News Archive: 2021

14th December 2021 - Seasonal Displays and Christmas Social

A select group of 10 members gathered for the Christmas meeting. Apologies were received from Alwyn Lowe, who had done much organising "behind the scenes". Three members gave displays:
Mark Bailey showed a range of material featuring the Magi, i.e. the Three Wise Men. His display included stamps and other postal materials all featuring the Magi. He began with the current GB £1.70 Christmas stamp and followed with a range of material from former Dominions and Colonies. Foreign countries included Senegal, Jordan, Serbia, Poland, and Hungary. Mark showed stamps from Canada and a number of island nations, including Guernsey and Alderney, the Cayman Islands, the Bahamas, the Cook Islands, and New Zealand. The display featured a range of Christmas stamps issued by Australia since 1959, all depicting the Magi in various ways. This included the 1971 Australia issue, for which the 7 different 7c stamps in a half pane of 25 had a cross pattern in the centre. Mark finished his display with GB Christmas stamps and PHQ cards, aerogrammes from 1969 with matching stamps, and a range of further Christmas aerogrammes.

Half pane of 25 Australia 1971 Christmas stamps.

Trevor Cornford brought a display with the Christmas flavour coming from Antarctica. He was delighted to announce that he has been chosen to go on the Shackleton 100th Anniversary Voyage next year. He told the story of a chest belonging to Henry Robertson Bowers (1883-1912, a member of Scott's Expedition) who had left a chest of material to a Polar Society Member. That chest is now at the Polar Museum in the Scott Polar Research Institute. Trevor completed his display with an 1835 letter from Scotland to the East India Company.
Michael Curling showed a range of material of local interest that he has acquired over the last two years (as there was no Christmas meeting in 2020). These included a card featuring Wokingham Town Hall, cards of St Luke's Church, Reading and St Michael's Church, Sandhurst, an Art Deco Christmas card and another early 1900s card. These were followed by a card from Bolivia, a party invitation from Buxton, a Salvation Army card and finally a "For the Record" card with an accompanying magazine.
Chairman Patrick Reid thanked those who had displayed and wished everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy and Prosperous New Year. Then attention was turned to consuming the spread of Christmas goodies that had been brought along by members attending. There were some items left over, and these were distributed among those still there at the end, with the unopened items being donated to a charity food bank.

9th November 2021 - The Number "9"

Nine members gathered on 9th November to look at displays of stamps and postal history on the broad subject of the number 9.
Brian Pugsley displayed King George VI Commonwealth mint sets of stamps with the number 9 in their denominations. Thus, we saw 9d stamps from Northern Rhodesia, Southern Rhodesia, Gold Coast, Nyasaland, Jamaica, the Cayman Islands and the Falkland Islands, together with 9c stamps from Ceylon and the Seychelles, and a 9 piastres stamp from Cyprus.

9d stamps issued during the reign of King George VI.

Derek Steele showed us an 1812 entire from Glasgow to Campbelltown (a distance of 140 miles) posted for 9d (the rate at the time for between 120 and 170 miles), an 1828 entire from Lockerbie to Edinburgh with a manuscript 9½ paid marking (the rate at the time being 9d for the distance of between 80 and 120 miles plus the Scottish Additional Halfpenny Mail Tax), and a 1937 airmail letter from Waipukurau, New Zealand to New Zealand House, London, franked by two 9d stamps.
The display by Mark Bailey featured numerous British stamps denominated 9d or 9p, covering the period 1939 to 1979. He began with 20 British 9d stamps issued between May 1939 and April 1970, and finished his look at the pre-decimal stamps by displaying the 9d stamp as part of the set of 3 stamps issued on 18 September 1970 to publicise the Philympia 1970 exhibition. Next came 12 British 9p stamps issued between June 1971 and February 1976. These were followed by the 1977 Silver Jubilee 9p stamp, issued on 15th June 1977 when the postal rates changed.

