2014 News

Visit to Henley & District Philatelic Society

by Maidenhead and District Philatelic Society


10 December 2014


11 Henley members welcomed three old friends from Maidenhead.


Tony Stanford’s first display concerned the postal and related history of Cyprus.  Britain took over administration of the island in 1878 from the weaker control of the declining Ottoman Empire.  The first postage stamps were then those of GB but CYPRUS overprints on these were introduced in 1880.  There followed, among penny reds, half-size ½ds, etc, a plethora for enthusiasts of plate numbers and overprint variations.  Tony also showed examples of the versatile ‘unappropriated’ GB revenue stamps adapted for fiscal collection in Cyprus in preference to the easily forged Turkish variety.


Tony Simmonds showed some features of his Nigeria collection.  Among a wide range of covers were examples of

· the different postal rates and their uses locally, abroad and by airmail,

· cancellations and postmarks, related to districts like Old Calabar (River) and Sombriero and Bonny Rivers and other post offices long gone,

· a sheet of GB Oil Rivers Protectorate overprints and a very detailed analysis of word  and dimensional variations,

· features of Nigeria’s 1961 Independence issue and the many variations in the 1971 decimal currency set.


Keith Hatch introduced the picture of the Cliveden water garden on a book of stamps as the philatelic connection with aspects and events at that stately pile.  Besides interest in Cliveden being an offshoot from his Winston Churchill collection, Keith and his father and brothers had operated a building business, which had taken them to the House on various occasions.  This made them familiar with the Astor family, the statue of mercury, a Chinese pagoda and the clock tower.  Aspects illustrated included the Countess of Gowrie and her cottage, various visitors and political figures, Valerie Hobson and her husband John Profumo and thus inevitably Christine Keeler and Stephen Ward.


Tony Stanford’s second display concerned the local postal and related history of Maidenhead and Marlow.  Starting from a description of stagecoaches, he showed a variety of historic maps of the Maidenhead area, some provided for the interest of coach travellers.  The many local covers ranged from pre-stamp era envelopes with marks of the distance from London (30 or 29 miles from Chancery Lane or Hyde Park Corner respectively), through the Windsor Penny Post and a Penny Black to a free (for Royals) letter from Windsor Castle.


Members’ evening


26 November 2014


10 members displayed ten themes associated, directly or more remotely, with ‘Celebrations’. Topics presented – and discussed with enthusiasm – included

· The 25th anniversary of Ibadan University, Nigeria, with very enlarged versions of the commemorative stamp set.

· Christmas covers with many years of GB sets.

· The centenary of the Canadian national anthem.

· Other post-war GB commemoratives – jubilees, royal weddings, TUC, Red Cross, bridges, etc.

· 1941 Centenary stamps for the Brookes family as rajahs of Sarawak – a set which was being sent out by ship when Japan invaded Borneo in December 1941; the stamps were stored in South Africa or Australia until 1946 when they were issued in Sarawak; at that time administration of was returned to the Brookes rajah who, after consulting the inhabitants, ceded the colony to Great Britain – fine stamps for a happy ending.

· Victory and peace stamps celebrating the end of World War II: the British Empire omnibus and other 1946 commemorative stamps.

· European celebrations of allied victory in Europe – the Belgian V stamps, Luxembourg commemorating each of the four Allies, and several sets (printed in Algeria, USA or Britain) which were taken in by invading allied forces and issued as parts of France and the Netherlands were liberated; Swiss celebration of peace.

· Other war effort issues including for free Polish forces and for USA, Australia, South Africa, Canada – and Germany.

· Stamps for Germany under allied occupation, particularly in the French Zone – and the mysterious absence of what would have been expected to be common (10c) stamps.

· A painting celebrating Colour.

· European railway centenaries – of the first national lines or particular (e.g. tunnelled) sections – for Austria, Hungary, Switzerland and Malta; some fine stamps showing classic continental steam locomotive designs.

· Argentine festivals covering a wide range of activities including agriculture, crafts, teas, beer, peanuts, steam train specials and, of course, football.


