News Archive: 2016

13th December 2016 - Seasonal Displays and Christmas Buffet

Members presented material relating to Christmas, and enjoyed a buffet.

Malcolm Watts provided an extensive display of Christmas Cards from many countries, some over 100 years old. It was based on material assembled to tell the Christmas Story from beginning to end, a challenge that was set to him when he was living in Yorkshire. He had acquired items from Swinpex, London, St Austell, Whitby and York among other places.

Dennis Proctor showed material from East Germany. Although the USSR had suppressed religion, East Germany did not, and issued Christmas stamps. Dennis showed East German stamps from 1971 onwards in blocks of four. Initially they depicted fairy stories, but as time went by they moved their subject matter closer to the real Christmas story.

Mark Bailey concentrated on the charitable aspects of Christmas, displaying Danish Christmas seals issued to raise money for Charity. He covered the date range 1904 to 1950, which was the period in which one seal per year was issued. He supported the basic material with illustrations of a selection of artwork and essays.

Derek Steele displayed a range of Great Britain Christmas Aerogrammes, and a single page of the Canadian 1898 2c Imperial Penny Postage Christmas Map stamp, illustrating the colour variations.

Eric Holmes showed Gibraltar Christmas stamps from 1967 onwards, and remarked that they NEVER show snow.

Richard Hawes brought along some very small WW1 Christmas cards and a range of embroidered 'silk' postcards.

Alan Kane displayed Christmas postmarks from Northern Ireland from the 1940s up to 2012, and some Christmas Eve postmarks from Ballymena.

Marianne Murray showed Cuban stamps issued for Christmas in the 1960s.

Trevor Cornford displayed an excerpt from his exhibit on Captain Scott, which gained a Vermeil Medal in the Australian National Exhibition at Mandurah in November. This included a reference to Christmas.

Michael Curling showed a selection of local modern Christmas cards, an 1899 Christmas Menu from Windsor Castle and some pictures of RMA Sandhurst.

Alastair Nixon finished the displays with an illustration of the £9.05 GB Christmas Miniature sheet from 2004 together with this year's Christmas stamps.

After this splendid introduction, the members set about the excellent spread of refreshment provided by Alwyn Lowe and Marianne Murray, to whom we are grateful.

Merry Christmas from the Wokingham & District Philatelic Society

15th November 2016 - The WDPS visits the Maidenhead & District Philatelic Society

On behalf of the Wokingham & District Philatelic Society, Mark Bailey and Alwyn Lowe accepted an invitation from the Maidenhead & District Philatelic Society to display at their meeting.

Mark displayed a large selection of philatelic material on the theme of the 1958 World Fair that was held in Brussels. The Expo site was constructed over 3 years on the Heysel Plateau. Many countries, including the UK, the USA, the USSR, and most of the European countries, as well as major companies, took part.

In the second half of the evening, Alwyn presented his display of '100 years Later' that was an interesting showing of centenaries of various countries, events and people including Ravel, Dickens, Nobel and Scouting.

David Springbett presenting Mark Bailey with his 'Thank You' card in appreciation of his display.

David Springbett presenting Alwyn Lowe with his 'Thank You' card in appreciation of his display.

David Springbett presenting Mark Bailey (left) and Alwyn Lowe (right) with their 'Thank You' cards in appreciation of their displays. Photographs by Tony Simmonds.

25th October 2016 - The Items Speak For Themselves

A select group of members attended to see members presenting material in a "Silent Display". The following members displayed material without any spoken word of explanation:

Dennis Proctor: A run of DDR issues from 1964 to 1970.

Patrick Reid: Australian covers taxed for reasons other than underpayment.

Derek Steele: Material relating to the Scottish ½d wheel tax, including a number of items addressed to Sir James Wemyss MacKenzie, Baronet.

Malcolm Watts: Early postal history of Marlborough, including some rarely seen markings and fine strikes of various postmarks.

Trevor Cornford: Shackleton material, both ancient and modern.

Mark Bailey: Miniature sheets and FDC, marking the achievement of Ramsar status for Herm Island's flora and fauna.

Michael Curling: Cinderellas relating to gardening, garden shows and gardening materials.

Rodney Smith: Nazi propaganda posters in the original German, with translations.

 Alastair Nixon: Cover from France franked by stamps incorporating real Alençon lace and Le Puy-en-Velay lace.

Two French stamps issued in 2011 made with real pieces of lace.

Both showings, before and after the refreshment break, attracted questions from the audience. Mark Bailey thanked all who had come and brought such a diverse range of material.

11th October 2016 - Postal Mechanisation for Philatelists - Alastair Nixon

The Chairman and the 23 attendees gave Alastair a warm welcome as a long-standing member of the WDPS.

Alastair began by explaining that the purpose of his display was to demonstrate the important role that mechanisation has played in the sorting of our mail over the years. He also reminded us that it is now almost 60 years since the graphite-line stamp trials took place in Southampton, followed by the Luton and Norwich coding trials - which eventually lead to the successful development and roll-out of our Postcode system.

Alastair reflected that his interest in postal mechanisation started in the early 1960s but grew significantly when he became a member of the Postal Mechanisation Study Circle in the late 1980s. That enabled him to understand the coding dot markings that could be found on envelopes at that time. Alastair recognises that the topic of postal mechanisation is one that is often overlooked by philatelists - possibly because of the complex nature of the subject. This view was perhaps reflected in an article that once appeared in a philatelic magazine, describing the topic as "a side-line collection of postal history that has no significance"!

In his introduction, Alastair made available a hand-out to help the understanding of the various phases of mechanisation development that have taken place over the years within the GPO and Royal Mail.

Cover front from 10 October 1935 bearing operator identifier a addressed to Brighton district 6. This was sorted by the GPO in Brighton using a 'Transorma' machine.

The first half of the display detailed the "mainstream" developments that took place in the UK and covered the following 8 phases of development:

Phase 1: 1935 - Sorting machines based on memorised codes

Phase 2: 1957 - Automatic letter facing and cancelling

Phase 3: 1959 - Initial phosphor dot coding based on postcodes

Phase 4: 1968 - First Generation sorting machinery

Phase 5: 1975 - Second Generation sorting machinery

Phase 6: 1983 - Optical Character Recognition & Ink Jet Printing technology

Phase 7: 1987 - Third Generation sorting machinery

Phase 8: 1995 - Advanced technology sorting equipment

Stamp issued in October 1969 depicting part of a Letter Sorting Machine (capable of sorting 10,000 items per hour), with letters being deflected into sorting trays.

The second half covered "peripheral" aspects of postal mechanisation, divided into the following 6 sections:

Section 1: The early cancelling machines

Section 2: Royal Mail vehicles

Section 3: Postcode publicity

Section 4: Postal mechanisation on British stamps

Section 5: Postal mechanisation trials

Section 6: Coding marks

Stamp showing the Medway Mail Centre
© Stamp Design Royal Mail Group Ltd (2016)

At a few points in his display, Alastair showed the results of some analysis that he had carried out on live mail and thanked all those people who had helped with this by saving their unwanted envelopes for him!

The Chairman thanked Alastair for giving a fascinating display, and remarked on the enthusiasm shown for the topic. For those members who were unable to attend the evening or who wish to study the information, Alastair has uploaded scans of the whole display to his UK Meter Franking web site. This can be found at

27th September 2016 - The WDPS visits the Croydon Philatelic Society

On behalf of the Wokingham & District Philatelic Society, Eric Holmes and Alwyn Lowe accepted an invitation from the Croydon Philatelic Society to display at their meeting.

Alwyn introduced the Croydon members to the work of the world famous engraver Czesław Słania (1921-2005), and Eric produced a comprehensive display of early Gibraltar.

Alwyn Lowe and his display relating to engraver Czesław Słania.

Eric Holmes with his comprehensive display of early Gibraltar.

Alwyn Lowe (left) and Eric Holmes (right) displaying at the Croydon Philatelic Society.

27th September 2016 - A Whale's Tale - Lesley Marley

The Society was honoured to see the award-winning exhibit entitled "A Whale's Tale". Lesley Marely was part of the UK team that won the Seven Nations Challenge in 2015 (against philatelic exhibits from Australia, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Sweden, and the USA) and she is the first person from the UK to have won a Large Gold Medal for a Thematic Philately exhibit.

