IBRA News 23.02.2023 – The Roll of Distinguished Philatelists

Signing ceremony during IBRA 2023.
An invitation for everyone to attend.

Jon Aitchison
Keeper of the Roll

The Roll of Distinguished Philatelists is the highest and most prestigious of honours in philately, and is the world’s oldest philatelic honour. It recognises achievement, research, publication and service in many areas of philately. The Roll was instituted in Harrogate, England in May 1921 and the signature of His Majesty King George V appears at its head as the first signatory. The total number of signatories up to and including those selected in 2023 (but excluding H.M. King George V) is 407 from 41 different countries. In its design, it contains the names of 44 so-called “Fathers of Philately”, names of great philatelists who would have been invited to sign had they been alive at the time. At the first ceremony in Harrogate the signatures of the initial 39 names were added to the Roll.

This year’s signing ceremony, on the occasion of the 102nd anniversary of the first signatories to the Roll, will take place from 5pm on Friday 26 May 2022 at Schlosshotel Hugenpoet, Essen, Germany, during the IBRA 2023 International Philatelic Exhibition. The 2023 signatories will be accompanied by two elected during the last two years who had not yet been able to sign because of the pandemic. The ceremony is followed by a free drinks reception. Attendance at the ceremony is open to all, there is no need to pre-book and attendees should gather for the ceremony from 17.00. Return buses to the ceremony will be provided free, leaving from the Hotel Bredeney at 16.00 and 16.15, and from Messe Essen where the exhibition is being held at 16.15 and 16.30.


The new signatories join 89 other current living RDPs from 27 countries spread over six continents. Biographies of this year’s new RDPs follow. They are:

Pradip Jain, RDP, India
Ms.Patricia “Trish” Kaufmann, RDP, United States of America
Professor Dr. Damian Läge, RDP, Switzerland
Jesús Sitjà-Prats, RDP, Spain
Turhan Turgut, RDP, Turkey


Pradip Jain, RDP, India

In international philatelic circles, the name of Pradip Jain is among the best known philatelists from India, both as an individual and as the head of a family of philatelists. Pradip’s involvement in Indian and global philately stretches over many years. He served three terms as a Governing Council Member of the Philatelic Congress of India and was active in the organisation of three FIP world stamp exhibitions: India 1989, Indipex 97 and Indipex 2011, as well as the FIAP exhibition Indipex Asiana 2000.

Pradip has served three terms as a member of the Philatelic Advisory Committee of the Indian Government, which advises India Post on the formulation of national postal policy. He was also the FIP Aerophilatelic Commission member for India between 2000 and 2004.

As a collector and exhibitor, Pradip has had a major focus on various aspects of Indian philately. His collection of India airmails is well-know and his exhibit “Indian Airmails Development and Operations 1911-1942” has gained international awards, five times FIP Large Gold, Special Prizes, felicitations of the Jury at Pacific 97, and being a Grand Prix National nomination at Indipex 1997. It was awarded Best Aerophilately Award at Italia-98 and was shown in the Championship Class of London 2000. Other major airmail exhibits include “Development of Airmail Route between UK and India 1918-1929”, which was awarded a gold medal and Best in Class at London 2010. Traditional exhibits of the “King George V issues of India” and “India 1948 Mahatma Gandhi Issue” have variously received gold and vermeil medals internationally. Among postal history subjects, Pradip has formed an important collection of British Indian postal history.

The book entitled Indian Airmails Development and Operations 1911-1942, published in 2002, is considered the key reference book in this field and received a gold medal at the Chicagopex Literature Exhibition. Similarly, Pradip’s book on Mahatma Gandhi Memorial Issue of 1948, covering the design, printing, circulation and usages is considered the most important handbook on the issue.

He was honoured in the AAMS (American Airmail Society) Hall of Fame in 2011 in appreciation of his contribution to aerophilately in 2011 and is a Fellow of the Royal philatelic Society London.

Ms. Patricia “Trish” Kaufmann, RDP, United States of America

Patricia Kaufmann (known to all within the world of philately as “Trish”) has been for many years the leading dealer in USA Civil War philatelic material, including the stamps and postal history of the Confederate States, with an encyclopædic knowledge of the stamp production, significance, and use. She generously shares her knowledge freely through many award-winning articles and monographs spanning the last 50 years. Her website is the repository of a wide range of information from her researches. The listing of these issues in the Scott U.S. Specialized Catalogues reflect much input and re-writing based on her knowledge and researches. She served as editor-in-chief of the full-colour Confederate States of America Catalog and Handbook of Stamps and Postal History (2012), the major handbook on the subject.

