2012 News

Tasmania - Dr Patrick Reid


12 December 2012


Twelve members welcomed Pat Reid to a warm Bix Village Hall on a clear frosty night. A renowned specialist on its philately, Pat displayed 192 sheets from his extensive collection related to Tasmania. The island is nearly as large as the Republic of Ireland but has only a twentieth of the population, currently about 350,000 souls; a chart showed the rise of population during the nineteenth century from its first settlement in 1803.

Indeed there were less than 20,000 people on the island in about 1820 when Pat’s first covers and documents were issued illustrating its first postal history. Thus many of these letters related to important people such as the administrators and the Postmaster General. Tasmanian stamps were issued from 1853 but by then some were already on letters brought by sailing ships, including from Britain. Notable were some British 1847+ imperforate embossed 6d and 1/- stamps, some already cut to shape before posting rather than cut square as stamp collectors now prefer.

The next topic was the 1d red pictorial, showing Mount Wellington and issued from 1899 in various shades of red [SG 230, 238, 240, 250, 261]. In 2008 Pat had spent most of an evening showing us versions of the whole 8-value set; but this time he exhibited a wide range of variations for a single value – in terms of paper, printing methods, corrections and perforations. The latter included double perforations, some as additions in a different gauge, some stamps even showing edges perforated in three different gauges. Other corrections were successive but ineffective attempts to remove a plume from the summit of Mount Wellington, eventually requiring a new plate.

The Platypus stamps were a ‘Stamp Duty Tasmania’ issue of the 1880s and 1890s. They were in fact permitted for both postage and revenue. Indeed Pat has envelopes with such stamps not only used on the outside for postage but also affixed to receipts included inside. Some were overprinted REVENUE in a variety of forms but even these seem to have been accepted for postage until November 1930. Not mentioned in Gibbon’s Stamp Catalogue is that the Platypus stamps, printed from the same plate, were reintroduced in the 1930s for Tasmanian Revenue purposes. Too many were printed at £1 value and these were overprinted at lower values (6d or 1/-) and were still used for revenue purpose as late as 1949.

Tasmanian postcards shown by Pat were all of the Port Arthur Penal Colony and the subsequent village/resort of Caernarvon, including scenes - depicted before photography – in paintings to show the conditions in the prison settlement (to which the last convict ship came in 1853). Postal stationary, which concluded the display, included both illustrated envelopes and some envelopes with stamps finely embossed by post offices to anybody’s order at the price only of the stamp. Incidentally there was an explanation of the practice of assessing international postage due charges in centimes (the French currency used by UPU).

Pat Reid’s display once again explained many features of Tasmanian practice which occur in similar features of wider global philately.



Chairman’s Evening 28 November 2012


On the first cold evening after a very wet spell, Bob Clements provided welcome food and drink for his Chairman’s evening at Bix for thirteen other members plus the guest speaker and his wife.


Since the speaker Alan Holyoake’s subject was GB Postal History from 1400, Bob opened the meeting with a brief resume of global postal history before that date. Postal systems were operating in China and Persia as early as the 6th Century BC. Later the Romans developed a network utilizing both ox-drawn mail carts and 170-miles-per-day relays of horsemen over the 47,000 miles of roads across the Empire.


After a brief reference to his enthusiasm for stamp collecting and philately in general, Alan Holyoake explained his particular interest – shown in a nine-panel display – in registration and secure delivery of mail as it emerged over four centuries. Most of us now think of letters or other recorded letters or packets in terms of the value of their contents. However the primary concern of early commercial, military or royal correspondents was that the messages contained should be safely and speedily delivered. The ways in which both aspects of security were ensured was explained in an historic sequence comprising

· The early merchants’ post starting with the Venetians from 1400, then through the agencies of such men as Corsini – in London and Florence – or the Counts of Thurn and Taxis in central Europe.

· GB Royal Mail, instigated by King Henry VIII and developed in the reigns of Edwards VI (with his personal hand stamp authorizing Franck stamps), and Queens Mary (making records in a ‘register’ compulsory for distant mail) and Elizabeth (with her personal written involvement).

· Further developments in the times of the Stuart kings and Cromwell’s Commonwealth) and the emergence of Postmaster-Generals.

· The London Penny Post and the instigations of such men as Murray, Dockwra, Maberley and Rowland Hill

· 1/- and later 6d registration procedures in Victorian times and before, with and without stamps,

and parallel or different developments in the ‘Foreign Branch’ and colonial mail (e.g. New South Wales and other Australian state initiatives).


