The top award of the Philatelic Federation is election to the Roll of Honour of Distinguished Philatelists of South Africa (Ererol van Uitgelese Filateliste van Suid-Afrika).
This high honour is considered by the annual philatelic congress, which receives a verified citation and then decides by secret ballot whether or not to invite the candidate to be a signatory to the Roll of Honour.
The criteria relate to philately (the person must be a leading exponent of his field), publication (he must have contributed to the body of knowledge pertaining to his subject), selfless service contributing to the enjoyment of the hobby by others, and he or she must be a person of good character and sound reputation. The requirement is that a candidate must conform to the latter point, plus any two of the other three.
Not more than two people may be elected to the Roll of Honour in any year, except under very special circumstances. Signatories may use the letters RDPSA after their name.
The Roll was instituted in 1932 and a facsimile thereof is displayed at the annual national philatelic exhibition.
The top award for services to philately is the Skinner Cup, which is also subject to a secret vote by delegates at the philatelic congress. This coveted cup is actually inscribed ‘Southern Challenge Cup’ but is popularly named after the donor, William Skinner, who made the trophy available in the late 1930s.
The Skinner Cup may be awarded to a person once only.
The Manfred Weinstein Memorial Medallion is for excellence in philately, in research and the sharing of knowledge. It is a medallion worn on a neck ribbon at philatelic events.
As with the other top awards, the award need not be made every year. Manfred Weinstein was an outstanding student of South African postal history, internationally acclaimed, and also editor of The SA Philatelist in the 1970s.
The J H Harvey Pirie Award is for philatelic literature, in other words, outstanding publications relating to South African philately. Harvey Pirie was editor of The South African Philatelist for three decades, from 1934 to 1965.
The W A Lea Cup, donated fifty years ago by a British stamp dealer, is for special services in the interest of philately, and is awarded at the discretion of the Federation’s Awards Subcommittee.
The Federation Plaque is for service over a long period, while Congress Certificates are awarded in recognition of fine contributions to our hobby, including articles in The SA Philatelist. Special awards for articles are the Jack Hagger Award and awards presented by the Transvaal Study Circle.