The Philatelic Federation, the umbrella body of stamp clubs in South Africa, had its beginning at a stamp exhibition in Durban in 1928. Representatives of philatelic societies from all four provinces and Rhodesia decided to organise themselves into a ‘congress’, which was to be held every second year.
Two milestones mark the congress of 1932 : the inauguration of the Roll of Honour of Distinguished South African Philatelists, and the acquisition of The South African Philatelist as the periodical of organised philately. Ten persons were elected to be signatories of the first Roll of Honour.
The magazine was taken over from John Robertson, a dealer who began with publication in 1920. Actually a ‘South African Philatelist’ was published in Johannesburg in 1895 as ‘n typewritten newsletter. This saw six issues. Another short-lived ‘South African Philatelist’ followed around 1910.
After the name of Philatelic Federation was adopted, the Second World War (1939-1945) interrupted stamp shows and major get-togethers, yet throughout The SA Philatelist was published monthly.
Two postwar congresses were held in 1948, in January and October, and since then an annual philatelic congress has taken place, the 75th being in Johannesburg in 2013. The congress met in Rhodesia twice, in Bulawayo in 1953 and in Salisbury (now Harare) in 1972.
The 50th anniversary of the Federation was celebrated in Potchefstroom in 1978.
Since the formation of the Federation of a number of international stamp events were held in South Africa, the first being the Empire Stamp Exhibition in Johannesburg in 1936, then ‘Unipex” in Johannesburg in 1960, ‘RSA 10’ in Cape Town in 1961, ‘Disa” in Cape Town in 1979, ‘Johannesburg 100’ in 1986 (Johannesburg), ‘Ilsapex” in 1998 (Midrand) and Joburg 2010 (Johannesburg, 2010).