1977 Silver Jubilee 9p stamp.

Mark's display continued with a look at the strip of five 9p stamps featuring British Wildlife, specifically Hedgehog, Hare, Red Squirrel, Otter, and Badger, issued in October 1977. Mark completed his display with 12 British 9p stamps issued between November 1977 and July 1979.

The 1977 British Wildlife stamps.

The title of the display by Trevor Cornford was All the Nines, Here, There and Everywhere. It was of Antarctica material and included items relating to Shackleton.
Michael Curling had brought along numerous old postcards showing Nine Mile Ride, in Finchampstead. These included the former open air sanatorium and the former Post Office. Michael also displayed a few registered envelopes with examples of usage of the Nine Mile Ride registration labels.

The Post Office in Nine Mile Ride, Finchampstead, in 1914.

A registration label from the former Post Office in Nine Mile Ride.

Michael's display continued with usage of the Queen Victoria 9d Jubilee stamp on a parcel post label, the King George V 9d agate stamp in multiple blocks, a 9d turquoise National Health Insurance stamp issued in 1920, a selection of Commonwealth fiscal stamps denominated 9d or 9s, and a 9d Queen Elizabeth II Wilding stamp used as a postage due label.

9d Queen Victoria Jubilee (1887) stamp, King George V 9d agate stamps, and a 9d National Health Insurance stamp (1920).

Roger Sammons showed sheetlets of 9 stamps from a number of places, including Austria (1000 years of Austria, issued in 1976), Yugoslavia (issues from 1969, 1970, 1971, 1985, and 1986), Guernsey (10p and 25p 1976 Europa stamps), Comoro Islands, and the Isle of Man (1976 and 1987 Europa issues).

Stamps issued in 1976 to mark 1000 years of Austria.

Roger completed his display with 2 sheetlets of 9 stamps from São Tomé e Príncipe, the stamps having been issued to commemorate Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827) overprinted for the marriage of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer in 1981. One sheetlet had the overprint in gold, the other in white.

1981 overprinted stamps to mark the marriage of Prince Charles and Lady Diana.

26th October 2021 - Civilians interned in France during WWII - Richard Berry FRPSL

Twelve members and two guests were entertained by one of the current Honorary Assistant Secretaries of the Royal Philatelic Society London, Richard Berry, with his display on the subject of civilians interned in France during WWII.

The display began and ended with a medal. It told the story of Sidney Coleman and his wife Florence. At the start of the First World War, Sidney was the secretary of the YMCA in Paris, and he was exempt from Military Service. Richard showed some examples of paperwork relating to Sidney being allowed to go around France in civvies during WW1! After the war he joined the Paris police, and the display included Sidney's police armband (the original)!

After the fall of France in 1940 all civilians in the occupied zone with British connections through birth, marriage, etc. were rounded up. Sidney was in the first tranche from the Paris area. and he was sent to the camp that held males initially at Fresnes and then at St Denis in the Paris suburbs. Richard showed a range of menus, photos and correspondence, including the discovery copy of Censor 9 handstamp used to censor the letters and postcards written in Polish.

Throughout the war Sidney maintained a correspondence with a French friend in a Stalag PoW camp and examples of this correspondence were shown. In late 1941 Florence was rounded up and sent to the family camp based in the hotel complex at the spa town of Vittel (famous for its mineral water) in north east France. Interniertenlager (Ilag or internment camp) Vittel belonged to the complex of German POW camps designated Frontstalag 194. It was commanded by Captain Otto Landhauser of the German army. Vittel differed significantly from other camps in terms of living conditions, however. It consisted of a variety of hotels and a large park, all surrounded by barbed wire and constantly patrolled by armed guards. The hotels, where the prisoners lived and did their own cooking, had heat and running water. Richard showed correspondence between the Colemans and also material relating to other camp inmates including ephemera. Florence and Sidney's daughters being under 16 were not interned; instead they had to reside with friends.

Censor 12 cachet from Front-Stalag 194.

