2016 News

Text Box: Members’ Evening
14 December 2016

13 members gathered for the last meeting of 2016. The guiding theme was Stories presented on One Sheet.

The first exhibit was a (scanned) cover of a letter from Rowland Hill, posted in January 1840, presenting his proposals for the forthcoming postage reforms. On the top right-hand side of the envelope Hill had drawn a rough impression of what the 1d stamps would look like. A related item was an Italian book Victor Victoria that described the first stamps of both Great Britain (Queen Victoria) and Italy (King Victor Emmanuel).

Other stories of European interest were:
the sad but romantic courting by the Grand Duke of Austria, his eventual marriage to his lower-ranking bride, and their tragic demise at Sarajevo in 1914;
the development of Russian architecture and the Russian navy; Russian wildlife; and the Triumph (1937/8) and Disaster of record-breaking Russian balloon ascents into the stratosphere;
Norwegian Royalty, especially Queen Maud (daughter of King Edward VII) and other eminent Norwegian ladies; Queen Maud’s children’s charity postage stamp issue of May 1939 were withdrawn by order of the German invaders in 1940 but reissued for general use in 1981;
Norwegian engineering achievements including the Statsfjord oil platforms.

Stories of African interest were:
the circumnavigation of the African coast by Vasco da Gama, starting in 1497 – the port which he set up for such expeditions at Lago(s) in southern Portugal and the caravels he sailed in; the ultimate aim was to secure trade in spices to replace their expensive purchase from Arabs in the Levant;
French stamps posted in Algeria; postcards of scenes in Algiers and of Algerian troops and their followers in World War I;
the siege of Mafeking and the variety of stamps it engendered.

Australia was represented by the story of the First Fleet. This set out from Briatin in 1787 to initiate the colonization of that continent.

Thematic themes included gold ornaments and jewellery from ancient Greece and Eldorado (Colombia).

Postcard Evening
23 November 2016

12 members gathered at Bix for our annual postcard evening and to meet visiting dealers Tony and Rosa Lawrence who brought their comprehensive stock of stamps and postcards. The many postcard themes displayed included
Cunard liners
The paintings of Jeremy Gardner
A miscellany of Argentine trading and transport items
Sarawak native crafts
Victoria, Marylebone and other London railway stations
London parks and Kew Gardens
The London and Greenwich Railway
The Weymouth and Portland Railway
Views of Shiplake village and stations including when that station had two platform faces and a signal box)
Cologne in 1945 after destruction by bombing.

Displays by two members 
9 November 2016

Brian Turner and Simon Richards presented The Cape to Cairo Railway and West Indies Maritime mail respectively. Brian’s display comprised postcards, stamps, cigarette and chocolate packet cards and documents whilst Simon’s theme was illustrated almost entirely by posted covers. Both displays were fully written up and both incorporated numerous explanatory maps.

The Cape to Cairo Railway was a concept promoted, among others, by Cecil Rhodes from the South and General Kitchener from the North. The main route was never completed, there being a substantial gap from Uganda to central Sudan. Another gap was between Wadi Halfa on the Sudan/Egypt border and Aswan in Upper Egypt, although this section of river and reservoir was plied – and still is – by river boats.

Brian’s display included:
Illustrated descriptions of the railway stations, locomotives, mines, towns and hotels in South Africa (Cape Town, de Aar junction, Kimberley, Bloemfontein, Johannesburg, Mafeking), over the Victoria Falls Bridge (and many related stamp issues), eventually to Khartoum, Cairo and Alexandria.
Mention of all the connections and east-west routes, including the Portuguese Beira and Benguela lines intended to connect Angola with Mozambique; also the Chinese-built TanZam Railway connecting Dar-es-Salaam to Zambia  and hence, albeit with a break of track gauge from metre to 3ft 6in., from East African to southern African railways.
Views of the Suez Canal which had rail connections at both ends.