Visit to Henley & District Philatelic Society

by Derek Steele


12 November 2014


11 members gathered at Bix for Derek Steele’s presentation and to view his exhibits concerning Newfoundland, the first colony in the British Empire and one with a prominent place in the history of discovery, the development of aeronautics and fine philately. The first part of Derek’s display comprised postal covers and accompanying explanation of successful and abortive (but all courageous) attempts to establish communication by air – across the island, to nearby Nova Scotia or across the Atlantic Ocean. The second part presented sets of stamps. Together, both parts presented a full explanation of the island’s history, geography, aerial post and philately.


Historical events and personalities commemorated by stamp issues included

the island’s discovery by John Cabot in 1497 (commemorated in 1897 and 1947, the former coinciding with Queen Victoria’s diamond jubilee);

annexation of the island by Sir Humphrey Gilbert 1583 (celebrated in 1933);

Newfoundland participation in World War I (1919).


Referring to the covers and stamps, Derek described

the geography of the island, its rough infertile interior which, before a railway and good roads were built, made it necessary to communicate to many of the outposts by sea;

the severe climate with heavy snow in winter and, around the North Peninsula, even frozen sea;

the even tougher living conditions in Labrador; and the efforts of Sir Wilfred Grenfell to provide medical and other help to that land’s sparse settlements;

the political status of Newfoundland – from its colonization in the 1580s, competition for its abundant fishing grounds, its status as a self-governing colony from 1855, through a suspension of its constitution due to financial difficulty in 1934, to joining Canada in 1949 - perhaps to avoid growing predation by US companies.


Airmail was the objective for the development of navigation, aircraft and airlines – from Alcock and Brown’s 1919 success in the Daily Mail £10,000 trans-Atlantic competition, through the 1932 12-propellor (on six nacelles) Dornier DoX and 1939 seaplanes to the faster bigger land-based aircraft from 1947.


The rich variety of Newfoundland stamps was remarkable for this modest islnd; many sets must have been issued primarily to attract stamp collectors, including

· after seven years of striving to get a well-organized postal service, the imperforate postage stamps finally issued in 1857 and the early 1860s;

· a variety of 19th and 20th century sets depicting members of the British royal family, other historic notables, and local scenes and activities;

· various overprints (now highly valued and often forged) on stamps on letters carried on early attempts to carry mail across the Atlantic Ocean;

· besides the British Empire 3-stamp omnibus set for the coronation of King George VI, a special Newfoundland 11-stamp coronation set – which came out, probably to meet philatelic demand, with a variety of perforations.


Members’ Evening


22 October 2014


12 members gathered at Bix for displays related to the letter D. A wide variety included

·        A dairy festival and other GB slogan postmarks on covers – also a Dunfermline festival, a DIY exhibition, Driver Safety, Drinkwise, Derby County (football club and LNER locomotive).

·        Danish West Indies – a comprehensive collection of Danish issues; but also a panel of entirely GB stamps issued from 1865 to 1877 from the British postal agency on St Thomas island.

·        Danzig 1920.

·        Decimal commemorative designs/disasters – GB first day covers with some of the less fine – but still interesting - recent designs.

·        Dedeagatz, foreign post office in the Ottoman Empire.

·        De la Rue long-lived value key plate for Sarawak

·        Delfo Cabrera, winner of the marathon at the 1948 Olympic Games in Wembley and other Argentine sportsmen.

·        Descartes, French philosopher

·        Deutschbahn (German Railway) locomotives (e.g. the ‘Adler’) and trains (the Flying Hamburger).

·        Diego Suarez – French overprints for this late 19th century north Madagascar post office.

·        Disinfected mail – letters fumigated through gaps under the flaps.

·        Various overprints for the Dodecanese islands.

·        Dodgy, doubtful (forgeries) and dreadful stamps from various sources.

·        Dominica and other British Caribbean monarch’s head or symbolic definitives.

·        Dutch stamps – a page of high value (guilder) stamps of which only those remainders cancelled on 31 January 1907 are common.


Visit to Henley & District Philatelic Society

by Malcolm Watts


8 October 2014


Seven members welcomed Malcolm Watts to Bix to see his display on the social history of North Wiltshire. He presented historic postcards, documents and postal covers concerning the families, homes and soldiers of the county, three of the principal towns and a forgotten railway company.

