2015 News

Henley and District Philatelic Society


Members’ evening “Tell a Story on 1 Page”


Bix 25th November 2015


11 members gathered at Bix to respond to a challenge to tell stories on one sheet. With varied liberal interpretations, a wide range of topics emerged, related to philately, war and numerous historical events or geographical features.

Stamps and covers showed folklore, girl guides, the Comet 4, 50 years of Argentine television, a railway on Malta, a first day cover when Burma became independent of India, and labels depicting items kept in the Amber Room in St Petersburg.

Postal history included a succinct description of the rapid developments in British postal options around the year 1840 and of the profound social changes that resulted from the sudden reduction of charges for letters, first to 4d and then to 1d.  68 million 1d blacks and 6½ million 2d blues sold in 1840, expanding to 20 billion 1d reds and 33 billion 2d lilacs in the rest of the century.

In contrast to the GB 1d black and 2d blue, we saw 1947 centenary replicas of the US 1847 5c brown and 10(X)c black stamps. In recent decades, whilst the GB stamp values have risen, those of the first US stamps have fallen but still exceed the SG prices of the GB pioneers.

War and conflict were strongly represented by campaigns in continental Europe, Egypt and Sudan including

· letters from the war in Crimea,

· Feldpost letters in World War II returned undelivered because the addressee had ‘fallen for Greater Deutschland’,

correspondence in 1745 from a British lieutenant (in Belgium during the War of the Austrian Succession) who was seeking a captaincy for £3500 with the hope that he might sell his lieutenant’s commission for nearly £3000 – extraordinarily huge sums at that time for comparatively junior appointments.

 Buildings and structures on show included

· contrasting views of Buckingham Palace, before and after replacement of its façade with Portland stone in lace of Caen stone and construction of the balcony,

· the UNESCO World heritage sites of the Pont du Gard aqueduct and the Pont d’Avignon (with the story of the eight Avignon popes),

· a spacious bedroom used by King Edward VII at Nuneham Courtenay,

· an Argentine statue; and the successful search for oil in Argentina,

the damage shown on postcards of the 1913 tornado which savaged Quaker’s Yard at Treharris in South Wales..

Royal dynasties shown on stamps included one page for each of the British monarchs since Queen Victoria, nearly all on Newfoundland stamps; and the Muscovite/Russian Romanov dynasty (which lasted from 1612 to 1917), all from a single Russian stamp series of 1913 (SG 126-138).



Postcard Evening


 Bix 11 November 2016


13 members gathered at Bix for our annual postcard evening. As well as display of different cards of philatelic and pictorial interest, there were a variety of other types of card


Cards of historic interest included a poignant one, with a scarce French high value charity stamp and showing a scene of the destruction of war, sent by a British soldier, probably to himself, at Somme in 1919. Others were early 20th century cards from a variety of places as well as non-picture ‘postal cards’, some unused but already stamped e.g. from Argentina; and cards sent with very little message content added (to take advantage of the printed matter rate).


Picture postcards – some with written up explanations, one with accompanying books - included:

· scarce 19th century views of London stations including King’s Cross, Victoria and Paddington; also Bricklayers Arms when that was still a passenger terminal;

· Cunard, White Star and other early 20th century passenger liners – with 1,2,3 or 4 funnels;

· views of Cape Town, Kimberley, Alexandria and places at either end of Cecil Rhodes’ Cape to Cairo Railway (never completed, partly because of the region then controlled by Germany or Belgium along the route);

· similar views of Lagos and vicinity produced in Dakar for Henry Dupuis, a notable entrepreneur;

· colour views of mid-20th century Wales including several showing the post-buses then in operation;

early 20th century views of Henley – the Regatta (with dense waterborne spectators), Hart Street and the Catherine Wheel, the Fair Mile (with grazing sheep), Peppard Common, Happy Valley  the Red Lion when its riverside ‘lawn’ was longer and much more spacious than it istoday.