Initially the Germans had intended to incarcerate women and families in Germany but they decided not to when the British threatened to move German Internees on the Isle of Man to remote Canada. The internees therefore were housed at filthy accommodation at Besançon in Eastern France before being moved to Vittel.

Richard showed a study of the relevant camp cachets, of which he had formed a good and well-explained collection. He explained that there is a reference book on the camps compiled by Roger Horton who lived in Belgium and was himself interned in Germany. Richard has broadened the scope of his display to include information about other camps for internees and which nationalities were resident in them. He showed details of camps for Spanish Republicans, Austrians and Americans. In total there were 250 Internment camps of varying sizes in France. Eventually British civilians in the unoccupied part of France were also rounded up.

The Italians had territorial ambitions to annex parts of Southern France and occupied Monaco and the surrounding area. British civilians from the area were sent to a camp at Sospel.

Internees in the camps were creative and we were shown a number of Christmas Cards, including one from Sidney to Florence. Florence was released in 1942 because of her age (60), but her movements were restricted and she could not, for example, own a radio or be out after dark! She continued to write to her husband until his camp was liberated by the Americans in 1944. Richard showed some examples of poetry written by Florence whilst in Vittel which told of some of the conditions they were incarcerated under during the harsh snowy winter of 1941.

Richard displayed a number of Red Cross items that came from Vittel and explained the role of the Red Cross there looking after the interests of internees. Richard also showed reports of Red Cross visits (to Vittel and St Denis) as reported in contemporary prisoner of war newspapers. There were over 500 nuns interned in Vittel who had been removed from various convents and they were often used to provide nursing services to the sick in the camp.

This was followed by a range of letters, postcards and Air Letters from Sidney, and other ephemera, including entertainment programmes, sporting news, and Christmas Cards from the camp. Sidney was a regular contributor to the camp newsletter. Of note was Sidney's prison identification card, his prison armband, his photo in a POW magazine and his room key fob. Next came a further range of letters to Sidney from his relations in the UK, some of which bore previously unrecorded cachets and some of which had been subject to a chemical wash to check for hidden messages.

After liberation Sidney worked for the US Army as a translator and investigator for five years. He was also involved in investigations of the notorious German atrocity at Oradour sur Glane and the Buchenwald and Neuengamme camps. Florence Coleman died in 1947.

The talk had started with Sidney's school attendance medal awarded in Stratford, London and ended with the Political Internee medal he was awarded by the French state.

The French medal for Political Internees.

12th October 2021 - Impromptu Chairman's Display

The meeting was scheduled to be "A Jubilee Reminiscence" presented by John Davies, who had recently been awarded "Best in Show" at Autumn Stampex 2021 and received the Silver Mailcoach. Sadly, John had tested positive for Covid and was unable to visit Wokingham. Instead, Patrick Reid gave an "Impromptu Chairman's Display".

Patrick explained that he had decided to mix up some of his own material with some from his late partner, Christine Earle, as that would avoid there being too much Australian material in the display. The first section was, however, a short display of Queensland Postage Due markings, the highlights being an 1892 cover to Nova Scotia that was underpaid and a previously unrecorded tax mark on a cover to Belgium.

The second section, from Christine's collection, was a one-frame exhibit on the Battle of Hastings. Incidentally, the 955th Anniversary of the Battle was two days after the meeting. It was presented in the style of a Newspaper "The Hastings Chronicle" with a range of sections like a local paper.

The Great Britain 1966 Battle of Hastings stamps, featuring Battle scenes on the Bayeaux Tapestry.

The third section covered the items issued in the build up to the Sydney Olympic Games that was held in 2000. Again this was from Christine's collection. It began with two booklets issued by Monaco when Sydney was awarded the games and covered the various items issued by Australia Post: Postal envelopes, Slogan Cancels, Aerogrammes; the handover from Atlanta of the Olympic flag and reminders of past Olympic successes through to the Olympic Opening Ceremony and special stamps issued for Australian Gold Medal winners.

Australia 45c from the Sydney Olympics 2000.

