News Archive: 2017

12th December 2017 - Christmas Meeting

After the usual introductory remarks, Christine Earle displayed an impressive range of Christmas-related material. The first part of the display was devoted to Forces material. She began with Christmas Cards from 1939-1944 from a range of sources in various theatres of war. These were followed by a US card, then a series of cards by Roland Davies depicting tanks and warships. These are difficult to date, but certainly date from after the US entered the Second World War. The next section showed examples of PoW Christmas mail, and was followed by a selection of Air Letters, including the Free Christmas Post in India 1944 and a Victory Year card. Christine's display continued with an impressive range of Airgraphs with Christmas pictures and greetings. She also explained how Airgraphs were prepared and delivered. The final section of the display was entitled "Greetings from Sydney" and included postcards for Christmas and other occasions, with pullout cards and cards featuring a Koala and a Kangaroo.

An Airgraph sending Christmas Greetings from Italy to Scotland, postmarked on 12 December 1944.

After the members had viewed this interesting material, Susan Greenwood showed a range of GB varieties, beginning with the missing 'T' on the 3d stamp of the 1966 Christmas issue and including a range of missing and displaced colours.

GB 1966 3d Christmas stamp, with the T missing from the stamp on the right.

Michael Curling displayed a range of cards from Victorian times onwards that showed ferns, followed by a couple of Military Cards, including one from Nepal. He ended his display with a 1948 letter that was the transcription of a message on a 78rpm record that he showed in its original packaging, which had been used to send a Christmas message.

Trevor Cornford showed snowy and Christmassy scenes. These included a very early postcard of London under snow, back-to-back sledging from Switzerland, and skiing at Chamonix. These were followed by a UDI paid Christmas letter from Rhodesia, a Greenpeace cover and finally covers showing "the icy world" from a range of countries covering Argentina to Japan, presented in alphabetical order.

Mark Bailey concluded the displays with an exposition on "Letters to Santa and what happens to them". His short talk covered not only the handling of letters to Santa in the UK, but also in Canada, the United States of America, Australia and northern Finland.

Envelopes correctly addressed to Santa in Australia, Great Britain and Canada.

After having viewed the displays, the assembled company then enjoyed the excellent spread of Christmas food prepared for them by Marianne Murray, Susan Greenwood and Alwyn Lowe, before making their way home on what had turned into a wet night.

14th November 2017 - An Evening of Postcards

The meeting opened with the presentation of certificates to the three members who had won their classes in the Thames Valley Federation 16-sheet Competition: Christine Earle in the Thematic Class, Trevor Cornford in the Open Class and Eric Holmes in the Postal History Class. This was followed by a discussion about car parking in Wokingham with all the changes taking place in the town.

In contrast with the majority of the Society's meetings, the members displayed postcards from their collections.

David Gerken began with postcards showing bridges, including the Sydney Harbour Bridge, the Keppel Bridge in Lucerne, the Cahors Bridge, the Pont du Gard (although strictly that is an aqueduct), the Rouen Transporter Bridge, and the Müngsten Bridge in Germany. David completed his display with a card sent back to him from the mail drop near Cranmere Pool on Dartmoor, a humorous "Beware of the Dog" postcard, puzzle cards, a card of the "Matsonia" and some matchbox labels.

Alastair Nixon showed more conventional stationery postcards. He began with an 1870 card with a Sloper machine cancel, followed by 1894 Hoster machine cancel, 1900 Columbia machine cancel, and a 1924 Wembley Exhibition card with a Hey-Dolphin cancel. Moving into the 1960s, he showed phosphor-graphite stamps used for sorting on the ALF (Automatic Letter-Facing) machines and a card of a 1967 Postbus, then a 1992 pack about the Postal Address File, a 1993 card of an ALF machine, a 2016 PHQ card of a Mail Centre and a postcard depicting 5 Horizon labels.

Postcard of the Müngsten Bridge.

PHQ card of the Medway Mail Centre.

Michael Curling showed us a splendid collection of old postcards of Kew Gardens and Kew Palace, including a number featuring the famous Chinese pagoda.

Trevor Cornford began with postcards from Captain Scott on the Discovery, some of the weekly cards from the crew, a card from the Terra Nova, and from the Falklands where Scott's ships called for coaling. Then he showed several postcards in the Lipton Series, depicting aspects of Ceylon Tea Estates. Next came a card re-directed to Ugley Green, some tourist cards, and finally cards from the 1910-13 Antarctic Expedition.

Phil Gribble explained that when he was stationed at Brüggen on National Service, he had been given some postcards by a girl called Christina that he met just over the border in Holland at Nederweert. He showed these cards together with a picture of Christina, and closed his display with a few old family postcards.

Patrick Reid displayed a selection of postcards relating to Port Arthur in Tasmania, charting its transition from penal colony through township to tourist attraction. Patrick followed this with a brief "trailer" for his 200+ sheet display of "A Trip Around Tasmania".

A postcard of Kew Gardens.

A postcard showing Port Arthur, Tasmania.

Mark Bailey displayed an attractive collection of cards illustrating Victor Hugo's home in Guernsey, Hauteville House, ordered as a tour around the house. From the entrance one went through the hall, saw a passage to the garden, then entered the Billiard Room, the Tapestry Room, the Lounge and the Dining Room. Going up to the first floor, the display took us into the Gallery, divided into Red and Blue Drawing Rooms, and then the Conservatory. Moving to the second floor we saw cards of the oak gallery and Garibaldi's bedroom. At the top, on the third floor, we saw views of the covered balcony and Victor Hugo's study, and finally some photographic postcards of the exterior.

Christine Earle continued the subject of the Channel Islands with her well written up display of Channel Island Liberation postcards. She began with Official postcards, and a Postage Paid card dated 11 May 1945. She followed these with a series of Guernsey Liberation Cards that had been printed during the occupation. She showed the messages on the back, all celebrating the Island's liberation. She ended her display with Liberation of Jersey overprinted scenic postcards, one of which had been printed in 1909. Clearly the sellers were getting rid of old stock that they had been unable to sell to visitors during the years of the German Occupation!

A postcard of Victor Hugo's study at Hauteville House.

A postcard with a Liberated Jersey overprint.

Mark Bailey thanked all who had brought material and remarked that, once again, it showed the diversity of members' collecting interests.

Thames Valley & District Philatelic Federation 16-sheet Competition 2017

Congratulations to the members of the Wokingham & District Philatelic Society who entered the Thames Valley & District Philatelic Federation's 2017 16-Sheet Competition, which was held in conjunction with the fair at Loddon Hall, Twyford on 5 November. Our members achieved the following results:

Postal History Class - First - Eric Holmes, 92%, Gibraltar Mail by Sea to Cadiz. The judges commented that this is a "fine, well-researched and written-up exhibit".
Thematic Class - First - Christine Earle, 88%, Understanding Birds of Prey. The judges commented that this is a "fine exhibit that is well laid out".
Open Class - First - Trevor Cornford, 90%, Sir Ernest Shackleton's First Antarctic Voyage 1901-03. The judges commented that this is an "excellent exhibit of scarce material that has historic importance".

24th October 2017 - The Items Speak For Themselves

The following members presented a maximum of 15 sheets of material in a "Silent Display", without any spoken word of explanation:

Dennis Proctor: Stamps related to plebiscites in German States, including Allenstein, Upper Silesia, Saar, Schleswig, and Marienwerder.

Mark Bailey: Newfoundland 1935 Silver Jubilee stamps, covers marking the 1939 Royal Visit and the 450th anniversary of Cabot discovering Newfoundland, and a St Pierre et Miquelon stationery envelope.

David Walker: Items relating to Richard E. Byrd, Antarctic explorer.

Alastair Nixon: St. Kilda Tin Can Mail and GB Machin bisects.

Michael Curling: Wokingham postmarks 1990-1992.

Richard Jenkins: Stamp Days in Germany 1936-1942.

David Gerken: Items showing bridges that he has travelled over or under.

Alan Kane: Carrickfergus Castle on the castles issues of GB: 2/6, £1, £3 and special covers.

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

Alwyn Lowe: Stamp Engraving - is it Art? featuring examples of the work of engraver Czesław Słania.

Eric Holmes: GB used in Gibraltar 1857-1885, including stamps and covers.

Trevor Cornford: The Whalebone Arch on Falkland Islands' stamps, cards and covers.

All the showings attracted questions as people were viewing the displays. Mark Bailey thanked all who had come and brought such a diverse range of material.

26th September 2017 - Austro-Hungarian Navy Mail in World War 1 - Lindy Bosworth FRPSL

At the start of the meeting, the Honorary Secretary Patrick Reid reminded members that he was looking for entries for the Thames Valley 16-sheet competitions, and needed them by 26th October. Deputy Chairman Alwyn Lowe announced that the South of England fair would be at Salisbury in October, rather than Farnborough, because of parking problems in Farnborough. There will also be a fair next April at Bracknell Leisure Centre.