Non-postal cards included

· Basketball cards featuring prominent US players (one of the great Michael Jordan – wearing number 45 instead of his better-known number 23);

· A few incidental cigarette cards (e.g. of the old passenger station t Padington, later a goods depot);

· cubist/expressionist paintings by (John) Jeremy Gardiner;

· a set of rather magnificent Orbis Maxicards of British and other classic steam locomotives.



Visit to Henley & District Philatelic Society by Bob Galland

Exhibiting GB Surface Printed Postage Stamps


Bix  28 October 2015


18 members welcomed Bob Galland, currently Chairman of the GB Philatelic Society and himself a recent member at Henley until he moved further away.


Concerning exhibiting stamps in competitions, he explained the quirks of some judges but the overriding importance of having an opening explanatory sheet and conclusive final sheets. Other elements of first class material, good layout and clear explanation were abundantly evident in the display that he presented.


Surface printed stamps were introduced in 1855 largely because of the difficulties in perforating line-engraved stamps. Bob’s display concerned the first four issues, which were defined by the way in which they incorporated corner letters as a security precaution.

· 1855-57 No Corner Letters – 4d, 6d and 1/- values – to the design of JF Joubert.

· 1862-64 Small White Corner Letters: same values with 3d and 9d values added; these letters were difficult to read and there were problems with the small ‘plugs’ which De La Rue inserted to fit the numbers into the plates; they tended to disintegrate.

· 1865-67 Large White Corner Letters: with 10d and 2/- values added (and later high values up to £5 – not the subject of this display): The numbers  were much clearer although the amended designs had to slightly reduce the space around Queen Victoria’s head.

1875/76 Large Coloured Corner letters:  for 2½d, 3d, 4d, 6d, 8d and 1/- values.


Various changes, mainly in colour, were made to the initial issues at later dates. For example, the colour of the 1867 2/- was changed from blue to brown in 1980 shortly before that value was withdrawn altogether; and the 1875 2½d rose was changed in 1880 to blue, the standard colour for subsequent 2½d stamps from 1887 until 1951.


A very comprehensive array of essays, die proofs, imprimaturs and specimens was shown as well as many issued stamps; also many printed letters signed by Rowland Hill or his successors notifying forthcoming new issues. For every new issue, five imprimatur sheets (Latin: ‘Let it be printed’) were sent to the Inland Revenue at Somerset House for approval. One copy was kept there as a file ‘copy’ (whence King George V and other interlopers filched some) and the others were supposed to be returned to the post office for sale, often with subtle differences from the eventual main issue. Covers shown included ‘combination’ ones posted with local (e.g. Peruvian) stamps for inland carriage and GB ones issued by British overseas post offices for subsequent voyages.


Much of the material is scarce or even unique. Bob Galland’s research explains how many items related to other examples – in the Royal Collection, in museums or, like his, ‘out in the wild’.


Visit to Henley & District Philatelic Society by David Stotter

The Hotels of Old Tangier


Bix  14 October 2015


14 members greeted David Stotter, a specialist in the postal and social history of Morocco. His subject this evening concerned the subject of three chapters in his recent book A Postcard from Tangier.


Tangier arose as the popular destination of wealthy Europeans attracted by the comfort of these mainly European-run hotels as much as the sunny weather and the sandy beach. There was a strong Arab ambience in the narrow streets and crowded alleys and squares as well as the political assurance of International Zone status from 1912 until 1956.


David’s display covered the period from the 1880s into the first half of the twentieth century. It comprised postal stationery and cachets on covers for many hotels as well as picture postcards of both the hotel interiors and the external scenery. Particular prominence was given to the Continental Hotel, with fine terraces above the harbour of Old Tangier [and the Duke of Edinburgh’s patronage] and the Hotel Cecil, which overlooked the beach; but examples of letters and stationery relating to a dozen other reputable hotels were also shown. Their names were evocative of a resplendent age – the Royal Victoria, the Oriental, El Minza, Central, Bristol, New York, Cabilla, Calpe, Maclean’s, International, Villa de France and Villa Valentina. 