The final section of the first part was similar to the first but covering the Tax Markings of South Australia including the discovery copy of a 13⅓ centime "home-made" tax marking.

After a break for viewing, the second part began with an extensive display of the 1940 Centenary of the Postage Stamp issue of Great Britain. Again this was one of Christine's collections. It covered the stamps and their use on cover, with a number of interesting single and multiple frankings, illustrating the rates paid by each value.

First Day Cover for the GB 1940 Centenary of the Postage Stamp issue.

The final section was a one-frame exhibit that had recently been exhibited (virtually) in South Africa where it was awarded a Large Vermeil medal. It showed the short-lived tax markings of Victoria, Australia between 1947 and 1954. Many of the items were the only recorded examples and it had taken 12 years to accumulate enough material for one frame.

Mark Bailey thanked Patrick for stepping in at short notice to provide such an interesting and varied display.

21st September 2021 - Members Meeting, with the main theme of Transport

A select group of eight members and one guest gathered for our first regular meeting of the new season, for which the general topic was transport.

First to display was Michael Curling who showed a selection of Air Mail to and from India, starting in 1929 and running into the reign of George VI. He included an interesting cover franked 4/6d that had been taxed 96 centimes, denoting an underpayment of 6d.

Next came Ron Jones who showed United Nations stamps featuring air, land, and sea transport. He also showed a range of stamps featuring Metro (i.e. underground rail) systems, quite a number of which were issued by countries that have no Metro system.

A selection of stamps featuring Metro systems.

Mark Bailey followed with a display split into Air, Land and Sea. The Air section was represented by Concorde, with a range of covers including the First Flight from London to New York and a passenger certificate for his own supersonic experience flight and a card signed by the flight crew. Land was represented by the Liverpool and Manchester Railway, including some customised covers made by sticking cards onto Isle of Man envelopes and some North Western Postal Board cards showing various routes. Finally, sea was represented by the Queen Elizabeth II, including voyages for the Falklands War and a cover signed by representatives of seven of the families that make up the population of Tristan da Cunha.

Se-tenant strip of 5 stamps issued by GB in 1980 for the 150th Anniversary of the Liverpool and Manchester Railway.

To complete the display in the first part of the evening, Patrick Reid displayed Tasmanian Railway Newspaper stamps, including two scarce part wrappers, followed by examples of all the sets of Railway Parcel Stamps up to the final issue in 1956. Use on cover is difficult, but he showed the lid of a crate (used to hold bottles of oil) with 3 of the 1/6d stamps on it.

After a break for viewing, the second half was opened by Ron Jones who had brought an extensive selection of stamps featuring trams, showing the various types, i.e. cable, horse-drawn, steam and electric from a range of countries. He noted that trams have seen a renaissance recently in places such as Manchester, Sheffield and Croydon.

A selection of stamps featuring trams.

The final display, given by Mark Bailey, was unashamedly nothing to do with transport. He traced the life of George Patrick Campbell who left England to live in Tours, France where he was a Wine Merchant. His hobby was stamp collecting and he specialised in Postal Cards. In 1875 he joined the Philatelic Society, London and the Société Française de Timbrologie. In 1880 he moved to Paris and in 1887 he moved to Jersey. He managed to be appointed as the Colombian Consul in Jersey. In 1891 he began a stamp dealing business, trading as A. Cameron & Co. He was left on his own when his wife moved back to Paris, so he moved to a smaller house. Sadly, he died from an accidental overdose of morphine in 1903. Throughout his life he corresponded with many leading philatelists of the time, and he sent his wholesale and retail lists in newspaper wrappers and long, thin envelopes at Printed Matter rate. Mark showed an impressive array of these to many different addresses in many countries. The lists were printed with a line on the back to show where they could be folded to fit into the envelopes.

Newspaper wrapper used to send George Campbell's stamp list to Chile in December 1891.

Printed matter rate envelope sent on 10th April 1894 from A. Cameron & Co in Jersey to Denmark.

Patrick Reid thanked all who had attended, and especially the presenters who had entertained us with a wide variety of material.

