Sunday, February 16, 2020

‘Sign of Distress from the Stamp Club?’

Following the demise four years ago of New York Masonic Stamp Club, the last vestige of Masonic philatelic fraternalism in the United States is the George Washington Masonic Stamp Club in Virginia. For now.

This club will host its annual meeting next Sunday but, in a message to the membership, President Walter Benesch forecasts an uncertain future for the club. But first, this meeting:

George Washington
Masonic Stamp Club
Sunday, February 23
2 p.m.
George Washington
Masonic National Memorial
Alexandria, Virginia

Come to the North Lodge Room for the usual cover-and-stamp exchange at 1:30 p.m. The annual meeting will begin at two o’clock. The Master of Philately degree will be conferred on members who have not yet received it, and Master Mason walk-ins are welcome too. Life Membership costs $20.

There will be a number of door prizes. Some albums and special philatelic items may be up for sale as well. Do not miss this wonderful annual opportunity to mix with your fellow Freemason philatelists. The meeting usually adjourns by around 4 p.m. to reconvene for dinner.

Following the meeting, a no host dinner will be enjoyed at Joe Theismann’s Restaurant (1800 Diagonal Road, just at the bottom of Shooter’s Hill). Every effort will be made to reserve a table in the “upper deck.” Dinner orders will be off the menu.

While the kitchen prepares the dinners, the program of the evening will be presented: a talk based on some of the ideas in astrophysicist Lisa Randall’s Dark Matter and the Dinosaurs. Dr. Randall describes the fact dark matter and dark energy make up more than 85 percent or more of our universe. She cited a particular episode of the original Star Trek TV show called “Wink of an Eye.” Could this have implications to Masonry and our spiritual beliefs? This will be explored in the talk.

For questions, to confirm that you will be present, and/or especially if you would like to receive the Master of Philately on February 23, please contact Secretary John R. Allen here.

This may be a tipping point for the club. Those of us loyal supporters must face the fact that stamp collecting and cover cachets are not attracting interest by younger members, and has lost older members in varied ways. The famous New York Masonic Stamp Club, which helped found our club, is no longer. Their wonderful magazine has ceased to exist. Bob Domingue, the Philatelic Masonry editor, continues to publish a wonderful news letter informing the declining number of Masonic philatelist what is happening related to Masonic stamps around the world. Truly a hero trying to keep the interest alive. Yet in his Blue Friars talk a few years ago, he admitted there is no chance the interest and value of stamp collecting will recover.

Even the GWMSC, which once held as many as seven meetings a year, has only one meeting a year now. Yes, we continue to offer the Master of Philately, the last source for the degree, but can we continue without an increase in membership and leadership?

I am therefore appealing to the members to either step up or ask if the GWMSC should close and our efforts be cancelled like the stamps on an envelope. That and the election of officers will be the focus of our meeting this year. If there are new members, or old members who have not received the degree, the degree will be offered. There is no extra fee to receive the Master of Philately degree, although you must be a GWMSC Life Member.

Please attend. The club needs you most urgently.

Walter Benesch, President

I collected stamps, mostly first day covers, in my youth, but I don’t know how many of today’s 35-year-olds are continuing the hobby—especially as Freemasons—so perhaps this club has run its course. The U.S. Postal Service does a poor job of communicating our country’s history through its stamp releases, and it seems very rare to find a new stamp that has some relevance to the Masonic world. But maybe I’ll be proven wrong next Sunday. Perhaps a coterie of educated Masons from Virginia and DC will surprise the club at its meeting with that much-needed infusion of fresh blood. You research lodge guys, you observant lodge guys, you historians, art mavens, and other traditionalists have heard the call.

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