Alan kindly provided copies of his publication Great Britain – Secure delivery of Mail 1450-1862, which he had presented in the form a 16-panel display to the Great Britain Philatelic Society in 16 June 2012. This superbly illustrated document is a comprehensive explanation of the subject. It was also a most welcome memento of his display, which we were able to view selectively and enthuse over with the help of Bob Clements’s wine and sustenance and the avid interest of our members.



Visit from Bill Jackson 7 November 2012


Curiouser and Curiouser


Eleven members enjoyed a display by Bill Jackson of Oxford Philatelic Society. His title, for what he called a mishmash of material acquired over a lifetime of stamp collecting, comes from Alice in Wonderland, which was written in Oxford.


Bill first introduced his family from which he had been inspired to pursue his hobby, including by:

· family correspondence starting with an 1840 letter bearing a Penny Black and including a later one to Shanghai ‘via Siberia’,

· formal best wishes from the Queen on one of his cousins reaching 100,

· a letter from an aunt in Allahabad, India, posted in 1911 and postmarked as going by the world’s first scheduled air mail consignment*,

· a sad letter addressed to a family officer in the Inniskilling Fusiliers at the time of the fighting in Gallipoli and returned, simply marked ‘killed’ in pencil**.

*  This letter, posted from an Uttar Pradesh conference, went on only a modest distance flight, whence it passed by train to Bombay where it was transhipped two days after posting. However it quickly passed through the Suez Canal to Brindisi or Marseille whence it reached its remote Irish destination more quickly than today’s ail usually takes between southern England and the close continent.

**  Other human frailty was illustrated by World War II and Bosnia strife (albeit with philatelically interesting Hitler material) and by stamps depicting the many national leaders who have (mostly recently) been assassinated.


Envelopes that Bill showed included some from Royalty or Parliament and many early ones addressed in fine handwriting to very short addresses.


Peculiar letters were those on woven lace, cork and balsa wood. He commented also on the relatively low quality of modern GB (postmark) slogans, showing examples of better ones in the 1950s or a rich variety of more recent ones on letters posted at Geneva Zoo. Among Bill’s stamps were

· some from a miscellany of little known or temporary countries,

· New Zealand issues with advertisements on the back,

· stamps which smell, e.g. of curry, if you rub them,

· a colourful set celebrating one of Colonel Gadaffi’s anniversaries,

· fine engraving on the Canadian $8 grizzly bear stamp,

· Ceylon stamps overprinted CAVE (after the Englishman who went out to Ceylon as secretary to the Bishop of Colombo and afterwards set up a still flourishing publishing house),

· also from Ceylon, the back view of some exotically shaped perfins.


The wide range of interest generated by Bill’s display was be gauged by the time which we all took to view his material and its written explanations, and by the many points of discussion and reminiscence that this generated.




Visit from Joan and Crawford Alexander 24 October 2012


Eighteen of us, including the speakers and friends, gathered at Bix for Jean and Crawford’s display entitled ‘GB Heads and Tails + a surprise country’. The GB material concerned many old and newer stamps, but with particular reference to related topics and trials. The surprise country was Argentina; the surprise was again more in the related material than to the fine stamps of that country to which we at Henley have been made familiar by one of our number.

The first of the GB sheets displayed one 1d black from each of the twelve plates. Among the related copies was a particularly fine more recent engraving by a Czech artist (Czechs are excellent stamp engravers). There followed a variety of Victorian postal stationery. These included some early railway picture postcards on sale for 1d (including ½d postage paid). Then, diverging from the subject of Shakespeare stamps, we saw some local stamps produced for sale in aid of a Stratford-on-Avon church restoration for 1/- each on a card. Buyers were assured that these were valid for postage if they posted them in the box in the churchyard. [If they did this, the verger cunningly collected them later, stuck a ½d stamp on each, and transferred them to an official pillar box – the restoration fund still made 11½d.]

Later letter cards included a number c.1898 of the Clyde paddle-steamers, notably the Ivanhoe, a ship whose cachets and cards were designed to attract a ‘better class of tourist’ than the average Glaswegian. The ship was teetotal but, when entertaining continental royalty, recourse was made to the medicine cabinet for a bottle of wine. The Ivanhoe was succeeded by the first-turbine driven passenger ships, the King Edward and the Queen Alexandra.