The earliest document concerned the transfer of land between major landlords – two ‘manors’ no less – in 1576. Families like the Goddards owned most of the countryside and, indeed, the towns too. Further down the social scale were comic cards concerning the name of ‘moonrakers’ for Wiltshire natives. Malcolm told us of various explanations of the origins of the term – one was men feigning madness by raking the reflection of the moon on a Corsham pond, concealing smuggled brandy.

The military history of the county ranged from Anglo-Saxon forces, uniting to oppose the Danes, to the Wiltshire militia – their correspondence in 1802 and 1814 and activity in the Napoleonic wars; and the Wiltshire Yeomanry in later European wars. The most outstanding military figure from Wiltshire – Malcolm thought of anywhere – was Field Marshal Paul Sanford, second Lord Methuen, who served in Ashanti and Egyptian campaigns before a long spell in South Africa. He was taken prisoner by the Boers near the end of Boer War in 1902; but this led not to recrimination but to respect and reconciliation which led to the early (1910) Union. He remained active and was Constable of the Tower of London in his eighties.

Corsham was the first town illustrated in detail. It features include

The outlying settlement of Pickwick, of which Dickens wrote his papers.

The Box Tunnel (probably only necessary because of obstinate land-owning nobility).

The 20th century underground works, constructed to house government in times of war with access through a tunnel adjacent to the Box Tunnel.

Chippenham, also on the Bath Road and then the Great Western Railway, had long been a prosperous town.

Swindon, on the other hand, was a very small settlement until the coming of the railway and the setting up of the Great Western locomotive and carriage works in the early 1840s. When the town had become well established, at the beginning of the 20th century, a need and negotiation documents arose for the construction of an electric tramway. We saw postcards of remarkably dense crowds around a tram that had run out of control and crashed onto its side.

The ‘forgotten railway’, later constructed from north to south through Swindon, was the Midland & South Western Junction Railway. Formed by combining in 1884 the Swindon, Marlborough and Andover Railway with the Swindon and Cheltenham Extension Railway this was incorporated in the Great Western railway, with which it had competed, in 1923 and served until 1961. Malcolm showed a range of documents and illustrations of ceremonies concerned with the early days of planning and construction; and then many postcards of the line, stations and trains in operation.

Visit to Henley & District Philatelic Society

by Leighton Buzzard Philatelic Society


24th September 2014


14 members welcomed four visitors from Leighton Buzzard – speakers Richard Page, John Hossack and John Spencer.


Birds of prey was the subject of Richard Page’s very comprehensive thematic display – the first part covering the mainly British falcons, hawks, buzzards and kites, the second part a broad variety of the world’s eagles.


Most of Richard’s descriptive sheets comprised

· Stamps from a wide variety of countries for each particular species,

Blocks of stamps for certain birds of prey, such as Alderney (for threatened species) and Gibraltar (related to types of combat aircraft).


Among the eagles were examples of the central European two-headed variety, apparently originally representing the secular and religious elements of the Holy Roman Empire. Other eagles featured included some created by the famous Polish stamp design engraver Czeslaw Slania.


Sierra Leone was known to John Hossack because his father had served there many years ago. The former British colony had been named after the Lion Mountains (behind modern Freetown) by Portuguese navigators, probably in the 15th century. John displayed the first set of stamps, issued from 1859 and then a wide variety of the subsequent issues in a perhaps unique form, viz. arranged in sheets for each postmark at most of the stations on the Sierra Leone railway. That railway was completed in the late 19th century to a 2ft-6in. gauge in three main sections - the main line from Freetown to the East, a long branch northwards into the centre of the country, and the ‘mountain’ railway near Freetown. All were abandoned by about 1970.


The South Atlantic and Southern Ocean was John Spencer’s display. Aspects covered included

· Many George VI British colonial island issues, especially from Ascension and the Falkland Islands.

· A selection of the vast number of variations in the Falkland Islands dependencies 1946 ‘map’ set – differences in colours, shades, perforations and re-entries, and other flaws of random printing.

· Covers from many early and a few more recent vessels in Antarctic waters.