Trish gave up collecting and exhibiting in order not to conflict with her clients but her exhibit “Evolution of Confederate Postal History” won the National Grand Award in 1972. However, she continued to engage in significant ways within the philatelic fraternity: from 2010 to 2013 she was a Member of the Council of Philatelists of the Smithsonian Institution National Postal Museum and was a founder donor to the William Gross Gallery at the National Postal Museum. She continues to advise on the evaluation and describing of their holdings. She served for many years as an expertiser on the Confederate Stamp Alliance Authentication Service (renamed the Civil War Philatelic Authentication Service, and now emeritus status) and assists at the major expertising services on many of the most difficult and challenging items.

From 2016 to 2022 Trish served as the chair of the Board of Vice-Presidents of the American Philatelic Society. In this role, she not only contributed to the operation of the Board as the senior alternate to the President, but operated and was responsible for the Society’s disciplinary procedures, which evaluate and rule on complaints made against members. She also served on the board of the APS Philatelic Research Library 1983-1986, as well as in many senior positions on organising committees of numerous exhibitions.

Trish has been instrumental in using her researches and artefacts of the Civil War period to bring alive the history and interest in this important period of American history. As part of this, she endowed the Kaufmann Civil War Room at the American Philatelic Center in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania. She was named a Distinguished Philatelist by the US Philatelic Classics Society in 2019. As recently as this year, she was honoured with the award of the Collectors Club of New York Lichtenstein Medal for outstanding services to philately.

Professor Dr. Damian Läge, RDP, Switzerland

It is rare to find a single philatelist that is associated with a single philatelic collecting and exhibiting class to the extent that Professor Dr. Damian Läge is to Thematic Philately. Whilst Damian has formed several collections and exhibits of traditional, postal history and postal stationery classes (mostly relating to the German inflation period), it is for his major Thematic exhibits that he is best known. His influence stretches beyond merely the formation of great exhibits but covers the conceptual evolution as to how a top class Thematic exhibit should be constructed. In this he has for many years led the way, achieving international recognition of what is generally considered as being one of the finest thematic exhibits ever formed. His achievements have so many “firsts” that it would be invidious to list them all.

Damian is among the most active of philatelists among international exhibits and exhibiting. He became a member of the FIP Commission for Thematic Philately in 1999 and was elected chairman for the period 2004 to 2012. He was the driving force behind the organisation of the FEPA European Championship for Thematic Philately and has acted as jury president at virtually all events since. He has exerted similar influence and performed similar roles at the German Championships for Thematic Philately since their inception. He is regularly seen on juries at international exhibitions around the world and has taken the important position of Jury secretary on numerous occasions, the most recent being at Helvetia 2022.

As a regular lecturer on Thematic Philately in general and on his own collections and exhibits in particular, Damian received the Lee Medal of the Royal Philatelic Society London for the best 5.00pm paper in 2004 and the Best Presentation Award of the Collectors Club of New York in 2009. He presented the Harry Sutherland lecture in 2009 to the Royal Philatelic Society of Canada. His were the keynote lectures at international seminars at numerous international exhibitions stretching over many years. His book Thematic Development; The personal design of a Thematic Exhibit (1996) was described as the guide to the “4th Generation of Thematic exhibiting” and remains today the best guide to concepts and development of a top thematic exhibit.
It is rare to find a Thematic exhibit among the top awards at international exhibitions. However, Damian as achieved numerous top honours, including his “Australasian Birdlife” being the first Thematic exhibit to receive 97 points in an FIP exhibition (China 1999); first Thematic exhibit to be a candidate for a FIP Grand Prix International (Belgica 2001); first Thematic exhibit to be a candidate for a FIP Grand Prix d’Honneur (Washington 2006 and Bucharest 2016); first Thematic exhibit to win the World Stamp Championship (Budapest 2022).

Jesús Sitjà Prats, RDP, Spain

Very active in philately within Spain and in international judging and exhibiting, Jesús Sitjà Prats has been on the board since 2010 and President since 2013 of the Real Academia Hispánica de Filatelia e Historia Postal (Royal Hispanic Academy of Philately), the leading philatelic society in Spain. Actively involved in many aspects of the organisation of seminars and presentations, Jesús researches many aspects of the Spanish postal system, having retired as an engineer and gone back to university to complete a degree in history. At present he continues to pursue a doctorate in history at the University of Barcelona with the thesis The beginning of the Royal Spanish Mail in America, 1764-1780. He has also served on the board of the Spanish Philatelic Federation (FESOFI).

His philatelic interests cover not just Spain but also the Spanish Colonies of South America. Several exhibits have achieved Large Gold medal standards and, in Paris 2012 his “Classic Peru” was awarded the Grand Prix International, while his “Maritime Mail of Spanish Colonies in America” was among the candidates for the Grand Prix International in New York 2016.

