THE AIMS AND ACTIVITIES OF THE ACADÉMIE DE PHILATÉLIE
Text of our past president Jean-Paul Schrœder
Published in n° 161 – 3 rd quarter 1999 – of "Documents Philatéliques"
« What is the aim of the Académie de Philatélie, and what is it doing to achieve this? Its objects, as defined in the statutes, is to co-ordinate studies and research and to help with their diffusion, to contribute to the development of philately, to cultivate the habit of collecting and to represent philatelists at national and international events.
This programme is based on three fundamental activities: monthly meetings of the academicians, the publication of a quarterly review and the publication of the encyclopédie des timbres-poste de France.
On the first Saturday of each month the members of the Academy meet in private at the Musée de la Poste, that is its registered office and the place where its library is held. The president deals with the day to day life of the association, and one or more conferences take place that are published in the review depending on their degree of general interest.
The need for the activities and the results of the work of the Academy to be known to the world outside has been recognized from the very start and a number of solutions have been considered; but it was not until 1959 that the review took its final form that has been maintained to this day. « DOCUMENTS PHILATELIQUES » as it is called, is a quarterly review, generally consisting of 48 pages publishing all kinds of philatelic studies, written by members of the Academy or by persons outside.
The third aspect of the main activities is the publication of the Encyclopédie des timbres-poste de France: Its aim is to study in detail, and chronologically, each of the issues of French postage stamps as well as to deal with certain specific subjects outside of the chronology.
The first tome of the Encyclopédie, edited in two volumes, was published in 1968. It covers the first two issues, that of 1849 and that of the ‘Présidence’. It is now out of stock and can only be found in auctions.
A second tome covers the issues from 1853 to 1870 but because of the volume of material involved and various difficulties the decision was taken to publish it in sections on specific themes and within the period. ; as a result, since 1992 sections have been published on the railways, district offices of Paris, journals, printed matter, periodicals and the special offices of the II o Empire.
In parallel with the chronological aspect of the Encyclopédie several members have suggested that it might be of value to harness the competence of academicians to publish the fruits of their works without delay and this has resulted in the publication of four sections outside of the planned schedule : a second work on railway posts from 1871 to 1914, another on the district offices of Paris during the period of the stars (étoiles), and two sections on postage dues, one on the squared ‘chiffre taxe’ stamps and the other on the Duval type issue. All of these eight books are available.
Apart from these fundamental activities, the Academy will take the opportunity whenever it is possible to disseminate philatelic knowledge and to encourage those who work in this sense.
Thus it is that a literary prize is awarded by the academy- if a suitable candidate can be found-for a work that has appeared in the past year written by an author outside of the Academy.
The presentation of this award is often made during a « Journée de l’Académie » consisting of a series of short displays given at the Musée de la Poste and open to as large a number of the public as is possible.
Every three or four years the Academy gives a philatelic display based on the collections of its members; sometimes these are presented in collaboration with other renowned French or foreign philatelic organisations.
The Académie de Philatélie has contributed strongly to the creation of the Musée de la Poste. Right from the start efforts have been made to support it and these only bore fruit after several long years of endeavour and perseverance. The Musée de la Poste is extremely important to philately; its library constitutes an exceptional source of documentation; without these works, the official texts and the archives that it cares for, much would be lost. The Academy also supported the initiative taken to form the Société des Amis du Musée in 1946.
As far as national and international exhibitions are concerned, these are prime meeting places for philatelists and members of the Academy are naturally drawn to them where their role is split between being organisers, members of the juries or displayers, Among the eighteen French, alive or deceased, who have had the honour of signing the Roll of Distinguished Philatelists, all except one were or are members of the Academy.
Finally, some years ago, members of the Academy undertook an important part in the preparation of a dictionary of philatelic terms published for the benefit of the public at PhilexFrance99 »
Since the publication of this text, the Academy no longer meets at the Musée de la Poste but its registered office and a part of its library are still with them. The Academy celebrated its eightieth anniversary in 2008 and Documents Philatéliques has passed its half century and its 200th edition. The Academy has also :
- Launched its website in February 2001, and announced in May 2001 two new annual awards: The Academy philatelic prize and the Academy internet prize.
- Organised an annual meeting open to the public since October 2002.
- Regularly published new works; since June 2006 has organised meetings in common with prestigious foreign philatelic associations.
- Organised ‘journées de l’Académie’ (Academy days) – a series of conferences and displays
- Participated in the Salon du Timbre with a stand run by members, a display and public conferences.
- Participated officially at various philatelic events in France and abroad.