Our guest speaker was Lindy Bosworth, on the subject of Austro-Hungarian Navy Mail in World War 1 and she began by setting the political scene. On 28 July 1914, one month to the day after Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria and his wife were killed by a Serbian nationalist in Sarajevo, Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia, effectively beginning the First World War. At the outbreak of war, Italy was neutral so the Austro-Hungarian Navy had unfettered access to the Adriatic Sea. Italy eventually declared war on the Austro-Hungarian Empire on 23 May 1915 and Germany declared war on Italy on 28 August 1916.

The first frame showed an excellent selection of propaganda cards. Some included images of Franz Josef, who had been the Emperor since 1848 and Kaiser Wilhelm (Bill) of Germany. Also shown were propaganda labels of various vessels, which were sold to raise money for naval charities.

Official Postcard, issued for the Red Cross, the War Welfare Office and War Aid Office.

A propaganda postcard published in 1914 'Serbien muss sterbien!' meaning 'Serbia must die!'.

Within the Austro-Hungarian Empire there were at least 11 ethnic groups and languages, with German as the official language. Naval personnel came from all over the Empire, so officers were required to speak four of these languages whilst ratings had to speak some Croat and Italian and understand orders given in German. The main naval base was at Pola, and there were other ports and facilities along the Adriatic coast, with the most southerly base at Cattaro (Kotor). All vessels had their own cancellers of various designs. Cancellers and censor marks were applied by the on board censor to validate the mail for onward transmission to the marine post office at Pola, the civilian system or occasionally the nearest military field post office. Originally the main civilian post office at Pola was used but in 1915 a dedicated marine post office was opened (Marine Feldpostamt). The first cancellers of three different designs were made of rubber and quickly wore out to be replaced in May 1915 by metal ones which were in use until the end of the war. Ordinary mail was free but other services such as registration and express had to be paid for. Several examples of registered mail were in the display.

Registered envelope sent from the SMS Radetzky.

The Navy had a total of 16 battleships allotted in five classes, from the oldest completed in 1890s to the most modern. The SMS Szent Istvan was the final battleship of the Navy to be built and was not completed until December 1915. Most of the battleships were illustrated with some of their varied dedicated cancels. Lindy's display was structured to show examples of the range of vessels in the Navy from the larger vessels through to smaller vessels. At the outbreak of war Marine Kommandant Admiral Anton Haus was Commander in Chief of the Navy but he died of pneumonia during February 1917 on board the flagship of the fleet, SMS Viribus Unitis. This was one of the four most modern battleships of the fleet. She was sunk in Pola harbour by an Italian mine on 1 November 1918. The most modern battleships spent the war at their moorings in Pola harbour, only venturing to sea for a raid on Italian installations on the Adriatic coast after their declaration of war on 23 May 1915. It was the cruisers, destroyers, torpedo boats and submarines which plied the Adriatic to prevent its use by the Allies.

Postcard showing the flagship SMS Viribus Unitis.

Feldpostkorrespondenzkarte from SMS Szent Istvan.

At the outbreak of war one of the armoured cruisers, SMS Kaiserin Elisabeth, a steel-hulled vessel of 3,967 tons displacement with a crew comprised 450 officers and men, was on a tour of duty in the Far East and made for the German naval base of Tsingtao. Tsingtao was besieged by the Japanese on 25 August 1914. At Tsingtao with Kaiserin Elisabeth were the Imperial German Navy light cruiser Cormoran, gunboats Iltis, Jaguar, Tiger and Luchs and the torpedo boat S90. On 6 September 1914 a Japanese Farman MF.11 aircraft launched by the seaplane carrier Wakamiya unsuccessfully attacked Kaiserin Elisabeth with bombs. Early in the siege Kaiserin Elisabeth and Jaguar made a sortie against the Japanese. The two newest 5.9-inch guns from Kaiserin Elisabeth went ashore as the Elisabeth battery, and fought throughout the siege. Most of her 47mm guns also went ashore, and her marines formed a small company that fought in the front lines. As the siege progressed, with the Japanese and British superior forces attacking the base, the naval vessels trapped in the harbour were scuttled to prevent the ships being taken by the Allies; Cormoran, Iltis and Luchs on 28 September, S90 on 17 October and Tiger on 29 October. Kaiserin Elisabeth remained in Kiaochou Bay performing shore bombardment in support of the German troops and her own marines until 2 November 1914, when she fired her last shells. To scuttle the ship, she was taken to the deepest part of the bay, her boilers were fired to full capacity and four torpedo warheads were set off; the ship blew apart spectacularly. The Jaguar was scuttled on 7 November. The crew of Kaiserin Elisabeth surrendered to the Japanese, along with numerous German naval personnel, and were taken to Japan, to a prisoner of war camp specially built for German and Austrian prisoners at Aonogahara. They were not released until 1920. Two rare postcards from one of the crew held in the camp, dated March 1916 and May 1919, sent to his wife in Vienna were shown.

Postcard showing SMS Kaiserin Elisabeth.

The future Admiral of the Navy, Miklós Horthy de Nagybánya, was promoted to command the new light cruiser SMS Novara when she was completed in January 1915. The Novara made many successful attacks on Italian positions and to intercept enemy supply vessels. On 1 February 1918 several vessels were involved in a mutiny at the Cattaro base. The main grievances were shortages of supplies including food and conditions for naval ratings. The mutiny was put down, but an immediate investigation was ordered. Sweeping changes were recommended including the appointment of Horthy as Commander-in-Chief of the Navy. After the war Horthy became Regent of Hungary. A postcard portrait of Horthy as Commander-in-Chief and of SMS Novara were shown.

Postcard portrait of Admiral Horthy and a card showing SMS Novara.

The next section of the display featured a selection of torpedo boats that were originally given names but from 1913 were allotted a number. The smaller ones (100 tons, with a crew of 20) were used for coastal and harbour duties whilst the larger (250 tons, with a crew of 38) were used for escort, reconnaissance, mine laying, submarine searching and actions against enemy vessels. The only Navy vessel to defect to the Italians in the war was SMTb 11. In October 1917 the 22 crew members became prisoners of war and the vessel was re-commissioned into the Italian Navy.

Two naval officers became well known for collecting examples of ships' cancels. One was Fregattenleutenant Oskar Buchberger who commanded SMTb85. The other was Captain Xaver Wutscher, who was originally in command of the torpedo cutter SMS Ulan, and later the repair vessel SMS Herkules. The captain was an ardent collector of ship mail throughout the course of the war. In order to obtain material from all the ships of the Adriatic and Danube fleets, he sent to all ships feldpost cards with his own address prominently printed. Commanders of the ships were happy to oblige their friend, since it cost them nothing. They were usually addressed to him as Captain of Corvettes at Pola. Thus it was that these two naval officers sent cards to most of the vessels in the Navy, returned carefully cancelled, and without these cards cancels from the smallest vessels would not be known.

Feldpost card addressed to Oskar Buchberger.

Feldpost card addressed to Xaver Wutscher.

The only countries to use airships (Zeppelins) during the war were Germany and Italy. Italy had 20 of these, which could carry up to 1000kg bomb load to be used effectively on naval, military and civilian targets. Two were destroyed by the Austrians and several torpedo boats took part in the salvage operations.

Postcard showing the destruction of the Italian nay airship Citta di Ferrara on 8 June 1915 by the Austro-Hungarian seaplane L48 south west of Lussin.

The second part of Lindy's display began with a selection of items relating to the submarine fleet. By the end of the war 27 submarines had been built of various designs, of which 7 were lost. Mail from submariners and cancels from the individual submarines are scarce. Submarine 12 sunk in Venice Lagoon during August 1915 with the loss of all 17 crew. The Italians salvaged her to retrieve secret documents.

Postcard of Captain Georg Ritter von Trapp and a letter and signature from him.

A letter and signature from Captain Georg Ritter von Trapp, commander of U5 was shown. He was promoted as commander of U14 in June 1915. This submarine was the Curie, built by the French in 1912. On 20 December 1914 she managed to slip into the Adriatic and enter Pola harbour, but became entangled in steel netting, and had to come up for air. As the Curie broke surface enemy vessels opened fire on her, as did a nearby shore battery. After repairs she was commissioned as U14. After the war she was returned to France to be renamed Curie. Captain von Trapp was requested to join the German Navy before the outbreak of World War 2, but he refused. His story became famous through the musical The Sound of Music. The Germans also had submarine fleets operating from Pola and Cattaro. Submarines from the Cattaro base could operate in the Mediterranean and did much damage to Allied shipping.

Postcard depicting the destruction of the French submarine Curie by the shore battery.

