on BVI phone cards is a lengthy article published by Society in its 1995
stamp show booklet. The article, written by renowned expert Giorgio Migliavacca,
has been instrumental in promoting BVI phone card collecting locally and
internationally," says Society member and avid phone card collector
- The Society was the first to welcome phone card collectors locally
and in recent years phone card exhibits were displayed at BVI stamp shows.
- "BVI stamp shows highlight the educational facet of stamp collecting
and have truly become a fully fledged cultural experience," says American
Philatelic Society (APS) vice-president, Peter P. McCann, PhD. The local
club has promoted the hobby in the schools, including the Althea Scatliffe
and Enis Adams primary schools, and the St. George's School.
- From the international perspective the Society has had illustrious
visitors and in 1994 alone the president of
- the International Federation of Stamp Dealers Associations (IFSDA),
Mr Paolo De Rosa, and American
- Stamp Dealers Association (ASDA) president, Mr. Phil Bansner were treated
to a sumptuous banquet at
- Peter Island Hotel, and a cocktail reception and lecture respectively.
- The BVI Philatelic Society was established in 1985. In the early years
the Society contributed two philatelic
- exhibits to the local museum (the Virgin Islands Folk Museum) and held
two very successful slide shows on
- the Postal History of the Virgin Islands as part of a series of lectures
of the Virgin Islands Historical Society.
- In 1990 the BVI Philatelic Society staged its First Annual Stamp Exhibition
commemorating the 150th
- Anniversary of the Penny Black; the show was well attended and similar
and more successful shows were
- held in the years that followed culminating in the 7th Annual BVI Stamp
Show in 1998 at the new and
- spacious premises of Barclays Bank in Road Town, the BVI's capital.
Next year's show (May 1 and 2, 1999)
- will host the international meeting of the Italy & Colonies Study
Group celebrating their 25th Anniversary.
- Some 50-75 ICSG members are expected to attend. The 1995 APS Stamp
Cruise visited Tortola and the
- local club gave a welcome cocktail party. So far, for each of the Tortola
stamp shows the Society has
- published a booklet of 60 to 84 pages featuring interesting articles
on philately and postal history; many of
- these articles have then been reprinted in Gibbons Stamp Monthly, the
Stamp Lover, Topical Time and other
- popular stamp magazines.
- "These lavishly produced booklets have won medals and awards in
Canada, Argentina, and in the USA,
- including Chicagopex '93, the 1993 American Philatelic Literature Fair
hosted by the Cardinal Spellman
- Philatelic Museum in Weston, Massachusetts, and in 1998 at Okpex, Oklahoma
City," says vice-president
- Roger Downing.
- The BVI Postal Authorities have also authorized a special postmark
for each of the seven shows held so far.
- CULTURAL AND EDUCATIONAL
- During the last two years and with the collaboration of The Island
Sun newspaper the Society has conducted
- a BVI Stamp Popularity poll whereby the public can vote for the best
and the worst BVI stamp set of the
- year. Additionally, in 1995, the Society in a joint effort with the
Postal Authorities and the Department of
- Education launched a "Design a Stamp" competition for students
of the local schools; winners in various age
- brackets have so far contributed winning designs for the stamp sets
devoted to Christmas 1995 and Festival
- 1998. The competition is generously sponsored Barclays Bank plc.
- "The positive aspects of the competition are quite obvious: the
students' focus on traditional values of BVI
- cultural heritage, combined with the enhancement and furtherance of
artistic skills will produce the type of
- educational experience that is extremely desirable. Additionally, the
students become acquainted with stamp
- collecting as a highly educational hobby," says Attorney-at-Law
and Society member, Mr. Edgar Hewlett.
- The Society's president is a member of the BVI Stamp Advisory Committee
since 1987, thus contributing
- a valuable input and collectors' perspective to the islands' new stamp
issues. The Society has a membership
- of 45, including quite a few overseas members from the USA, UK and
the Caribbean. Members receive a
- bulletin outlining upcoming activities and minutes of the meetings,
as well as the stamp show booklet.
- Membership is US$25.
- Once a year the Society holds a seminar to discuss various topics and
to help new members to present a
- display at the stamp show; the seminar ends with a popular buffet dinner.