The display was presented in two parts and comprised sheets of photographs, documents, correspondence and postage stamps from all over the World illustrating every aspect of whales that Lesley has painstakingly researched and compiled over a period of some ten years. The material illustrated the benefits that can be gained from using A3 size pages, which make the use of space better and make it easier to display larger items. A fine introductory page explained the structure of the material shown, which was in three sections:

  • Section 1 Natural description of whales and their adaptation to the environment:
    (i) Cetaceous Habitats, (ii) Ecology, and (iii) Feeding Habits.

  • Section 2 Man's Influence, Appreciation and Decimation:
    (i) Man's first sighting, (ii) Development of the Whaling Industry, (iii) Whaling tools and equipment,
    and (iv) Whale Products.

  • Section 3 Preservation, Glimmer of Hope:
    (i) Global threats to Cetaceans and (ii) Conservation.

A piece of baleen (used for filtering out krill) was passed around. This was used as "whalebone" for stiffening corsets. To give an idea of the size of whales, a sperm whale tooth was also handed round.

Tristan da Cunha: whaling in the 19th century.

The bowhead whale was the first to be hunted in numbers. The main reason for hunting was to extract Whale Oil. It was noted that larger whales feed around the Antarctic Ice Shelf. However whales are not confined to Polar regions, and an ancient valley with many whale skeletons has recently been discovered in Egypt. It is a World Heritage Site.

New Zealand stamp whalers in Foveaux Strait.

It was noted that it was not until the 1970s that people really knew what whales look like. There are many fanciful depictions in older documents.

The whales rely on echo-location rather than sight to understand their surroundings. The only member of the whale family that eats warm-blooded creatures is the Orca or Killer Whale.

Russian stamp featuring a Killer Whale.

The Narwhal, that grows one or more long spiral tusks, gave rise to the legend of the unicorn.

Canadian stamps showing whales.

The second part of Lesley's display included a 1774 Royal Proclamation from Stockholm, which allowed the hunting of whales of Greenland and in the Davis Strait.

Whales were located by explorers who informed whalers of their whereabouts. Sperm oil was particularly prized for candles, as the candles were bright and produced neither smell nor smoke. It was also used to protect the faces of the early aviators from the elements.

Falklands Island 1933 6d black and slate stamp depicting a Fin Whale.

Records show the whaling voyages were very long, with the sailors often being away for two years or more. Whalers that met on the high seas would often exchange mails as well as information about the location of whales.

Republic of Niger stamp showing Moby Dick, The Whale by Herman Melville.

Originally whales were processed on land, but the development of "Factory Ships" allowed the hunting of greater numbers and processing while the fleet was still at sea.

North Korean stamp showing a whaling ship, and a Japanese stamp depicting a harpoon gun.

The expansion of whaling led to a huge decline in the population of whales, and eventually measures were taken to restrict catches and ban whaling. As a result, the world whale populations are now slowly recovering, and whales are seen as a tourist attraction rather than a resource to be exploited.

Falkland Islands stamps showing whales and dolphins.

The story was supported by a wide range of philatelic materials, suitably tied to the subject matter, as one would expect in a Large Gold Medal exhibit. In her Epilogue, Lesley hopes that the Save the Whale Campaign will in the course of time persuade all Nations to cease the killing of Whales for whatever reason.

South Georgia Whaling Museum souvenir cover.

Giving the vote of thanks, Patrick Reid thanked Lesley for coming up from Hayling Island to share her excellent material with us. She had educated us about the subject and shown how Thematic Philately should be done.

13th September 2016 - The Colour Orange

The displays commenced with Mark Bailey, who opened by giving a definition of the colour orange as any of a group of colours that lie between red and yellow in the visible spectrum in the approximate wavelength range 620-585 nanometres. Mark explained that before the English-speaking world was exposed to orange fruits, the colour was referred to as "yellow-red" (geoluraed in Old English) or "red-yellow".

Oranje Vrijstaat 1884 Een penny Orange Tree postal card.

Mark's display included an Oranje Vrijstaat 1884 1 penny Orange Tree postal card and a bilingual pair of South Africa 6d Orange Tree stamps, as well as orange-coloured Midland Railway's stamps of the type introduced in 1855, the 1887-1900 half penny Queen Victoria Jubilee stamp, and a souvenir sheet from the London Hilton Stamp Exhibition in 1962 featuring an image of the £5 orange stamp in use between 1882 and 1903.

Souvenir sheet from the London Hilton Stamp Exhibition in 1962 featuring the £5 orange.

These were followed by blocks of the King George V 2d orange stamps, King George VI 1940 Postage Stamps Centenary 2d orange, 1941 2d pale orange and 1951 ½d pale orange stamps, and Queen Elizabeth II 1952-54 ½d orange stamp. An orange coloured sheet of labels, sold in 1940 in aid of the Lord Mayor's Red Cross and St. John Fund followed, together with a Jamaica war fund label.

Mark showed blocks of three distinctly orange stamps from the Machin definitive issue, the 19p, 22p and 1st values, and he completed his display with items featuring golden orange, a traditional colour for Chinese New Year; these were sheets of stamps from Christmas Island in 2002 and 2007 and from Canada in 2003.

Corner block of 4 of the 48 cents Canada 2003 Year of the Ram stamps.

Eric Holmes was the next up with a few "firsts" including the first orange stamp to be issued, the 1859 ½d value of the Ionian Islands in two blocks of 4. These were followed by examples of King Edward VII 4d and King George V 2d with some comments on the difficulties experienced in sorting the various shades that exist. Also shown were other early examples of orange stamps such as the Spanish issues on Gibraltar covers to Cadiz. It was suggested that the colours orange and yellow were chosen for stamps as they gave the best impressions of the cancellation.

1858 letter from Gibraltar to Cadiz with 4 orange Spanish 4 cuartos stamps and 1/4 British manuscript rate.

Alastair Nixon then displayed a single sheet with a USA block of 4 and four shades of orange. Next was Dennis Proctor who displayed a German stamp colour guide which had 30 shades of orange to choose from.

Michael Curling followed, displaying a variety of material including free franking covers of 1839, a Suttons Seeds card, an airmail cover to Natal bearing 5 x ½d stamps, a selection of covers which included mixed reign frankings, an 8d stamp on a cover to Bombay, FPO cover with Wildings 3d and 2 x ½d, German inflation period stamps, a stamp-like advertisement for tea sold at Post Offices, a notice regarding a revenue issue and duty stamps, together with an example of a legal document carrying 30 orange embossed revenue stamps.

A stamp-like advertisement for tea sold at Post Offices.

A selection of stamps featuring orange was then displayed by David Gerken, showing amongst other things a Chinese bridge, Cameroons, the Niger River, Heidelberg, Cecil Rhodes, the Imperial Airways Springbok, airmail covers of Egypt, a USA stamp on a Queen Mary return voyage cover, a pair of 6d King Gerge V Silver Jubilee issues, a Zeppelin cover from Hungary, an Austrian airmail letter and some Royal Mail barcodes.

An Imperial Airways Air Mail envelope.

Following the refreshment break, Chris Wootton showed an unusual item from Austria, a stamp made of glass issued on 10th June 2016. It presents the reverse-glass painting tradition of the municipality of Sandl in Upper Austria in the miniature scale of a postage stamp. The reverse-glass painting is of a cross and pieta (a subject in Christian art depicting the Virgin Mary holding and weeping over the body of her crucified son Jesus). The Vienna Porcelain Manufactory Augarten (Neue Wiener Porzellanmanufaktur Augarten GmbH & Co KG in German) printed the stamp by the silk-screen method on glass.

Austrian glass stamp.

Next was Alwyn Lowe who offered examples of the 1940 GB Stamp Centenary 2d orange in cylinder blocks of 6 and bisected diagonally on 2 Guernsey covers with a first day of use and also used 4 days after official use had ended. He also showed the QEII ½d Wilding on various centenary covers including the Centenary Exhibition of Grimsby Fish Docks, an RNIB Centenary postmark, an overprint with a last day postmark for the Tangier Post Office, the centenary of the ½d stamp, the France Citex Exhibition Ceres Head issue on card and cover, an Orange Free State 1d overprinted stamp on a 1901 front to a POW in India and orange stamps on covers including the Australian ½d 'Roo and stamps from Ecuador, Cuba, Sweden, USA, Wurttemburg and Germany.