The Navy had supply vessels, including colliers, water tenders, oil tankers, salvage and repair vessels, and requisitioned commercial vessels throughout the war for specific use. If the vessel was requisitioned before the war it was given a number but otherwise the vessel kept its name. At the start of World War 1, the Austro-Hungarian Navy requisitioned 20 steamers from a number of commercial shipping companies. They assigned them Roman numbers from I to XX. Thus, for example, Dampfer XIV, which was formerly the steamer Bosnia that had been operated by a Dalmatian shipping company.

A postcard with the cancellation of Dampfer XIV.

Several commercial vessels were used as hospital ships including the Imperial Yacht SMS Miramar for transporting wounded soldiers from the Balkan theatre of war.

A view of the Imperial Yacht SMS Miramar.

A piece from a postcard showing a strike of the SMS Miramar censor.

Besides the Adriatic Fleet there were several smaller fleets operating on rivers and lakes. The largest of these fleets was on the Danube River with headquarters at Budapest. Several smaller bases and facilities existed between Budapest and the Black Sea. The Danube Fleet had 10 flat-bottomed, armed monitors built in pairs and given names of tributaries of the Danube, supported by smaller patrol boats and other vessels. The first shots of World War 1 were fired from SMS Bodrog and SMS Temes against the defences of Belgrade.

Postcard depicting the bombardment of Belgrade by SMS Sava.

Postcard of SMS Temes and a piece of postcard with the ship's cachet.

The Danube Fleet worked along the length of the Danube River and into the Black Sea with a small reconnaissance operation after 1917 into Russian rivers. At the end of the war the Danube Fleet was assigned to Hungary by Emperor Karl (the successor to Emperor Franz Josef) who also handed over the Adriatic fleet to the Union of the Serbs Croats and Slovenes (eventually Yugoslavia) on 31 October 1918. These arrangements were short lived as the Allies disputed them. Eventually an Allied Naval Commission decided the fate of the vessels. Most of the large vessels of the Adriatic Fleet were scrapped, mainly in Italy, after being assigned to the various Allied nations in part reparations. Some of the smaller vessels, particularly the torpedo boats, saw service in other navies during World War 2 and beyond. The oldest and only remaining fully restored warship of the Austro-Hungarian Navy is the Danube monitor SMS Leitha which can be visited as a museum ship in Budapest.

A piece from a Feldpostkorrespondenzkarte (addressed to Xaver Wutscher) showing a strike of the SMS Leitha mark.

Lindy ended her display with pictures of Kotor (Cattaro) harbour at the end of the First World War.

Postcard view of Kotor (Cattaro) harbour in 1916-1917.

Deputy Chairman Alwyn Lowe thanked Lindy for a fascinating evening that enhanced our historical knowledge and showed a seldom seen range of material.

22nd August 2017 - Japan overview & Japanese POs in Manchuria - Alan Cowie & Jan Simons

The members were entertained by Alan Cowie and Jan Simons from the British Society for Japanese Philately and the Oxford Philatelic Society.

Alan's display showed us material from Japan. He noted that it is very difficult to find material, and he had brought some items originally shown at London 2010 to complement his own items.

Japan used to be an Empire, and it was allied to us in WW1 and through to the 1930s, when a Shinto-based faction took over the running of the country. The original empire included Korea, part of China, Taiwan, and other territories. There were British, French and US Post Offices in the Treaty Ports from 1849 to 1884.

The first stamps (featuring Dragons) were issued in 1871, and they include secret marks that identify plate number and position. These stamps were heavily forged at the turn of the 19th century, and it is estimated that 90% of the Dragons on the market are forged, as are the later 'cherry blossom' issue. There are also forgeries of the subsequent bird stamp issue. Just to make life even harder, both Postal Stationery and postal history items are also forged.

Japan's 1871 series of Dragon stamps.

Some of Japan's 'cherry blossom' series of stamps.

Japan's bird stamps.

1876 saw the issue of the Koban series of stamps that were in use until 1899. Cancellations on these and subsequent issues are important to Japanese collectors.

A selection of Japan's Koban series of stamps.

Koban stamps were replaced in 1899 by the Kiku series. Alan showed us a range of cancels on these, followed by commemorative issues, then the 1912-37 Key Types, referred to as the Tazawa and Fuji and Sika Deer series.

One of Japan's Fuji and Sika Deer stamps.

A postcard with a 1½ Sen blue Tazawa stamp, posted in 1930.

Alan displayed some illustrated covers by Carl Lewis (there are thousands of these).

An illustrated cover by Carl Lewis.

For Airmail use, the Tazawa series were overprinted. Again, the early airmails are heavily forged. Next, Alan showed further commemoratives and some examples of sea post mail. In 1935, 1936 and 1937 stamps were issued and delivered on New Year's day. Postcards were produced in the late 1930s for a planned Tokyo Olympiad in 1940, but that was overtaken by events.

Japanese New Year's greetings stamps from 1935, 1936 and 1937.

The reign of the Shōwa Emperor Hirohito began in 1926 but the existing Taisho/Tazawa definitive stamps continued in use until new designs in 1937-40. Alan showed examples of overprints on colonial stamps, which were inevitably forged. Moving on to the 1950s, Japan's stamps featured industrial subjects such as steelworks and cotton mills.

Each year there is a philatelic week, an athletics week, and even a letter writing week. Later New Year stamps included a lottery ticket to give the buyer a chance of winning a TV. After WW2, the 'Pheasant' series of Airmail stamps was issued. The new Emperor Akihito gave rise to the Heisei series of definitive stamps for the 1990s, and we also saw Automat stamps and special Old Age Pensioner stamps.

There are 47 different prefectures, and all issue stamps. These were intended for local use, but this was disregarded. Alan ended this section with modern 'Moomin' stamps, which are very popular. Japan Post Holdings Co. Ltd. released Moomin stamps on 1st May 2015, which was the first time that Moomin stamps were issued outside Finland. 2 million sheets of 52 yen stamps and 3 million sheets of 82 yen stamps were produced.

Japan's Moomin stamps issued in 2015.

The final three frames showed roller cancels on foreign mail from 1910, Fuji and Deer stamps with roller cancels, where print size matters, and then a range of Packet Boat roller cancels.

Alan ended his display with examples of covers produced by Gustav Lund specifically for US collectors.

A cover produced by Gustav Lund.

Maintaining the Eastern flavour, in the second half of the evening, Jan Simons showed Roman Lettered cancels of Manchuria. To aid understanding, he provided a map, with key towns and railway lines identified.

After the 1894 Sino-Japanese war, the Liaoting peninsula was ceded to Japan. This included Port Arthur, which was occupied by the Russian Fleet in 1897. In 1904, the Japanese blockaded the harbour. The impasse was resolved in 1906 when Russia and Japan agreed that the peninsula would be a joint 'sphere of influence'. Proper exploitation of the peninsula was hampered by the differing gauges on the railways.

The first group of cancels shown all had I.J.P.O. (Imperial Japanese Post Office) and illustrated the many varieties of Changchun cancels, some of which are scarce. We also saw some early airmails.

A postcard from Korea to Germany that has a strike of the Changchun I.J.P.O. postmark.

The town of Mukden is a transit point for Chinese and Korean mails, and we were shown a range of relevant cancels. It was noted that mail services were suspended at times during WW1.

A Japanese postcard to England, with a strike in purple of an oval railway mark *I.J.P.O. MUKDEN CHANGCHUN* SOUTH MANCHURIA 8.9.13.

Jan's display included a scarce cover from Antung and stamps overprinted 'China' to prevent export to Japan where they would have been cheaper.

A scarce example of an envelope with a stamp cancelled by the I.J.P.O. postmark of Antung.

Mail from Manchuria to China was viewed by the Chinese as inland mail, but Japanese stamps were not recognised. Next came a range of cancels from Dairen, where there is a large harbour, and some registered covers. Dairen also had the only roller cancel in Manchuria.

Postcard with a stamp cancelled by the I.J.P.O. postmark of Dairen.

These were followed by examples of some Port Arthur cancels, which featured N and O for New and Old Town.

Postcard with a stamp cancelled by the I.J.P.O. postmark of Port Arthur O (for Old Town).

In 1934 Japan adopted the name Nippon, and so the postmarks then bore the initials I.N.P.O. (Imperial Nippon Post Office).

Detail showing the use of the Dairen I.N.P.O. cancellation on an envelope in 1934.

Chairman Mark Bailey thanked Alan and Jan for providing a fascinating and educational evening with much scarce material.

25th July 2017 - Annual General Meeting

The Annual General Meeting of the Wokingham & District Philatelic Society was attended by 24 members, just less than one-third of the total membership.

In his Chairman's report, Mark Bailey reflected on the meetings held by the Society during the 2016-2017 season. He remarked on the excellent attendance figures despite the weather conditions and the state of Wokingham's town centre during the extensive redevelopment activities. He thanked the numerous members who help make the meetings, auctions and competitions a success.

