The Merchantville Stamp Club
A Brief History: 1931-2001
The Merchantville Stamp Club had its genesis in the sale of a ten cent packet of stamps by J. Harold Wells to Norman E Sheppard. On October 28th, 1931, these men, with five philatelic friends, held their first meeting at the home of Mr. Wells. Grown to 12 members, the club, at its December 17th meeting, adopted bylaws and elected J. Weer Chew president.
The club’s first anniversary was celebrated with a banquet and a commemorative cover, bearing the Wm. Penn stamp and a club-designed cachet.
In March of 1932, the club issued a cover, marking the opening of the new Merchantville National Bank. Over 4200 cachets were mailed by May 14th of that year.
On the second anniversary of the club’s founding in October, 1933, it issued the cachet shown below:
The club’s first public auction and exhibition was held at the Grigg Post on January 25, 1934. On March 22 of that year, the Merchantville Stamp Club joined the National Federation of Stamp Clubs. On April 3rd & 4th, 1936, the club held its second philatelic exhibition using South Jersey Stamp Club frames.
Edited by Norman Sheppard, the MSC Monthly Bulletin made its debut in April of 1937 and continued as a monthly publication for many years thereafter. Since February 1999, a multi-page edition has been published six times annually. Over the past several years, the MSC Monthly Bulletin and Steve Hadjiyannis, its editor since June, 1995, were awarded several certificates in recognition of the excellence of the newsletter; a silver in 2003, a vermeil in 2004 and four consecutive golds from 2005 through 2008.
On April 4th, 1940, the club’s bylaws were amended to allow women to become members. Abbie Tomkinson and Gwendolyn Lawson joined on May 5th.
The 25 members of the club held a 10th Anniversary Exhibition at the Collins Tract School on November 28th & 29th, 1941. The club won a first prize for its exhibit at the South Jersey Exposition (SOJEX) in 1942, held in Camden’s Walt Whitman Hotel which hosted SOJEX until 1954. For its 25th anniversary in 1956, the club overprinted FIPEX sheets as souvenirs. In 1971, club members celebrated the MSC’s 40th anniversary with a dinner and a cachet cover.
In 1972, the MSC voted to become Chapter #817 of the American Philatelic Society. At this time, meetings were expanded to twice a month, generally held on the first Thursday and the third Wednesday. The Thursday meeting was designated the monthly business meeting while the Wednesday meeting became the educational meeting. Club auctions were also introduced, held at the conclusion of each meeting. In 1979, the Merchantville Stamp Club joined the Society of Philatelic Americans.
After having met at the Grace Episcopal Church since 1943, the club moved to its present location, the Temple Lutheran Church, in 1976. At that time, a members’ bourse was added to each meeting from 7:00 to 8:30 pm.
In 1977, at the urging and with the support of several club members, particularly Eugene Federman, who was MSC president at the time, the first Merchantville Philatelic Exhibition (MERPEX) was held at Cinnaminson Mall.
In 1984, MERPEX VIII was moved to the Budget Motel in Mount Laurel, NJ, where the exhibition remained until 1992. MERPEX XVII was relocated to the Cherry Hill Masonic Center in 1993, and continued there until MERPEX XXXII in 2008. In 2009, the exhibition, MERPEX XXXIII, was held at the Monsignor Kavanaugh Hall of Saint Cecilia’s Parish School in Pennsauken, NJ. It remains there today.
In the early 2000’s, Life Member and past president David Grayson established a Merchantville Stamp Club website, accessible by philatelists worldwide. The site includes information about the club, dates for MSC meetings and other club events, philatelic articles that have appeared in the MSC Monthly Bulletin and images of the many club cachets issued at MERPEX over the past 32 years that are available from the club. There are also links to the APS and many other philatelic organizations. The website may be accessed by typing the following address into an internet browser.
On May 17, 2006, eleven members drove in a rented van to Washington, DC, to participate in the APS-sponsored Washington 2006 World Philatelic Exhibition, and were met by several more members who had arrived there a few days earlier. After a full day of viewing exhibits and purchasing stamps from the US Post Office and the many dealers present, the group walked two blocks and had a most unique dining experience at the Zaytinya, a restaurant, which served numerous Middle Eastern food delicacies, principally Greek, Lebanese and Turkish.
In December 2008, the members voted unanimously on a proposal by Steve Hadjiyannis to implement a Saturday Bourse. The Bourse Committee was formed and the plan implemented. As of this writing, five years of successful bourses have been held with up to 16 dealers at each bourse and many area philatelists in attendance. Over 600 Delaware Valley philatelists are solicited by postcard mailings and flyers.
The Merchantville Stamp Club currently consists of approximately 130 members, a number that has fluctuated between 80 and 133 for the last 20 years. An influx of 16 new Life Members in 2008 has raised the number of Life Members to thirty.