The 1949 France Citex Exhibition Ceres Head stamp on cover.

Roger Sammons then showed an extensive collection of Stadspost (City Post) stamps from the Netherlands.

Amsterdam Stadspost stamps.

The evening was concluded with a selection of what Trevor Cornford described as "Orangey Bits", including Wildings stamps, QV pre-printed envelopes, the ½d vermillion, a telegram outer, a possibly mis-sent cover with English and Dutch connections, TB stamps with orange designs, an 1894 Belgian postcard, and finally a selection of stamps, covers and pictures from Senegal, Nigeria, Austria, Finland, Zaire, Tuvalu, Norfolk Islands and New Orleans, all having orange or oranges on them.

23rd August 2016 - British Mails via the Trans-Siberian Railway - Peter Pugh

The members were entertained by Peter Pugh, who showed British Mail via the Trans-Siberian Railway, which he described as "Another bloody Railway".

Map of the Trans-Siberian Railway, 1891 to 1918, from Ellsworth D. Foster ed., The American Educator Vol. 8 (Chicago, IL: Ralph Durham Company, 1921)

Peter's display began with picture postcards that related to the building of the railway, which started in 1891. It was expected that the railway would speed up mail from Hong Kong and the Treaty Ports to Europe that had been sent by sea since 1842.

Vladivostok was the focal point for a network of rail and steamer routes that brought the mail that was bound for Europe from the treaty ports. Such mail had to be marked "via Siberia" to use the service, which opened in 1903. The transit time was around 18 to 24 days, much shorter than the eight weeks it took by sea.

The service was closed in 1904 because of the Russo-Japanese war, but was reopened soon after the end of the war. We were shown mail from a wide range of sources, mostly on postcards, with a description of the probable route taken by each item. It was noted that it was very difficult to build a line around Lake Baikal. The loop line around Lake Baikal was not built until 1904, and until then trains went by ferry across the lake. This ferry was specially built to break ice up to 3 feet 6 inches (107cm) thick and carry the whole train (a total weight of 4,200 tons) across the lake in one journey. The Newcastle-upon-Tyne firm of Sir W. G. Armstrong, Mitchell and Company designed and built the ferry, which was named "Baikal". Once the ferry had been built and tested for seaworthiness, it was dismantled into kit form and the parts were sent by sea, river, and rail to Lake Baikal. The parts were assembled at a specially built dry dock on the lake, and the "Baikal" was launched on 29th July 1899. The ferry could carry 300 passengers and crew and 27 railway wagons. Between 1904 and 1916, the icebreaker served on the railway as a reserve, because trains used to come off the rails quite frequently.

A postcard showing the Trans-Siberian Railway ferry 'Baikal'.

Notable items included mail to the United States via England, mail via French and Japanese steamers, and a paquebot card sent from the SS Nubia that was bringing home sailors that survived the sinking of a British Naval Cruiser.

The second part of Peter's display began with material from around 1910, when there was an epidemic of pneumonic plague, which spread across Northeast China during the winter of 1910 and spring of 1911, causing numerous deaths and bringing about severe social turmoil. The plague was spread via the railway, despite efforts made to disinfect the train, and many people tried to escape. An American team of 116, led by Dr. Richard Strong, helped the Chinese fight the plague, and by April 1911 the plague had lessened.

A cover sent on the Trans-Siberian Railway from China to Birmingham, England in February 1910. The One Anna stamp has the overprint of the Chinese Expeditionary Force CEF. The Trans-Siberian Railway route took 18 days.

We saw cards to many destinations, and routed via many different interchanges. The postcards included ones showing semaphore signals in China, Hankow station with a 25-pounder gun on the platform, and many UK postcards of locomotives built for China. We also saw documents about mail to Petrograd (St. Petersburg) and Moscow.

In 1908 the steamer service from Hulau to Peking was replaced by a new railway line, and in 1913 a new line from Shanghai to Nanking provided a further feeder service. At the other end of the line we were shown a cover to Isfahan that went via the Berlin-Baghdad Railway. During the Boxer Rebellion, the Railways were protected by Indian troops. With the coming of World War 1, the Trans-Siberian railway was closed at the end of July, and mail was diverted via Shanghai and San Francisco.

Most unusually, Peter also showed a third round of material. This opened with a selection of mail via Russia, Finland and Sweden to Norway. Despite the war between Finland and Russia, the service only ceased for a month. The spread of the First World War also bought widespread introduction of censorship, and the Russians were very quick off the mark.

A postcard showing the Trans-Siberian Railway train at Raievka Station in the Urals.

A remarkable item was a 1914 cover from Hankow to Beirut, which was carried as far as London and then returned as undeliverable. It could not go via the Berlin-Baghdad Railway because of the war. The railway was used to transport munitions, thus there was only one mail train each week. A splendid postcard showed 13 locomotives in the shed at Mukden.

A 1914 New Year's greeting postcard sent from Osaka, Japan to Leeds, England via the Trans-Siberian Railway.

Another remarkable cover that travelled to Europe on the railway, despite being marked "via Canada and UK" was a registered item. A further item shown was delayed two years in Finland by the war. The route was eventually closed in 1917 and mail reverted to using the steamer routes via Suez.

Peter put on a splendid and wide-ranging display, and members enjoyed the postal history and postcards immensely. Deputy Chairman Alwyn Lowe gave the Vote of Thanks, and remarked that we were unlikely to see such a splendid selection of mail, and excellent postcards, ever again.

26th July 2016 - Annual General Meeting

As a result of the Annual General Meeting, there were a small number of changes amongst the Officers of the Society. Brian Pugsley completed his 3 years as Chairman, Alwyn Lowe stood down as the President, and Brian became President. Mark Bailey was elected as the Chairman, and Patrick Reid agreed to act as Interim Deputy Chairman. Immediately subsequent to the meeting, Alwyn Lowe indicated his willingness to be the Deputy Chairman, so with immediate effect, Alwyn Lowe is the Society's Deputy Chairman. All the other Officers had stood for re-election to their positions, and were elected en bloc, as were all the other Committee members.

The Officers of the Society presented their annual reports, including the Membership Secretary who reported that in recent months the Society's membership has increased with a number of new Vendor Members and Full Members.

Amongst the other items on the agenda were that the membership subscription for 2016-2017 would remain unaltered, and there was a unanimous vote in support of the nomination of Alwyn Lowe to receive Honorary Life Membership, in recognition of his long years of service to the Society in a number of key positions.

12th July 2016 - New South Wales 1888-1912 Centennial Issue - Ben Palmer FRSPC, APR, FRPSL

The members at the meeting were entertained by internationally renowned philatelist Ben Palmer, with his display of the New South Wales Centennial Issue of 1888. The issue has a number of claims to fame, as it was the world's first Commemorative issue, inscribed "100 years", and it was the subject of the first ever public essay competition, for which almost 1000 entries were received.

The display was structured by denomination. For the 1d value we were shown an unadopted essay, colour trials, and an imperforate block of four, as well as regular stamps and usage. The penny rate paid for drop letters, the military concession rate and the newspaper rate to the UK. The usages shown comprised good destinations and included a local bisect.

The 1d value of the New South Wales Centennial Issue, overprinted OS.

For the 2d value, featuring an Emu, the material displayed began with colour trials and plate proofs, followed by regular stamps and a selection of flaws. The usages included registered, redirected and taxed mail, a GR (Government Railways) perfin on cover, examples printed on Revenue paper and an example overprinted OS. For completeness, a postal forgery, produced in 1895, lithographed and perforated 11 was also shown.

The 2d value of the New South Wales Centennial Issue.

The 4d value, featuring Captain Cook, began with unadopted essays and perforated essays. The usages of the 4d stamp included registered mail and non-letter rate mail. This also included a remarkable letter sent to Haiti, which was returned as the addressee had died. It was returned by the first trans-Pacific service from Vancouver. There were many changes of watermark, perforation and colour shades over the life of this stamp, and a comprehensive selection was shown.

