2021 News

Text Box: Henley and District Philatelic Society

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.