There was considerable variation in the clientele as well as the management and evidently a civilized mixture of races and cultures. Two hotels specialized in accommodating Africans who today would be called economic refugees. They came from the rest of the continent to seek lives in Europe reached by making illegal crossings of the Straits to Spain. This practice evidently continued for many years and probably still does today, perhaps in smaller numbers and in less desperation than people now crossing greater distances further east from Libya or Turkey.

Situated within the French Protectorate of Morocco, Tangier had British, German, French and Spanish post offices (each on one side of the small Petty Soco square). Post boxes for each country also stood, under the control of the concierges, in the lobby of four of the main hotels. Generally they used stamps of the country concerned, many later overprinted for Morocco or Tangier itself.


British stamps were used from 1857 to 1886 and cancelled in Gibraltar. Then they used Gibraltar stamps until 1898. From 1898 British post offices in 14 places in the country issued first Gibraltar* and then GB stamps overprinted MOROCCO AGENCIES and from 1927 also overprinted TANGIER. There was an example of a postcard with both types of overprinted stamp.


*Many of us are familiar with the first stamps listed by Stanley Gibbons for Gibraltar. In 1886 spare Bermuda stamps were overprinted GIBRALTAR. What was evident from David Stotter’s comprehensive display was that some of the postal stationery of the time was also overprinted on Bermuda and other British colonial material.



Visit to Henley & District Philatelic Society by Jim Etherington

1940: a desperate year for Britain


Bix  23 September 2015


Jim’s display of A-3 sheets was compiled from a major thematic competition entry plus some selected supplementary material. The former was illustrated by many - mostly post-war and later - stamps depicting merchant and war ships, fighter and bomber aircraft, personalities, refugees, female warworkers and destruction of cities.  The latter included fascinating non-philatelic documents relating to the year’s events.

Those events concerned the ‘phoney’ war (as seen in Britain) before the German westward incursions and the evacuation from Dunkirk, the airborne Battle of Britain, the invasion of Norway and the rapidly changing situation in the Mediterranean Sea as France collapsed and Italy entered the war. Just in that part of the world – the Mediterranean, Jim’s display touched on

war against the Italians in Ethiopia and Eritrea and then Libya, before the Germans came to beef up the Axis forces in the Desert War,

a French ship impounded in Alexandria in the grey period before the French Navy itself became an Axis force,

the need for Britain to attempt to control the Mediterranean, mainly at first against the Italians, after France capitulated,

cancellations on covers from Gibraltar accordingly changed from Gibraltar – the Trade Key to the Mediterranean to (plain – strategic) Key to the Mediterranean,

a cover from Malta sent at the peak of the onslaught on the island to Saccone & Speed, London wine merchants.

On the British Home Front, there were items related to evacuation of children and works from the National Gallery, to farming, the LDV/Home Guard and early ration books (addressed and stamped without envelopes). Instead of War Tax overprints, widely used on colonial stamps, the ordinary postal rate was just increased in Britain.

A wide selection of wartime covers presented a variety of difficult situations that developed, often whilst the letters were ‘in the post’. Examples included:

letters posted to the Channel Islands at the time of initial German occupation;

letters to and from prisoners-of-war through the Red Cross; or from ‘aliens’ interned in the Isle of Man;

letters between hostile countries via Lisbon and sacks delivered by Thomas Cook;

from diverted troopships taking Australian and New Zealand troops to the Middle East for training or directly to the European theatre of war;

letters to soldiers who had gone Missing;

free letters home from soldiers disembarking in Britain from Dunkirk;

mail from German U-Boats.

Lots of intriguing material for an avid audience, some of whom remember 1940.


Members’ Evening


9th September 2015


17 members and two prospective members attended the opening meeting of our 2015/16 season. As usual, the loose theme for the first evening was Latest Acquisitions. These are some of the topics displayed.


