Philatelists in New South Wales had long dreamed of forming an Association and establishing a central philatelic headquarters – a home for philately – in the State. After the highly successful ANPEX 70 exhibition was held in Sydney, the meeting that founded the Philatelic Association of New South Wales (PHILAS) was held on Commonwealth Day (was once Empire Day) 24th May, 1971 and a Constitution was approved. Executives from the Exhibition Organizing Committee administered PHILAS until the first Annual General Meeting was held in August 1971, when delegates from NSW Philatelic Societies and Stamp Clubs stood for democratic election.
The new executive were homeless, had a sound Constitution, a few assets in the form of display frames stored in private homes and about $25,000 in the bank – the profits from ANPEX 70.
The first foray into the market for a home, in Darley Street, Darlinghurst, was fruitless, because of difficulties with the development of the site. This was sold, and the hunt was on again. Thanks to the campaign, “Buy a brick for Philas House”, enough money was raised to put a deposit on the former Commonwealth Police Headquarters at 17-19 Brisbane Street, Darlinghurst, in 1977. This was a joint purchase of the building, with the NSW Golf Association and the Ladies Golf Union. The building was Strata Titled, with PHILAS having the Ground and First Floors and the loading dock. The Ground Floor was fitted out for a Library, work areas and office space. The First Floor was set up as a meeting room, with double strength lighting, wall display frames and tables and chairs. The ground Floor Library area and the First Floor were carpeted, and both floors were air conditioned.
After the completion of the refurbishment, Philas House was officially opened on 21st July 1978, and has served philately in this State ever since. The Bank Loan negotiated for the purchase of the building and its refurbishment was paid off very quickly and PHILAS then owned the property outright.
Further additions were made as time went on – a Printing Room was created and the Library and storage areas were extended, at the expense of space in the loading dock and other areas.
PHILAS was incorporated on 13th June, 2003, and shortly afterwards amalgamated with the NSW Stamp Council, which became a part of PHILAS as the Philatelic Development Council (PDC). The enlarged body was incorporated as an amalgamated Incorporated Association on 11th February 2004.
It was in April, 2003 that we were told that the NSW Golf Association and the Women’s Golf Union were moving out to other premises. Because of the overcrowded conditions we were working under, it was decided to buy the Second Floor from the Women’s Golf Union and use that floor for the Library. The Library was incorporated on 13th June 2003 and, after much lengthy negotiation with the Australian Tax Office, received Income Tax Exemption and was recognised as a Donated Gift Recipient. Settlement took place in September 2003, the purchase being made from PHILAS funds, with help from the funds held by the then NSW Stamp Council. No monies were borrowed to finance this transaction.
Shelving and additional Compactus units were installed on the Second Floor and the Philas Library was progressively transferred to its new home. This has eased the overcrowding problem and has provided space to allow for future expansion.