7th September 2021 - Czechoslovakia Air Mails to 1939 - held via Zoom

Lindy Bosworth FRPSL gave a presentation using Zoom video conferencing.

The subject was air mails in Czechoslovakia in the period up to 1939, and Lindy's talk covered the early years of aviation, and the introduction of air mail services both within Czechoslovakia and to foreign destinations.

Letter sent by airmail from the Czechoslovak Union of Field Athletics in Prague to the Czechoslovak Olympic Committee in Paris on 1 July 1924.

The development of the air mails was explained, with numerous examples of mail carried by the services operated by the airlines. This included mail carried in various types of fixed wing aircraft and also mail delivered by airships.

Airmail stamps issued in Czechoslovakia in 1930, featuring Fokker VII Monoplane and Letov (Smolik) S-19 Biplane over different landscapes.

A video recording of the presentation can be viewed here.

10th August 2021 - A Quick Descent Through Parachuting - held via Zoom

As part of the Society's programme, members were pleased to invite Barry Stagg to give a presentation using Zoom video conferencing.

Beginning with stamps and postal items relevant to parachute material, Barry's presentation covered early and turn of the 20th century parachuting, parachutes as a life-saving measure, parachuting in the inter-war years and parachute mail, the introduction of parachuting into the military, parachuting throughout World War 2, and parachute training.

Airgraph from a Polish paratrooper in 1944.

Barry then showed the use of parachutes in connection with manned and unmanned spaceflight, the dropping of mail and supplies by parachute, modern parachuting entertainment, and parachuting as a sport including in competitions, and he finished his presentation by looking at the subject of BASE jumping.

Airmail envelope sent in 1975 from the Soviet Union to Romania featuring parachutists.

The meeting concluded with the Society's President, Mark Bailey, making a short presentation of some other parachuting-related items, including postcards, cartoons and humorous cards.

In giving his vote of thanks, Mark thanked Barry for an interesting presentation featuring stamps from a wide range of countries.

A video recording of the presentations can be viewed here.

22nd June 2021 - Non-English Language Stamps - held via Zoom

A number of members participated in this meeting, showing stamps that were in languages other than English.

Alastair Nixon began the meeting with a selection of German stamps with German wording on them as part of the design of the stamp. He showed a range of stamps featuring text extracted from various sources, but mostly featuring anniversaries of specific events.

German stamp marking the 150th Anniversary of the German National Hymn.

Alwyn Lowe showed a range of post-war Austrian stamps, including the long pictorial set issued from 1947, POW Relief Fund stamps (with rather stark images), surtaxed pictorial stamps featuring flowers issued in 1948 to benefit Anti-Tuberculosis work, and other fund raising issues. He ended with the costumes set, issued after currency revaluation. The general opinion was that most were attractive stamps.

Austrian stamps showing flowers issued in 1948 to raise funds for Anti-Tuberculosis Work.

Ron Jones began with a series of United Nations transport-themed stamps issued in French and German, and then showed a range of Polish material. This included the Culture/Dress issue, Kraków, the European Capital of Culture 2000 issue, and various stamps depicting buildings, including church architecture and World Heritage sites.

United Nations transport stamps.

Mark Bailey showed Greek stamps issued for the 50th Anniversary of the Battle of Crete, which was the first ever airborne invasion. Staying on a similar theme he showed stamps from the Netherlands issued for the 40th Anniversary of the 1945 Liberation, followed by an earlier issue for the 25th Anniversary that featured the "V for Victory". The same stamp was re-used in August the same year to commemorate the Victory over Japan, when the Netherlands Indies were liberated and he also showed stamps for the 35th Anniversary of this event.

Netherlands First Day Cover from the Friends of the Airborne Museum for the stamps issued in May 1985 marking 40th Anniversary of Liberation.

On a different subject entirely Mark then showed Dutch stamps relating to birds and the land, including surcharged Summer Stamps from 1961. The surcharge supported a social and cultural fund. Moving on to the Dutch Polder system, he explained how they were managed and showed a Polder stamp. He concluded with stamps and postmarks from the islands in the Wadden Sea.

