2018 News

Text Box: Henley and District Philatelic Society

Visit to Henley & District Philatelic Society
by Bob Small
10 October 2018

14 members welcomed Bob Small who came up from Warminster to present the themes of Napoleonic Prisoners of War and England Expects – a History of Nelson. The second subject was illustrated by numerous stamps – mainly issued on the bicentenary of Trafalgar – whilst both displays comprised numerous covers, letters, official documents, maps and illustrations, all brought to life by a clear verbal description.
The wars against Napoleon’s France continued on and off for a couple of decades. So some prisoners of wars were confined for much of this time. Their confinement comprised
prisons, some specially built, like Dartmoor, or adapted, like Portchester Castle, to accommodate thousands of prisoners each;
‘hulks’ – old warships, mainly 74-gun frigates from which all the canons had been removed enabling the vessel to rise in the water and the bottom ‘orlop’ deck to be available for cramped and squalid accommodation – 200 prisoners on each of three decks;
‘parole’ towns or villages – e.g. Thame, Launceston, Tiverton, Leek, Odiham – to which officers (only) could be sent if they undertook not to try to escape and where they could live normally within the specified boundaries of each town; even so hundreds of the thousands of officers did try to escape, a majority successfully.
There were also hospital ships on which conditions were presumably better than in the hulks.

Pictures of the prison buildings were painted by Captain Durrant, one of the head keepers. Numerous covers of letters from prisoners were displayed plus some between prisons and a few from families in France. Mail was carried free in England, charged on delivery like ordinary mail in France. Life in the prisons and hulks was boring; NCOs and men had to subsist by selling artefacts or even their yellow clothing. However officers received 10/6d a week and had the opportunity to apply for parole.

Horatio Nelson’s life showed how officers had to balance their privileges against leadership, ingenuity and bravery. Unlike Wellington’s army where rank was purchased, naval promotion was based on merit. Bob’s Small display showed the full sequence of Nelson’s progressn from joining the Navy at 13 years old, to Lieutenant with his own ship at 19 and various appointments up to Vice-Admiral with a knighthood and then a barony. This was earned by clever planning, rapid decisions (even against orders) and enormous courage. Besides of bouts of ‘ill health’ throughout his career, he suffered loss of an eye, an arm and eventually his life – all in battle and making rapid recovery in most cases. 

Like most of his contemporaries, Nelson had excellent right-handed manuscript. But perhaps one of the most astonishing of Bob’s exhibits is a letter written by Nelson with his left hand the day after he had had his right arm amputated – truly heroic stuff!

Members’ Evening on 
26th September 2018

15 members gathered at Bix to display material related to the letter S. Contributions in the form of stamps, postcards, covers and letters related to these themes.
Saint Helena, stamps of
Savoy, House of – King Emmanuel II of Sardinia and Italy
Sea and ships; Sinking of the Titanic
Sir Francis Freeling  Bt, 12 letters addressed to him by Prime Ministers, bishops and other eminent people – each identified and explained - from a collection of over 100
Sixpence and Shilling GB Victorian issues
ISland (Iceland) and DeutSchland stamps
Solomon Islands
Stamps on stamps – Argentine stamps commemorating various earlier stamps issues on anniversaries and at exhibitions. The centenary of the first adhesive postage stamps in May 1840 showed early Argentine provincial stamps but no 1d black.
Stamps showing birds including many varieties of starling, storks and swallows
Stations – London termini including a map of the Marylebone complex, commuters arriving and trains inside Liverpool Street, and a very wide platform extension that was once at Waterloo
Strauss; Austrian stamps issued to commemeorate centenaries or sesquicentenary of the birth and death of Johan Strauss – father and son – also one depicting the German composer Richard Strauss.
Swedish stamps
Syrian castles – external and internal views of Krak des Chevaliers and others.