The Membership Secretary reported that although some people had died, the membership figure was essentially stable when compared with the previous year, as a number of new members had joined.

The Packet Secretary's report showed that 25 boxes of philatelic items had been circulated to members during the year, with a similar level of sales as the previous year.

The election of the Society's Officers for the 2017-2018 season resulted in no changes, with the same individuals continuing in their roles. The remainder of the Committee were also re-elected to continue to serve, with the exception of Philip Gribble who stood down from the Committee. In his place, Alastair Nixon was elected as a Committee member.

As the room hire charges are set to increase, it was decided at the AGM that the annual membership fee would be increased to cover the additional costs. The new rates are £12 for full Members and £6 for Vendor Members.

It was announced that the 40th Anniversary of the Society will be celebrated in June 2018 at the Sand Martins Golf Club, where the Society will treat its members to a celebratory dinner.

11th July 2017 - History of Writing and Illuminated Manuscripts - Wendy Buckle

Wendy Buckle treated the Society's members to two very interesting and informative displays.

Wendy began with the history of writing. She explained that the earliest true writing was cuneiform, which began in Mesopotamia in around 3100 BCE. Over 3,000 years, it evolved from stylised pictures to abstract signs which represented a sound.


This was at around the same time that the Egyptians had started using hieroglyphics. Only about 24 hieroglyphs represent single letter sounds, but the Egyptians never reduced their signs to an alphabet.


The Rosetta Stone was discovered in 1799, and on it the same text is repeated in three different scripts, Egyptian hieroglyphics, Egyptian demotic (used in business and commerce), and ancient Greek, only the last of which could still be read. Using the Greek text, however, deductions could be made concerning the two unknown scripts, demotic and hieroglyphics. Using this method, Thomas Young deciphered the hieratic script by 1814, but it wasn't until 1822 that the key to the decipherment of hieroglyphics was developed by Jean-François Champollion (1790-1832). Since the work of Champollion, about 3,000 different hieroglyphs have been deciphered and recognized. Only about 500 were used commonly in ancient Egypt, however, just as we don't use all 600,000 words available to us in the English language. Today, the Rosetta Stone is on public display in the British Museum, where it has been since 1802.

The Rosetta Stone.

Wendy went on to explain how even today, some cultures use symbols rather than alphabets. The Chinese use an ideographic system where each sign represents one word or concept, and it requires the knowledge of several thousand to read a book.

Chinese calligraphy.

The Japanese adopted Chinese characters from around 200 BC, later adding a number of supplementary symbols to indicate pronunciation and to transcribe native words. Today it is necessary to know around 2,000 Japanese characters for daily use.

A Chinese cover from 1981.

Wendy's display next turned to the Phoenicians, who were the first people to develop an alphabet, and traders took this knowledge all over the Mediterranean and beyond. A modified form of this was Aramaic, the script that would have been used by Jesus. Modern alphabets are derived from Phoenician and Aramaic.

There are two versions of Hebrew: Ancient Hebrew, found in archaeological remains, which evolved from Phoenician around the 9th century BC; and Modern Hebrew, which evolved from Aramaic (and was influenced by Ancient Hebrew), which dates from the 3rd century AD. Modern Arabic was derived from Aramaic through Nabataean (an Arabic kingdom in modern-day Jordan) from around 100 AD.

Arabic script, on a stamp showing details of an ancient prayer niche in the El Amri Mosque, Qus, Egypt.

Arabic calligraphy.

Greek is also based on Phoenician. It took the 22 Phoenician consonants, added three news signs, and adapted them to Greek sounds, turning them into consonants and vowels. Cyrillic was derived from Greek, originally with 43 letters, although most modern Cyrillic scripts have a simplified alphabet of around 30 letters. Modern western scripts today are based on the Roman (Latin) alphabet, which developed from Greek via Etruscan around the 6th century BC.

Greek and Etruscan scripts.

Russian cyrillic script.

Wendy concluded her display on the history of writing with alphabets that have been devised in more recent times. The Cherokee Indian silversmith Sequoyah (1770-1840) set out to invent a written script for his tribe. He took the Roman alphabet, added extra signs making a total of 85, and assigned syllabic values to each "letter". In 1821 he completed his independent creation of a Cherokee syllabary, making reading and writing in Cherokee possible. Louis Braille perfected his system for an alphabet for the blind in 1824. The author J.R.R. Tolkien invented a number of languages and scripts for his books on Middle Earth, including Elvish and Dwarvish Runes.

US stamp commemorating Sequoyah on a first day cover.

A French stamp showing text in Braille.

Norvic Philatelics first day cover for stamps celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien, with text in his Dwarvish Runes.

In the second half of the evening, Wendy presented a very colourful and eye-catching display of material regarding Illuminated Manuscripts. Covering the period of the fifth to fifteenth centuries, these miniature works of art produced on vellum, some of which were not much bigger than the stamps on which they have been reproduced, are the single biggest source of visual information on life in the Mediaeval period.

A selection of stamps featuring illuminated manuscripts.

Wendy explained that they were originally produced by highly trained monks working in the scriptoria of monasteries and abbeys, but by around 1200 an increasingly complex economic and political life, including the growth in the number of universities, created a need for a wider spread of literacy, and the Church monopoly on scholarship and learning began to decline. Professional scribes set up workshops in towns and formed themselves into guilds.

The Lindisfarne Gospels, one of the most magnificent illuminated manuscripts of the early Middle Ages, was written and decorated at the end of the 7th century by the monk Eadfrith, who became Bishop of Lindisfarne in 698 and died in 721.

Part of the Lindisfarne Gospels on a stamp issued by Ghana.

Wendy's display began with some of the famous scriptoria in England and the continent, and then looked at the different parts of an illumination: the miniature, the initial and the border. It went on to the types of books produced for the Western Church: gospels, psalters, missals, and the most popular religious book for the laity, the Book of Hours.

The Wharncliffe Book of Hours from 1475 on an Australian aerogramme.

Religious works from the Eastern, Byzantine, Church were also covered, followed by secular works including chronicles and books of poetry, one of which, the Codex Manesse, has been used by no less than seven different stamp issuing authorities.

The Codex Manesse on 1970 East Berlin stamps.

The invention of printing in Europe in the 1440s did not mean the immediate end of manuscript production, which continued to be in demand by collectors and patrons of the arts. Wendy finished her display with an original page of a printed work from around the 1520s, which showed all the arts of the illuminator adding hand-painted initials.

A printed page with illuminated initials.

Chairman Mark Bailey thanked Wendy for giving such educational, interesting, and well-presented displays.

27th June 2017 - The Number 5

Trevor Cornford opened proceedings with stamps from the 1938 Egyptian International Cotton Congress, with values all multiples of five. There were five crew on the Centaurus Flying Boat, illustrated with related cards. A block of six of the QEII 5/- from Rhodesia was impressive. The San Marino 1950 issue had a five in the year, as did the 1952 South African tercentenary of van Riebeeck, commemorated with a set of five stamps. Finally there was a photograph of the 5-man Scott South Pole party.

5, 15 and 20 Mills stamps commemorating the 1938 Egyptian International Cotton Congress.

Ron Stone showed stamps featuring James Monroe (1758-1831), who served from 1817 to 1825 as the fifth President of the United States.

Five stamps from the USA featuring James Monroe, the fifth US President.

Michael Curling displayed King George V postcards for Sutton's Seeds, Reading, including one of the Large Gold Medal winning exhibit at the 1912 Royal International Horticultural Exhibition.

Dennis Proctor showed sets issued by the UK consisting of five stamps from the 1980s to mid-1990s.

Eric Holmes had brought along a number of Gibraltar items, including a manuscript 5 in red on a letter to Cadiz, two 5/- GB used in Gibraltar (off cover), 1850-1880s Revenues in centimos and pesetas, the 5 peseta with varieties, including a block of four and a cover.

In the second part, David Gerken showed items relating to a Russian Zeppelin polar flight, five Australian self-adhesive bridge stamps, five UK bridges and a signed Tower Bridge cover, a miniature sheet proof with five images of Chinese stamps showing bridges, a first flight cover from the Channel Islands with five stamps, the British Guiana and Grenada King GV Silver Jubilee sets plus a cover for each, and finally five GB stamps with varieties.

Alastair Nixon displayed the five Olympic Rings in the context of the 1972 Munich Olympic Games in seven issues of promotional and charity stamps.

Charity stamps from Germany for the 1972 Munich Olympic Games.

Christine Earle presented a range of material from the fifth Australasian Philatelic Exhibition, which was held in 1932 in conjunction with the opening of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. She included a number of covers with 5d franking, a King GV lettercard with green cancel and a Registered cover with a green cancel. These were followed by "sticky labels" to be affixed to the reverse of covers, the highlight a strip of three of the "5 bob Bridge", a cover for the 50th anniversary of the bridge opening, and some replica covers.