Meetings are held every month
- and in the two months preceding the stamp show every Saturday morning
at a local restaurant. The Society
- has been able to purchase some 25 standard (16-page) exhibition frames;
important collections have been
- displayed at BVI stamps shows, for three years in a row Doyen of Postal
History, Robson Lowe sent very
- impressive exhibits (Chalon Heads, Napoleonic letters and autographs,
World War II in Africa), APS vice-
- president Dr. Peter McCann exhibited his gold-medal collection of Virgin
Islands Postal History, Gustav
- Pohlig exhibited a selection of his POWs collection, and in 1998 the
Liechtenstein Postal Museum
- participated with a very impressive exhibit.
- CARIBBEAN & INTERNATIONAL PERSPECTIVES
- The Society has become an APS Chapter only recently in an effort to
expand its overseas membership and
- to boost interest in British Virgin Island and Caribbean philately.
The Society plans to publish a specialized
- catalogue of BVI stamps from 1866 to date in the next year or two.
Meanwhile membership in the Inter-
- American Federation of Philately (FIAF) is being sought, and contact
with the Puerto Rico and the Sociedad
- Filatelica Dominicana of Santo Domingo has been established with the
hope it will lead to joint efforts to
- promote stamp collecting in the Caribbean. With a population of only
20,000, some of the major challenges
- of the BVI Philatelic Society are: to keep interest alive by staging
shows that have a broad appeal, and make
- sure that membership becomes stabilized and if possible add to it.
- In many respects the BVI Philatelic Society has some unique features
that make it different from the average
- stamp club. The exotic setting is but one aspect, 70% of the members
are women, resident membership (as
- opposed to overseas members) is rather cosmopolitan including natives
as well as nationals of Britain, Italy,
- USA, Panama, Canada, Germany and a number of Caribbean islands. In
1997 and 1998, at least three
- members of the Society have exhibited at major USA stamp shows winning
a total of some eight gold medals, countless vermeil medals, four APS Research
Awards, three APS medals of excellence, four AAPE special awards, and a
grand award in literature class; this was achieved in less than 12 months
and goes to show the high standards achieved by the Society. Another challenge
is to cultivate members who have collections with a potential for exhibiting
at USA stamp shows; efforts are being made in this direction and it is
quite possible that by 1999 a group of five members will be jointly exhibiting
at USA and overseas stamp shows. In the year 2002, the BVI Philatelic Society
will host the international meeting of the British Caribbean Philatelic
Study Group (BCPSG) to be held in conjunction with the local stamp show.
However, this will not be the first BVI experience for BCPSG members; in
1976 they held their international meeting in Tortola and staged the first
local stamp show -- Tortopex. Organised philately in the BVI dates back
to 1971 when a short-lived BVI Stamp Club was launched.
- There are also unusual rewards in the Society's activities aimed at
promoting the BVI in the stamp world.
- As a result the BVI has attracted the attention of the moguls of the
the stamp industry and we have learned
- that one of the 250,000 International Business Companies (IBCs) registered
here is Philatelic Rarities
- Limited, BVI. The company trades in rare stamps using the services
and management of the Geneva,
- Switzerland, based David Feldman S.A. "Five years ago Feldman
auctioned the famous Mauritius Collection formed by Japanese tycoon Hiroyuki
Kanai for a grand total in excess of US$14million. Other important IBCs
linked with the international stamp market are also registered in the BVI,"
says BVIPS president Giorgio Migliavacca.
- A FRIENDLY ORGANISATION
- The BVI Philatelic Society is a friendly organisation; no formalities
are required to become a member and
- membership fees are easily compensated by the many advantages offered
by the Society such as availability
- of stamp, coin and phone card albums and accessories at very low prices.
- "Since we have become a Chapter of the American Philatelic Society
many of our members can derive great
- benefits from their membership in APS such as insuring their collections
at very competitive rates, accessing
- the American Philatelic Research Library, benefitting from translation
services and a host of other advantages," says Society treasurer Jo
- The Society has its own library and collectors may contact librarian
Ione Cox to borrow catalogues and books.
- "For the past 13 years the Society has made its presence felt
in our community and has laid solid foundations for the continued progress
of the hobby," says Society member Thelma Swain. The Society has its
own constitution and by-laws and the present board of directors includes:
Dr. Giorgio Migliavacca, president; Roger Downing, secretary/vice-president;
and Jo Warner, treasurer. Contacts: British Virgin Islands Philatelic Society
- Secretary: Roger Downing, P.O. Box 11156, St. Thomas, VI 00801-4156,
USA - e-mail: email@example.com or alternatively firstname.lastname@example.org
-- Tel/Fax 284-494-3510; alternatively: British Virgin Islands Philatelic
Society, P.O. Box 704, Road Town, Tortola, British Virgin Islands, West