There were no further offers of stamps, so Mark continued with a selection of postcards relating to Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch (Llanfair PG for short), on the basis that Welsh is not English! This is a large village on the island of Anglesey, Wales, on the Menai Strait next to the Britannia Bridge and across the strait from Bangor. The postcards (in Welsh, Llythyr-Gerdyns) illustrated the history of the village and the railway station, which had a "Golden Age" between 1850 and 1914. After World War 1, the village fell on hard times and was not really revived as a tourist attraction until the 1960s and 1970s.

A postcard from Llanfair PG.

Many of the cards were light-hearted commentary on the difficulties of saying or writing the full place name. The members all had fun finding spelling errors on some of the postcards.

Chairman Patrick Reid thanked all who had contributed to an interesting, varied and enjoyable evening.

25th May 2021 - Postal History of the 1982 Falkland Islands Conflict - held via Zoom

Although the Society was still unable to hold any physical meetings, members were pleased to invite once again Gerald Marriner FRPSL to give a presentation using Zoom video conferencing.

In his presentation, Gerald showed examples of numerous items of postal history relating to the Falkland Islands conflict of 1982, in which Britain sent a military task force to counter the invasion of the Falkland Islands by Argentinian forces.

The presentation was in 4 sections:

  1. Task Force mail
  2. Land forces mail
  3. Falkland Islanders' mail
  4. Argentinian troops' mail

In his vote of thanks, President Mark Bailey commented that he found the talk most interesting, and thanked Gerald for having shown such a diverse range of material, including numerous items that are difficult to find, many of which provide a very personal insight into the circumstances of the war in the Falkland Islands.

A video recording of Gerald's talk can be viewed here.

27th April 2021 - United Kingdom Post Offices, and the use of
Aphengescopes by Philatelic Societies 1900-1910 - held via Zoom

With the Society still unable to hold any physical meetings, members were entertained and educated by Alastair Nixon talking about UK Post Offices and our President, Mark Bailey FRPSL, talking about the Aphengescope and its use for philatelic displays in the period of 1900-1910.

Alastair introduced his talk with a brief survey of key historical dates from the opening of the King's Mails to the public in 1635, the establishment of the General Post Office in 1660, the first Mail Coach in 1784, the introduction of the Penny Post from 10th January 1840 and the first Post Box (in Jersey) in 1852. He explained how the GPO evolved to become Parcel Force International, Royal Mail and Post Office Limited that we are familiar with today.

Alastair explained that Post Offices are classified into three basic types, within which there are sub-types: Large Post Offices comprise Branch and Main Offices, Medium comprise various types of Local Post Office, and Small includes Mobile and other "Pop-up" types of offices.

There has been a rapid decline in the number of Branch offices from 375 in 2013 to 113 now. Many have become "Corporate Franchise" offices such as Wokingham's Post Office located in a branch of W.H. Smith. Alastair noted that Post Boxes are located by Royal Mail at sites that suit their pick-up runs.

Alastair read extracts from Parliamentary debates that showed that the apparent "Consultation" on Branch closure and relocation was a sham.

His talk included local examples of office types: Finchampstead is a Main Office (in a shop, with the full range of services), and Crowthorne is a Town sub-office. 43% of Post Offices are "locals", which offer a reduced range of services - no parcels, no licences, etc.

There are a number of types of Small office and Alastair explained what they are. He showed photographs of the Warborough Mobile office that has a retractable wheelchair ramp for access. There are a number of Outreach offices hosted in local halls and in partner shops. There is currently a pilot scheme to offer services in former bank branches. There are currently about 11,600 Post offices with opening times between ten minutes and 112 hours per week. 93% of the population live within 1 mile of a post office and 99% within 3 miles. There are seven post offices, such as the House of Commons, not open to the general public.