West Indian maritime mail originated in casual ship mail from the 17th century. More formal arrangements were initiated in the early 18th century, in the British case by a private packet service (1702-11) under contract to – and subsidized by - the British Government and then by the government itself through monthly packet ships from 1755 and admiralty servies contracted to the Royal Mail Steam Packet Co from 1840. Simon’s display described the various reforms and improvements were made from the 1620s up to 1863, illustrated by covers from 1663 until the early days of adhesive postage stamps. His covers showed the variety of wooden and later metal (Granada 1829) hand stamps – showing dates and post offices – from fleurons, other early date/origin strikes and from 1840s Crown circle postmarks in and after the days when payment was made by recipients through compulsory cost prepayment (1858), up to the early 1860/1 unvalued adhesive stamps of Trinidad and Barbados. The main British West Indies postal depot was at first at Barbados but moved to St Thmoas, then in the Dutch East Indies, in 1842.

The smooth operations of British Caribbean mail were frustrated by war, mainly with France in the 17th and early 18th century, not only by hostility between countries but also by privateers who thrived in the circumstances. The economic success of the region was setback in 1834 by the abolition of slavery on which the sugar plantations depended; the colonies gradually switched to other produce and much later to tourism,

18 members enjoyed a great deal of packet mail, railway and general African history.

Visit to Henley & District Philatelic Society
by Mark Bailey
Bix  26 October 2016

Mark Bailey entertained 17 members on the subject of the World ‘Exposition’ held at Brussels in 1958.
This project was truly international with participation from many countries. Tens of thousands of men strove for two or three years to prepare the site at Heysel in NW Brussels and to construct substantial buildings – a ‘pavilion’ for each country, others for common themes, surrounding gardens and the iconic Atomium. Intended to be temporary, the latter stands today; and even in 1958 had become a symbol of the Expo, complementing the official logo – an unsymmetrical five-pronged star.
The Expo was opened by the King Baudouin of Belgium on 17 April 1958 and remained open until the 19th of October that year. Before, during and even after the main event was closed, there was considerable publicity in the form of posters, promotional labels, matchbox labels, postcards, stamps and special covers. These were by no means all Belgian, since the participating countries included many from the First (western), Second (communist bloc) and Third (developing) Worlds, as they were then known. Some of these countries issued a wide range of stamps, covers and labels; some, like Great Britain, issued no stamps; so there are only postcards, chocolate cards and a Panama stamp to commemorate the British Pavilion. 
Besides two sets of Belgian stamps – the first of four values depicting the Atomium, the second with the star logo and various features of the Expo, including the Belgian Congo and Ruanda-Urundi Pavilion - a profusion of other stamps was issued by countries worldwide including
A Bulgarian 1 lev stamp with the star logo of the Expo in which Bulgaria did not even participate
Many sets of stamps depicting each nation’s own Expo pavilion (e.g. France, Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, Morocco and the United States)
Notable national heroes (14th and 16th century worthies for Tunisia)
Panama’s set of stamps depicting the pavilions of other countries (Brazil, Argentina, Britain, USA, Belgium and Venezuela)
Special overprints  of ordinary current issue stamps, e.g. Rumania (EXPOZITIA BRUXELLES 1958)
Sets showing the products of particular countries, e.g. toys, a water turbine, glassware and drapery shown in the Czechoslovak Pavilion; [Various national events included fashion shows in the Italian Pavilion]
Hungarian sets  showing iconic views of both Brussels and Budapest
Other combinations with the star logo (e.g. Iran, Italy, Portugal and Portuguese Colonies, San Marino, Spain) or the Atomium symbol (Haiti)
not to mention stamps or covers emanating from the United Nations.
Intriguing end pieces to the display concerned the 50th anniversary of the Expo (five Belgian stamps were issued in 2008) and a set of cards showing all the national pavilions issued with boxes of Belgian chocolates for sale in 1958.

Members’ evening on 12th October 2016

11 members met at Bix to address the theme of Countries bordering the Baltic Sea.

Perhaps surprisingly our members managed to keep remarkably close to the topic, particularly if you accept that Norway – the favourite country of one of our keenest members – was part of (Baltic-bordering) Sweden until 1905.

Even our expert on British post offices overseas (which were mostly in South America) managed to dig out fascinating GB stamped covers and other material related to the Crimean War (in Russia then, even if far from its Baltic coast).