Musings on Victorian and Edwardian mail then brought our speakers on to the stamps of George V and trials etc for the definitives and the 1935 Silver Jubilee set. They showed a large number of cards advertising each new issue, produced by Harrisons for the stamps they printed. These continued into George VI’s reign. The last part of the GB display concerned QE II issues as well as memorabilia and menus from the beanfeasts enjoyed by the national postal (stamp?) advisory committee of which Dr Jean Alexander is a prominent member.

The Argentina display included telegram forms, covers addressed to Buenos Aires (alternatively written as ‘Capital’ of simply ‘Ciudad’) and much else; but notably a large number of early pictorial latter cards (or postcards) depicting the exotic ruins of substantial finely carved early Jesuit stone buildings in surroundings that have reverted to jungle.

The evening contained countless sidesteps into intriguing historic or nostalgic features, difficult to recall specifically, but there were certainly some mid-20th century postal orders (and greetings cards which could go with them) and a more recent (1970/80s) pristine copy of the Beano. Together with some comments and questions from the floor, it was a stimulating evening.


Visit from Camberley Philatelic Society 26 September 2012


Fifteen members enjoyed displays by Jenny Balcombe and Ron Jones from Camberley.


Plants and People was the subject of Jenny’s thematic display. A wide variety of stamps illustrated human applications of plants (economic botany), all with exquisitely hand-written explanations. Aspects included food, drink and flavourings, hunting, shooting and fishing, fossil and other fuels, sports equipment, books and communications, building materials and a range of timber buildings, bridges and even aeroplanes.


The second part of Jenny’s contribution comprised the geography of Western Australia with particular reference to settlement that took place in the 1920/30s in the South-East corner. This was illustrated by contemporary postcards, but principally by postmarks (mainly on George V stamps) from the many, mostly small, postal districts from North to South of this huge region. Jenny also described the practical difficulties faced by the settlers – reaching the farm sites in the first place, the very basic accommodation and the initial unsuitability of the soils – and the ways in which these problems were overcome.


The stamps of Poland were the subjects of Ron’s display. His interest stemmed from visits to Poland, starting in 1962, in connection with supplies of equipment for railway locomotives. Among the many topics these fine stamps showed were:

· enthusiasm for most of the post-war Olympic Games,

· World War II itself including the battles, the Warsaw uprising, Hitler and the German ‘General Government’, the concentration camps, Polish contributions to the Allied cause including in the air force and at Monte Cassino, and the stamps issued in Britain by the Polish government in exile,

· buildings and architecture, national parks, famous Poles from Copernicus and Chopin to Sikorski and Paderewski, dance groups, railways, mining and industry, children’s stories,

· New Year, Christmas and Easter stamps.


The evening was hugely informative on a range of topics shown with splendid stamps.



Member’s Evening on 12th September 2012


Thirteen members attended the opening meeting of our 2012/13 season. As usual, the loose theme for the first evening was Latest Acquisitions. A wide variety of covers were displayed from all parts of the world including:

· Tin Can Mail, which carried mail from ships to the tiny harbourless Pacific island of Niuafo’ou, originally in tin cans but then in various coverings; for many years swimmers collected the mail but, after one carrier was eaten by a shark, Queen Salote of Tonga ordered that outrigger canoes should be substituted; the ‘tin can mail’ was continued for over 100 years until an airfield was built in 1983.

· Much more recent GB mail illustrating a variety of recent cancellations, also five letters received today bearing a rich variety of stamps as still used by enthusiasts.

· Stamps exhibited included a variety of Burma from the mid twentieth century, two different GB Edward VII £1 (one issued after the King’s death), and much more recent ones commemorating the Summer just ending; these included the Diamond Jubilee celebrations and the London Olympic Games - including some of the many gold medal stamps issued almost immediately after each Team GB victory.

· Interesting documents included specialist catalogues, a few of hundreds of coin-plus-stamp display sheets, postcards from Angkor Wat and early scenes near London stations, and a selection of early (pre-1840) letters, magazine pages, programmes and attractive embossed silhouettes.



Member’s Evening on 13th June 2012


Sixteen members met at Bix to display a variety of stamps, covers, documents and a picture relating to “the 1920s”. Several of these showed different aspects of similar subjects. Themes included:


· The aftermath of World War II comprising dissatisfaction with the Treaty of Versailles (or ‘diktat’) in Germany including a set of labels depicting all the colonies and nearer tracts of land which had been lost, similar consequences in Turkey culminating in the rise to power of Mustafa Kemal (Ataturk) and the setting up of the Turkish Republic in 1923.