A prolific writer himself, Jesús has been publications director of the Spanish Academy of Philately since 2017 and is responsible for the publication of Academus (6 issues) and several specialised publications. In the last year he himself was author of the book Barcelona, 1850-1950 – Historia Postal y sus Marcas (2022), covering the postal history and postal marking of Barcelona. Previous books include El Correo Colonial en Virreinato del Peru (2009), Postal Markings of Madrid (2 volumes 1850 to 1872 and 1870 to 1940), as well as pioneering studies of Peruvian maritime mail during colonial times, parcel post in the Spanish American colonies, the use of Spanish revenues and documents, the railway markings of Spain; his last publication is Private Markings in Spanish railway correspondence, 1848-1878 (2023), and many other subjects.

A qualified national judge and FIP accredited international judge on Traditional and Revenues, Jesús is regularly seen on international juries.

Turhan Turgut, RDP, Turkey

Turhan Turgut is a familiar presence at international exhibitions across the globe. He is a sought after member of jury as an FIP qualified postal history judge with a wide-ranging knowledge of postal history generally and of the complex Ottoman area in particular. Recent judging assignments include Notos 2021, London 2022, Hunfilex 2022, Helvetia 2022 and Liberec 2022, where Turhan’s role was often as jury team leader or jury vice-President.

In his home country, Turhan is Honorary President of the Turkish Academy of Philately and was much involved in recent times with the response to the various lock-downs due to the Covid 19 pandemic. A Philatelic exhibition had been planned to celebrate the centenary of the Turkish National Assembly and a decision was made to convert this exhibition to being one of the first e-exhibitions, with all aspects being held virtually, including well-attended workshops on postal history and the future of classical philately.

Turhan was involved on the organising committee of an Ottoman Post workshop in conjunction with the Fatih Sultan Mehmet University of Istanbul which brought together for the first time in Turkey academics and collectors to discuss Ottoman postal services, where he delivered a PowerPoint presentation.
His own collecting interests focus on the postal history of the Ottoman Empire and various of these exhibits have received gold awards at numerous exhibitions from the 1990s. His exhibit of “Ottoman Field Post” received the Grand Award at the World Meeting of Turkish and Ottoman Philately in Washington DC in 1995. In addition to his Ottoman interests, Turhan has collections of modern Great Britain, including booklets and the Machin issues.

Turhan’s study of the postal history of the Ottoman Empire culminated in the 863 page book Postal History of the Ottoman Empire – Rates and Routes 1840-1922, published in dual languages of Turkish and English in 2018. The book was highly acclaimed and received international Large Gold and Gold medals at several exhibitions. The second volume, due for publication during 2023, examines the postal history of modern Turkey up to 1950.

Two additional signatories at IBRA 2023:
Two RDPs elected during the covid pandemic were unable to sign The Roll at the time but will do so in Essen. They are as follows:

Malcolm Groom, RDP, FRPSL – Australia – Elected 2022

Malcolm Groom’s collecting interests have focused on the collecting and study of the stamps and postal history of Australia and his native Tasmania. He has covered most aspects of the subject, including Contract Mails, Free Franks, Commercial Airmails, postal stationery and the pictorial issues of Tasmania 1899 to 1912. His well-received recent book on the postal stationery of Tasmania (Tasmanian Postal Stationery by Malcolm Groom and Allen Shatten) is a first specialist publication on this subject.

Malcolm has been involved in organised philately within Australia, and with most of the national and international exhibitions held within the Australian region since the 1990s. He has held several different posts at the Australian Philatelic Federation from 1986 and is currently the longest serving member of the Australia Post Stamp Advisory Committee. He was Chairman of Pacific Explorer (2005) and President of Australia 2013, both successful international exhibitions, and was awarded a Fellowship of the Australian Philatelic Order in 2014.

However, Malcolm’s involvement in organised philately goes well beyond the local or regional. He was elected chairman of the FIP (Fédération Internationale de Philatélie) Postal History Commission in 2016 and has been very active in that role. As an FIP qualified juror since 1990, he has served on numerous juries throughout the world, including holding the onerous post of jury secretary in China 2009 and London 2010, as well as being involved in numerous seminars and presentations around the world.

Michael M. Y. Ho, RDP – Chinese Taipei – Elected 2021
Michael Ho has been active in Taiwanese and Asian philately for many years. He was an executive member of FIAP (Federation of Inter-Asian Philately) since the mid-1990s, including being secretary general from 2005 to 2009, and today remains an honorary member. He has been a Jury member at many international exhibitions and was FIP co-ordinator for the Bandung 2017 World Stamp Exhibition. He has also participated on the expert teams at several exhibitions.

Michael has formed several significant collections, with his collection of China Small Dragon issues winning the Grand Prix International in Bangkok 2003 and the Grand Prix d-Honneur in St. Petersburg 2007 and his book China: The Small Dragon awarded a large gold medal and special prize in Bandung 2017.

Others of his collections, including the postal stationery of Nicaragua, the American Bank Note issues of Bolivia, and the postal stationery of Honduras received high awards at exhibition.