Members’ Evening on
12th September 2018

12 members gathered at Bix for the first meeting of our 2018-19 season and to display our latest acquisitions or reminiscences. Topics touched upon were of the usual wide scope.
Austrian stamps – not local overprints – issued between 1865 and 1914 at a variety of post ofices in the Ottoman Empire.
Bronze and other copper alloys; and a Russian guide to the rare metals and precious stones in national collection.
The copper Statue of Liberty: the photograph clearly showed the large size of the pedestal [just over half the height of the total structure and constructed by Americans of concrete with granite facing blocks, whilst the bronze statue itself was fabricated in France and shipped in parts to New York].
Covers: a wide range including transatlantic envelopes, postage from naval vessels and one posted on the first day of the 1948 Olympic Games.
Denmark and Danish West Indies: early mainly mint stamps.
De la Rue – various ventures including playing cards and early GB Revenue stamps.
Huge enlargements of Victorian GB classic stamps.
Forgeries and possible forgeries from Scandinavia, Prince Edward Island etc.
Early Finland rouletted stamps; and other stamps from Norway, Iceland and Sweden.
London Railway Termini on early postcards, accompanied by a book on these.
Montenegro – stamps and some of the history of the nation.
Perfins: 12 sheets; also some GB Victorian revenue stamps pierced by a perfin-like cancellation.
Sarawak: proof sheets; plus a post card showing a remote mountain village.
Silver stamp boxes: fine tiny antiques; and explanatory literature.
Aspects of War: stamps showing battles, soldiers, animals, weapons, artillery, warships, aircraft, destruction; also a range of British Empire World War I war tax stamps.

The Chairman thanked the members for putting on such a mixed variety of fascinating material.

Members’ Evening
27th June 2018

14 members gathered on a warm evening at Bix for the last display evening of the 2017-18 season. 

The first part of the evening was a display by Brian Moore of the fiscal stamps of the Swiss Canton of Fribourg and a few of the Municipality of the same name. This forms part of Brian’s larger collection of fiscal stamps for all the Swiss cantons as well as the Federation. The display included his Bronze medal for the Fribourg display and he subsequently won higher awards for similar themes.

The Fribourg ‘timbres de commerce’ were first issued in 1862 – similar to the Helvetia postage stamps of that date but imperforate and with the central design being the arms of Fribourg. Many were sold mint to stamp collectors. Variations of the same design and others followed in the remainder of the 19th Century and ‘timbres de commerce’ were followed by such as ‘timbres mobile gradué’, ‘effets commerces’ and various ‘attaches’ or ‘visas’. There were taxes on a very wise range of activities, several of which required fiscal stamp authorization. These included taxes on goods or transport, receipts, private agreements – a delight to bureaucrats, a substantial source of public employment and a rich source of interest to subsequent collectors.

The second part of the evening was devoted to postcards by members. Themes included
Commemoration of the overthrow of the Spanish Viceroy of Argentina in 1810 (an enlarged 1910 stamp). 
Gold (and ruby) mines and processing; jewellery in Fabergé’s products and the Henry VIII’s finery.
Norwegian views from remote Hell Station to a major city cathedral and a lady in national dress; also cards in Norwegian 1930s boxes of chocolates and a 1903 Christmas card.
Pre-1914 cars including Silver Ghosts.
Early African railway scenes including Victoria Falls, the stations at Cape Town (Port), Cairo and on the branch lines to the Atlantic and Pacific costs.
Royal Mail pre-paid postcards sent for ½d (at newspaper rate) or 1d if any words were added.
Saucy French postcards – very fat ladies sea bathing.
Some sets of postcards depicted paintings. These included
Ocean liners of the early to mid-20th century – many now less well remembered.
Views of old Buenos Aires and its fort; and celebrations of the crossing of the Andes by the armies of San Martin and O’Higgins and their subsequent defeat of royalist forces in Chile.

President’s Evening 
23rd May 2018

Bob Clements, our President, presented thirteen other members with
lavish food and drink, supported always by caterers Jill and Brian
a distinguished visiting speaker, since Bob has shown us all his comprehensive GB mint collection on various occasion during his long spell at Chairman.