Alastair closed his talk with references to the recent Horizon system scandal, a mention of TPO Open Days at the Didcot Railway Centre, Post Offices on stamps and promotional material, the Mail Rail system under London and the Special Purpose North Pole Post Office for Santa's mail, and a special postmark offered by Lover near Salisbury each Valentine's day.

A video recording of Alastair's talk can be viewed here.

Introducing his presentation, Mark Bailey explained that he had found a reference to the use of an Aphengescope in a presentation by W B Avery when searching the records of meetings of the Philatelic Society, London (before it was the Royal). He explained that Avery was from the family that owned W & T Avery, manufacturers of scales and weighing machines. William Beilby Avery had been Managing Director and retired in 1891, and he also held other directorships. He lived at Apsley House, Birmingham, and also maintained a house at Portland Place, London, and had Oakley Court at Bray, near Windsor (now a hotel) that he used for entertaining guests on day outings from London. He was a distinguished collector and died in 1908. Avery was created an RDP in 1921, being named as one of the "Fathers of Philately". Mark explained the scale and scope of Avery's collection and some of the choice rarities including mint 1d and 2d Mauritius Post Office examples.

Mark then turned to the aphengescope, invented by Leonhard Euler, the physicist and mathematician, around 1756. It projected an image of a solid object by reflection. Mark explained the difference between an episcope (for opaque, flat objects) and an epidiascope (for slides or transparencies and opaque objects) and that an aphengescope was an episcope. He summarised the development and the production of a patented device by Krüss of Germany. A key characteristic of aphengescopes was the use of two lanterns to provide a good amount of light for projecting large images.

Mark noted that hobby magazines in the 1880s gave instruction on "How to build your own Aphengescope". An aphengescope was used regularly at the Birmingham Philatelic Society by John Arthur Margoschis between 1902 and 1910. The Philatelic Society, London only used one a couple of times and never took up a suggestion to use it for the work of the Expert Committee to help identify forgeries, etc. In closing, Mark illustrated the advantages of an aphengescope over the traditional Magic Lantern and explained the etymology of the word.

A video recording of Mark's talk can be viewed here.

Our Chairman Patrick Reid thanked both speakers for fascinating and informative displays, both of which were out of the normal run of things.

23rd March 2021 - Disruption to Mail Services during the German Occupation
of the Channel Islands 1940-45 - held via Zoom

With the Society still unable to hold any physical meetings, members were entertained by Gerald Marriner FRPSL with a very interesting presentation on the impact on mail services during the German occupation of the Channel Islands, in a talk using Zoom video conferencing.

Gerald is currently the President of the Channel Islands Specialists' Society, and in his presentation, he showed examples of the basic problems for the Channel Islands' postal service between July 1940 and May 1945.

27 June 1940 Letter from Tavistock to Guernsey Returned to Sender as No Service.

British stamps were still valid for postage throughout this period. However, when stocks ran out, locally printed stamps were issued. Gerald's presentation was in 4 sections:

  1. The lack of a direct mail service between England and the Channel Islands
  2. Occasional difficulties of sending mail between Guernsey, Jersey, Sark, and Alderney
  3. Indirect postal routes between the Channel Islands and occupied or neutral countries
  4. A small selection of social stories, to complete the presentation.

September 1940 Letter via Lisbon to Jersey Detained in France during German Occupation.

In his vote of thanks, Chairman Patrick Reid commented that he found the talk most instructive, and very interesting from many points of view. He noted that Gerald had put in a lot of work to establish the tortuous routes that the mail followed. Patrick also remarked on the assumptions that people had made at the time about when the postal services might be available, and the strange disconnects that existed when parts of Europe had been liberated but the Channel Islands were still occupied.

March 1945 Registered letter from Belgium to Jersey. Returned without a reason for non-delivery.

A video recording of Gerald's talk can be viewed here.

23rd February 2021 - Mail between GB and Belgium 1574-1875 - held via Zoom

With the Society unable to hold any physical meetings at this time, the Society was entertained by John Soer with an excellent selection of Belgian Postal History covering the period 1574 to 1875, in a talk using Zoom video conferencing.