Souvenir cover from the 5th Australasian Philatelic Exhibition.

The 5 shillings Sydney Harbour Bridge stamp issued by Australia in 1932.

Patrick Reid showed a range of tax marks from each of the Australian states, all of which featured at least one 5.

From Mark Bailey we saw the result of "Five Fun Filled Philatelic Days at Finlandia 2017", with material relating to the theme of each of the five days of the show; Agathon Fabergé: Finlandia 2017 overprints on the booklet pane from Finlandia 1988; Centenary of Finland's Independence: a 10 Euro stamp on a First Day Cover, and a First Day Cover of Åland's stamp marking Finland's centenary; The City of Tampere: Finnish stamps showing the city and its bridges; Moomins and Families (Moomins are BIG in Finland); the Postal Museum and Post Crossing. In addition Mark showed the Finlandia 2017 souvenir covers from Deutsche Post, Norway, and North Korea.

Finlandia 2017 overprinted souvenir booklet pane.

Stamp marking 100 years of Finland's Independence.

First Day Cover of Åland's stamp marking Finland's centenary.

First Day Cover of Moomin stamps issued 24 May 2017.

Souvenir envelope from Deutsche Post for the Finlandia 2017 exhibition.

Alwyn Lowe had brought along the Hungary 5-year plan stamps, a selection of 5/-, 5c and $5 stamps, Monaco 5f stamps, Europa stamps denominated 0.5 Euro, some Olympic Rings stamps and covers correctly used, 1976/84 Monaco Olympics issues and the only Monaco miniature sheet.

Chairman Mark Bailey thanked all who had brought material, which showed the diversity of collecting interests within the Society.

13th June 2017 - Competitions

For the Society's Annual Competition evening, entries were received for three classes. The results were as follows:

The Advanced Class had three entries, all considered by the judges to be of a high standard.
Winner Eric Holmes - Spanish Handstamps on Mail From Gibraltar 1750-1856.
2nd place Trevor Cornford - Captain Scott; stamps issued for the 1909-1913 Antarctic Expedition.
3rd place Derek Steele - Canadian First Flights 1932-1933.


Winner Eric Holmes - Gibraltar Forwarding Agents 1752-1856.
2nd place Alan Kane - Krag Machine Cancels of Northern Ireland.


Awarded to Eric Holmes - King Edward VII Postal Cards & Letter Cards of Natal.

Christine Earle and Patrick Reid were the judges, and they provided constructive comments on the entries. Chairman Mark Bailey thanked them for judging the entries, and for their comments on the exhibits. He also congratulated Eric Holmes on winning in all three classes and presented the cups and certificates

9th May 2017 - Kenya since Independence & Named Tree Species on Stamps - Colin Tobitt FRPSL

After some trials and tribulations in finding us, we were entertained by Colin Tobitt. The first half of his display covered "Named Tree Species on Stamps".

Colin introduced his subject by explaining that he is not a Thematic Collector, he just collects named species on stamps. He explained some of the benefits of trees, such as that they are eco-friendly as they absorb Carbon Dioxide, they provide a useful material for household items, they can be a source of fuel, and many trees have medicinal properties (or their fruits, bark or resin do). However, that only told us part of the story. With many of the Species that Colin showed, there was a piece of the wood itself to accompany the stamps, which greatly enhanced our understanding. It was evident from the way he spoke about it that Colin is used to working with wood, and with each of the trees shown, he explained a typical use of the wood. Here are some examples that featured in his display:

  • Alder/Ash - used for wagons and furniture
  • Beech - used for chairs
  • Elm - a versatile wood, used for bows, wagon wheel hubs and cheap chair seats
  • Eucalyptus - produces eucalyptus oil
  • Hawthorn - used for tool handles
  • Holly - used for veneers
  • Hornbeam - similar to beech
  • Iroko - used for panels and veneers
  • Lignum Vitae - used for lawn bowls
  • Laburnum - used for Oyster Veneers
  • Mahogany - the best was from Cuba and British Honduras (Belize) but nearly all has now been felled.
  • Oak - much used for furniture; also comes as American and Japanese varieties
  • Holm Oak - which is evergreen
  • Cork Oak - supplies cork
  • Sapele - used for veneers and door finishes
  • Sycamore - used for kitchen utensils
  • Teak - much prized for outdoor furniture

Oak tree on a British stamp. Flame tree on an Australian stamp. Rain Tree on a St. Lucia stamp.

Stamps from the USA featuring White Pine, Giant Sequoia, Gray Birch and White Oak.

The second section covered flowering trees, some of which are ornamental and some produce useful fruits and seeds.

  • Acacia (only from Africa and Australia) - produces seeds that are processed into cattle feed; the wood can be used for fence posts.
  • African Tulip (Magnolia)
  • Banksia - shown on 1960 Australian 2/5d stamp
  • Gingko - lives 150 to 200 years
  • Jacaranda - very attractive, but needs warmth
  • Maple - comes in many variants; produces Maple Syrup
  • Sausage Tree - can damage cars and people with its seed pods
  • Strawberry Tree - the fruit is insipid.

Acacia tree on a 1991 Australia stamp. Banksia depicted on a 1960 Australian 2/5d stamp. Sausage Tree (Kigelia) on a 1978 Somalia stamp.

The next section covered conifers and included the following:

  • Douglas Fir
  • Cedar
  • Scots Pine
  • Paraná pine - nuts were brought to England by George Vancouver in 1791
  • Yew
  • Juniper.

Yew tree on a stamp from Ireland. Cedar of Lebanon tree on a stamp from San Marino. Swedish Whitebeam on a stamp from Iceland.

Other trees shown included:

  • Baobab (upside-down tree) - which is actually a succulent
  • Blackthorn - produces sloes for sloe gin
  • Horse Chestnut - for conkers
  • Olive - produces olive oil from the fruit
  • Sweet Chestnut - edible nuts
  • Walnut - used in furniture as well as producing nuts.

Baobab on a stamp from Venda.

Olive tree on a stamp from Bermuda.

Horse Chestnut tree on a stamp from San Marino.

Walnut tree on a stamp from Andorra.

The members then had their opportunity to view the stamps and handle the wood samples that had been brought along.

Stamps from Ecuador featuring Jacaranda, Cascarilla, Ceibo and Algarrobo trees.

After the refreshment break, the second part of the evening covered the issues of Kenya since its independence in 1963. Colin commented that most stamps are associated with the country, rather than issues for unrelated external events. He noted that Kenya was fond of issuing Miniature Sheets with a high value stamp in the centre.

Kenyan stamps depicting indigenous trees.

We saw a complete run up to 1991. A few selected issues noted in and after 1980 were for London 1980, the Flying Doctor Service (1980), the 1982 World Cup, the 1984 Olympics and Rare Birds, 1985 Endangered Species, 1988 Game Lodges, the 1988 Olympic Games, and the 1991 Olympic Games issue (for 1992).

Miniature sheet of 4 stamps relating to the Flying Doctor Service in Kenya.

Kenyan stamps depicting endangered animals.

Mark Bailey gave the vote of thanks, complimenting Colin on his interesting and varied material.

11th April 2017 - Revenues of Great Britain - Denis Noe

Denis Noe, a member of the Revenue Society, brought a wide-ranging selection of revenues of Great Britain. His display began in the 17th Century, with 1662 documents relating to Chimney Tax, which was replaced in 1689 by the Window Tax. Following the example of the Netherlands, from 1694 taxes were levied on legal documents that had to be prepared on special paper that was purchased from the Stamp Office. There was a constant battle against fraud, and various innovations were used. From 1838, the paper was surface coated on one side. Vellum was disallowed, because impressed images disappeared. The use of coloured paper was tried, but this was peeled off and moved to other documents. Punched affixing and stapling were both used, and eventually a cypher label on the back of the Revenue Stamp was added.

A revenue stamp and cypher label.

Denis showed us a range of cypher labels from the reigns of William, Queen Anne, George I, George II, and George III. As printing developed, in the reign of Queen Victoria a printing plate for Cypher Paper was prepared by Perkins Bacon, being delivered in 1865. The contract was taken over by De La Rue in 1886.

A Queen Victoria cypher label.

We were shown a Queen Anne document mark that is probably unrecorded. The same document was used to illustrate that all increases in the tax amount are recorded on the document.

Half Penny Stamp Act stamp.

When America was still part of the Colonies, parchment was sent to America for use in legal documents, and the "America" set of dies was also sent out. After American independence, the word "America" was ground off and the dies were re-used. A register was kept of all dies used. This is now in the British Library. All stamped paper was sent out from London and used or controlled by nominated representatives.