The speaker was Andy Donaldson, President of Wimbledon & District Philatelic Society, and his subject, completely new to many of us, was Underprints – more specifically Protective Underprints. These, like perfins subsequently and some overprints, were applied by companies to their stocks of postage stamps to prevent stolen ones being sold back to post offices at face value. The first underprints were issued in 1858. From 1866 until 1880 some of these were provided officially by the postal authorities (or their printers like De la Rue). Five companies made use of this service, namely
JC Boyd & Co, who requested the service in the first place,
Copescape, Moore and Crampton (later Hughes replaced Moore), the most prolific user of underprints,
WH Smith & Sons, booksellers,
the Oxford Union Society,
the Great Eastern Railway.
There were also a larger number of companies who applied unofficial underprints for the same purpose. These included Samuel Montague (jewellers and later financiers) and another one-time tycoon, the patent medicine producer and philanthropist Thomas Holloway.

Andy displayed numerus examples of the stamps (viewed from the back), covers (where the underprints could be seen if held up to the light) and several warrants authorising or ordering the underprinting. The display was enhanced by
full explanation of the circumstances of each issue,
supplementary information about the companies involved, the fruits of considerable research by Andy.
The latter included photographs of the original premises and some of the same sites more recently, for instance the original City Bank and its successor – a wine bar. In his search for the Fore Street Warehouse Co Ltd, Andy found a plaque commemorating the first bomb dropped on London in World War II which destroyed the building.

Most of the companies were located in London EC – Andy’s map located more than twenty of them. One was at Manchester (Mitchell Henry) and one at Bishop’s Stortford (James Harvey). There was a very wide range of commercial activities; many were merchants and traders; but there were warehouses, foundries and factories, social and entertainment firms, purveyors of farm produce – wheat barley and even manure, stationers and so on.

Nearly all the display concerned the middle years of the reign of Queen Victoria. However Andy’s final piéce de resistance was two King Edward VII 2/6d stamps with the complete menu printed in tiny letters on the back for two 1902 banquets – one in Manchester, one at the Hotel Cecil in London.

Visit to Henley & District Philatelic Society
by John Davies
25th April 2018

14 members welcomed John Davies whose subject for the evening was the 1890 Penny Postage Jubilee. John’s interest in this mostly long-forgotten occasion was stimulated by reprints of relevant material which he found at an exhibition 100 years after the event in 1990. The 50th anniversary of universal penny postage and the 1d blacks had been celebrated mainly by two institutions
the Corporation of the City of London which collaborated with the Post Office to set up an exhibition from 16th to 19th May 1890 and a conversazione (a scholarly social gathering) on the 16th May, both held at the Guild Hall;
the Post Office itself – also with an exhibition and conversazione but held on 2nd July only at the South Kensington (now Victoria and Albert) Museum.

Although John split his display into one part each for the two events, there were considerable similarities. Both involved very considerable organization with collection of the material, layout within each venue, invitations, tickets, menus and programmes (of music by military bands, other orchestras and choirs), traffic planning and correspondence related to all this planning. Under the patronage of Queen Victoria, there were a great many distinguished guests as well as many ordinary people and stamp collectors. The Guildhall was visited by the Prince of Wales (later King Edward VII) and the guests of honour at the Museum were the Duke and Duchess of Edinburgh – there was a formal address of welcome to them signed by Frederick Hill, surviving brother of Rowland. Although no actual commemorative postage stamps were issued, a considerable amount of the first commemorative postal stationery was issued including
at the Guild Hall, 1d letter cards sold at 5½d with the balance for charity,
at the Museum, 1d envelopes sold similarly for 1/-; eventually hundreds of thousands were bought.

There were also special decorative hand-stamps, i.e.
the ‘Guild Hall cachet’ in rubber and metal stamps,
at the Post Office exhibition, six different cachets, including the main one with an attractive crown at the centre.
Some of these cachets were used as cancellations on letters posted at the exhibitions, both of which had their own post offices demonstrating all the various postal services and processes. Some cachets could be used merely to amplify the value of material; for one penny at the Museum, these could be added to programmes, tickets, invitations, menus, personal visiting cards, even blotting paper.

Special exhibitions included demonstrations of Edison’s phonograph and 50 years of telegraphy (at the Guild Hall) and – at the museum – the pneumatic tube mail system.

The fundamental purpose of these events was to benefit the Rowland Hill Benevolent Fund, supporting postmen in hard times, their widows and children. Besides the two main events, there were smaller ones in ‘towns and villages’ throughout the country.  The London (later Royal) Philatelic Society held its own events – with dealers in attendance. A book describing the main events was published the following year.