· A comprehensive set of covers addressed to Laurence [surname?] who became a clergyman and a prominent Antarctic specialist in his youth. The letters are addressed to him, mainly from his exploring colleagues, extending from his days as an undergraduate at Cambridge, through his theological training college, to the British Antarctic Survey office, then to vicarages, to him as Bishop of somewhere like Portsmouth, then as Bishop of Norwich, latterly Dean of Windsor and then in retirement in Dorset.


Members’ evening


3rd September 2014


15 members celebrated the opening meeting of our 2014/15 season. As usual, the loose theme for the first evening was Latest Acquisitions.

Topics that were displayed included

· Argentine circular miniature sheets incorporating detachable stamps and commemorating football events.

· Australian centenary of stamps comprising a modern 70-cent issue similar to the George V series of 1913/14.

· Covers – a range from 1673, including some related to Henley-on-Thames.

· Fiji: Edward VII set to £1.

· French 1876/7 Peace and Commerce series, including many fine and scarce varieties.

· Great Britain: A complete mint set of the 1883/4 lilac and green set; and other earlier material.

· German history (1850-2000) including examples from all the states and all the colonies and others related to the preliminaries and aftermath of two world wars.

· Lagos post office irregularities and other Nigerian stories.

· London coffee houses.

· Multiple cancellations on stamp pieces or complete covers, mainly from Latin America.

· Nigerian metered mail – examples and full explanations.

· Paper Duty labels.

· Postcards of vintage cars, mainly Edwardian, and a fire engine. Other postcards depicting scenes at Trebizond, in Greece and Chile and of various mining scenes.

· Sarawak: miscellaneous, including a view of the comparatively modest bungalow from which Rajah Brookes effectively ran the country.

· Several self-made albums with brown paper covers and with a rich variety of postage, revenue and other Cinderella stamps from all over the world.

· United States: a sheet of Scenes of the Wild West including the wrong [his brother] portrait of one of the characters.


Postcard Evening


11 June 2014


10 members gathered at Bix for the annual postcard evening, also enjoyed by dealers Tony and Rosa Lawrence who brought their wide range of postcards and stamps.

Topics displayed included:

· Postcards of the kings of England from Richard II to Henry VIII, augmented by an attractive on-piece ‘favourite’ set of more modern Greek stamps.

· A range of mainly Victorian or Edwardian views of Henley town and riverside.

· A wide range of postcards representing railway tourist posters including GWR and LNER views, the Orient express and various continental attractions.

· Postcards, mainly related to equivalent views on stamps, of a variety of Argentine scenes and people, including one of the few native (‘Indian’) South Americans – who rose to the rank of lieutenant-colonel in the Army.

· London & North-Western Railway stations and trains including the boat express from Euston to Liverpool (Riverside) and the ‘Irish Mail’ to Holyhead; Great Western Travelling Post Office wagons. Views of the early London & Birmingham Railway and the construction and subsequent widening of Tring Cutting.

· Views of southeast Nigeria, particularly the towns and port at Calabar; and some of the more prominent natives.

· British Museum postcards and 15-card ‘study’ sets; views of the libraries and a range of artefacts.


Visit to Henley & District Philatelic Society

by High Wycombe & District Philatelic Society


28th May 2014


13 Henley members and four from High Wycombe were entertained by Ken Richardson and Stuart Catchpole of the Wycombe Society and Alan Druce who belongs to both.

Ken displayed stamps from a range of countries including

· The Faroe Islands – occupied by British forces from 1940-1945 but continued to use Danish stamps until, with independence, they issued their own pictorials etc from 1975.

· Greece, mainly earlier stamps, but including those under German occupation.

· Cyprus – very typical British colonial types until independence, then much more Greek.

· Austria through all its great political changes.

· ·he 1918 ‘inverted Jenny’ commemorated on a more recent US stamp.

Stuart’s display, in contrast, was all about various British Commonwealth issues including some fine examples of various scarcer stamps. Examples included stamps from Antigua, Ascension, Barbados, Cayman Islands and Malta.

Alan showed us

· ·A range of 18th century ‘Obligation Bonds’, legal documents from 1707 either totally handwritten in the convoluted but precise language of the day or printed in standard form for the gaps to be filled in; various tax payments were shown by red wax seals and stamped impressions o these documents which seem to be mainly about monetary loans.

