2021 News

Text Box: Henley and District Philatelic Society

Virtual Visit by Barry Stagg

12 April 2021

Barry Stagg, who visited Henley to present Parachuting a year or two back, was introduced by our Secretary as a prominent member of ABPS and the Thematic associations, an expert daffodil judge and a philatelist of wide interests. On this occasion his subject was John Williams – Missionary and Martyr.

The story of this remarkable gifted and dedicated man was presented by Barry in a display well-illustrated by maps, pictures, medals, etc and by stamps – global but mostly from Pacific islands – depicting most of the topics he touched on; these included beer (the staple worker’s beverage of the day shown on a German stamp), two beers (two stamps), tools then in use in Britain, scenes on SE Pacific islands, coconut trees, and many of the types of sailing ship of the type in use for John’s ocean and local voyages – a rich variety of pictorial stamps.

Born in Tottenham in 1796, he served an apprentice as an iron worker and was clearly destined for a successful career as an artisan. He gave all this up when he met some missionary explorers from a ship recently returned from the South Pacific, thereupon married his sweetheart and devoted the rest of his life to the service of the London Missionary Society in those far distant and very numerous islands. His first voyage to Tahiti in two stages took almost a year – 10,000 miles form England via Rio and the Cape to Sydney and another 6000 miles thence by schooner to Tahiti.

Outstanding aspects of John and his wife Mary’s achievements were
the considerable hardship in adapting to extremely primitive conditions; Mary bore ten children of which only three survived to adulthood;
their ability to communicate and collaborate with the natives;
John’s skills in building houses, fashioning metals over charcoal and the complete construction of a replacement ship, The Message of Peace, on Rarotonga;
his achievements in raising money on his visits back to England (1834-1837), during which he supervised the printing of 5000 copies of the Bible that he had translated into Raratongan as well as his book in English on missionary experiences in the South Seas.

Whilst he was clearly successful in winning the hearts of the islanders and in deputing his missionary zeal to many of them, strange vessels arriving in places not visited before were not always immediately welcome. Hostility arose particularly from the behaviour of some of the crews of foreign ships who tended to steal the food and crops of the native ‘savages’ and sometimes stole their wives. It was a few days after such an unfortunate encounter that Williams lost his life in 1839; he and his companion led the way in landing on the island of Erromango and were killed by revengeful native men. In a 2009 reconciliation the place was renamed Williams bay.

The legacy of John Williams’ achievements in the Pacific islands were presented by Barry as his huge impact on the culture of the islands,
the commissioning of seven ships by the London Missionary Society from the John Williams in 1844 to the John Williams VII in 1968.
The last exhibit shown in Barry’s display was a letter posted from one of these ships.

Virtual Meeting

22 March 2021

The theme for this zoom meeting was Revenue Stamps.  As well as displays concerned with particular countries or printers, a number of common topics emerged. Aspects referred to by several contributors included the development of revenue stamps. From early overprints and special labels, there followed adaptations of postage stamps and more elaborate versions of designs showing the monarch’s head etc, often of vertically or horizontally extended shape. A variety of uses was indicated from plain REVENUE to stamp duty, foreign bills, inland revenue, land registration, court fees and bankruptcy. 
 
Revenue stamps of De la Rue included many British Empire – and some Italian - issues of postal size or extended dimensions. Among observations on a range of revenue stamps were comments on various key-plate designs – for use adapting postal issues or for more elaborate designs in which the duty plate specified the type of revenue or actual amount collected. Inventor Brian Donkin made ingenious printing machinery to cope with different shapes.

The Victorian revenue stamps of Dominica were 1877 REVENUE overprints of current 1d, 6d and 1/- postal stamps and a later 1d carmine one. Comprehensive description and samples of all these were shown together with an 1882 cover at a time when postal rates had just been changed; new stamps were not available and four revenue stamps were used, each obliterated firmly by AO7 postmarks.