· Stamps issued in connection with plebiscites and Denmark’s acquisition of part of Schleswig.

· German postage meter marks.

· German and Bavarian stamps of the period.

· ‘Victory’ and ‘Peace’ stamps of New Zealand and other British Empire countries.

· Argentinian commemoratives including the centenary of the birth of the Oriental Republic of Uruguay.

· Stamps showing the transfer of government in 1923 from the British South Africa Company to the self-governing colony of Southern Rhodesia (in preference, as determined by a plebiscite of settlers, to incorporation in the Union of South Africa).

· A range of 1920s revenue stamps, including sheets of Colombian triangulars, and labels (produced in Italy!) related to the ‘Great Famine’ in Russia in 1921.

· A copy of The Times for September 1924, a Russian (Rudiswka) painting depicting a landscape in Cornwall combining cubist and impressionist styles; a collection of railway-related documents (Instructions to Drivers crossing the Crumlin Viaduct, cheques, shares certificates and their exchange at the time of the 1923 railways grouping).

· Commemorative stamps and covers relating to events, conferences and exhibitions plus postcards and aerial views of the British Empire Exhibition at Wembley in 1924/25. Stamps and covers relating to 1920s celebrations of the Olympic Games.

· Definitive pictorials (views and portraits) sets from the 1920s for many countries.



Claire Scott, Brunei 23 May 2012.


Claire gave us a fascinating talk about Brunei and its philately. Claire’s interest in the country and its stamps stemmed from the fact that she believed she was only the second European to be born in Brunei. Her talk covered, amongst other things, the river-related geography of Sarawak and Brunei, the influence of the Brooke family on the history of the area and the availability of the very high value stamps.


Claire described Brunei in the 1800s as a very primitive place - less advanced than Britain before the Romans arrived— and she compared what we had done for Brunei to what the Romans had done for us. The country is about the same size as Norfolk with a population today of only about 400,000.



Chairman’s Evening - 25 April 2012


Chairman Bob Clements, with his fellow GB enthusiast Stephen Sanders, entertained fourteen members with a display entitled ‘GB Four Kings’. This comprised mint examples – with many of the variations - of all the stamp sets issued during the reigns of Kings Edward VII, George V, Edward VIII and George VI.


On the death of Queen Victoria – even though she was an old lady and her demise could have been anticipated more easily than that of the four kings – it was a year before the ‘Jubilee’ series could be adapted to substitute King Edward’s head for that of the Queen. After Edward VII died (May 1910), there were disputes with De La Rue as to continuation of their contract. So other printers issued two sets of Edward VII sets during 1911 and 1912. It was not until June 1911 that the Downey-photographed ¾ face George VI 1/2d and 1d stamps emerged. A full set of definitive George V profile faces then emerged from 1912 onwards; and the ‘Seahorse’ high values from 1913. A further improved set of definitives, with brighter colours and coloured background behind the king’s head, emerged from 1936.


The first commemorative stamps were the pairs issued for the Wembley British Empire Exhibition in 1924 and 1925, followed by the five-stamp set for the London UPU Congress in 1929. The Silver Jubilee set of 1935 and King George VI’s Coronation set of 1937 were accompanied by extensive omnibus issues for the numerous colonies and dominions of the empire overseas.


Consequent upon George V’s death in January 1936, a set of four definitives for the uncrowned Edward VIII emerged in September of that year. After Edward’s abdication in December, coronation preparations were switched for the new king at the old date. Coronation stamps for the new King and Queen were issued a day or two before the actual event. A full series of George VI definitives then started to emerge, the middle values in 1938 and 1939, the 11d not until 1947; the new design larger high values – to replace the George V sea-horses - came out in 1939 or 1943, the £1 not until 1948.


The George VI definitives strong-coloured series of 1937 were replaced by new sets:

· in softer colours (to save ink) in 1941/42

· in new colours to accord with UPU convention from the end of 1952.


Starting with the centenary issue (for the penny black) early in World War II (1940), George VI’s reign produced some fine commemoratives of royal and national events and, shortly before he died, a new series of high values.


Viewing of all this material and avid discussion of related and unrelated matters was enjoyed with the excellent food and drink prepared by our Chairman.