Mostly early stamps and covers from Baltic bordering nations included
Finland, including the 1860s rouletted sets
Russian 19th century ‘Arms’ stamps and their equivalents in the then vassal state of Finland and a single 10 kopek stamp permitted for the subordinate one-time ‘kingdom’ of Poland in 1860
Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania and their occasional (post-1918 and post-1945) emergence from the pressures or subjugation of Russia or Germany
The first (1872+) pan-German postage stamps in both thaler and gulden currencies; also some later Hindenburg stamps overprinted for Alsace and Lorraine
Swedish labelled documents.

Displays covering several Baltic Sea countries included
Precious stones and metals including the Swedish and Russian crown jewels
Railway locomotives and stations and post offices, mainly commemorating railway or postal centenaries.

As always we were also shown fascinating material not relevant to the evening’s theme. This included early GB covers of historic interest plus one posted from Henley-on-Thames.

Visit to Henley & District Philatelic Society
By David Frome
Bix  28 September 2016

15 members welcomed David Frome of Barnet Philatelic Society, who brought a display of stamps, explanations and ephemera relating to the many celebrations of the summer and winter Olympic Games from 1896 to 2016.

On this occasion David’s display was selected from his vast stock of Olympic and other sporting stamps and ephemera. These stamps, labels and posters were presented in historic sequence from depiction of the ancient games – held at Olympia until AD393 – leading up to representative numbers of the prolific sets issued in many countries to commemorate more recent Olympiads (12 sets for South Korea, the host in  1988, many more from countries with little participation in the actual events). As fascinating as the philatelic displays were the descriptions given of the memorable events and heroes on each occasion.

In keeping with Baron de Courbetin’s initiatives, the first Olympic Games were held in Athens in 1896 with 211 (male) competitors from 14 countries, some in prearranged national teams and some who happened to be in Greece at the time. Few stamp issues were made in the early ‘modern era’ games other than the Greek issues in 1896 itself and for the unofficial ‘intercollated’ Games also in Athens, perhaps as an aspiration to hold all Olympiads in Greece, as in ancient times.

One of the most attractive features of recent Olympic philately has been the issue of special stamps commemorating gold medal winners as was done for British champions at the 2012 London Olympics. At some Olympiads some countries issued their celebratory stamps the morning after the victorious event.

David’s display concluded with a few hundred examples from his collection of ‘pins’ – badges work to celebrate a variety of sporting, cultural or political events.

Visit to Henley & District Philatelic Society
by Brian Hague
Bix  8  June 2016

17 members welcomed Brian Hague, of Southampton & District Philatelic Society, who came from Winchester to address us on Aspects of Faroese Philately.  The first half of his display was devoted to stamps, the second more towards postal history - especially during the occupation of the islands by British forces in World War II.

The first post office on the Danish Faroe Islands was set up in 1870 and others had followed by the 20th century. Ordinary Danish postage stamps were used and this practice continued – even whilst Denmark itself was occupied by the Germans during World War II – until the islands gained their own postal authority in 1975.  However there were two periods when shortage of stamps resulted in special adaptation having to be made for Faroese mail, viz.
In 1919 there was increase in postal charges but, since there was a delay in supplying new values from Denmark, both local surcharges were overprinted on stamps (acceptable until 1926) and bisected stamps were authorized of which we saw many examples on cover.
During World War II in 1940 local overprints were issued for a time to cope with rapid inflation (e.g. 50 øre on 5 øre).
The first Faroe Islands stamps issued in 1975 were a set showing a location map, a more detailed map and some pictorial views, firmly defining the place and nature of the islands.  Thereafter numerous issues followed including fine human and ovine (sheep) portraits based on the work of the Polish engraver Czesław Słania (1921-2005).
The second part of the evening was devoted mainly to postal (and social) history of the Islands during World War II. In 1940 whilst Winston Churchill was 1st Lord of the Admiralty, it became British strategy to take control of the islands to secure a post in that part of the North Atlantic and, perhaps, a deep water refuge for shipping.  The key event was the arrival of HMS Suffolk with a British Consul bringing a letter of introduction to the Governor of the Islands signed by Lord Halifax, foreign secretary at the time.  The fact that he was accompanied by nearly 200 troops did not cause much unease and occupation seems to have been a friendly intrusion. 
The British soldiers were a melange from various regiments – including the Lovat Scouts (who seem to have had a fairly leisurely sojourn with much courting of the local ladies) and the Pioneer Corps (who toiled away rather harder in nasty weather and with rudimentary tools to build an airstrip).
A considerable number of covers illustrated the postage within the islands and to Britain during the war.  Those to relations in Denmark and a few to Norway and even one to Germany were despatched by various means of which perhaps the most effective were the Red Cross standard letter forms. A variety of censors were involved.
Brian’s display ended with a variety of postcards showing views of the islands and the life within them, including dry salting cod in the days before refrigerated transport.