Although Belgium did not exist as an entity for all this time, the material was restricted to the area that we now know as Belgium, with the majority of items being to or from Brussels and Antwerp (Anvers).

The postal system was established in 1509 by the House of Thurn and Taxis (Tour & Tassis) who were the key European organisers of posts from the 16th Century to the end of the Holy Roman Empire in 1806. John illustrated this with a map of the main post routes in 1567, showing routes to Vienna in the east, and Naples, Seville and Lisbon in the south.

John began with some Corsini letters carried by the Merchant Strangers from 1574. It is interesting that the letters were bundled up for each merchant with the price on the top letter, just as became the practice for multiple Postage Due items to the same address. John also showed a Post Paid letter and an unpaid letter. Moving into the 1600s we saw Tour & Tassis letters to the UK, with UK charges not shown and some 1643/4 letters from the English Civil War period.

From 1663 there was a regular European service from London on Tuesday and Friday, and John showed an example. In 1714 the Austrian Empire took control of Belgium (the Austrian Netherlands) and we saw examples of various routes from London to Brussels, including Leeds letters with no Leeds handstamp.

The War of the Austrian Succession in 1740 disrupted the mails, but following the Treaty of Aix in 1748 a regular twice weekly service began via Ostend. We were shown letters from Edinburgh, London and Liverpool to Brussels, all via Ostend in the 1750s to 1780s. John noted that he has nothing at present from the period of French Occupation after the French Revolution. After Napoleon had been defeated at Waterloo, the Kingdom of the United Netherlands was formed, which lasted until 1830. The main route for mails to Brussels was via Ostend. In 1830 Belgium seceded and there was a packet service to Ostend four days each week from 1834. The packets were all British, and Belgium paid £1000 per year for the service. If a private ship was used then an 8d rate was charged. We saw a range of letters with various markings, including PF (Paid to Frontier) and an overweight letter.

The 1844 Postal Convention introduced a 1/- flat rate, being split 8d to Great Britain and 4d to Belgium.

The development of railways gave rise to changes in mail practices and Belgium began to invest in ships for the Dover-Ostend route and by 1862 they had a monopoly.

The 1850 Postal Convention agreed a 6d rate, split 4d to Great Britain and 2d to Belgium. The development of railways also led to the introduction of Travelling Post Offices (TPOs) and the possibility of Brussels to London letters going either via Ostend or via Calais. John showed a map of the TPO routes. The 1857 Convention set rates of 4d via Ostend, but 6d via Calais. We saw examples of letters from Brussels to London at the 40 centimes rate, and the 80 centimes rate for letters between 15 and 30 grams. Letters were shown with various TPO markings.

Rates were further reduced by the 1865 Convention to 3d via Ostend and 4d via Calais. Britain paid £4000 a year for the use of the Ostend to Dover packets.

An unusual item from Lombard Street to Brussels had been paid in cash. John completed his talk with a range of letters via both Ostend and Calais at a range of rates, and the final item was an 1875 Printed Matter item from London to Brussels.

John's display was notable for the clarity of the Postal Markings, most of which were fine strikes.

A video recording of John's talk can be viewed here.

26th January 2021 - The Tattersall Story - held via Zoom

With the Society unable to hold any physical meetings at this time, the meeting in January featured our Chairman Patrick Reid FRPSL presenting the story of Tattersall's Lottery in Australia, established by George Adams in the late 19th century.

Despite opposition from church and state concerned about the evils of gambling, the business did survive, although it was moved from state to state to work within the state legislation. The Federal Government did its utmost to prevent mail reaching the business, which largely operated from places where men would congregate such as hairdressers and pubs.

Today "Tatts" is still very much a part of life in Australia with a Lotto game every two minutes.

Patrick was invited to repeat this presentation on 9th February 2021 to the York Philatelic Society, again using Zoom video conferencing, and a recording of Patrick's talk to the York Philatelic Society can be viewed here.

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