Argentine football stadiums including the one favoured by Pope Francis

British Commonwealth and German East Africa – gaps filled by purchases from recent Purvis sales/auctions

Chocolate cards (like cigarette cards) including a French series of the world’s famous bridges

Danzig: its free state issues and German-led hyperinflation

Egyptian postal and political history 1866 to 1952

Frank Bellamy – one time doyen of Oxford Philatelic Society

French colonial and overseas post office overprints – a very wide range

GB Penny Post – 1830s and 1840 covers cancelled 1d PAID

GB 175th anniversary of 1d blacks and 2d blues

GB Other earlies including a block of mint penny lilacs (of the 29 billion printed)         

GB posted abroad: A selection of mostly scarce multifranked covers from South America

Lagos Colony cancellations

London Coffee Houses including one within the Fleet Prison

Mining in western Australia, Zambia, Labrador and elsewhere

Mulready and similar caricatures

Ocean Liner postcards

New Zealand – bird series

Travelling post offices

Wallingford – an early postcard

Zanzibar – a selection of attractive stamps from the sultanate


The Society has revived a once popular feature of its meetings—the bring and buy sale.  Several members brought material for sale and a brisk trade preceded the meeting.


President’s Evening

24 June 2015


The President entertained 16 other members with his recently written up display of the stamps of Sarawak – from the beginning through the reign of the Brooke rajahs up to the George VI British colony pictorial issue of 1950.


James Brooke (1803-1868) had been an officer with the East India Company’s Bengal Army who was severely injured by a bullet in the lung during fighting in Burma. During recovery, he had inherited £30,000 from his father and bought the armoured yacht (six 6-pounder guns) Royalist. After some pleasure cruises he returned to the Orient and helped the Sultan of Brunei to overcome insurrection and later – with British Naval help - to tackle piracy. Consequently in 1841 the Sultan gave him suzerainty over the eventually extensive area known as Sarawak. Thereafter the history of postage stamps of the Sarawak state reflected the rule of the Brooke rajahs and their native-majority council of European advisers.

The figurehead shown on the first stamps of 1869, Sir James Brooke, had by then retired to England and died there in 1868. So subsequent issues showed the head of his nephew Rajah (Sir) Charles until he in turn was succeeded by his son (Sir) Charles Vyner Brooke shown from the 1918 set and other issues up to the Japanese invasion in December 1941. After his restoration in 1945, in view of the chaos in the mercantile system and the fact that the Brookes had probably invested as much in Sarawak as they ever profited from it, Sir Charles Vyner Brooke – with agreement by a close vote from his council, ceded the territory to the British Crown as a colony in 1946. The centenary of the Brooke suzerainty was to have been celebrated in 1941 but the special stamp issue showing all three rajahs finally came out in 1946.

The President’s collection comprehensively covers all the stamps and a wide variety of printers, printing techniques (typo, recess), plates, faults and forgeries. Subsequent discussion concerned the philatelic trading of some of the stamps although never on the scale of selling stamps to collectors that went on in neighbouring North Borneo.

Among the many covers displayed were letters to all parts of the world, using Straits Settlements stamps when Sarawak ones were valid only valid within the territory before it joined the UPU. There were registered letters, airmail covers and a few rare postcards. The latter included views of

James Brooke’s original bungalow by the river opposite Kuching

Song, a remote outstation far up a river*

RAF Southampton Mk 2 flying boats used for aerial survey plus occasional mail trips

Coomoor railway station in the Nilgari Hills of southern India whence European families travelled on open trucks.

* Sarawak is very impenetrable so early communication was all by sea or river. The Japanese started building roads and this led later to depredation of the forest, as was even worse in the rest of Borneo.

The President’s display was complemented by his lavish supply of food and drink. So we all look forward to his next display as President, which will be in our 50-year celebratory year 2015-16.

Members’ Evening

13 May 2015


Nine members gathered at Bix to show a great many items related to G or H. In alphabetical order the material encompassed


· Gambia – British colonial stamps starting with the imperforate and perforate issues with embossed silhouettes of Queen Victoria.

