Philosateleia
Kevin Blackston
PO Box 17544
San Antonio TX 78217-0544
United States of America

Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Roto-Gage at Disney World

Earlier this month, my wife and I had the opportunity to visit Disney’s Magic Kingdom in Orlando, Florida. It’s something that had been on our “bucket list” for several years, and it seemed as good a time as any to go.

Even though this is not peak season for Disney World, the place was packed. Wait times for some attractions were as much as 90 minutes, but the Hall of Presidents—a building with displays featuring presidential memorabilia and a brief show about United States Presidents—was, rather sadly, less than crowded. Suprisingly enough, one of the items on display had to do with stamp collecting.

Descriptive placard and Roto-Gage tool that belonged to Franklin D. Roosevelt
Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Roto-Gage

The card describing the “stamp collector’s Roto-Gauge,” which is on loan from the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum, states the following:

Franklin D. Roosevelt began collecting stamps at age nine and continued the hobby the rest of his life. Even while President, he found time to expand his prized collection, inspiring new philatelists across the nation.

FDR was probably one of the best known stamp collectors in the world at large, but I had never heard of this tool before. The Roto-Gage (as the item was marketed) features not just a perforation gauge and small ruler, but a built-in magnifying glass and watermark tray. It was apparently intended to be something of a Swiss Army knife of stamp collecting, or as a piece of marketing material described it, “A compact and handy instrument that takes all the labor out of stamp collecting…the one thing needed to make this fascinating hobby a perfect relaxation.”

I have to wonder about the utility of having all of these tools combined into one unit; it seems to me it might be a bit unwieldy. Nevertheless, it’s an interesting piece of philatelic history, and definitely not the sort of thing I expected to see at Disney World.

Have you ever seen the Roto-Gage before? Ever used one? What do you think of the idea of combining multiple tools into one product like this?

Published 2013-02-24 Last updated 2018-06-20

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