The 4d value of the New South Wales Centennial Issue.

The 4d value of the New South Wales Centennial Issue, overprinted OS.

Moving on to the 6d stamp, Ben's display opened with colour trials and an experimental printing on special paper designed to avoid postmarks being washed off. This function was eventually met by the adoption of chalk-surfaced paper. Sixpence was the basic rate for overseas mail. Examples of usage shown included a letter from the UK redirected to San Francisco, where the application of a new stamp to pay the redirection was required.

Following the refreshment break, the second part of the display continued the story of the 6d stamp, with examples in green and yellow-orange. The colour changed to yellow-orange after New South Wales joined the UPU in 1891, to comply with UPU regulations. Ben remarked that it is very hard to find the 6d green on mail. The display included an imperforate block of four. The yellow-orange was printed in a variety of shades, with variations in both watermark and perforation.

The 6d green value of the New South Wales Centennial Issue.

The 6d yellow-orange value of the New South Wales Centennial Issue.

One of Ben's collecting interests is Specimen stamps, and he noted that for the Portuguese Colonies the stamps were cancelled to order and overprinted "ULTRAMAR". Ben concluded the section on the 6d value with parts of imperforate sheets, stamps with the OS perfin and an example of the rare perforated 11.

The next value was the 8d, showing the Lyre Bird. We saw colour trials, use on cover and a good destination, together with an example of the marginal markings on the plate.

The 8d value of the New South Wales Centennial Issue.

The 8d value of the New South Wales Centennial Issue, overprinted OS.

Moving on to the 1/- value, Ben showed colour trials and an imperforate pair, with usage including a registered cover to Munich. There was also an example from the one sheet produced with perforation 11.

Colour trials for the 1/- value of the New South Wales Centennial Issue.

The 1/- value of the New South Wales Centennial Issue, overprinted OS.

The 5/- value was printed on poor quality paper in a square format. The display included the only known used multiple. After November 1889 the paper was changed and there are many colour variations in the printings. The stamp is not known on cover.

Colour trials for the 5/- value of the New South Wales Centennial Issue.

Ben completed his display with the twenty shilling (not £1) value. This is not known on cover. Ben showed a block of nine used, possibly used for the payment of bulk mail. A special plate was made to provide the watermark. Ben displayed imprints and official overprints, noting that only twenty stamps were overprinted OS.

Colour trials for the 20 shilling value of the New South Wales Centennial Issue.

Chairman Brian Pugsley gave the Vote of Thanks, complimenting Ben on an in-depth treatment of this single issue.

28th June 2016 - Cinderella Stamps - Stuart Henderson

Visiting speaker Stuart Henderson entertained us with a fine display of Cinderella material.

In the first part, Stuart concentrated on Poster Stamps, which were popular between 1890 and 1920, and were used to promote brand loyalty. The original designs had been poster size and Stuart showed examples from Quaker Oats and J. & J. Colman's Starch and Mustard.

J. & J. Colman Limited's poster stamps

Poster stamps were also used to promote exhibitions and provide publicity for other events. Such labels are now hard to find on cover. More recently, a set was issued to publicise the coffee producing countries, which Stuart showed. These were followed by examples from France and Germany publicising Art Galleries and Museums, some promoting the St. Bartholomew's Hospital rebuilding fund and a series concerning Health and Safety from Belgium.

Labels in aid of the St. Bartholomew's Hospital.

Next came a range of railway items, mostly from British Rail and Southern Region, followed by some from U.S. Railways. On a maritime theme, Stuart displayed a series from New Zealand promoting swimming safety and some from the RNLI and the Isle of Wight. Stuart also showed a set promoting the Royal Visit to Canada.

C.N. Poster Stamps showing Southern Railway posters in a book given with the Children's Newspaper on 23rd February 1935.

Moving on to World War I, Stuart showed a wide range of stamps from Germany, France, Belgium, Russia and Great Britain, all with a propaganda theme, plus Red Cross material from several nations. These included a series for The Lord Roberts Memorial Fund (to raise money for the Lord Roberts Memorial Workshops for Disabled Soldiers and Sailors), and from France many stamps designed by Gaston Aime Camille Fontanille (also known just as Delandre), a French entrepreneur and conman. He never paid over monies that he had collected on behalf of charities and was eventually jailed. He escaped by forging his own release papers!

From the series of labels for the Lord Roberts Memorial Fund

A selection of Delandre's labels

Stuart ended the first part with a selection of Swiss Soldier stamps used to collect money for regimental funds and some material from World War II.

The second part mainly featured Revenues. Stuart began with an extensive selection of licences for a wide range of purposes, including Armorial Bearings, Male Servants, dogs, Home Brewing, Stamped Medicines, guns, horses; game; gunpowder magazine; various carriages; driving (from 1903) and Hackney Carriages.

Licence to use Armorial Bearings

Licence for one male Servant

Next came a selection of Motor Car Tax Discs from 1927 onwards, including the 1975 emergency, examples in Welsh, Northern and Southern Irish, Jersey, Guernsey, the Isle of Man and Trade Plates (triangular).

Car Tax Disc

These were followed by a range of GB Revenues, including Contract Notes, Chancery stamps and many others. Next came Telegraph stamps from a range of companies, Telephone usage stamps including some from Northern Ireland and the Training School, and finally a range of monochrome and colour TV Licence stamps.

TV Licence stamps

Moving overseas, Stuart showed New Zealand Social Security Stamps, Ceylon Bill of Exchange stamps, New South Wales Duty stamps, Australian Tax Instalment stamps and Australian Departure Tax stamps.

Australian Tax Instalment stamps

Closer to home we saw Jersey Revenues to £100. These were followed by a range of U.S. Revenues including the Intangible Tax, and wine and spirit revenues. Continuing in North America, we saw U.S. Motor Vehicle Tax Stamps and a selection from Canada for Weights and Measures Licences, Gas Inspection, Electric Light Inspection, and Tobacco.

Canada Weights and Measures stamps

Returning to the United Kingdom there were examples of National Savings stamps. These were followed by fantasy and spoof stamps, including Bahrain Camel Post, U.S. Mail Train Stamps, and Titanic spoof stamps.

Bahrain Camel Post spoof stamps

Stuart completed his display with O.A.P. Tobacco Duty Relief tokens. Tobacco tokens were introduced in 1947 as an offset for old-age pensioners to a nearly 50% rise in the Tobacco Duty. In 1950 some 1.7 million old age pensioners received tobacco duty relief, the value of the tokens issued to them being about £10.25 million a year.

1958 2/4 O.A.P. Tobacco Duty Relief tokens

Giving the vote of thanks, Brian Pusgley congratulated Stuart on showing us such an eclectic mix of material, and much that we are unlikely ever to see again.

14th June 2016 - Competitions

For the Society's Annual Competition evening, entries were received for three classes, but only one class had more than a single entry. The results were as follows:

The Advanced Class had three entries, all considered by the judges to be of a high standard.
Winner Trevor Cornford - Antarctic
2nd place Eric Holmes - Gibraltar Queen Victoria
3rd place Derek Steele - Canadian First Flights 1926-1929

Trevor Cornford receiving the WDPS Advanced Trophy

(photograph by Anthony Simmonds)


Awarded to Eric Holmes - Ship Letters from Gibraltar to the UK 1780-1857.


Awarded to Derek Steele - Canadian First Flight Covers from Airport Inaugurations

Derek Steele receiving the Franklin Jones Cup

Brian Pugsley presenting Derek Steele with the Franklin Jones Cup.
(photograph by Anthony Simmonds)

Tony Stanford and Anthony Simmonds from Maidenhead were the judges, and they provided constructive comments on the entries. Chairman Brian Pugsley thanked them for judging the entries and for their comments on the entries that, he hoped, would provide useful feedback to the competitors.

Tony Stanford commenting on the competition entries

Tony Stanford commenting on the competition entries and announcing the results.
(photograph by Anthony Simmonds)

10th May 2016 - Sarawak - Malcolm Gascoyne

Malcolm Gascoyne opened his display by remarking that he decided to collect Sarawak as only just over two pages of the Stanley Gibbons catalogue are devoted to Sarawak, including the Japanese occupation.