· ·A number of large sheets of unused stamps.

· ·Some interesting examples of stamps picked from some albums recently purchased.

A comprehensive display of King George V GB stamps including high value seahorses overprinted in 1912 for the Provisional Government of Ireland and then for the Irish Free State.


Visit to Henley & District Philatelic Society

by Stuart Henderson


9th April 2014


Stuart came from Ilford to entertain 15 members on Cinderellas of the World – a very wide subject ranging from poster stamps to battleships, forgeries to rocket mail.

Poster stamps were pictorial labels – stuck for decoration on letters or in albums – that represented full-size posters, such as the well-known railway advertisement that ‘Skegness is so bracing’; but they were at their international peak of popularity between 1890 and 1920. This included World War I, a prominent period in Stuart’s display. Subjects included ballroom dancing, holiday scenes, royal palaces, packet steam ships, Plymouth celebrations and French and Flemish safety-at-work hints.

Battleships of many nations followed in different stamp or card forms. Notable was the German warship Emden, which sank many allied merchant ships – mainly in the Indian Ocean - before being finally located and forced to run aground by superior gun power. The captain had a reputation for taking ships’ crews aboard before he sank their ships – unless they were colliers in which case he towed ships to a transhipment point where he could take their coal. He disposed of his prisoners by landing them on remote Cocos (Keeling) Islands but alerted allied authorities so that they could be rescued. He evaded capture himself and found his own way back to Germany.

Gaston Fontinile (de Gandre?), born in 1880, was a very able and proficient forger and producer of a great deal of Cinderella material for various countries in peace and war. He ended up in prison where, officially, he died of Spanish flu in 1921. However it seems that in fact he forged a pardon, left prison and died some years later.

Licenses shown included those to keep a dog (7/6d per year), a man-servant  (15/-) or to maintain a coat of arms (two guineas); and there were vouchers for old people to buy tobacco at a discount because the government thought smoking was good, or at least a comfort, for them.

Other items in the display included

mementos, pictures and actual posted letters of trial rocket mail, sent across narrow strips of coastal water;

Belgian –10% surcharges on postage stamps at a time (1946) when the government was reducing expenditure on the costs and wages of everything in the public sector [there both hand-stamped and typographically overprinted surcharges but Stanley Gibbons said ‘we content ourselves with listing the one (typo) set’; so Stuart’s are probably hand-stamped to keep to his definition of Cinderellas as anything not catalogued by Stanley Gibbons];

German propaganda forgeries of GB stamps – forge dismay abroad - and US forgeries of German stamps – to upset the German economy;

sets of Burmese stamps (from Queen Victoria to King George VI), which never existed; and

a wide selection of free stamps given to Swiss soldiers writing home whilst guarding their neutral country in both world wars.


Visit to Henley & District Philatelic Society

by Mark Bailey


26 March 2014


Mark Bailey entertained 13 members on the subjects of Channel Islands 19th century postal services and Victorian GB surface-printed 1d fiscal stamps.

The Channel Islands have characteristic differences from the rest of the UK. But their postal services also well illustrate the very substantial changes that took place throughout the kingdom in the 19th century.

One of the islands’ characteristics was its considerable import, export and entrepôt activity, reflected in the type of letters exchanged in connection with trading. Another was in the range of people who chose to live there – on the two major islands, like Emil Zola and George Patrick Campbell (soldier, Colombian consul and keen philatelist), or an artist and stamp collector who preferred the remoteness of tiny Sark.

Aspects of GB 19th century postal services, which Mark displayed, included the development of cancellations and post marks through forty years of payment on receipt and the subsequent variations that followed the great reforms of 1840. Post office numbers were issued for Jersey (409) and Guernsey (324) in 1844 and later Alderney was 965.

The costs of letter transmission for receiver-payment could be very high in Britain, and to and from the Channel Islands, when all the various parties involved had added their charges on the envelopes. The cost for a very ordinary letter to the islands in the 1800s came to an astonishing 18 shillings. In contrast, in the 1890s, a letter through Britain, out through two addresses in New Zealand and (undelivered) back to the Channel Islands went all the way for the cost of the halfpenny stamp it carried!