Five Shillings embossed revenue. Ten Shillings embossed revenue. One Pound embossed revenue.

We were shown an illustration of the "fly press" that was used for stamping documents. A mechanical replacement was not introduced until 1870. In 1890 Peacock Brothers were contracted to build a quantity of the replacement machines for Somerset House. In the 1920s the increasing use of cheques led to the invention of a press that could emboss nine cheques simultaneously.

Denis displayed a wide range of embossed adhesives in both red and blue. In total over 100,000 dies were issued, so Denis only showed us a representative selection. An example of a transfer document bearing £39875.50 in duty stamps was shown.

To close the first section we were shown a range of early documents, including one on calf from 1689 and a "Stage Carriage" licence.

Newspaper Tax stamps.

The second part of Denis' display began with Newspaper Tax stamps, including an example on "The Scotsman".

Newspaper Tax stamp on 'The Scotsman'.

These were followed by proofs of key types that could be overprinted for different usages. In 1907 De La Rue lost the contract, and the production of Duty Stamps was taken over by the Royal Mint. The printing was arranged so that a change of monarch could be accommodated by changing the head die for the stamp.

An 1871 half penny Match Tax stamp.

There followed a selection of duty stamps used for specific purposes. These included Admiralty Court, Annuities, Bankruptcy Court, Chancery Court, Coffee Duty, Common Law Courts, Company Registration, Contract Notes, Customs Baggage labels, Consular Service, Entertainment Duty, Estate Duty, Excise Revenue on Theatre Tickets, Foreign Bills, Health and Pensions Insurance, Income Tax, Inland Revenue (including embossed stamps), Judicature, Life Assurance, Match Tax, Medicine Duty, National Savings, Patent Office, Prescription Charges, Tea Clearing House, Tobacco Duty, TV and Radio Licences, Transfer Duty, Unemployment Insurance, Court Fees, Probate, and Spirits Tax (most of which is now incorporated in the Product Label).

3d Medicine Stamp Duty.

These were followed by a range of documents, including ones relating to Patent Law Amendment, and the Indian Railway Company, and an example of duty payment on Playing Cards.

3d Playing Card duty.

Mark Bailey thanked Denis for his extensive display, which showed many items that members would never have seen before.

28th March 2017 - An Evening in Brazil - Janet & Nick Nelson

The Society was entertained by Nick and Janet Nelson, who gave us "An Evening in Brazil", complete with suitable outfits and a picture show. They explained that their collection had begun with a packet of 1000 different Brazil stamps, but it had now stretched to a 17-volume collection comprising over 3000 stamps.

Their slideshow featured about 10% of the total, and concentrated on definitive issues. Part 1 spanned from 1843 to 1983, and Part 2 covered the period from 1983 to 2016.

Brazil has a population of around 200 million and it enjoys a benign climate. The first stamp issue, in 1843 was of three values to 90 reis, colloquially known as the 'Bullseyes'. They were used for sealing envelopes and hence are often damaged. These were followed by the 'snakeseyes', with higher values up to 900 reis. Both these issues were in black.

Brazil's first stamps - the 1843 'Bullseyes'.

Some of Brazil's 'snakeseyes' stamps.

Following a further issue in 1850, the first coloured stamps were issued in 1854, although there was a reversion to black for the 1857 issue. This issue was perforated in the Post Offices, but later issues were perforated by the printers. The early issues had been printed in Brazil, but in 1856 the American Banknote Company produced the first Dom Pedro II issue, commonly known as "Blackbeard". In 1877 these were superseded by the "Whitebeard" issue, which is complex, but can be loosely classified into large, small and tiny head issues.

Brazilian Empire stamps depicting Dom Pedro II from 1866 to 1876.

Colour was used to distinguish different types of stamp, with Newspaper stamps in yellow, and Postage Dues in red. After the 1890-1891 Revolution, Brazil became a Republic. This was marked in 1891 by the "Head of Liberty" (Tintureiro) issue, which has many varieties. It was noted that Brazilian stamps show perforations ranging from 5 to 48!

Brazil's Tintureiro 100 Reis stamp showing colour varieties.

In 1906 the American Bank Note Company produced a series of stamps showing Presidents, followed in 1913 by the Marechal Hermes da Fonseca issue with values to 1 Million Reis.

In 1918 came the Allegories issue, featuring Education and similar activities. This was followed in 1920 by the Commerce and Industry issue that continued through to 1941, with many different papers, perforations and watermarks.

Contemporaneously, in the 1930s came the Ruy Barbosa issue. We were shown an imperforate block of four, followed by a stamp issued to commemorate Alberto Santos-Dumont (1873-1932), a Brazilian aviation pioneer and one of the very few people to have contributed significantly to the development of both lighter-than-air and heavier-than-air aircraft. He worked on non-rigid airships, but by 1905 he had finished his first fixed-wing aircraft design, and also a helicopter. Santos-Dumont finally succeeded in flying a heavier-than-air aircraft on 23 October 1906. This was the first flight of a powered heavier-than-air machine in Europe to be certified by the Aéro-Club de France. Although by this time the Wright Brothers had already flown their Wright Flyer III for over half an hour, their flight was not recognized by the Federation Aeronautique Internationale. On 12 November 1906 Santos-Dumont set the first world record recognized by the Federation Aeronautique Internationale, by flying 220 metres (722 feet) in 21.5 seconds.

Stamp depicting Alberto Santos-Dumont flying his biplane on 12 November 1906.

In 1930 there was a revolution in São Paulo, where they briefly produced their own stamps. In the mid-1930s Brazil issued a set featuring the statue of Christ the Redeemer that overlooks Rio de Janeiro. This was followed by a set showing the Iguassu Waterfalls, printed by Waterlow & Sons in London.

Brazilian 5000 Reis stamp showing the Iguassu Waterfalls.

In 1938, for BRAPEX, they issued an early commemorative for the Penny Black Centenary, and in 1940, stamps for the New York World Fair. In 1946-50 Brazil issued Commerce and Industry stamps again, first denominated in Reis, then in Cruzeiros.

Stamp issued in 1943 marking the Centenray of Brazilian stamps.

1943 saw the commemoration of the Centenary of the 'Bullseye' issue, and further issues commemorating Dom Pedro II and President Vargas.

Turning to Tax Stamps, we saw a series of Leprosy Tax stamps, covering the 1940s to the 1980s.

The new capital, Brasilia was opened in 1960 and suitably marked by a stamp issue.

Brazilian stamps issued to mark the opening of Brasilia in 1960.

Further commemoratives followed, from 1965 for the 400th anniversary of the foundation of Brazil and from 1968 for the Royal visit.

To finish the first part, we saw the 1980 issue featuring fruits and a photograph of Julio, who supplies stamps to Nick and Janet.

Brazilian definitive stamps depicting fruits from the 1980s.

Resuming slightly behind the planned year, we saw the 1972 issue for the 50th Anniversary of the Arts week. The 1980 Definitive set was printed on non-phosphor and phosphor papers.

In this period, there were regular currency changes as a result of inflation. The 1986 Buildings issue was denominated in cruzados, but the 1990 Flowers were in cruzeiros. 1993 saw the 150th Anniversary of the 'Bullseye' and in the same year 'Frama' labels were issued.

Miniature sheet marking the 150th Anniversary of Brazil's first stamps - the 1843 'Bullseyes'.

Some of Brazil's Frama labels.

In 1997, the currency reverted to Reis, and in 1998 the 'peel and stick' stamps were microperforated 48.

1999 saw the issue of 'scratch and sniff' stamps to raise awareness about the prevention and danger of forest fires, a series of four stamps on recycled paper that had been impregnated with the smell of burnt wood.

Brazilian 'scratch and sniff' stamps to raise awareness about the prevention and danger of forest fires.

In 2001, a coffee scented stamp was issued. Its scent was made with real coffee mixed with the varnish that was applied to the stamp. From 2001 there were also stamps showing Musical Instruments and from 2003 Personalised stamps were available. The 2007 issue featured occupations and 2008 saw a joint issue with France.

The 59th Anniversary of Brasilia was celebrated in 2010 with a miniature sheet. An experiment was tried in 2011 by allowing people on benefits who had a "Carta Social" to buy cheap stamps. The experiment failed as it seems that most people had access to the stamps.

We were shown the 2010 Christmas issue and a remarkable block of 8 stamps issued by Brazil in 2011 to promote education about AIDS.

Brazilian stamps to promote education about AIDS.

The 2012 Olympics and Paralympics miniature sheets were delayed until 2015 because Brazil had not paid the licence fee to use the Olympic Rings logo! In 2016 the sheet was re-issued in 3D with special glasses. Finally for 2016 we saw the World Cup Miniature sheet and a selection of Post and Go stamps.

Special issue of Brazilian 3D stamps.