In the earliest days trade in Sarawak was limited by Chinese pirates and Dyaks. Sir James Brooke (1803-1868) was a British adventurer whose exploits in the Malay Archipelago made him the first White Rajah of Sarawak. Born in India and briefly educated in England, he served in the Bengal Army, was wounded, and resigned his commission. He bought a ship and sailed out to the Malay Archipelago, where by helping to crush a rebellion, he became governor of Sarawak. He then vigorously suppressed piracy in the region, and in the ensuing turmoil, restored the Sultan of Brunei to his throne, for which the Sultan made Brooke the Rajah of Sarawak. Brooke was criticised and officially investigated for his anti-piracy measures. He was, however, honoured in London for his work. He ruled until his death.

The first Sarawak stamps were officially issued to the public on 1st March 1869. Of Three Cents denomination, the stamp bore a portrait bust of the first Rajah Sir James Brooke, despite the fact that he had died some nine months earlier. The first stamps were produced by lithography, by a company in Glasgow. This was a cheap process, but philatelically there are plenty of flaws from the master plate and from transfers.

1869 Sarawak 3c stamp.

The only postal service available was internal and to the Straits Settlements at a 3c rate. Charles Anthoni Johnson Brooke (1829-1917) ruled as the head of state of Sarawak from 3 August 1868 until his death. He succeeded his uncle, James Brooke as the second White Rajah of this small country on the coast of Borneo. In 1871, a new 3c stamp was issued showing Charles Brooke.

1871 Sarawak 3c stamp.

Sarawak 1875 3c Receipt stamps and imperforate plate proof in grey-brown on thin card.

The postal rates that had been the subject of an 1874 agreement between the Governments of Sarawak and the Straits Settlements were to take effect from 1st January 1875. Since a single denomination stamp was considered inadequate an order was placed for a series of five values 2 cents, 4 cents, 6 cents, 8 cents and 12 cents to augment the existing 3 cents stamp. The order was placed with the same printers who had been responsible for the two previous stamps, Messrs. Maclure, Macdonald & Macgregor of 37, Walbrook, E.C. and Glasgow and the design remained virtually the same as the 3 cents stamp of 1871, only the value being altered.

1875 Sarawak stamps.

The fourth issue was produced, using typography, by De La Rue in 1888. Because of supply line problems, 2c and 5c stamps were prepared using handstruck overprints, and 1c stamps using an overprint forme. The overprints were also applied to the stock of old stamps as the newer issue ran out. Examples of all of these were shown.

Sarawak joined the UPU in 1897, and Malcolm showed us a sheet of SPECIMEN stamps from the Tunisian archives.

A new set was ordered by the Rajah from Perkins Bacon that could be used for both Postage and Revenue, delivered in 1895. This was superseded in 1899 by a De La Rue set only valid for Postage.

1899 Sarawak postage stamps.

Malcolm then introduced the character Ha Buey Hon, a dealer in postcards and supplier of stamps right through until World War 2. Ha Buey Hon (1871-1947) must have been responsible for the existence of hundreds of postal items of Sarawak, including postal stationary, postcards and covers. Normally, philatelic items like these are held in low regard, but due to the sheer variety, interest and depth of his material, it has become a specialised area to collect within Sarawak philately. While still working as a clerk for the Borneo Company, he was also trading as a stamp dealer. He became a skilful photographer and was personally responsible for much of the reproduction of his postcards. He used a very attractive cachet in violet with the address of his place of work. It was unusual that he was allowed to use his employer's address for his own private enterprise. It might have been that they hoped that he would be able to bring along extra business with his worldwide contacts. A selection of his wares was shown.

Ha Buey Hon and one of his correspondence cards.

The first part ended with a selection of Postal History and some Postal Stationery dated around 1900.

The second part began with a completely bogus issue dating from around 1915.

In 1917 Rajah Sir Charles Brooke was succeeded by Rajah Sir Charles Vyner Brooke. A new issue of stamps was printed by De La Rue and issued in 1918. A 1c stamp was produced in error in blue. Although 125 sheets were printed they were never issued. Replacements in blue and red were sent. This issue used the same value tablets as the 1888 issue, but a new 30c value required a new value tablet.

1918 Sarawak postage stamps.

In the 1920s stamps once again ran out and 2c on 12c and 1c on 10c overprints were produced. After representations, a separate printing of both of these was made for the Philatelic Trade. The colours are different. At the British Empire Exhibition, a 3c stamp was given away to visitors.

We also saw more of Ha Buey Hon's wares from the 1930s. Malcolm noted that high value revenue stamps were used to pay duty on guns.

A block of 4 Sarawak $10 revenue stamps.

A new issue was produced on watermarked paper in sheets of 100 from 1928, using new value tablets. Printing was moved to Waterlow in 1932, as they used newer printing techniques, then again to Bradbury Wilkinson in 1934 when "Revenue" was put back on the stamps.

Malcom commented that the World War 2 issue for Japanese Occupation is complicated and widely forged; he did not show any.

Stamps for the 1941 centenary were held in Australia and Great Britain until after the war, and finally issued in 1946. In that year the country became bankrupt and it was ceded to the Crown.

Sarawak 1941 Centenary issue from 1946.

Sarawak was included in the Silver Wedding and UPU Omnibus issues. The first pictorial issue was made in 1950, featuring the head of King George VI and local scenes and designs. In 1952 the original 10c Pangolin design was replaced by a map of the colony. The Coronation issue of 1953 has a few minor flaws and the King George VI pictorial issue was replaced by a similar Queen Elizabeth II issue from 1955.

Sarawak commemorative stamps from 1948, 1949 and 1953.

Malcolm ended with a selection of postcards by Wong Ken Foo (1916-1998), who is sometimes described as the father of Malaysian photography. He was born in Sarawak and established the first photography studio, the Anna Photo Studio, in Kuching in 1937. Most of the cards show Iban (Sea Dyak) people and the photographs are by Lin Pho Chong.

Brian Pugsley thanked Malcolm for a comprehensive display, with much social interest.

26th April 2016 - The Number 4

Members enjoyed the following material displayed on the subject of the number 4:

Patrick Reid was first up with a brief display of the Tasmania 4d pictorial, including one of two essays, a proof and a Specimen, blocks of four showing flaws and use on cover.

Alan Kane followed with a range of Northern Ireland material. He began with 4d Charge Marks and followed up with Regional 4d issues in blocks of four, two different styles of FDC and Gum Arabic and PVA variants. He ended with a "10 years of Channel 4" slogan cancel, a cover showing the 4d rate to Europe and a 4d Postage Due cover.

Michael Curling showed an eclectic mix of material. He began with a NZ Parcel Label including a 4/- stamp, and APEX 1934 cover with a 4d stamp, a 1940 4d cover, 2 x 4d on a Registered cover, 3 x Festival of Britain 4d on cover and 2 x QV 4d paying the rate to Canada. A range of covers included: QV and GV 4d on cover, an Australian 4½d cover, 2 x 2d on a South African cover, Nigeria 4d, St Vincent 4c (plus others) and India 3 x 4 anna (plus 3 anna) all on cover.

David Gerken showed material relating to Zeppelins as well as Bridges, which have 4 basic designs: Beam, Arch, Cantilever, and Suspension. He illustrated these with some German bridges on Flood Relief stamps, four Russian Stamps for a polar Zeppelin flight, US Zeppelin stamps, 4 Chinese bridge stamps, a Senegal block of four and finally a French interpanneau block of four 100f stamps.

Dennis Proctor showed some Great Britain blocks of 4 and then sets of four from 1977 to 2001.

Ron Stone first concentrated on the fourth US President (Madison), and followed up with material for each of the four US Presidents that have been assassinated: Lincoln, Garfield, McKinley and Kennedy.

In the second half, Trevor Cornford opened with material from the 1940s, concentrating on wartime slogans such as "Dig for Victory" and post-war austerity. He included post with slogans such as "Keep Death off the Roads" (in post-war and pre-MOT UK, there were many cars revived after the war that had been rusting for 5 years). He showed some interesting Food Parcel labels, 1947 Royal Wedding material and a 1954 8d rate cover to Vietnam.

