In the early 1930s, the San Diego Stamp Club (founded in 1923) proposed a combination Clubhouse and Library, as existed in Los Angeles. They started a "Building Fund", which still exists today, and invested in the "Farley Follies" full sheets of United States imperforates and special printings. After holding them in a bank vault for 40 years, and having failed to increase heavily in value as hoped, they were sold to members of the San Diego Stamp Club for nominal value. Meanwhile, real estate prices in San Diego continued to rise faster than the Building Fund, preventing the Library dream.
In the 1960s, the San Diego Stamp Club began accumulating various stamp publications from donations - catalogs, stamp newspapers, auction catalogs, and philatelic books. They were stored in the garage of former philatelist Jack Lutnick for years.
In 1969, San Diego held its largest stamp show ever, for the 200th anniversary of San Diego, hence of California. It was hosted by Gypsy Rose Lee, the famous Stripper, and featured the famous New York auctioneer Siegel - the only time we have ever had a big-name auction. Held at the Convention Center, then new, it was huge, and boasted the greatest exhibits ever shown west of the Mississippi, with tours led by Herb Bloch, arguably the greatest stamp expertiser in U.S. history. Special stamps were issued in conjunction with the show by the United States, Mexico, Spain, and Portugal, and letters read from the Pope and the Kremlin, although the latter two declined to issue stamps. Plans for the first worldwide simultaneous auction, by satellite, were mysteriously scrapped, rumored vetoed by Washington D.C.
Because of this event, four San Diego philatelists had lunch together in 1971 and decided to have a yearly stamp show to keep the momentum going. (Remember, there were no monthly stamp bourses, and wouldn't be for years. There was no Poway Stamp Club either - in fact, no City of Poway of any size.) The luncheon was called by John Tracy, who would tragically die shortly before the first SANDICAL Stamp Show in 1972, and included Jack Lutnick (Library Custodian), Bob Morris, and Bob Kennedy. These four gentlemen would talk another long time collector, Ed Prall, into conducting a yearly auction - even though he had never before held one. This three day show was held in Mission Valley for a rent of $1,500 and made thousands of dollars profit, as it would continue to do in the years to follow. Instead of rejoicing at this unexpected development, the leadership under Bob Morris became very apprehensive! They were exceptionally honest and ethical men, and didn't know what to do with the profit. There was no legally constituted SANDICAL Committee. What were the tax implications? What about the potential for law suits? What about their personal responsibilities? And what about the old dream of a Library? All these thoughts were passing through the minds of these five gentlemen. Also, Jack Lutnick needed his garage cleared out!
So, sometime in the late 1970s, they agreed upon a plan to solve SANDICAL's unresolved issues AND start the long delayed Library. A Philatelic Council would be established consisting of delegates from each of the County stamp clubs, with the SANDICAL Committee itself being recognized as a "stamp club". The SANDICAL Committee immediately gave the Council approximately $20,000 to set up a Library, and committed itself to give a yearly sum of "excess" profit to the Council. The Council would control the Library, as the SANDICAL Committee didn't want to take on that task in addition to putting on the yearly stamp show. The SANDICAL Committee held onto a few thousand dollars as "seed" money for the yearly show. By using two different bank accounts for the SANDICAL Committee and the Council, and having them organized as two separate non-profit entities, the Council money is protected from any disastrous lawsuits emanating from the public stamp show, even though it originally was financed from SANDICAL profits. Thus, without SANDICAL, there would be no San Diego County Philatelic Library or San Diego Philatelic Council.
The Council rented a small, rather dilapidated structure on San Diego's Poplar Street in City Heights, a neighborhood in decline, and soon to become a high density crime and drug connected activity area. By 1996, most local stamp collectors were saying they would not go there even in the daytime, let alone at night. At least one car was stolen and several vandalized.
Mission Gorge at Princess View Drive
Consequently, one member of the community, Al Kish scoured the County for a more desirable location, a place with a cement floor capable of sustaining the weight of the Library, plus suitable parking, neighborhood, and rent. A search that may have been easy in most parts of the country became difficult-to-impossible in San Diego - a place of rapidly rising rents. Eventually a place was found, although in Allied Gardens where civilization almost ends in Mission Gorge at Princess View Drive. The Library's five year lease was tied to rent increases based on the Consumer Price Index which even with moderate inflation soon reached unmanageable levels. After 12 years of rent increases, and the loss of income from the SANDICAL Stamp Show - which was only breaking even with its increased costs - the Library was forced to leave the city limits to conserve the Council's diminishing capital.
Suite A-3, Escondido
Under the auspices of a new Council slate of officers insistent on the Library's continued existence, a new location was found in the North County town of Escondido - at a much lower rental cost. Physically moved over a two week period by a half dozen determined philatelists under the leadership of Librarian Dick Gunderson, the new Library, while a bit far for old time San Diegans south of Mission Valley, has become a popular place for the NEW San Diego, which is moving ever North. The Library's new home at 330 West Felicita Ave., Suite A-3, Escondido, CA 92025 (Telephone 760-738-4533) consists of approximately 800 square feet of floor space, packed tight with over 6,000 volumes of general and specialty publications - books, monographs, periodicals, and catalogs.
Suite D-4, Escondido
In the Fall of 2010, Librarian Don Hager organized the move of the Library to a larger store front, Suite D-4, in the same commercial center. With lectures, auctions, meetings of various philatelic organizations, a dedicated web site, a revitalized Philatelic Reader publication, and computer Wi-Fi access, the new San Diego County Philatelic Library flourishes as never before!