The next section covered Private Airline Stamps. Only three airlines were authorised to issue such stamps, namely Condor, Varig and ETA.

Early airmail items included a Dornier DOX card, a catapult mail cover and an ETA First Flight, with the only ETA stamps that Nick and Janet have ever seen on cover.

We were shown the 1927 and 1934 Varig stamps, with denominations for the US and for Europe. Shortages were remedied by overprinting existing stock. After the outbreak of WWII, long distance flights were provided by the Italian company LATI until Italy entered the war.

A selection of Varig stamps.

Two final sections showed cancellations from British Post Offices in Brazil followed by a small selection of Brazil Postal Stationery (from a five-volume collection).

Mark Bailey gave the vote of thanks for a splendid evening that covered a huge area in satisfying detail.

28th February 2017 - Visit of the Reading & District Philatelic Society

Wokingham & District Philatelic Society was pleased to invite members from the Reading & District Philatelic Society, and two of Reading's members brought along widely different material to entertain us.

In the first half of the evening, Colin Lee showed a selection of Sudan Postal History and a carved statuette of a Camel Postman. Colin explained that, until its recent partition, Sudan was the largest country in Africa, and the provision of postal services posed challenges of terrain and distance.

Colin began with an 1849 entire sent via an agent in Cairo, followed by a Samuel Baker letter to Khartoum. This was from Sir Samuel White Baker, KCB, FRS, FRGS (1821-1893) who was a British explorer, officer, naturalist, big game hunter, engineer, writer and abolitionist. He also held the titles of Pasha and Major-General in the Ottoman Empire and Egypt. He served as the Governor-General of the Equatorial Nile Basin (today's South Sudan and Northern Uganda) between April 1869 and August 1873. At this time there was much military activity, and Colin showed letters from the 1897-1898 Nile Expedition, followed by a letter from Edward A. Stanton (who was ordered by Lord Kitchener to design a stamp for Sudan, and came up with the long-lived Camel Postman design) to his father. Colin also displayed an interesting card featuring the artwork for the Camel Postman stamp. It was a promotional card prepared by Roger Koerber, Exhibition Chairman for the Michigan Stamp Club of Detroit, on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the stamp club. This commemorated the first meeting in the "Arabian Room" at the Tuller Hotel, Detroit on 27-28 February 1954. The card bore a Sudan stamp, with a cancellation including MSC for Michigan Stamp Club and DET for Detroit.

Souvenir card from the Michigan Stamp Club showing the Sudan Camel Postman.

For the marcophilist, Colin had a range of town and village postmarks on cover, followed by some Soldiers' letters, some stating "No stamps available". Keeping with the marcophily theme, we saw a range of covers with dots in a diamond (there are 28 different patterns), an unusual Railway cancel, and some Port Sudan Paquebots. Finally in this section we saw covers to Denmark and USA and a range of TPO cancels which are relatively common as most mail went by rail. It was noted that a number of these covers had local (Berkshire) interest, which Colin had followed up to get background information.

Next came a range of 1930s Steamer mails, followed by a wide range of World War 2 mails, including Red Cross, Censorship, RAF cancels, and Military Telegraphs.

Colin completed his display with a whole sheet of the 1 millieme Camel Postman stamp.

In the second part of the evening, in complete contrast, Bob Paterson had brought "The Solar System", a part of his astronomy collection. He explained that the Ancient Greeks thought that the earth was at the centre of the Solar System. It was not until the 16th Century that Copernicus proposed that the sun was at the centre of the Solar System. This was heresy at the time, but he died three days after the publication of his book, so could not be prosecuted by the Church for his theory.

The sun on a 2012 GB Space Science stamp.

Bob displayed various stamps showing aspects of the sun, including sunspots, the corona, solar flares, followed by a number of sheets relating to eclipses. Bob noted that the USPS did not issue any stamps for the Total Eclipse visible from Hawaii in 1991. However he showed stamps issued for an Eclipse Cruise in 1973. The variation of the orbit of the moon means that sometimes the "total" Solar Eclipse does not cover the sun's disc completely.

A self-adhesive stamp from the USA featuring the Moon.

Turning to other phenomena, Bob showed stamps depicting Aurora Borealis and Aurora Australis, and a stamp showing "Earthshine". He then worked his way through the planets, moving outwards from the sun.

Stamps from the USA showing the Aurora Borealis and Aurora Australis.

Bob explained that Mercury is small and difficult to observe, whereas Venus is currently bright in the sky, but has a very hostile environment. Bob showed a stamp illustrating the transit of Venus, and told the story of the French astronomer Guillaume Joseph Hyacinthe Jean-Baptiste Le Gentil de la Galaisière (1725-1792), who travelled to India for the 1761 transit, was unable to observe it because of the weather, stayed until the next transit in 1769 and suffered the same fate. The misfortune drove him to the brink of insanity, but he recovered enough strength to return to France. The return trip was first delayed by dysentery, and further when his ship was caught in a storm and dropped him off at Réunion, where he had to wait until a Spanish ship took him home. He finally arrived in Paris in October 1771, having been away for eleven years, only to find that he had been declared legally dead and been replaced in the Royal Academy of Sciences. His wife had remarried, and all his relatives had enthusiastically plundered his estate. Lengthy litigation and the intervention of the King were ultimately required before things were normalized. He got back his seat in the academy, remarried, and lived apparently happily for another 21 years.

Venus on a 2012 GB Space Science stamp.

Bob moved on to stamps featuring the Earth, which has been nicknamed "The Goldilocks Planet" as it is in just the right place. Then the display moved onto the subect of Mars, which is known as the Red Planet and is also a hostile environment. It has two moons and is currently being explored by two US probes.

Asteroid on a 2012 GB Space Science stamp.

Next was the Asteroid Belt, which features a few mini-planets shown on stamps. Then came Jupiter, a huge planet that has four moons, followed by Saturn, which is encircled by rings and has many tiny moons (65 at the last count).

Miniature sheet issued by Royal Mail to mark the Total Eclipse on 11 August 1999, featuring Saturn on four 64p stamps.

Uranus was discovered by William Herschel and the discovery is commemorated on stamps. Neptune was discovered from observation of the variations in the orbit of Uranus. Pluto is now considered a dwarf planet. Other items shown on stamps include meteors and comets. Bob alluded to the meteor impact in Tunguska, Siberia in 1908.

Australian stamps featuring the planets of the Solar System.

Mark Bailey thanked our visitors for coming to display and presented them with certificates of appreciation to close the evening.

14th February 2017 - Quiz Night

Patrick Reid had set the questions, and Roger Sammons stood in for Patrick to present a quiz for the 3 competing teams, covering history, geography, general knowledge and philatelic matters.

By the half-way point, the team led by Mark had a good lead over their nearest rivals who were led by Alwyn. Despite valiant efforts during the second half by the others, they were not overtaken, and thus Mark, Eric, Chris, Alastair and Rodney were the deserving winners. A good evening's entertainment was enjoyed by all, though many of the questions really challenged the knowledge and memory of the members, and Chairman Mark Bailey thanked Roger and presented prizes to the members of the winning team.

24th January 2017 - Material obtained in 2016

Members were invited to bring along their new acquisitions from 2016, whether they were mounted or not.

Patrick Reid opened with a range of Australian Postage Due covers covering the period 1895 to 1958. All were written up, and they were either a new Earliest Recorded Date or newly discovered Postage Due handstamps.

Derek Steele showed Canadian Airmails from the late 1920s. With a couple of exceptions, all carried Western Canada Airways stamps and were pilot-signed. They included a crash mail item. The two exceptions were a Registered cover from the USA, picked up in Canada, and a cover brought over by liner that was flown on in Canada.

David Walker displayed mail related to Admiral Byrd, the American explorer of Antarctica. Byrd renamed his plane from Josephine Byrd (his wife) to Lloyd Bennett in tribute to a colleague who died. David also showed some related ephemera, including cards of a Fokker that was rebuilt in Antarctica and a photograph of Germans at the South Pole. In additon, he showed a letter from a Dr Hussey who claimed to have buried Shackleton in 1922.

Eric Holmes showed Gibraltar-related Spanish mail. The earliest item dated from 1735. Other covers showed some interesting destinations, including the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies, India and New York. He also included a heavy letter, rated 31½ cuartos, and an unmarked Forwarding Agent letter. He concluded with a report on the progress of his 1d Black plates collection.

Alastair Nixon gave a fascinating talk on the studies he is making of developments in the Horizon Labels. He has collected these from kiloware and is now producing a catalogue. He showed examples of the labels, including the Welsh versions, and explained the evolution of the labels and the codes used on them. He noted that a barcode was added in September 2015 and that labels for the special delivery by 0900 (expensive) service are scarce. He also explained that the new labels for Large Letters etc. are Post and Go, not Horizon.