Members’ Evening on 11th May 2016

16 members met at Bix to present mainly postcards – or anything else if they lacked postcards. 

Postcards displayed included
Crusaders castles in Syria – massive structures built by Europeans who largely settled and set up their own fiefdoms before about 1200, or by Knights Templar thereafter who were rather more militant.
The Suez Canal and its role at the north end of the Cape to Cairo Railway project. Fascinating old postcards of the canal itself, the railway stations and various street views and buildings in Port Said, Suez and Port Tewfik.
Old postcards (in two displays) covering Henley, Shiplake, Medmenham and Reading and a few other views and incidents (like Queen Mary’s visit) in the area.
1950s + postcards of Sarawak – some in numbered series, others more difficult to classify.
Monuments and statues in Argentina with full explanation of the subjects.
Norwegian postcards including old views of Bergen, a portrait of Alexander Keelan and a fascinating example of colour wood-cut printing.

Cigarette cards (Players, Wills and Capstan) and some cards from Brooke Bond tea depicted a wide variety of subjects include wildlife and many technical aspects of railways and locomotives.

Stamps shown comprised
A wide range of stamps and postage dues during the post-World War I British occupation of Palestine and Transjordan. Also similar British overprinted stamps issued in the same period in Iraq, including Ottoman fiscals overprinted for the British occupation of Mosul.
Thematic stamps – including wildlife and minerals – and the changes in their format in the second part of the 20th century.
Pictorial stamps issued in France in the 1920s and 1930s shown in categories of ‘expositions’, commemoration of current events - like the Olympic Games 1924, the World Cup 1938, some state visits and some engineering achievements – airmail stamps, commemoration of various personalities (back to the 6th century), anniversaries of various events (back to 1429) and the 1929 and 1938 ‘view’ sets which set the precedent for some great French tourism issues after the war.

Visit to Henley & District Philatelic Society
by Greg Wynne
Bix  28  April 2016

13 members welcomed Greg Wynne who addressed us on South Australia and Esperanto. Proclaimed a British colony in 1836, South Australia was the only one in the region that was never a penal settlement for convicts. Indeed Greg displayed a 1830s poster by the Colonization Commission inviting settlers to purchase plots of land in the Colony. They were then given free shipment from England together with their servants and labourers. The Bill was signed by Rowland Hill as Secretary to the commissioners; he had fingers in many pies at the time.

The colony’s government ordered stamps from Perkins Bacon in 1855 who produced a set with the head of Queen Victorian based on current designs they were supplying for Chile and New Zealand. These were 1d, 2d and 6d values (the latter being the postage to Britain); 1/- violets were also printed initially but they were judged too close in colour to the 6d deep blues and were burnt (or given to Rowland Hill). Originally imperforate, a rouletted set were issued in 1858 with the 1/- now orange. From 1860 more conventional QV-head sets were produced of which Greg displayed many including various surcharges or overprints. He also showed many of the small 1883 1/2d stamps, eventually replaced in 1899 by conventionally sized stamps.

The ‘Long Toms’ – large vertical stamps with a variety of top and bottom duty plates – were first produced as POSTAGE AND REVENUE high value stamps (2/6d to £20), mainly for fiscal use. These were never produced in large numbers so the plates were reused as POSTAGE only for a wider range of values (3d to £1) from 1902, supplementing 1894+ conventional new design 2 1/2d, 5d and then 1/2d stamps.

By referendums in all the colonies they were united as the Commonwealth of Australia in 1901 (New Zealand and Fiji declining to join). However there seemed to be plenty of existing stamps from  Queen Victoria’s reign and none were issued depicting the reign of King Edward VII [except £1 and £2 in Victoria] or until the Commonwealth Kangaroo/KGV issue of 1913.