The GB fiscal stamps (1853-1881) were intended for various revenue charges on legal documents, receipts, etc, although they were sometimes used as postage stamps. Mark’s display was limited to the 1d value. Subjects of particular interest included

the various similar but distinct types, starting from the issue of late 1853, which were the first perforated stamps issued in the world, a few months before the public sale of imperforate postal 1d red and 2d blue stamps in February and March 1854 respectively;

some fascinating documents – like receipts bearing the stamps – which relate to a variety of industrial activities, legal agreements and even arrangements for a belated funeral.



Members’ Evening


22nd January 2014


13 members gathered at Bix for displays by two members.


The first display a comprehensive set of Mulready and other 19th century illustrated envelopes. The official Mulready covers went on sale on 1st May 1840 – for use from 6th May – as an alternative to use of a penny black stamp. Within a day or two there were letters to the Times and a leader in that newspaper criticizing the artwork – as perhaps is still associated with any such innovation.


There very soon followed (mostly in mid-1840) a plethora of illustrated envelopes (requiring stamps) which made receipt of mail a great deal more interesting. Those shown included

· Caricatures by Spoon and Southgate,

· Fores’s ‘Comic Envelopes’,

· Higher quality covers from 1868 following intervention by the Belgian Moens

· various events such as the 1844 scandal of opening certain letters, perhaps unfairly blamed on the Home Secretary, Sir James Graham,

· in USA, showing the advance of civilization in that country,

propaganda by various charities including temperance societies.


The second display concerned

· aspects of London and early mail from the capital,

most of the stamps of Norway from inception until the 1970s.

Aspects of London included

· early postal history [routes shown extending from London roughly in the directions of the later A1 to A5 roads] from the setting up of staging posts for official mail by Henry I to the appointment of a Master of the Posts by Henry VIII;

· the consequences of the Dissolution of the Monasteries by King Henry VIII, in that most of the land around London had belonged to the church and was now distributed among the king’s cronies who, with the merchants of the day, were much more entrepreneurial, leading to the rapid growth of the much more commercial city (illustrated by a letter of 1587);

London Bridge.

The last drew particular interest. After the earliest frail wooden structures, a stone bridge was eventually constructed in 1209 during the reign of King John. Because cofferdams had not yet been invented, the piers were funded on dumped rock and protected by wooden ‘starlings’ that had to be continually renewed. Consequently the openings between the piers became narrower and there was up to five feet head of water where the river flow rushed between them. Buildings were erected on top of the bridge and rented out to pay for the structure’s maintenance. Rennie’s replacement bridge, completed in 1823, incorporated George IV coins in its granite foundations (on which people celebrated within the cofferdams) [and was eventually dismantled and re-erected in USA].



Members’ evening


9th January 2014


Ten members assembled to present displays relating to Royalty. Topics presented included

· The British Royal family’s tour of South Africa (and Swaziland, Basutoland, Bechuanaland and Rhodesia) in 1956. Travel involved the battleship Vanguard and 6,944 miles of rail travel. Stamps, covers and commemorative booklets.

· Visit of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth to Canada in 1939; and Queen Elizabeth to Nigeria in 1956 with other Nigerian material.

· Various coronation postcards etc – George V and George VI.

· Various first day covers including extravagant versions incorporating actual coins or a £5 note; also for 1st anniversary of George VI’s accession and 75th anniversary of Edward VIII’s abdication!

· Examples of the many different heads of Queen Victoria and King Edward VIII on GB and British Empire stamps.

· A cover from the Duke of Clarence (later King William IV) to Lord Wellesley, brother of the Duke of Wellington, then living in Regents Park. Other material relevant to Clarence House and reminiscences of William IV.

· A Christmas card to/from the Royal Household.

· Queen Victoria’s family and descendants, on Newfoundland and other stamps.

· The differences explained between chalky and non-chalky paper on GB stamps (related to December agenda for Letter C).

· The Russian stamp issue commemorating the tercentenary of the Romanov dynasty.

· The only stamp issued in Argentina with any reference to Royalty (200 peseta commemorating the visit of the King and Queen of Spain in 1978).