Mark Bailey showed sets of four both on and off cover from GB, Ireland, and Surinam. He followed with a twinning cover from Stowmarket for the UK joining the Common Market. Finally he showed miniature sheets from Kiribati, Anguilla, London 1980 and Tuvalu (including progressive proofs) all featuring four stamps.

Alastair Nixon showed a range of Meter Marks, including 1967 use of the GVI cipher, machine number 4 with 4d stamps overcancelled by 4d from the meter. He also showed the Channel 4 10th Anniversary slogan. Unusual items were RG4 bag labels. He ended with 4 x 2p for postage, Desk ID #4, a meter with four zeroes, 4 x smartstamps and a German issue showing the four seasons.

Eric Holmes gave a study of GB QV 4d stamps used in Gibraltar, first with the G cancel, and then with the A26 cancel. This was followed by the 1862 issue with small corner letters, Plate 4 with hairlines and Plates 7-14 including some on cover. He ended with the 1876 issue in Vermillion from Plate 15, and in sage green from the same plate and Plates 16 and 17 in Grey-brown.

Derek Steele began with four items connected with the Mulready, followed by four penny blacks. Next came a small study of the QV 1855 4d, including plates and watermarks and finally a range of shades of the King Edward VII 4d.

Trevor Cornford closed out the evening with further sheets, most of which included a 4. These included a 2015 Czech miniature sheet, and Australian and South Georgian issues with a 4p overprint.

Deputy Chairman Mark Bailey thanked all those who had brought such a wide variety of material to show.

12th April 2016 - Informal Competition - Postcards & Cinderella Material

In this year's informal competition, there were 2 entries in the Postcard class and 1 eligible entry in the Cinderella class. These were judged by the members at the meeting, with the following results:


1st Eric Holmes - Gibraltar Picture Postcards.

2nd David Walker - Antarctic Postcards.
This was a very close competition.


1st Michael Curling - Horticultural Labels.
Other individual items were shown, but they did not qualify as being enough material for judging.

Poster stamps for Flower Shows.

22nd March 2016 - 1936 Olympic Games - Anthony Bosworth FRPSL

Our visitor Tony Bosworth, ably supported by his wife Lindy, introduced himself by saying that he was also a historian, studying the period 1919 to 1945. In his opinion, 1936 was a key Olympiad with several consequences.

Giving a brief history of the modern Olympics, Tony remarked that Pierre de Frédy, Baron de Coubertin, became obsessed with the idea of an international sporting event along the lines of the ancient Greek Olympics, which were for gentlemen only. Not only ability but also breeding were necessary qualities to compete. As an example of this, in the 1908 Olympics, a builder was not allowed to be in the UK team.

French stamp featuring Baron de Coubertin.

The 1912 Olympics were offered to Germany, who turned them down and they were given to Sweden. However, the Kaiser saw the propaganda potential and became keen on the idea, but after the First World War, Germany and Austria were excluded. In the course of time, the 1936 Games were awarded to Germany. In order to prepare thoroughly, the German representative, Dr. Theodor Lewald, visited the 1932 Summer Olympic Games in Los Angeles, where he befriended Avery Brundage of America. A feature of the 1932 Games was the building, for the first time, of an Olympic Village to accommodate the athletes.

In 1933 Adolf Hitler came to power, but he did not like sport, and initially held the Olympics in low regard because of their internationalism, but he became an avid supporter after Joseph Goebbels, his Minister of Propaganda, convinced him of their propaganda value. The regime provided full financial support for the event.

Posters marking the 1936 Winter and Summer Olympic Games.

The 1936 Winter Games were held in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, where, fortunately, snow fell just in time. Tony showed the 3 stamps issued on 25 November 1935 and related Postal History, noting in passing that GB won the Ice Hockey Gold Medal, beating Canada in the final. The material shown included a Winter Olympics Telegram (ex-Rapkin), meter marks, special cancels, a collection of vignettes, and booklets from Argentina and Chile.

A souvenir postal stationery card.

The set of 3 stamps issued on 25 November 1935 to publicize the Winter Olympic Games.

There were also special postcards, all 20 Bell vignettes, Berlin booklets, a Europa cover and a menu, together with cancels for all 14 venues, a telegram and a photographic proof. These were followed by cards to raise money for German youth in sport and Olympic stationery.

The set of 8 stamps issued on 9 May 1936 to publicize the Summer Olympic Games.

Tony noted that the biggest advertiser, Coca Cola, produced no philatelic material. He ended the first part with a Lufthansa card, a cigarette card and a special Souvenir Sheet.

Posters from Coca Cola and the torch relay through Vienna.

The second part began with a set of special vignettes with views of Berlin (ex-Kiddle) followed by a section on the Olympic Bell, which was struck in Bochum and placed in a tower behind the Olympic Field. Sections concerning the Olympic Village and the Olympic Torch, which was delayed in Austria by a Nazi demo, followed. These Games saw the introduction of the torch relay based on an idea by Dr Carl Diem, with a lit torch carried from Olympia to the site of the Games through seven countries Greece, Bulgaria, Yugoslavia, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Austria and Germany, a total journey of more than 3,000 km.

A pair of souvenir sheets issued on 1st August 1936.

There was a set of 8 stamps issued on 9 May 1936, a Registration Label and stationery for the village.

The logo of the 1936 Berlin Olympic Games.

On the opening day of the Summer Olympics, 1st August 1936, Luftschiff Zeppelin 129 Hindenburg flew over the stadium, and Tony displayed a selection of relevant Zeppelin covers, including a TOO LATE, foreign acceptances and post-games covers to the USA. The press corps were each provided with a desk, stenographer, phone line and all other facilities. The 1936 Games were the first to be broadcast on television. Twenty-five television viewing rooms were set up in the Greater Berlin area, allowing the locals to follow the Games free of charge.

Cachet applied to items of mail carried in the Hindenburg over the Olympic stadium.

Envelope to Sweden posted from the Press Centre at the Olympic Games in Berlin.

A splendid item was a ticket for the opening Ceremony. The first Gold Medal of the games went to Tilly Fleischer in the women's javelin. To debunk a popular myth, Tony told us that J C (Jesse) Owens was not snubbed by Hitler, who cheered when he entered the stadium on his way to winning four Gold Medals. It was noted that Avery Brundage (who was in construction) made a lot of money in Berlin in 1936.

Card showing Harold Whitlock, 50 Km Walk Gold Medalist from Great Britain at the 1936 Berlin Olympics.

A card showed Harold Whitlock winning the 50km walk. Another splendid item was a German vest badge. At the same time as the Olympic Games were taking place, a Chess Olympics was held.

A souvenir postal stationery card.

During the games, the racist policies were suppressed for political reasons. The games were a political and sporting success, and Germany won more medals than the USA.

A card from the yachting at Kiel.

Finally, Tony showed cards from the yachting at Kiel and cards for associated fairs and festivals.

Brian Pugsley, in his vote of thanks, thanked Tony for explaining the political as well as the philatelic context of the 1936 Games. We had all learned a fair bit of history as well as philately.

8th March 2016 - Visit by Mid-Sussex Philatelic Society - Michael Elliott FRPSL & Fred Hoadley

The Wokingham Society meeting of 8th March was entertained by visitors Michael Elliott and Fred Hoadley from the Mid-Sussex Philatelic Society.

The two speakers shared each of the evening's sessions. Fred began with a section on Swiss Travelling Post Offices. Switzerland was a late railway developer, with their first railway being opened in 1847, although there were French tracks as far as Basel from Strasbourg in 1844. The line from Baden to Zurich (16 miles) opened in 1847 and was known as the "Spanish Brot-bahn" because of a delicacy that was served.

Switzerland is a difficult place for railways. Only the central plateau is flat and the Alps and Jura provide substantial mountain barriers. Further, the "country" was a loose association of Cantons until 1848. Postal unification was achieved in 1850.

In 1850, Robert Stephenson (1803-1859; possibly the greatest engineer of the 19th century, the only son of George Stephenson, the "Father of Railways") was asked to propose a rail network, and his proposal was similar to what exists now, except that he did not allow for Swiss ingenuity in building tunnels and bridges. Expansion of the Swiss railways was led by Alfred Hescher, based in Zurich.

Post Office workers in a Swiss TPO coach.