The history of Esperanto was described with a comprehensive display of covers, stamps and documents. Among the many aspects of interest were
Earlier attempts to promote common ‘constructed’ or ‘auxiliary’ languages especially in countries where many were spoken and to promote better mutual understanding and peace between different ethnic and social groups.
The most successful was the Pole Dr Ludwig Lazarus Zamenhof – Doktoro Esperanto (= hopeful) who published his guide to the language in 1887.
The language did well at first in Russia and Germany and later in Brazil etc (and even Stoke-on-Trent); but was suppressed by both Stalin and Hitler because it threatened to make life easier or to conceal what they considered dissident or undesirable groups.
A great many stamps and covers related to annual conferences in many countries.
Regular magazines in many countries – such as UNIVERSALA ESPERANTO from Argentina.
Intriguing MIGRANTOS POSTKARTOT, postcards with five different stamps and addresses on one side, to many different countries as they passed round the world – some Esperanto instructions and messages on the other side.
Lots more of interest which won’t fit on this page. A great deal of avid discussion followed.

Members’ evening on 13th April 2016

12 members met at Bix to present and discuss stamps and ideas on the Countries of the European Union.

The EU has 28 country members. Nevertheless we saw some fine pictorials and maxicards from Norway (the most notable non-member)! Even our Argentina–only collector managed to display a remarkable number of fully described stamps and pictures from that country depicting a range of European politicians, royalty, visitors and celebrations of sports and culture.

Other topics presented included
stamps of UNESCO offices in European cities
early and scarce letters posted from British Post Offices in Europe
some even earlier letters (from the 16th century onwards) sent across Europe including by the Thurn and Taxis postal service
classic French stamps
mineral and other thematic stamps on covers from Europe
a selection of mainly early European stamps purchased at out recent auction
stamps related to the history and current place in Europe and the EU of Greece, Poland and Great Britain.

Members’ evening on 23rd March 2016

15 members gathered at Bix to enjoy presentations by two of us.

David Armit presented Stamps of Yugoslavia. His sheets of mainly fine used stamps covered most of the sets – indeed nearly all the values and many of the shade variations –issued in different components of the region before 1918, of similar components resurrected during German occupation during World War II, and of Yugoslavia as a whole from 1918 up to the 1930s. The components comprised
Serbia: 1866-1920; also post-1941 German occupation issues
Montenegro: 1874-1913; and German occupation 1941-44;
Croatia: just the 1941-45 issues, including portraits of A. Paveliç a very tough-looking egg who ran an ‘imitation fascist state’;
Slovenia under Italian (1941) and German (1944) occupation;
Bosnia and Herzegovina: 1879-1918 as part of the (KuK) Austrian Empire;
Macedonia: just the WWII German occupation (Bulgarian overprinted) issues;
Yugoslavia itself from its formation at the end of 1918 through first overprints or special issues for Slovenia, Croatia etc and various Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats and Slovenians sets to 1930s King Peter II; after which space ran out.
So enough really good historic stuff without hundreds more sheets David has on subsequent Yugoslav issues for the rest of the 20th century and post-Yugoslav issues. Lively discussion during the presentation included the usefulness of the erstwhile Stanley Gibbons Green and Blue catalogues.

Alan Druce’s display mainly concerned the work of James and Charles Whiting. From about 1840, initially as Whiting and Branston, the company printed a variety of artistic and technically superb coloured cards and documents. Many of these were centred on embossed silhouette portraits of British nobility or people like George Washington. These coloured examples, all in mint condition even after 200 years, included invitations, daily tickets to performances, share certificates, lottery tickets, labels and so on. These must in themselves have accounted for considerable portions of the expense of the lavish events concerned.

Alan’s last two panels were quite different – letters and covers (mostly pre-1840 and back to the late 17th century) all fully written with detailed explanation.

Competition Evening on 10th February 2016

14 members and one visitor gathered at Bix for our annual display competition, judged this year by our President.