· German Colonies – ‘yacht’ and earlier overprinted stamps.

· Gibraltar, including the 1886 Bahamas overprints and the Edward VII and George V high value vertical stamps.

· Gillray, James – many examples of this caricaturist’s large (greater than A3) political and satirical prints.

· Gold Coast definitives from 1875 to 1952.

· Goth-land, i.e. Russia, the land where Goths and Huns settled and whence they raided further west – a rich variety of pictorials including people, ships, cars and locomotives.

· Great Britain – or Gum in that this comprehensive display of Edward VII stamps were all mint; all the values and printers (de la Rue, Harrison, Somerset House) involved and nearly all the many colour variations.

· Greenland – Thule local issues.

· Grenada, including the special design for George VI and Queen Elizabeth stamps issued in 1951 and 1953 respectively.

· Guadeloupe – French colonials.

· Guatemala – with numerous surcharges and overprints, many inverted.

· Haiti – British postal agency covers from 1841; and the internal postal service operated by these agencies in the 1850s and 1860s.

· Haverfordwest – a range of envelopes postmarked from this Pembrokeshire town, some as long ago as the late 18th century.

· Hawaii – stamps issued until these islands became part of USA in 1898.

· Hombres de Ciencia (scientists) on Argentine stamps, like all this member’s displays with very full explanation of the subjects.

· Homenaje (homage) to popes on Argentine stamps, including Pope Francis I.

· Hongos (fungi, mushrooms) on Argentine stamps.

· Hungary – a selection from Austrian stamps in use in the ‘dual monarchy’ until 1871 up to the great hyperinflation of 1946.


With all this material, members managed to fill ten display frames twice.


Visit to Henley & District Philatelic Society by Colin Such

40 years on the Rostrum


Bix  22 April 2015


17 members and one visitor welcomed Colin Such and his wife to Bix. A director of Warwick and Warwick for many years, Colin had in recent years become increasingly interested in postcards that he had dealt with as auctioneer or valuer. So the development of postcards was his main theme, coupled with fascinating background stories. (Back in November 2009, Jo Cottrial – also from Warwick and Warwick – had intrigued us with the many rare and notable stamps that had passed through his hands).

Colin’s display was by means of greatly magnified projection of postcards on a screen. He also passed round several actual examples for our closer inspection. One pair of these cards – one was of the ‘Titanic’ - was issued as a challenge to members to identify what they had in common. A few of our more astute members recognized that both were forgeries; the Titanic card had ostensibly been posted from Queenstown (Cobh) the liner’s last port of call; Malcolm also pointed out that the ship shown was in fact not the Titanic but its sister ship the Olympic. Colin Such then showed postcards of both vessels and their open/closed upper deck differences; he also showed a card depicting passengers disembarking to the Carpathia from a Titanic lifeboat.

Postcards are cards posted without envelopes. Colin Such further defined them as being despatched at a reduced rate. By his definition the first postcards were issued in Austria in 1859, GB following in 1860; the first true picture postcard advertised an elaborate dress in 1870; and in 1902 came the first standard version with the picture n one side and the written address and message on the other. Development followed with various advertisements (e.g. Bracing Skegness), appeals and illustrations ranging through general views of the Niger River, a pontoon bridge across the Thames at Aston (just downstream of Hambledon Lock), street scenes, shop fronts, industrial processes including underground tin mining and early solid tyre motor vehicles

Special items promoting further explanation and discussion included

a card mocking Ford cars through a modified Psalm 23,

Ernest Shackleton’s messages from Antarctica,

US ‘inverted Jennies’; the only complete sheet of 100 being bought at face value for 24 dollars, a later single example selling more recently for £341,000;

1903 ‘balloon post’;

more recent rude joke holiday cards and the colour artwork involved.

One of the most interesting items was a cigarette card, which Colin had come across of a footballer issued by Rutherford’s cigarettes. He found no record of these cards in any catalogues; but eventually two more cards of the series emerged, one selling for over £6000.

