2019 News

Text Box: Henley and District Philatelic Society

Visit to Henley & District Philatelic Society
by Peter Wood
10 April  2019

15 members welcomed Peter Wood to Bix. His display was entitled Troubles and Transition – Ireland 1900-1930. The troubles had persisted for over a century arising mainly through movements to secure the independence of the island of Ireland from the United Kingdom. The first frames of Peter’s display were letters posted, from about 1908, when that independence (‘Home Rule’) was seriously intended, being delayed only by the  First World War. Ordinary GB stamps continued in use as they had been since 1840. The letters on which they were posted were adorned firstly with labels supporting Irish independence and then by the substantial protestant majority in Ulster – strictly six particular counties which became Northern Island - who called for ‘No Home Rule’. These various labels included
plain labels, clearly indicating their propaganda purpose and of no postal significance
stamp-sized perforated labels, occasionally mistakenly accepted as valid for postage.
Probably as a result, all British commercial or propaganda labels were soon allowed only on the back of envelopes. Another aspect of pre-Home-Rule troubles concerned the Easter Uprising of 1916. Among the consequences were
loss of equipment in the Dublin General Post Office which was the nationalists’ HQ but was destroyed by British naval shelling; other cancelling equipment had to be used or adapted, such as from the separately located Parcels Office;
imprisonment, mostly as prisoners-of-war, of those rebels forces who were not executed; and a plethora of interesting national and international mail, some of it censored.
In 1918 there was a British parliamentary general election. In Ireland Sinn Fein swept the board; the successful members refused to sit at Westminster; they made their own deliberations in Dublin, perhaps preparing for Home Rule which was soon to follow. 

Transition was the process of changing from GB to Irish postage stamps from February 1922. Official stamp issues made at that time were
February to December 1922: GB stamps overprinted (in Irish) Provisional Government of Ireland;
December 1922 and most of 1923: GB stamps overprinted Irish Free State 1922;
December 1922 onwards: Irish (Eire) definitives from ½d to 1/-; higher values (2/6, 5/-, 10/-) from 1937.
That is perhaps enough scope for interest of many general collectors. But for enthusiasts there is a plethora of legal and illegal variations as regulations were altered by British, Irish and even some foreign post offices, and whenever postal charges were reduced or increased. There was an Irish postal strike and such occasions led to numerous anomalous uses of postage or revenue stamps. Peter displayed a comprehensive set of these official and unofficial variations. He also showed and explained the parallel complications which arose in 
levying Postage Due in a wide range of circumstances;
postal stationery including treatment of embossed values;
OHMS (government mail): various adaptations, usually without defacing the King’s head (Ireland was not a republic until 1940.
In thanking Peter Wood, our Chairman described his display as a remarkable example of real Postal History. 

Visit to Henley & District Philatelic Society
by Bob Hill
27 March 2019

17 members welcomed Bob Hill to Bix. His display concerned Aspects of South Africa. After an opening spoof parodying the obsessions of philately, Bob’s display related mainly to a remarkable collection of covers posted in South Africa and bearing a wide variety of postmarks or cachets. These included
‘postage paid’ and ‘to pay’ hand stamps in the days before postage stamps,
date/location cancellations in a wide variety of circles, triangles and hexagons,
obliterations, usually oval, defacing the stamps – much as was once common in North Borneo,
occasional crude ink scribbles as is often an unfortunate practice in modern Britain.

The dated cancellations displayed the location of posting in a variety of ways – Cape Town or CT, EL for East London, a diamond for Kimberly, various numbers meant to relate to particular post offices but subject to considerable anomalies. Actual colonies were also often shown such as Cape Colony or COGH, Natal etc. In many cases particular post offices or particular cancellations were short-lived, giving rise to some very scarce postmarks. Bob displayed many of these, some almost unique. These, collected over about 30 years, included
post offices like East Wolmar, which was only open for 5 months in 1907,
ship or port cancellations like those issued at Cape Town and Port Elizabeth, on ships plying up the coast to a copper mine (reached much more quickly by sea than overland) and – far way in Europe – such a cancellation of the Austro-Hungarian light cruiser Zenta, later sunk in World War I ;
mail from Verneukpan ‘speedway’ in early 1929.