Henley and District Philatelic Society

Members’ Evening
28th March 2018

18 members gathered at Bix for displays by two of us on two different aspects of GB philately – Colin Richards on Edinburgh postmarks and Mike Kitson on GB stamps used abroad. Both displays were of profusely stamped and postmarked covers and both contained fascinating background research, for example 
of the related writers or addressees, such as the publisher Blackwood or the Tennants, owners of The Glen in Peeblesshire,
of the varied means of carrying the mail – from mules and canoes to cross the pre-Canal isthmus of Panama to the postal ‘tenders’ of Scottish railway mail trains.

Edinburgh Postmarks relate to the times since 1795 when the British postal service replace the Edinburgh & District Penny Post. Most of the postmarks – or ‘cancellations’ on postage stamps – indicated EDINBURGH or its early equivalent 131 as the place of posting. Initially mail was collected at Receiving Houses which often added their own postmarks, e.g. Hanover Street or Cross. There were numerous other hand stamped applications concerning LATE mail, NOT PAID (in advance) and actual times of receipt. 

The actual cancellations took a number of forms common to the rest of Britain (e.g. Maltese Cross, Duplex, etc) but there were many interesting exceptions, e.g.
the Brunswick Stars, a postmark unique to Edinburgh and with various variations; Colin related the Star to the jewel in the Order of the Thistle; it also seems be s motif adopted in British Police insignia;
the rolling cancellation – also used in Liverpool;
various experimental postmarks and numerous local variations.

GB stamps used abroad relate mainly to letters sent through British post offices providing services in foreign countries – such as Latin America – or British colonial territories before their own stamps were available. Typical of the former was mail from Bogota, capital of Colombia to whichever Caribbean port – Cartagena, Barranquilla or San Marta – was least silted up and therefore easiest of access by mail boats. Besides such vagaries of port conditions and weather there were numerous difficulties in local political situations, such as in wild Haiti.

Other temporary or early use of GB stamps displayed included
those for mail, mostly military, handled by the Royal Niger Company (1879-1900); the company enabled Britain to overcome German and French competition threatening Nigeria in the late 19th century;
letters from the Crimea and other military campaigns in Egypt or the Boer War.

A notable feature of many of Mike’s items is their scarcity, for example two of only five known (reported) examples - or even perhaps two out of three! 

Henley and District Philatelic Society

Chairman’s Evening
10th January 2018

17 of us gathered for the annual Chairman’s Evening. This year’s chairman, David, engrossed us by
describing his experience as an auctioneer – the need for accurate description and honest description, the techniques of fair selling and the wiles of cunning or unscrupulous buyers; and examples of rare stamps (e.g. a VR Penny Black) found in otherwise ordinary albums or even boxes;
displaying a wide selection of mainly early sheets from his comprehensive collection, presented in alphabetical order from Australia (New South Wales and later Kangaroos and George V heads) to sadly tormented Yemen (once with intricate Arabic inscriptions, typical of early Arabian and Ottoman stamps); 
setting a quiz in which we attempted to identify the states issuing 25 difficult stamps.

David’s sheets are particularly rich in variations – in perforations, watermarks, colour shades, printing differences and, particularly in overprints such as in British Empire War Stamps or the various regimes in the Orange Free State. Doubtless there are many variations of all types in the sheets shown of Crete, Eritrea, Baden and Württemberg, Portugal, Rwanda-Urundi and Turkey.

Overprints also feature in several sheets shown of military occupations – by Germany in Serbia, Finland in Eastern Karelia, Lithuania in Memel, and several Balkan examples – also on intriguing Italian post offices on Rhodes together with apparently local issues for that island.

Forgeries featured widely – a warning to us all if we do not have David’s ability to spot them. Examples were shown from Gibraltar, Hong Kong, Sierra Leone, France and GB booklets (24p).

Any overall impression of David’s collection must reflect the high quality of his examples – clean, clear postmarks, perfect perforations or rouletting, exceptional examples of embossed shields or heads, and brighter coloured yellows – all of this complemented by the fine refreshments provided by his wife.