Views of Warwick and Warwick’s premises and activities concluded Colin’s main display and were followed by wide discussion.


Visit to Henley & District Philatelic Society

by Woking and District Philatelic Society


8 April 2015


13 members welcomed three visitors from Woking.


The Zambezi River was introduced by Ron Trevelyan. Stamps, covers, pictures and printed articles illustrated the course and features of the river – 4th largest in Africa -through a basin of six countries and a variety of native activities. Features from upstream include the Zambian plains whence people are led by their king, in his royal barge, out from and back onto the land at the beginning and end of each annual flood season. Then there is the spectacular Victoria Falls with its five gorges, bridge and hotel. There follow the vast lakes impounded by the dams at Kariba and Cabora Bassa before the river debouches on to the plains of Mozambique. Before the railway to Beira was built, there was considerable trade to the hinterland on the lower reaches of the river. The Zambezi enters the Indian Ocean through a delta where Vasco da Gama recognized it in 1498 as ‘the River of Good Omen’.


Burma and its postal services was the subject of John Lea’s presentation. Starting from an 1850 letter sent via Calcutta, he showed examples of philately from the country’s time as a province of India to independence shortly after World War II. Until 1937 Burma used Indian stamps. In that year Indian (George V) stamps, from 3 pies to 25 rupees, were overprinted BURMA. Then, in response to a petition, a similar style of stamps for the same values was produced in 1938 with much more Burmese characteristics and the head of King George VI. Other features of interest in John’s display included

· Letters written (in Arabic script) by Turkish prisoners-of-war rounded up in the defeated Ottoman Empire at the end of World War I. They were kept at a camp near Meiktila apparently because the Indian prisoner-of-war camps were full; and they were still there in 1920 through lack of funds to repatriate them.

· Letters (mainly to Britain) sent eastward – through Singapore or China, across the Pacific and Atlantic oceans – because the entry of Italy into World War II endangered the Mediterranean Sea. There were some very high or variable postal charges during this uncertain period including a number of largely unused one rupee air letters.

Stamps issued during the Japanese occupation from 1942 until 1945, first of poor quality printed in Burma and then better ones printed in Batavia. At the end of the war large numbers subsequently came onto the philatelic market, many of the used postmarks being forgeries.


GB 1d pinks were the subject of Michael Lockton’s remarkable display showing

· Various depictions of Queen Victoria by Charles Whiting; and examples of the fine standards of colour printing that had been achieved by the 1830s;

· William Wyon’s medal, cast for Queen Victoria’s coronation, which became the model for 1840 and subsequent postage stamps and also

· the 1d pinks themselves which were embossed postal stationery, issued very soon after the 1d blacks, 2d blues and Mulreadys, and soon replaced the latter. A huge variety, including the 12 different Maltese cross cancellations; and a rich variety of early village post office postmarks from independently minded postmasters in Devonshire.


Visit to Henley & District Philatelic Society

by Rex Hunt


25 March 2015


10 members welcomed Rex to Bix. Well known for his interest in social aspects of Central Europe, particularly the German borderlands in the first half of the twentieth century, he had previously displayed to us as a member of a Maidenhead team who visited us in 2011. On that occasion he explained the system adopted by Germany to cope with evacuees during World War II.


On this occasion Rex presented a two-part display concerning

· Saar or Saarland, a western district (river basin) of Germany and, in particular the plebiscite there in 1935;

the Anschlus in Austria in 1938, i.e. the country’s annexation by Germany.


Under the Treaty of Versailles after the conclusion of World War I, the Saar was to be administered for 15 years by the League of Nations, the coal mines were to be ceded to France in reparation for the damage to French mines and industry during the war, and – after 15 years – a plebiscite was to be held as to how the region should be governed thereafter.


In terms of postal services, there were initially French stamps overprinted Sarre and German stamps overprinted Saargebiet, subsequently new stamps inscribed Saargebiet but in French currency.

