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About us

Our history in the stamp trade began with Robemark Philatelists, a stamp business that was first established in the 1950's.

      Ian & Benje Joseph
Benje Joseph took over the business in 1961 while it was still located in the Old Arcade in downtown Johannesburg. When the Old Arcade was demolished and rebuilt, Robemark moved to new premises in Joubert Street, opposite His Majesty's Theatre. It became well known as the “only coffee shop that sells stamps”.
In 1972, Robemark relocated to the Carlton Centre, which in it’s day was considered as the finest shopping centre in all of Africa. With Benje’s wife Norma and all four children, Lee, Hugh, Ken & Fane becoming involved in the business, Robemark grew rapidly to become the premier philatelic dealership in Southern Africa, if not the whole continent.       Lee, Benje, Ken & Hildi Joseph


By 1980, Robemark employed a staff of 20 enthusiastic people, dealing in all aspects of both the retail & wholesale trade, as well as publishing catalogues and in-house magazines, while developing agencies for some of the finest international philatelic accessories available.


In 1984, Terry Barnes (formerly of Leeds, UK) joined Robemark to help establish an auction division. In 1988 Terry & Ken formed a new business called Filatelic Phriends and relocated to the picturesque coastal village of Hout Bay, near Cape Town.


By embracing technology, their auction catalogues became internationally accessible via the Internet in 1998, which led to approximately 70% of material on offer being exported to customers living abroad.
After more than a decade in rented offices, the need for bigger premises became essential and in May 1999 the company bought a historical house called "Oakburn", close to the heart of Hout Bay's village centre, as its headquarters.

“Oakburn” is a magnificent, Cape-Dutch style house, with ornate “holbol” gables dated 1847, high wooden beamed ceilings and shuttered windows, all in an attractive garden setting.
Situated on the first farming land in South Africa, which was granted by the VOC to Hout Bay Freeburgers in 1681, “Oakburn” was initially part of the renowned "Kronendal” Farm. The original structure was erected much earlier than 1847 and was probably a labourer’s cottage at first. The original clay walls and attached exterior chimney are incorporated into the current structure and are still identifiable. The farm manager was subsequently housed in the much-enlarged homestead, before the farm was sub-divided.

The building adopted the name "Oakburn", after the British steel cargo steamer of 3865 tons, which was built in 1904 by Russell & Co in the Port of Glasgow. The "Oakburn" came to grief in the mist on 21st May 1906 off Duiker Point near Sandy Bay, while on a voyage from New York to Sydney, carrying a cargo including railway lines and equipment, glassware, sewing machines, musical instruments, oil and paper. Only 2 lives were lost and the surviving crew was billeted here. Some of the wooden beams salvaged from the wreck were used in subsequent renovations and additions to the building.
Ken Hugh Bernadette
In 2000 Terry Barnes passed away and shortly thereafter Hugh rejoined the company, which was then renamed Philatelic Friends. Between them, Ken & Hugh have more than 45 years experience in the stamp trade. They are ably assisted by Bernadette Rodrigues, who has been with the company since 1995.
This exciting new website heralds the beginning of a new chapter of our passion for the wonderful world of philately.

We hope to be of service to you all, both now and for many years to come.


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