New Zealand fiscal stamps were shown for the period 1867 to 1931. For much of this time, for practical and security reasons, an enormous number of value, colour and shade varieties were produced. The face value of some of the stamps – such as related to payment of bankruptcy or death duties – were of very large and precise amounts. So, instead of using high £ and numerous shilling and pence value stamps, revenue stamps were produced on which the appropriate precise amount could be added by the authorized official.

Some Norwegian Nazi Party (NSH) labels were used for postage due or fiscal purposes during World War II; but their main purpose was as propaganda. A variety of pamphlets and many of the stamps were displayed. The NSH was formed in 1933 under the leadership of Vidkun Quisling. Failing to win a seat in two pre-war Danish parliamentary elections, he gained nominal control of the country under German supervision after the German invasion. He was supported mainly by Nazi sympathisers, several hundred of which were later arraigned before a war crimes court. 50, including Quisling, were executed and many of the others emigrated, some to USA. The US émigrées seem to have become a source of such NSH material as is still available.

Outside the topic of revenues – but encouraged as items of general interest at our open meetings – was a set of the GB Wilding definitive 1959 issue (the set with phosphor bands on the front and graphite lines on the back). It was good to see again a mint set of the first Elizabethan stamps before interest was swamped by everlasting Machins. 


Virtual Visit by Wendy Buckle
Watermarks – from early trademarks to modern security features.

10 March 2021

As the second of our visiting ‘virtual’ speakers, Wendy Buckle presented a digital display, incorporating a comprehensive collection of stamps, drawn illustrations and actual watermarks. The latter were remarkable in their variety and clarity, because, in answer to a later question, Wendy said that no stamp watermark was satisfactorily reproducible unless you could detect it with the naked eye. It was therefore fascinating to see a wide range of watermarks such as
crowns – simple or related to more complex national crowns,
heraldry and coats of arms – again mostly simplified as very recognizable symbols,
flora (e.g. roses) and fauna such as various forms of lions, elephants, turtles (for Samoa) or swans (for Western Australia),
various forms of writing – from names of the maker spread across sheets rather than stamps to abbreviations like GvR which had to be E8R for King Edward VIII because the Latin eight would have been too long.

Watermarks have always been produced within the papermaking process; so Wendy explained both the manufacture of paper and the purpose of watermarks. After about 2000 years of the development of hand-made paper, modern machinery was developed, probably from 1799. Most commonly used from 1826 and dominating most of postal watermark era was the Dandy Roll process. A slurry of cellulose-based fibres (vegetation with the lignin removed) was fed as ‘stuff’ onto a moving screen and through rollers which rapidly pressed the material into paper before final drying-out. ‘Watermarks’ were pressed by wire lines or shapes onto the still wet paper resulting in the both the required texture of each face of the sheets and the more distinctive recognisable watermarks, usually spaced at one per stamp.

The purposes of watermarks have included
as indications of the paper manufacturer,
as a security measure asserting the genuineness of the postage stamp or, in more elaborate forms in recent times after postal watermarks were no longer common, that of banknotes and valuable financial certificates.
Some legal documents have carried very elaborate watermarks. Wendy showed two examples of reproduction of old master painting, one of a Leonardo self-portrait.
	
A host of other aspects were introduced ranging from stitchwork to postal stationery and Chiaroscuro treatment of light and shade in drawing and painting.

Lively questions and discussion following the display included mention of 
recognition of watermarks to identify stamps,
the various raw materials for paper-making,
taxation on paper c.1694 to 1864,
mystery in assigning who paid for the De la Rue pineapple watermarks,
the recent demise of paper-making in Britain with an obvious exception of James Cropper’s works near Kendal; he founded this firm on an existing printing works site in 1848 and it has remained in his family’s control; today it specializes in intricate work but has also contributed considerably to the science of recycling paper.

Virtual Meeting

24 February 2021

The theme for this on-line meeting was islands of which these were displayed and discussed.  