In due course the plebiscite was held in which voters were given a choice of rejoining Germany, joining France or continuing the current administration. Only people who had been resident in the Saarland at the end of the war were eligible to vote, i.e. none of the Frenchmen who had operated the coal mines. Not surprisingly 90% opted for Germany. Hitler’ regime welcomed them and built a theatre and other amenities.


Whilst the proceedings in Saarland had been in accordance with the Versailles Treaty, Hilter soon violated other provisions, for example

· he sent troops across into the west bank of the Rhine which was supposed to be demilitarised indefinitely,

there was to be no uniting between Germany and Austria.


The Anschluss was the German annexation of Austria in 1938, troops having been invited in, on the pretext of restoring law and order, after Hitler had forced the installation of a chancellor sympathetic to the Nazis.


Whatever the circumstances, there was undoubted enthusiasm among the crowds who greeted German troops marching into Austrian cities. After 1918 Austria, bereft of most of the raw materials and industry of the Austro-Hungarian Empire but full of redundant officials of the old regime, might have welcomed any form of relief.


German stamps were gradually introduced as indeed pfennigs and marks replaced groschen and schillings. Max’s display covered a variety of aspects of the gradual merging the Imperial Austrian postal system with the Prussian one.


Members’ Evening

11 February 2015


12 members gathered at Bix for displays by two of their number.


British Postage Due was presented by David. What might be considered fairly mundane postage-due stamps in themselves – simple designs in use from 1914 to 2000 – were brought alive by their application on a variety of covers of improperly prepaid letters within Britain or from abroad.  Much of the added interest was in the detected faults in payment and official explanation of the appropriate surcharges.


Some of these wrong payments could be ascribed to

· underpayments for the class of mail being sent – typed or faked printing of letters as ‘printed matter’, postcards not titled as such or of the wrong size, letters too heavy, particularly in the early ½oz days;

· registration by the post office - at the receivers expense – of letters evidently containing valuables;

· letters from soldiers when they returned to home barracks, having been used to sending mail home free from overseas postings;

· letters posted in the wrong opening of town/country double letter boxes;

letters posted to Britain from Rhodesia with stamps issued by the illegal (Smith) regime.

There were also some quite cheeky attempts to short-change the post office, which were not always successful. Commonly (and often successful in the 1940/50s) people wrote OHMS on any letter addressed to tax or other government officials. More optimistic was to readdress a black-lined pre-paid envelope.


Particularly interesting was Dave’s selection of letters, mainly from abroad in King George V’s time, to which the comparatively scarce 1½d GB postage-due stamps had been affixed. He also showed a scarce combination of rows of 4d postage-due labels.


An intriguing aspect of surviving and traded postage-due covers is the way by which philatelists contrived to obtain them on cover, for example by sending out letters deliberately under-stamped. Some times they would send out many letters at once, perhaps numbered for collecting together again later. David related how over time he had collected four such consecutively numbered covers, all from the same sender, purchased at different times from three different dealers.


The History of Mathematics was the theme of Brian’s display – a remarkable finely presented story illustrated by a comprehensive range of global postage stamps. Full explanations of historic events was given, together with biographies of many eminent mathematicians – from Archimedes through Tycho Brahe, Galileo, Newton, Descartes, Lagrange and Laplace to Euler, Gauss and Einstein - as well as the scientists, navigators, engineers and mapmakers who applied their theorems. From the earliest counting on fingers, Egyptians, Chinese and Aztecs measured with great accuracy and built huge and precise geometrical shapes even if their arithmetic symbols and numbers were crude.


The development of Pure Mathematics was illustrated by an issue of stamps from Nicaragua (a country notable for a rich variety of later 20th century thematic issues). This set showed the most important equations which had been developed – from 1+1=2, through a2=b2+c2 and the derivation of logarithms to Einstein’s e=mc2. There were also philatelic representations related to the calculation of π, Fermat’s Last Theorum (solved in 1995) and the Möbius Strip.


