They’re the crème de la crème of philatelists; you have to be pretty acclaimed to be on this list.
The “Roll of Distinguished Philatelists” has only the best stamp collectors in the world.
The Philatelic Congress of Great Britain created the list in 1921. The Congress still meets once a year, each time in a different location.
How does one get on this distinguished list? You must help develop the area of philately in some way, whether through research, expertise, or otherwise. The Congress will judge nominations each year.
Those elected onto the roll get to sign one of the three pieces of parchment with other members’ signatures. That’s right – parchment. It can’t get much more traditional than that.
So how did the Roll of Distinguished Philatelists get started, anyway? In 1919, a man named Percy C. Bishop suggested an order to honor the best of the best in philately. Bishop was at the time a member of the London Stamp Club, but he wanted to create an order that exceeded any such club in existence. The President of the London Stamp Club proposed Bishop’s idea to a local stamp paper, and in 1920, a jury published twenty-five names for membership of the order. The order still hadn’t achieved official status, however; but in 1921 the Roll of Distinguished Philatelists was finally created. It received the signature of King George V, also a famous philatelist. He signed the official parchment, taking the place of number one on the list, and thirty-nine more philatelists signed the parchment.
That was just the beginning. Each year after that, excluding the war years between 1940-1946, the Congress meets to vote on further signatures to add to the roll.
You can learn more about the roll on the Association of British Philatelic Societies website. (Link)