The latter post office was set up in a tent by Mr Grey, regional post office chief, to deal with mail on the occasion of the attempt at the world land speed record by Captain (later Sir) Malcolm Campbell. It was staged at the Verneuk Pan a dry salt flat - not perhaps the best site in the world compared with similar flats in USA or Australia as there considerable numbers of stones which even painstakingly removed left holes in the ground. Campbell shipped out his car Bluebird on the ship Caernarvon Castle to Cape Town from where he seems to have commuted, mainly by aeroplane, to the salt pan far off in remote Northern Cape. The official world speed record was increased elsewhere even whilst Campbell was in Africa and he failed to beat the latest figure. On one return to Cape Town Campbell was given the local; mail for that city (12 letters); and these covers constitute another very scarce occasion – the first plane crashed en route south; Campbell’s own plane was sent out to rescue him and continue the journey and that plane with Campbell and the mail still in it was blown over by the wind on arrival in Cape Town. Fascinating and rare civer cachets resulted from all this.

Such was the interest in these remarkable covers and cachets and the anecdotes attached to them that these notes are necessarily random. As Eric Morecombe asserted when playing a piano concerto all wrong, ‘the Notes were right but not necessarily in the right order’. So with these Notes; this must conclude by mentioning Bob’s opening spoof display comparing a set of real and adapted Kit-Kat labels illustrating all their characteristics of varieties, special version for different regions, small sizes in paper shortages (like the South African WWII bantam War Effort stamps) and even perforations. Only watermarks were absent!

Members’ evening
9th January 2019

18 members gathered in warm Bix Village Hall on a cold evening. The themes for the first meeting of the New Year were Forgeries and Fiscals whilst a late addition of matters related to the letter F was invited for members who neither held fiscals nor were aware of forgeries in their collections.

Of various displays of forgeries, an outstanding case was that of Victorian Dominican stamps, illustrated by examples of both the genuine and the forged stamps. Several members showed stamps or covers they believed to be or were possibly forgeries. Examples of European forgeries were from Spain, France, Germany, Italy and Montenegro; and British Empire items came from other West Indian islands, Malta, Gibraltar, Sierra Leone, Gold Coast and Cape of Good Hope (triangulars).

The forms of forgery included faked postmarks and overprints, incorrect perforations or inversions and doubtful colours or shades. The colour fakes included a red example from a Argentine province where no such colour was in the original set. Considerable discussion arose concerning different shades and whether they should be recognized in catalogues. Examples of genuine Victorian GB stamps were displayed.

Fiscal stamps covers a wide variety of priced labels, some originating long before postage stamps were introduced. A fine example was attached as a fee for De la Rue’s application to Somerset House for authorization to produce playing cards. These cards had to guard against 18h century gambling cheats and were the main initial product of that company which went on to produce revenue stamps (their first key plate examples were shown) and postage stamps. Numerous other fiscal stamps or documents displayed included
all sorts of fees or receipts on numerous transactions
transfer of stocks, foreign bills, court fees
long, high or square Indian revenue stamps
beside a variety of cancellations including penned manuscript, handstamps or combinations of both, embossed stamps, perfins or round or diamond-shaped holes, and much scruffier finger-prints or ink blobs.

F subjects displayed included
Flight – Canadian stamps showing aviation from Montgolfier’s balloon ascent and the first Canadian flight by Silver dart, through the aircraft of the Royal Canadian Air Force in 1991 to recent space travel. Also stamps of Audubon’s bird paintings.
Correspondence received by Franci Fee?ling in 1811 from politicians and noblemen.
A Scottish landscape painting unsigned by the English painter Falconer.
Fish on stamps of Ascension and Malta; and tourist labels from Barra, Pabay and the Summer Isles.
Miscellaneous were twelve Singapore stamps with different cancellation cachets; also two references to the Danube Steam Navigation Company.