Alton Stamp Club was founded in October 1964 by a group of eleven like-minded collectors who wanted a forum in which they could meet others with an interest in postage stamps. From the outset, they decided that they would not be a “Philatelic Society”, preferring to be a “Stamp Club” that welcomed everyone, whether they were beginners or had long-established collections, whether they were serious philatelists or simply wanted to collect on a casual basis.
This philosophy has characterised the Club throughout its history.
Always seeking to encourage stamp collecting, the Club welcomes Junior members, and for some years in the 1980s several young people of secondary school age attended the Club, receiving guidance (and often stamps!) from older club members for half-an-hour before the meetings started.
The Club has regularly welcomed visiting speakers who have provided varied and interesting philatelic displays, but equally it has included evenings when members could simply chat and exchange material.
Alton and District Stamp Club has been affiliated to the Hampshire Philatelic Federation almost from the start. The Club has run a Mini-Auction each year, and from time to time this has been expanded to a larger event, with members of other Federation clubs encouraged to submit material and to bid for lots.
An exchange packet scheme has been run by the Club for over fifty years. Members place material for sale in booklets which are circulated around all the other members to peruse at home at their leisure. A 10% commission is taken for Club funds.
The subscription has always been kept low, with income generally in line with the cost of hiring a venue for Club meetings. For nearly fifty years, the Club met in Alton Community Centre, with many interesting conversations being continued over a glass or a pint in the bar! However, accessibility issues within the Centre led to the decision to find another venue, and the Village Hall in Medstead has proved to be both suitable and popular.
There is just one Competition in the Club’s calendar. In 1980, Mike Czuczman, the then Chairman, presented a Cup to be competed for on an annual basis. Members provide a display of up to ten pages, and entries are judged, not by specialist adjudicators, but by club members themselves.
The Club continues to be an informal and welcoming place for all those with an interest in stamps and philately.