The first TPO was on the Strasbourg to Basel line operated by the French. The first Swiss TPO coach began service in the 1850s. The TPO marking was a canceller inscribed Schweiz Bahnpost and including the origin and destination station names (except for the Northeast Railway, which had its own canceller). The use of French or German was decided by area, and the abbreviations T (Train) or Z (Zug) were used.

Swiss TPO markings.

In the 1890s these were replaced by "Ambulant" cancels, although Bahnpost was still used occasionally. A rail schedule for the year is needed to interpret the markings.

In 1902 the railways were nationalised and the origin and destination station names returned to the cancels.

Swiss TPO Ambulant cancels.

The display included Lake mail, with the steamers providing a feeder service to the rail network.

From the 1880s a network of private railways grew up. Eventually there were around 80 of these, with over 2000 cancels between them. These are all narrow gauge systems, and cancels are named, with all but one being circular date stamps.

Swiss TPO Ambulant cancels on postcards.

Michael continued with Finnish TPOs, concentrating on the Helsinki to St. Petersburg line. The first Finnish Railway service began in 1862 with the opening of the Helsinki - Hämmeelinna line. On 1st November 1870 the first travelling post office came into use between Helsinki and Wiborg, and a month later the route was extended to St. Petersburg.

1871 3k. and 5k. Russian stamps for use at the Finnish Railway in St. Petersburg and issued for delivery to addressees' houses.

Stations were numbered 1 to 35, and there was a structured canceller: line 1 was the station number, line 2 was the carriage number and line 3 the date. The railway line was Finnish, but stations 1 to 7 were in Russia. The terminus in St. Petersburg was Finland Station. Over time, the number of stations increased, first to 38, then 41 and finally 45. After a while the number slugs for the stations were applied alone (floating marks). The principle of station numbering was also used on the other railway lines.

The very first Finnish TPO postmark with letters in Antiqua-style. Period of use November 1870 to June 1875. Station number 35 = Helsinki. Postcard sent from Helsinki 25th October 1871 to Ekenäs.

Other cancels were used in time of war. There was a problem with bilingual cancels, as there was not enough space for Roman and Cyrillic names.

Finnish TPO postmark with solid black dot, indicating a night train.

The cancellators included an open circle to indicate day trains and a black, solid dot for night trains. Material shown included a scarce "day train" registered cover, a bilingual registration cachet and examples of "TO PAY" markings.

Finnish TPO postmark with the open circle, indicating a day train.

After a period of Russification, all mail going outside Russia was required to bear Russian stamps. Finland became independent in 1917, and the Cyrillic script was excised from all cancellers. Michael showed a selection of postal history of TPOs covering the period through to 1940.

Finnish TPO postmark without Cyrillic characters.

Following the refreshment break, Michael continued the railway flavour in the second session. Most Finnish stations, which were also Post Offices, had their own postmarks. Full mail registration was available, and Michael showed examples of railway markings on cover.

On 30th November 1939 the Russians invaded Finland without warning or declaration of war, and volunteers from various countries went to the aid of Finland in what became known as the Winter War, which ended when Finland capitulated to the Russian army on 12th March 1940. TPOs continued to operate at this time. In 1941, when Hitler attacked Russia, Finland regained land that had been lost in the Winter War. Covers showed that the Finnish War Flag is different from the normal flag.

The 1940 Olympics were due to be held in Helsinki, and special stationery envelopes prepared for it were shown. A good destination item was a cover from northern Finland to Tegucigalpa in Honduras. We were also shown examples of railway stamps used on cover.

Stationery envelope for the cancelled 1940 Helsinki Olympics.

Fred resumed with more on the story of Switzerland. Prior to the 1815 Treaty of Vienna, it was known as the Warrior Nation. The militia have been mobilised four times since then to free Neufchatel, during the Franco-Prussian War, during World War I and during World War II.

Fred showed us a fine collection of Charity and Poster stamps with a general theme of Swiss Soldiery. Generals were featured on Charity Stamps, and there were memorials to those who had died in many ways (as a result of avalanches, influenza as well as in combat). A leading light in the production of these stamps was Oberleutnant Bieri, who designed the first "Swiss Soldier" stamps, used for raising money for soldiers' families. We saw a range of values and a Feldpost card. The stamps were printed and designed locally.

Swiss soldier stamps souvenir sheet for the neutral Swiss armed forces during World War II.

Around four hundred different designs were produced during World War I, half of which were designed by Bieri. They represented the various different units. During World War II over 4000 different designs were produced.

Swiss soldier stamps souvenir sheet for the neutral Swiss armed forces during World War II.

The original idea spawned the production of Soldier and Patriotic postcards, and a range from World War I was shown. After the war a National Fund for Soldiers was established, supported by Lottery cards and a wide range of Poster/Charity stamps, often associated with a particular regiment. Fred ended his display with a postcard of a Soldier returned home and reunited with his family.

Brian Pugsley gave the vote of thanks and complimented our guests on the wide range of unusual material that they had brought for our enjoyment.

23rd February 2016 - Heroes and Heroines

Trevor Cornford led off with a display of material on Robert Falcon Scott. This included a memorial 'cartoon', the Order of Service for his funeral and composite pictures made from stamps. He followed with a letter from his wife Kathleen, who was a sculptress, and a handbill for an exhibition of paintings by their son, Sir Peter Scott.

Ron Stone is keen on US Presidents and showed material relating to John Quincy Adams and Presidents Polk, Fillmore and Calvin Coolidge.

Dennis Proctor showed items relating to the attack on Adolf Hitler on 20 July 1944 known as Operation Valkyrie, led by Claus von Stauffenberg.

German stamps commemorating Claus von Stauffenberg.

Michael Curling's hero was John Walter III, Editor of The Times and builder of Bearwood College as it largely is today, although it was originally the Royal Merchant Seamen's Orphanage. He showed a Times cover and the £5 Prestige Booklet, 1785-1985 Souvenir Concert Programmes, Bearwood Village postcards and a Bearwood College card, and finished his display with an early postcard of Wellingtonia Avenue.

The 1985 Royal Mail Prestige Booklet 'The Story of The Times'.

Alan Kane resumed the polar theme with a Captain Oates (I may be some time) souvenir cover. However, Alan's real hero is the legendary Samuel Benfield Steele (1849-1919), a Canadian who joined the militia at 14, travelled to the Winnipeg area to deal with a problem with the Métis people, and after recall he joined the Canadian Army. He became a Sergeant-Major in the new Police Force (later the RCMP). He led an expedition of around 1000 to deal with US gun-runners who were stealing furs. During the expedition he built a series of forts, some of which are now cities, e.g. Fort Macleod. In the Yukon Gold Rush (1898) he was the Superintendent of Police and held the Chilkoot Pass for Canada. In the area he was magistrate, jailer and chief of police, but was removed as he had upset government officials. In the Boer War he led the Canadian Mounted Rifles, and (according to Canadians) he was sent to set up the South African Constabulary. In WWI he was a Major-General in charge of the 2nd Canadian Overseas Division and was knighted. Sadly, just after the war he succumbed to the influenza epidemic in 1919.

Yukon Gold Rush stamp issued by Canada on 13th June 1996, featuring Superintendent Sam Steele, North-West Mounted Police.

David Walker resumed the polar theme with Robert Falcon Scott (between 1901-1904) showing a range of postcards of the Discovery, including when it was trapped in the ice and in various harbours. He also showed an attractive Christmas Card of the Discovery. These were supported by a range of stamps and covers.

Alwyn Lowe showed items relating to a range of people. These included Abraham Lincoln; Albert Schweitzer (1875-1965), French-German theologian, organist, philosopher, and physician awarded the Nobel Peace Laureate in 1952; David Livingstone; Robert Falcon Scott; Edmund Hillary; Marcus Garvey; Marie Curie (winner of two Nobel prizes) and finally Clara Louise Maass (1876-1901), a nurse who died when she was infected with Yellow Fever for a second time.

A selection of stamps commemorating Albert Schweitzer.

Stamps and a label in memory of medical heroine Clara Maass.

Mark Bailey's hero was, appropriately, Sir Rowland Hill. He showed a range of covers and miniature sheets from the centenary of Hill's death in 1879, supported by related ephemera and cinderellas.