British Caribbean islands: Two members presented comprehensive displays of early Victorian stamps from the British island colonies of the Lesser Antilles. Including mention of the British Virgin Islands and Barbados at either end and proceeding southwards, these comprised: St Christopher (later St Kitts/Nevis), Antigua, Montserrat, Dominica, St Lucia, St Vincent and Grenada. Particular features of the displays included
mint blocks of the first stamps issued in most of these islands, as well as sheets of some of the subsequent issues;
explanation and illustration of how similar designs and key plates were issued at various dates for different colonies;
comparison of the early issues (e.g. produced by Perkins Bacon) and those which succeeded them (often by De la Rue);
display of early stamps valued by their colour (Barbados). Others, when not showing a QV head design, used various symbols such as Britannia, St Ursula or Columbus. 

Ceylon: Empire stamp designs or adapttations, such as Victorian high values and George V/VI pictorials, were succeeded by colourful stamps in independent Ceylon, later Sri Lanka.

Great Britain: Victorian stamp enlargements showing detail and errors from 1d blacks and 2d blues and then the Jubilee issue. Discussion of the techniques available for scanning or photography in making enlargements.

Iceland: a land of ice, snow and sub-Arctic climate, whose modest population have been very successful in harnessing natural energy, modern commerce and (perhaps) sustainable fishing.

Malta and the Maltese Cross: the origins of the Cross of the Knights Hospitaller of St John of Jerusalem, which became the Maltese Cross – used in modified form as a 19th century cancellation and watermark and on Maltese stamps, for a while joined by the George Cross.

New Zealand Lighthouse stamps: These stamps, showing beams of light radiating from a hypothetical lighthouse, were issued by the Life Insurance Department from 1891, presumably for use on receipts of insurance premiums. However public enthusiasm persuaded the authorities to allow them for postage. Their popularity rose further when the 1947 and 1969 pictorial issues were inscribed POSTAGE as well as illustrating particular lighthouses (all in New Zealand, except Eddystone).

Singapore: Stamps showing the early development of a port, part of the Straits Settlements colony of which it became the seat of government and most important naval station. The economy was devastated by the Japanese occupation of 1942-45. Later stamps show its rapid recovery and growth as an independent city-state.

Virtual Meeting

10 February 2021

The theme for the evening was Transport. Some members displayed particular aspects of the transport of mail in particular - for example by special delivery, by post bus or by early airmail - largely illustrated by covers and cards. Others showed stamps illustrating particular modes of transport

New Zealand Special Delivery Post concerned stamps issued from 1903 for faster delivery in towns than the ordinary twice-daily service. The 1903 (SG E1) design followed the 1880s US special delivery form – but without the latter’s delivery runner (later a cyclist). In addition to the ordinary postage rate, the NZ stamp was 6d for up to one mile, 3d for subsequent miles. However, the design was judged unpopular and was replaced in 1939 by one showing a fast car (described by SG as an ‘Express Mail Delivery Van’).

German post buses operated in the first half of the 20th century, often in open/charabanc form – later Chrysler vehicles - and carrying mail (Drucksack) and passengers into country districts. Covers showed the postal procedures of the day; sometimes; additional labels were attached;  and the postmarks were often combined with cachets advertising the bus post services. A special feature at one time was ‘visa-free’ travel which could be authorized for mail and passengers travelling through Poland between Danzig and the rest of eastern Germany.

Early Airmail from Jamaica was carried by competing airlines – predecessors of British Caribbean (later BOAC) versus PanAm. Both PanAm and Jamaica Airways (and its successors) first used large flying boats. Other services to Caribbean islands were soon established and eventually a flying circuit around most of them; but Jamaican post to Europe had to be carried to Miami for eventual cross-Atlantic sea carriage. Direct flights across the Atlantic from Jamaica to Europe started in 1939; but war intervened.

Transport by water showed stamps portraying the historic development of shipping from early Mediterranean trade or war ships –ancient Egyptian papyrus ships of the type that carried Queen Hatshepsut’s expedition down the Red Sea c.1400 BC, then Venetian galleys, Portuguese warships and other galleons with improving sail-rigging up to the 19th century East Indiamen and early steam ships.