A wide variety of Applied Mathematics that was shown included

· Durer’s number grids (with lines, columns, diagonal and various squares adding up to 34);

· early tribal art, which incorporated geometric shapes as well as counting, to the understanding of perspective;

· explorers, map-makers, projections and globes;

· Harrison’s chronometer, solving the problem of determining longitude; and earlier compasses, astrolabes and quadrants;

· Foucault’s pendulum to demonstrate the rotation of the Earth; and his measurement of the speed of light;

Benjamin Franklin’s (self-insulated) proof that lightning was electric; and Maxwell’s mathematical explanation of electromagnetism.


Just as the first part of the evening opened our eyes to the fascinating consequences of wrongly stamped envelopes, the second part revealed the richness of our Henley membership in professional and enthusiastic amateur mathematics.


Chairman’s Evening

28 January 2015


Our Chairman entertained us at Bix to a convivial evening presenting GB Victorian stamps - together with lavish food and drink.

In describing the era, Bob referred first to the development of postal services in Britain, from Roman times through partial medieval revivals, to a serious Royal Mail system initiated by King Charles I. This carried, as its name implied, royal letters; but as it gradually accepted other mail and overcame competitors, Royal Mail came to be almost the sole carrier. With the Industrial Revolution and related social advances, the regions of Britain became more comprehensively covered and the number of letters proliferated.


The various methods of letter collection, carriage and distribution - with their labels and postmarks - were recalled in the period leading up to the universal penny post of 1840 and the first prepaid Mulready envelopes and adhesive stamps. Subsequent description and lively discussion followed concerning the methods of producing dies, plates and sheets of stamps, the reasons for improvements, the millions or billions of stamps produced, and the difficulties and errors that had to be solved.


Memorable features of the Chairman’s display included:

· An A-4 size enlargement of a Penny Red; and other blow-ups of variations and faults.

· Comprehensive displays of fine examples from most of the plates of the early line-engraved (intaglio) 1d blacks and reds, 2d blues and others.

· The many sets and variations of low and middle value surface-printed stamps, from the late 1850s to the early 1880s.

·  Some sumptuous large Victorian high value stamps.

· A mint set of the 1883 Green and Lilacs that made attractive even that notorious design, unpopular at the time with both the public and the postal officials.

A comprehensive display with colour variations of the 1887 ‘Jubilee’ set; and the ½d, 1/- and £1 variations of 1900/01.


A thoroughly enjoyable two hours of Victorian detail, explanation and nostalgia.



Members’ Evening

Islands of the Southern Hemisphere

14 January 2015.


11 members gathered at Bix to present contributions related to Islands of the Southern Hemisphere. A wide range of topics was presented.


· The Gilbert and Ellice Islands – now Kiribas and Tuvalu, the latter meaning eight and representing nine islands in one of the many archipelagos in this vast region of the Pacific Ocean.

· Fiji: some early stamps and then many of the George VI 1938 set with its huge numbers of varieties, particularly on the 6d map (colours and detail) and the 1½d sailing canoe (with or without a man paddling).

· The George VI stamps of the Falkland Islands and its dependencies; plus some later ones recalling the steam and sail locomotives of the 3½ mile-long 2 ft gauge railway used to carry supplies for the construction of a wireless station across the bay from Port Stanley in 1915.

· Victorian and Edwardian stamps of Mauritius, the Seychelles, New Zealand, Tasmania, the Falkland Islands and Saint Helena.

· Islands at the Southern tip of South America and the history of possession of the Falkland Islands.

· Albums showing the stamps of Aitutaki and Madagascar

· A postcard from Madagascar and the partly related story of the three Proctor Brothers who thrived or suffered on the island until the French took over the protectorate in 1890 and made profitable trading for British companies impracticable thereafter.

· A range of photographs by our Chairman taken on various islands in the Pacific and Indian Oceans and even one of an island on the Amazon.

· Some philatelic items from Australia including the Postcode Book and a manual of post office mechanization.

· Postal and social aspects of Borneo and the Spice Islands.

· A painting of an island.