Souvenir sheets for the centenary of the death of Sir Rowland Hill from Barbados and Turks & Caicos Islands.

Finally, David Walker displayed additional material on Robert Falcon Scott relating to his 1910-12 expedition in the Terra Nova. This included a German maxi-card; a Fry's Cocoa card; a card commemorating the death of Evans, Oates, Scott, Wilson and Bowers. David completed his display with a card of the Scott Memorial Cairn at Port Chalmers, New Zealand and another of the Scott Memorial in Christchurch New Zealand (now being rebuilt after the earthquake) and some modern covers.

9th February 2016 - Quiz Night

Patrick Reid set the members a challenge, by presenting a quiz for 3 competing teams, covering history, geography, general knowledge and philatelic matters.

By the half-way point, the team led by Alwyn had a slight lead over their nearest rivals who were led by Mark. Despite valiant efforts during the second half by the others, they were not overtaken, and thus Alwyn and his merry band were the deserving winners. A good evening's entertainment was enjoyed by all, and Deputy Chairman Mark Bailey thanked Patrick and presented prizes to the members of the winning team.

26th January 2016 - Material Acquired in 2015

There was a good attendance for the evening, and most members had brought material.

Patrick Reid led off with an eclectic mix of material. He showed items from the General Gordon Statue issue of Sudan, including proofs and overprint errors, then some additions to his Tasmania collection and finally some Postage Due covers from his 'Underpaid Outgoing Mails of Australia' collection.

Sudan Gordon statue proof and stamps.

Chris Rayner displayed the 2015 issues from the Isle of Man. These celebrated a number of Anniversaries, including the Battle of Waterloo, and also the Christmas issue featuring the Manx Prayer Book.

Isle of Man Anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo stamps.

Isle of Man Christmas 2015 stamps featuring the Manx Prayer Book.

Chris Wootton brought a wide-ranging selection on 14 sheets and a stock card, including covers and postcards. Countries represented included Chile, Cocos-Keeling Islands, Austria, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, Japan, New Caledonia, Sweden, Cameroon, Singapore and Polynesia.

Peter Alford showed the 2015 Post and Go stamps from the UK, sourced from a variety of places, mostly museums.

Ivan Dickason had made additions to his ½d collection and displayed Australia ½d 'Roo in a block of four on cover; 1934 GV ½d in a corner block of 4; 1935 GB Silver Jubilee in a block of 4; 1937 GB GVI Booklet pane; GB 1924 ½d in a block; Guernsey ½d Postage Due in a block of 6; a large block of the 3 pice (or pies) issue from Chamba and finally the Transvaal ½d overprinted V.R.I. in a block of four (possibly forged) and an impressive block of 35.

A block of 4 of the GB 1935 Silver Jubilee ½d stamp.

Alwyn Lowe concluded the first half with a selection reflecting several of his collecting interests. These included an Eire Oscar Wilde miniature sheet; the 2015 issues from Sweden; some 1d stamps on cover to various destinations; a newspaper wrapper to Prussia; a QV 1d lilac used in 1913; a 1900 Cape of Good Hope item to a Boer Prisoner of War in St Helena; some Edward VII postcards; a Port Said Paquebot cover; an Edward VIII postcard; an RPSL Centenary souvenir and finally a Bermuda Newspaper wrapper.

Eire Oscar Wilde miniature sheet.

Mark Bailey was first up in the second half, and displayed a selection of items acquired at Europhilex in May 2015. These included an enlarged image of the Mauritius Post Office plate; souvenir cards; a cover for the 175th anniversary of the 1d Black; a centenary of Postage Dues cover; a £3 Penny Black anniversary miniature sheet from Gibraltar; Royal Mail Souvenir sheet and covers; a Buckingham cover; a cover signed by Hugh Jeffries MBE; a Guernsey cover and items from Austria, Liechtenstein, Togo, São Tomé & Príncipe, the Central African Republic, and the Solomon Islands.

£3 Gibraltar miniature sheet.

Brian Pugsley showed additions to his King George VI collection, including Rhodesia ½d block; Fiji "empty canoe" in block; the Ceylon 50c in a block and a photographic essay for a Falklands issue.

Eric Holmes displayed a selection of Gibraltar Postal History. This included a cover from Port Mahon (Minorca) to Guernsey via Gibraltar; the scarce Andalusian Baxa/Alta handstamp on cover; an 1845 unpaid item; Gibraltar mail sent via San Roque after being cancelled in Gibraltar. In Spain the 1858 Treaty changed the postal system and mail was sent by sea for one year. A cover from this period (one of 26 recorded) was shown bearing GB 1d and Spain 4 cuartos stamps. Spain issued new stamps each year to prevent forgery. Next came a range of San Roque handstamps on cover, a consignee letter and finally two different International Reply Coupons from Gibraltar in blocks of four.

Alastair Nixon showed a range of Horizon Labels. Alastair explained that these were originally white, but later versions include the Machin Head. They had perforations but after one year they reverted to imperforate. New labels were introduced, but for an interim period the new text was printed on old labels. Finally he displayed a PO card put through the letter box by a postman soliciting a Christmas box!

A selection of the different styles of Horizon labels.

Trevor Cornford brought along a card from Captain Worsley on the Endurance. This was topical as his son, also a Polar Explorer, had just died after being rescued.

Michael Curling ended the evening's showing with a selection of Victorian Letter Seals; some items of Book Post; a Gardening and Forestry exhibition cover; a Parcel Post item from Suttons Seeds; a Royal Baptism Card dated 21st May 1867 from Windsor Castle; the Order of Service for Wellington's funeral and Waterloo-related postcard and stamps.

Unfortunately some displays had to be held over to a later date. Brian Pugsley thanked all who had brought material for a splendidly mixed evening.

12th January 2016 - Chairman's Evening - Brian Pugsley

Once again it was the turn of Brian Pugsley, our Chairman to entertain us. He continued with his collection of Commonwealth King George VI, beginning with Hong Kong. The colony was occupied by the Japanese from 1941 to 1945. At the time stamps, similar in design to the Queen Victoria issues, were ready in London. These had been printed by De La Rue, and were sent to South Africa and Australia until the Colony was freed. The difficult stamps are the 1938 printing. Bicolours were used from $1 upwards. He also showed the 1941 Centenary issue. Post-war, for security, the colours of the $1 and $2 and the $5 and $10 were swapped. He concluded with the Victory and Silver Wedding issues followed by a range of varieties, some blocks and a few Revenues.

Hong Kong Centenary stamp.

The Hong Kong Victory stamps issued on 29 August 1946.

Brian then moved onto Jamaica. There are many colour varieties on the definitive issue, especially on the 1½d. The stamps were printed either by De La Rue or Waterlow. There is one hard variety on the 5/-, as it was sent directly to the Colony, and thus was not distributed to UK dealers. The 1945 New Constitution issue and the Boy Scouts issue followed, and finally we saw a range of varieties and flaws.

The 1944 Jamaica New Constitution stamps.

Brian completed the first half of the evening with the stamps of Malaya with the King's Head, from Straits Settlements, and these were also overprinted BMA Malaya. The BMA overprints were done in London, Kuala Lumpur and Melbourne and can all be distinguished.

Malaya stamps.

The second part began with Kenya, Uganda and Tanganyika. The King George VI stamps were based on the King George V stamps and there are four different perforations. There are also many colour variations on the 50c value. Colour changes were made late in the life of the set. The Coronation issue was followed by a range of varieties, some good blocks and finally the Royal Visit issue, including flaws and a few fiscals.

The King George VI Coronation stamps of Kenya, Uganda and Tanganyika.

The Leeward Islands were the only colony to use the small George VI Keyplate, although the 10/- and £1 values use the large Keyplate. There are many flaws in the duty plate, which was made of softer metal. The Keyplate was chromium-plated but the Duty Plate was copper. The value tablet for the 5/- was damaged and later repaired. Finally we saw some blocks.

King George VI 10/- and £1 Leeward Islands stamps.

Returning to Malaya, Brian showed three stamps that were unissued, including a Victory set for the Malayan Union and he finished his display with a block showing the BMA overprint in the margin.

Deputy Chairman Mark Bailey thanked Brian for bringing along such fine mint material, all well-presented.

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