Announcement of Dennis Clarke's membership of the Study Circle was made on page 187 of Volume VII of the Quarterly Circular in September 1972. In the intervening 38 years he served the Circle in myriad ways, but always with a genuine friendly approach that marked everything he did. Always generous with time and wisdom, he was eager to share his researches and his unparalleled knowledge of printing methods with all who asked. His enormously wide-ranging collection - encompassing every aspect of Egypt's multi-faceted potential - proved the basis time and again for typically modest displays at the Circle's meetings: modest, that is, in terms of presentation, but staggering in terms of range and depth.
From the start, at a time when the Circle was still dominated by many of the giants of its founding group, Dennis was immediately able to hold his own, presenting a two-part display on Interpostal Seals within a year of joining, and taking over the role of Secretary/Treasure in September 1975. His work as a printer with the Daily Express - he was delighted to have enjoyed more years with his pension than he had actually worked for the paper! - meant very antisocial hours, but the early hours of the morning provided an ideal time for researching and mounting his enormous range of material.
Over the ensuing years it became common practice, whenever we were short of a speaker, to "invite" Dennis to show some unsuspected treasure from his collection - and whatever the topic, he never let us down, always able to provide something out of the ordinary and something that fascinated those lucky enough to be present. His talks ranged from Officials through British Military to Hotels and Rurals, and always embellished with "the printer's view". But the collection ventured much farther than that, encompassing as well as all stamp issues all aspects of postal history, with a particular fascination with all sorts of postmarks, as well as the minutiae of working out routes and rates.
Dennis's generosity of spirit was renowned, and many a member has stayed with him for a day or two, or three, while some thorny problem was examined via the range and extent of Dennis's collection, and finally resolved to everyone's satisfaction. In December 1979 he became Keeper of the Record of the Circle, allowing access to even more philatelic material, a duty he carried out conscientiously until the Record was finally combined with the Library a few years ago. Long before that he had been elected to the Committee, a post he held right until the end.
He gave his last talk to the Circle at the end of last year, and was rightly frustrated with the long discussion for planning this year's London 2010/75th Anniversary celebrations, which left him not enough time to expand on one of his favourite topics - printing methods and Interpostals. Those who were there were thus deprived of an excellent speaker, with an excellent knowledge of his subject. It is all the more sad that we shall not have the opportunity to hear him again. Both personally and on behalf of the Circle, I extend my deepest condolences. We have lost a great collector, a great enthusiast and a great friend.