Postcard Evening - 24 March 2012


Twelve members and dealers Rosa and Tony gathered at Bix to view nine displays of postcards. Themes included:

· The British Museum.

· Inter-war Aircraft including those that constituted early Czechoslovak Airways.

· Railways at the sea – along the coast, to ports, to the end of piers.

· Ocean liners and marine art.

· Saucy postcards.

· Elegant Edwardian ladies (actresses).

· Scenery and local views from Ecuador.

· Ancient artefacts.

· Old Southern Nigeria – Lagos and Calabar.



Member Displays - 8 February 2012


Fifteen members gathered on a cold evening in warm Bix Hall to show one-panel displays on subjects related to the letter A. Items presented included:


· American early air mail covers.

· Air mail Zeppelin flights from Germany to Rio de Janeiro and onward to Argentina etc.

· Aden stamps issued during the reign of Queen Elizabeth II.

· Archaeology of the Aegean: Early postcards of Knossos etc.

· Animals in definitive stamps including W. Australian black swans, Malayan tigers, Egyptian sphinxes, Sudan camels, Barbados horses, Australian kangaroos, Tanganyika giraffes, Nyasaland leopards and various sets from Basutoland, Bechuanaland, Northern Rhodesia and South Africa.

· Alnwick 1815 stamps office records and associated correspondence related to the Stamp Act of that year. Also Albert (Prince, mourning stationery) and Victoria and Albert memorabilia and some exceptional Victorian stamps.

· Aerial Philately covers included first scheduled British airmail (Hendon to Windsor). Railway Air Services (the four railway companies + Imperial airways which became BEA and then British Airways). Airmail letter from Birmingham to London via Cowes! 1948 helicopter air service in Norfolk. First air mail from India to UK. Australia to South Africa services in 1962.

· Albania, Austria, Australia: cinderellas and postage stamps; also revenues etc from Alwar and elsewhere.

· American president stamps on cover: a wide variety.

· Aufstellungs (exhibitions in Germany): labels and notices including for a stamp exhibition.

· African Artwork: full size designs and subsequent stamps for various Nigerian issues including International Hydrological Year and Drive on the Right Day. The latter (2 April 1972) was the day Nigerians changed to driving on the Right. The stamps were supposed to help (with diagrams) but were not issued until 25th June.

· Aspects of Australia: included stamps issued the day after every Australian gold medal triumph; also two different post code systems in use at the same time.

· Anilene dyes: history of production, including by BASF. Use on King Edward VII 1d, 1½d, 6d and 10d stamps. Fluorescent in ultra-violet light.


A Bonus extra (straying into the letter B – Belgium, Brussels, Baudouin) was an astonishing item rescued by a sharp-eyed member from a garbage/house clearance heap outside a house in Brussels. This was an immaculate album of mounted photographs, Christmas cards and correspondence written by or depicting members of the Belgian royal family depicting King Baudouin and Queen Fabiola, King Albert II and Queen Paola and their families. All photographs and handwriting of high quality.




Member Displays - 11 January 2012


Eleven members gathered at Bix to show nine one-panel displays from their collections.


Three members showed a range of very old (pre-stamp) mainly British material including:

· London mail from 1680, relating covers to the mapped location of the receiving offices at which they were handed in; these included some at the office accepting letters from the King’s Bench estate, which included the prison, and other more commodious accommodation for convicted debtors.

· Other covers, from those with Henry Bishop’s late 17th century small postmarks through many other pre-stamp envelopes.

· A miscellany of old GB covers, assays for 1860s high value stamps, a large embossed trial for an unusual depiction of Queen Victoria, and a more recent letter (about stamps) from Buckingham Palace.

· GB Queen Elizabeth II pre-decimal issues.

· King Edward VIII GB and Morocco/Tangier overprints, including first day, abdication day and other covers.

· Argentine stamps exhorting the public to healthy and sustainable life styles with full explanation of the themes concerned, including the highway code, saving water and energy, preventing AIDS and tuberculosis, protecting the ozone layer, etc.

· New Zealand health, commemorative and definitive stamps of the 1930s.

· Commonwealth definitives showing national emblems rather than just monarchs’ heads, e.g. from Antigua, Bahamas, Barbados, Bermuda, British Guiana, British Virgin Islands, Montserrat, St Vincent, Somaliland and Turks and Caicos Islands.

· The stamps of Greece.