The nine-sheet displays depicted
British postal services from Panama – an entry scoring 90 points (Gold standard) on the Thames Valley Federation scoring system
Stamps etc depicting a wide variety of jewellery
Argentine 19th century postal stationery newspaper wrappers with various postal values
Postcards of mainly local scenes
and one 16-sheet display depicting a rich variety of locomotives, rolling stock and views on stamps issued by the Nene Valley Railway.

Whilst the competition entries were being judged, A very enjoyable quiz was staged with four teams of three competing to answer 100 questions on stamps – the countries of issue (names blanked out), the people depicted, the events or flora and fauna shown, some tricky overprints and a few difficult challenges to spot the difference between near-identical stamps.

Members’ evening on 27th January 2016

21 members gathered at Bix to display contributions related to the letters I,J and K. These included:

Ibsen and others commemorated on Norwegian stamps; also Heinrik Ibsen and Alexander Kielland – drilling rigs which collapsed or subsided in the North Sea
ICELAND – a substantial display of early 20th century definitives, including some with Tollur cancellations
Independence of Argentina – declaration at Casa de Tucumán, 1816
International  Holocaust Day – Auschwitz
INDIA – 1900-1930 issues including high values; letter from Lady Clive.
Inland Mail Office, Sarawak 	
Indo-China, including overprints
Inverted Watermarks, GB		
Investiture of Charles, Prince of Wales, on 1st July 1969 and related naval visits including HMS Nurton’s collision off Portland	
Ireland – Bird stamps, also some from Israel and Jersey
Kestrels and kingfishers		
Kilburn, photo
King Edward VIII – all four stamps!  
King George VI including colourful displays
Kingston, Jamaica – early postage was 4d within 30 miles of Kingston, 8d beyond inland but only 6d to Britain
Kirchner, President(s) of Argentina
KuK =Austria: 60th year of reign, 80th birthday of Emperor Franz Joseph, and non-issued military post set for his successor Karl
KUT – the combined issues for George V, George VI, Queen Elizabeth and after independence; also the preceding British and German East African constituents
Jamaican railway (now only freight); and Japanese Shinkansen trains
JAPAN – national park issues (from 1920s); and early cherry blossom forgeries
Jersey – Eastern and Western railways
Jewelry, particularly diamonds and Kimberley mine.	
J Flaw - a flaw on the corner letter of a GB 1d Red
Jordan: young King Hussein set
Junkers – early German military and civilian aircraft, including pioneer metal one 

Chairman’s Evening on 13th January 2016

18 members gathered at Bix to enjoy the hospitality of our Chairman, Bob Clements, and to enjoy his presentation of GB George V stamps. The latter he had recently acquired to supplement his substantial collections of Victorian and Edwardian issues with which many of us are already familiar.

King Edward VII died on 6 May 1910 but there was a hiatus – due both to consideration of alternative new designs and to a change of production contract from De La Rue to Harrison & Sons – before the first issue for the new king emerged nearly a year later. These were the ½ d and 1d ‘Downey heads’ with ¾ (two-eyed) portraits of the bearded King George V. However there were further arguments and negotiation about a suitable format for the final full range of values. Meanwhile new printings of the Edward VII stamps were produced by Harrisons (1911) and Somerset House (1911-13). The full range – from ½ d to £1 – for the new king first appeared at the end of 1912 or during 1913 and included the high value Sea Horses. 

Other issues which Bob displayed and explained comprised
the 1934-36 photogravure ½ d to 1/- definitives, a rapid cheaper printing method pioneered by Harrisons to replace letterpress ,
the British Empire Exhibition sets of 1924 and 1925,
the UPU Congress set of 1929,
the 1935 Silver Jubilee set.

Many issues of interest arose during the presentation, in which other members joined in enthusiastically. These included
the various differences in dies, notably in the Downey heads (and illustrated by Bob’s fine A4-size enlargements) and other minor faults or variations,
the wide range of watermarks, including many types of GvR + crown ‘Cypher’ watermarks,
colour variations - from the starkly different to almost ludicrous or dubious variations in shade,
perforations and perforating machinery,
overprints and Bob’s good reasons for not venturing into this minefield of forgeries; Caveat emptor = let the buyer beware.

Eating, drinking and conviviality accompanied lengthy inspection and discussion of Bob’s display of the postage stamps of Britain’s most enthusiastic royal philatelist.