Trevor Cornford brought along a potpourri of material that included Ceylon Revenues, including use on document, a Victoria Falls Leopard card with a rail map on the reverse, some thematic material, a UN Air Letter, cards showing women who sorted coal for a living, a Falkland improvised Registration handstamp, a Registered Ascension cover from 'Two Boats', two Shackleton cards, a programme for Captain Oates' Memorial Service, some Scott memorabilia and finally a Dennistoun letter from the Terra Nova.

After the refreshment break, Chris Wootton showed a wide range of stamps on Hagner sheets. The stamps were from numerous countries, including the UK, Australia, Austria, French Polynesia, Germany, the DDR, Thailand, Greenland, Iceland, Japan, Kuwait, Portugal, Serbia, Switzerland, and the USA.

Brian Pugsley reported his experiences at the Graham Cooper KGVI sale, where some realisations were huge. He had managed to purchase the Virgin Islands' collection and a Fiji 2½d proof.

During 2016 Ivan Dickason had added to his ½d collection with material from Cayman Islands, Great Britain, New Zealand, Pitcairn Island, and Trinidad and Tobago. He also showed a Natal ½d overprint from 1895, 1935 Silver Jubilee booklet panes and the New Zealand ½d triangular in a part sheet. He ended with 1971 ½p perforation varieties and two related books from 1949 and 1955.

Natal 6d stamp overprinted as a Half Penny postage stamp, 1895.

Alan Kane showed Northern Ireland material including Florence Court postmarks, a 'Foreign Insured Mail' letter to Eire, Belfast and Northern Counties TPO cancel, slogan cancellations (some with new earliest and latest recorded dates), a Concorde cover from Belfast to Heathrow, special Heathrow cachets, a London to Belfast shuttle cover and a picture of Concorde over Belfast Harbour.

Alwyn Lowe began with the 2016 issues from Sweden, most of which are related to food. He followed with a Taff Vale Railway perfin on cover. Next came various centenaries, including the death of Bram Stoker, the sinking of the Lusitania, and the Easter Rising. These were followed by additions to his 1d collection, including a KEVII Plate Proof pair, a watermark inverted block of four, a Registered cutout, a 1d Fiscal receipt, an ARMY OFFICIAL overprint used, and two Morocco Agencies overprints. He ended with a San Marino Year book.

Swedish stamps issued on 17 March 2016.

The final person to display items was Michael Curling with his usual wide range of material. He began with a sermon on the Duke of Wellington, and continued the military theme with an OHMS cover from the Royal Military College, Bagshot. Staying in the same geography, he showed a Camberley Parcel Label and a taxed postcard from Camberley to Petersfield. Next came two London to Cape Town covers, a cover abusing the FREE privilege, a Wokingham Registered cover, and some 17th century tokens from Reading and Oxfordshire. Two taxed "Inadmissible at ...." covers were unusual and are rarely seen. A Catalogue of Steam Engines was fascinating, but non-philatelic! He also had a Windsor squared circle, a Hotel Cecil cancel on a Trieste cover, a Kew Gardens Registered cover, an Indian Indenture with a 5R Fiscal, followed by an Indian Airmail, a postcard from Ceylon to Tasmania, some Ambarrow Hill Dairy Farm postcards and finally the Indian Government Telegraph Department Seniority Retirement list.

Chairman Mark Bailey thanked all the members for bringing along and presenting such an interesting and varied selection of items.

10th January 2017 - Chairman's Evening - Mark Bailey FRPSL

It was the turn of our Chairman, Mark Bailey, to entertain us. He treated the members to a comprehensive, well-researched and well-presented display relating to the Airways Letter Service operated by British European Airways and Cambrian Airways, and then by British Airways.

Mark explained that the Post Office Acts governing the monopoly in Great Britain prohibited private companies from carrying mail, but when they were drawn up, an exception to the Acts allowed railways to carry letters up to 2 ounces to "expedite delivery", and to charge an additional 3d for the service. Thus it was that many railways developed railway letter services under this exception.

In 1933 the Great Western Railway (G.W.R.) began a passenger air service and used its aircraft to carry some railway letters. Since the Acts did not specify how a railway company carries the mail, the Post Office eventually agreed that this new railway air service was legal. The G.W.R. was succeeded by the Great Western & Southern Air Lines and they in turn were replaced by British European Airways (B.E.A.). This continuity allowed these specific airlines to carry mail within the limits of the Post Office Acts. The Airway Letter Service of B.E.A and, later, British Airways, was the longest running private airmail service in Great Britain.

British European Airways Corporation was Britain's third state airline, and on 1 August 1946 it took on the European and domestic operations of British Overseas Airways Corporation (B.O.A.C.). On 1 February 1947 B.E.A. took over 9 pre-war domestic independent airlines, and as a result it flew routes throughout the British Isles. Thus from February 1947, B.E.A. began to operate an Airways Letter Service between the various airports that it served in the British Isles.

Initially, the mail carried by the service received strikes of a circular Air Letter Service cachet. From 2 June 1947, B.E.A. introduced a rectangular cachet with a space for the fee to be added in manuscript.

An example of a circular B.E.A. Airway Letter Service cachet.

These were followed by each of the 13 issues of labels from B.E.A. covering the period 16 January 1951 to 1 July 1972. Mark explained that the labels were initially printed by Harrison and Sons Ltd. in sheets of 24 (6 rows of 4), and they included a space in which the name of the destination airport could be written.

The first issue of the B.E.A. Airway Letter Service labels.

The 3 labels from the first issue permanently surcharged, to form the third issue, 14 May 1951.

As the tariff for the carriage of mail by the railway companies was increased, so the airline also increased its tariff. Thus it was that the rate for carrying a letter of up to 2 oz gradually increased from 6d in 1951 to 1 shilling, before increasing in May 1970 to 3 shillings 7d, which on 15 February 1971 became 18p, and on 1 July 1972, increased to 50p. The price for carrying the letter aboard a flight was in addition to the domestic postal rate for the item.

The 3 labels from the fourth issue of labels for the B.E.A. Airway Letter Service, 25 November 1953.

A first day cover for the 8d value of the fourth issue flown from Belfast to London and posted in London.

A first day cover for the 9d value of the fifth issue flown from Guernsey to the Waterloo Air Station and posted in London, on 1 September 1954.

The 2 higher denomination labels from the fifth issue for the B.E.A. Airway Letter Service.

Mark's display consisted not only of mint examples of all the 35 different labels, but a selection of first day and commemorative covers, as well as some less easy to find items of commercial mail that had been carried by B.E.A. to expedite delivery. The covers shown had been flown between numerous parts of the British Isles, including airports in Scotland, the Isles of Scilly, Northern Ireland, and the Channel Islands. The Herm Island local carriage labels that covered the cost of getting letters from Herm into the B.E.A. Airway Letter Service in Guernsey were included, and there were also some specimen overprints, a presentation pack, proof plates from Bradbury, Wilkinson & Co. Ltd. who printed the later issues, and complete sheets of several of the labels.

The 3 labels from the seventh issue of labels for the B.E.A. Airway Letter Service, 1 July 1957, which had the same design as the sixth issue of 27 June 1956.

A special issue of an 11d Airway Letter Service label for the 50th anniversary of the first aerial post, 9 September 1961.

A cover flown on the first day of the increase in tariff from London to Jersey, 4-5 October 1961.

The 3 labels issued in 1964.

The 11th issue, 1 May 1970.

Following decimalisation, the 12th issue, 15 February 1971.

In addition, Mark included relevant postcards showing the aircraft that carried the letters and ephemera from the B.E.A. services such as brochures, tickets, labels and even an inflight bulletin that had been circulated to passengers during a flight to explain progress and weather conditions enroute.

The final B.E.A. label, 1 July 1972.

The display also covered the Airway Letter Service provided by Cambrian Airways between December 1964 and May 1970, whose labels closely resembled those of B.E.A.

In the latter part of Mark's display, he showed that when B.E.A. and B.O.A.C. merged to form British Airways (B.A.) on 1 April 1974, B.A. began to issue labels for the Airways Letter Service. The material included examples of all the 6 labels that British Airways issued between 1974 and 1983.

Some of the British Airways Airway Letter Service labels.

The cost of having a letter flown by the B.A. Airway Letter Service increased with each new issue, from 55p inc. VAT, through £1 plus VAT, £1.50 plus VAT, £2.20 plus VAT, £2.80 plus VAT, to £3 plus VAT. Mark finished his display with a complete sheet of the £3 plus VAT stamps and explained that British Airways discontinued the service on 2 May 1988 when it became uneconomical.

Deputy Chairman Alwyn Lowe thanked Mark for bringing along such well-researched and well-presented material that shone a light on this British domestic airmail service, of which many members were unaware.

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Last Updated: 17 January 2018
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