GB Queen Elizabeth II stamps portraying transport forms including those showing cars, hovercraft, Concorde and the earlier Vickers Vimy bomber/transport plane.

Mail and Transport as illustrated on Argentine stamps: a very comprehensive survey including displays and explanation relating to
Early mail out of Buenos Aires province
Early airmail surcharge stamps on air mail and Zeppelin flight overprints
Early port facilities, postbuses and chasquis postal stations; British pillar boxes
‘Recreational’ sailing: intrepid wartime supportless single-handed navigation; more comfortable subsequent tourist voyages
Equestrian, bicycle, car transport; infrastructure including quay cranes.

Virtual Visit by John Davies
1890 Penny Postage Jubilee

27 January 2021

As the first of our visiting ‘virtual’ speakers, John Davies presented a digital version of his display of the 1890 Penny Postage Jubilee. John’s interest in this mostly long-forgotten occasion was stimulated by a visit, with his large - then young - family to an exhibition at Alexandra Palace in 1990, 100 years after the original events. The 50th anniversary of universal penny postage and the 1d blacks – and the welcome revolution in mail then introduced - 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’s display was split into one part each for the two events, there were numerous 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 host of distinguished guests as well as many ordinary people and stamp collectors. The Guildhall was visited by the Prince of Wales (later King Edward VII) who also joined the dinner. The Duke and Duchess of Edinburgh were guests of honour at the Museum where a formal address of welcome was signed by Frederick Hill, surviving brother of Rowland. Although no actual commemorative postage stamps were issued, a variety of 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/- in vast numbers,
various unofficial, unauthorized or forged material.

There were also special decorative hand-stamps, i.e.
the octagonal ‘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; or they could be added for a penny - to programmes, tickets, invitations, menus, personal visiting cards, even blotting paper. Special demonstrations concerned Edison’s phonograph, 50 years of telegraphy and 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 and, much more recently, John’s own book entitled A Jubilee Reminiscence.

Virtual Meeting

13 January 2021

The nominal theme for this fourth on-line meeting was peace, war and remembrance and the first member’s display was given that specific title for Argentina. Battles, treaties and memorials commemorated on 20th century stamps were shown with full text explanation. The occasions recalled included
the formerly identified War of Independence from Spain in which the forces of General Belgrano defeated those the Royalists;
revolt against or reestablishment of the dominance in the country of the Buenos Aires governorship;
wars against neighbouring states like Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay; or against European powers such as the ‘English wars’ over control of the waters of La Plata;
the Malvinas conflict of the 1980s.

Savoie conquis concerned the conquest and rearrangement of the borders of the Savoy dukedom at the turn of the 18th/19th centuries. Since the 12th century the modest mountain territory of the counts of Savoy had ebbed and flowed, depending on the diplomatic skills of its counts (later dukes) in balancing the power of France, Spain and Austria. Opposition to France, in particular, brought invasion whilst alliance tended to make Savoy a French satellite. The particular conquests of this display were
its conquest by Napoleon Bonaparte’s empire,
after Napoleon’s defeat, the allocation at the Treaties of Paris of the western part of the Savoy lands to France.
However, the dukes of Savoy - whilst losing their traditional lands still known as the (French) Savoy - then became Kings of Sicily, then of Sardinia and finally of unified Italy.

Although well before the days of postage stamps, there were ample postal services in the Savoy regions, expanding as demand grew – much of it pre-paid at increasing price ranges according to weight and distance. These were illustrated by numerous addressed and post-marked covers of the period.

Christmas and other greetings cards included
wartime greetings from front line soldiers, the women’s ATS, an RAF stations whence flew Wellington bombers and Anson transport planes, and a barrage balloon unit;
a group photograph of a fierce contingent of North Borneo military warriors travelling to Britain for Queen Victoria’s Jubilee.

Nostalgia for a return to Bix was expressed in pictures of four of our members holding forth on their displays in the good old days at the Village Hall plus a more recent view of three members celebrating locked-down Christmas at social distances in a garage.




CLICK HERE FOR 2020 NEWS