Report of the Annual General Meeting, July 6

In the absence through illness of our Chairman, John Davis, and former Treasurer, Brian Sedgley, Jon Aitchison (Deputy Chairman) took the chair and Sami Sadek, the new Treasurer, detailed the 2018 Annual Report of his predecessor. The meeting, held in blazing sunshine at a new venue, the King’s Head public house in Marylebone, took the opportunity of sending best wishes to John Davis on his 80th birthday.

Eight members attended; there were apologies for absence from 16 members

Minutes of the 2018 AGM were approved; no matters were arising.

Chairman: The Chairman reported on a fascinating and successful year in 2018, and, in looking forward to the rest of 2019, thanked the Programme Secretary for a magnificent effort in his first year, with meetings as far flung as Stockholm, Monaco, Cairo and Derby. He noted that the sale of Peter Andrews’ material had been a great success, giving opportunities for members to buy outstanding items to the benefit of the family.

Secretary: The Secretary reported a net loss of six members over the year, giving a total now of 165, 25 of whom are choosing to read the QC online. Votes for the MacArthur Award, intended to encourage members to write for the QC, had been depressingly few, and there was discussion about how to make voting more popular. The 2018 award, richly deserved for detailed research and presentation, was a runaway win for Ronny Van Pellecom and Alain Stragier with their continuing series on Egypt’s Railway Stations 1879-1914.

The Secretary mentioned an informal request for financial help with publication costs by a member who is now completing a book on Egypt and its philately. The meeting reinforced its decision last year that we would follow in general the guidelines of the Stuart Rossiter Trust and that submissions based on the Trust’s application form would be welcomed.

Accounts: The Treasurer’s report, delivered in his absence, noted a year on year increase on the accumulated surplus of £3243, due largely to an increase in income of £3075, most of which stemmed from the auction account (increase £4206). This was despite an apparent decrease in subscriptions income, which stemmed in fact from payments for 2017 having been received early. Members were again urged to take out a standing order for their subscription. Questions were raised about the value of the stamp collection and Circle Library, and it was resolved that after a reorganisation, realistic valuations must be placed on both items for 2019. At the end of 2018 we had £22,866 in the bank, with the accumulated surplus standing at £27,352. The accounts were approved and a Vote of Thanks (proposer Jon Aitchison, seconder Pierre Grech) to our auditor, Stephen Bunce, was approved with acclamation. Members then elected Brian Sedgley (proposer Neil Hitchens, seconder Jon Aitchison) to the position of Life Member to mark 15 years’ sterling work as Treasurer.

Auctions: The Secretary reported on the success of postal Auctions 57 (September 2017) and 58 (April 2018), both boosted by material from the families of Peter Andrews and Erik Menne Larsen. It is hoped that all remaining material from these sources will be cleared at an all-day auction in November, with material on display in the morning, the sale in the afternoon, and material won to be carried away.

Meetings: The Programme Secretary reported on plans for the visit to Cairo in early September, noting that application forms for those wishing to exhibit were available from him or from the Secretary; they should be returned to Cairo by the end of July. There was much discussion about the experiment of trying a new venue, the King’s Head pub, for this meeting, and members present decided that though the Victory Services Club was about to raise its hire charges once more (perhaps to more than £600) it remained comfortable and familiar. Meetings will be scheduled at the King’s Head (costing only £25!), the VSC and perhaps other venues before any firm decision is made about any regular change of venue.

Great enthusiasm was reported by those who attended the joint meeting with the Sudan Study Group in April, and the Programme Secretary circulated a paper for consideration setting out possible scenarios for closer co-operation between the two societies, perhaps even to the point of a merger at some stage in the future. Discussion was thoughtful and considered, recognising that both groups were suffering from reduced and ageing memberships, and a consequent difficulty in finding volunteers to carry out the necessary Officers’ tasks. It was decided that we should gradually explore the relationship with more joint meetings, with a view to closer ties but again – no firm decision to be taken until all aspects are fully considered.

The Programme Secretary also reported on the successful ESC meeting at Stockholmia, and gave details of Monacophil 2019 in the first week of December, at which Egypt, led by Hany Salam, will figure as the centrepiece. The ESC will hold a lunch on Friday November 29, and those wishing to visit Monaco for the grand exhibition should contact Jon Aitchison direct.

Editor: The Editor reported that four QCs had again been produced during the year, and thanked the MacArthur winners for helping to fill large parts of them with fascinating and useful surveys of the railway system and its postal markings. This series is not yet complete, and he hopes that members might continue to supply him with Updata as well as a number of short articles to expand the variety and wide range of published articles. A vote of thanks for Mike Murphy, for his work as Secretary, Editor and Auctioneer, was proposed by Pierre Grech and seconded by Sami Sadek.

Webmaster: The Webmaster noted that gradual changes were being introduced to the website’s appearance to make it more “modern” but that the weight of the material meant that this had to be a series of small changes, feeling our way as we go. He is keen to expand the content, and is willing to place online collections of stamps or postal history for all members to view: please contact him direct. Another positive move halted since Edmund Hall’s demise has re-started, and more and more back-copy QCs are being posted on the site for all to see until the whole series is here. The Webmaster and Editor both appealed to members to let us know of philatelic events involving Egypt so that we can keep the site updated and busy.

Librarian: The Librarian announced his disappointment that so few books had been borrowed from an outstanding library, to which Andrew McGregor’s A Military History of Modern Egypt from the Ottoman Conquest to the Ramadan War and Part II of John Davis’ own book on the Concession Period had been added. After discussion, it was agreed that more effort would be made to publicise an up to date Library List and to encourage members to borrow, perhaps by ESC funding of postage for overseas. This will be given more thought.

Election of Officers No changes were necessary. 2020 AGM: Members agreed that the next AGM should be held on Saturday February 8 at the King’s Head pub, Marylebone, 2-4pm.

Club Competition: The inaugural Club Competition, open to all members to display a single frame of 16 sheets on any aspect of Egyptian philately, was won on a vote of members by Pierre Grech for his “French Post Offices of Egypt”. In second place was Jon Aitchison with “Interpostal Seals”. Both received a certificate in recognition of their outstanding displays.

There then followed a quite astonishing display by Sami Sadek, representing Part Two of his Egyptian TPOs series, on the eastern Delta. He amazed those present with his ability to detail, using railway timetables in association with the TPO markings, virtually every step of the way, and every minute of the journey, for covers addressed within and without Egypt. Developing Peter Smith’s The Travelling Post Offices of Egypt, he has been able to add many many new CDS markings to the original list, and to realise once more just how efficient the Egyptian railways were in the 1890s.

Using the timetables, he has been able to discover that there was not one but two rail lines heading out to Damietta, one, the State Railway, on the western side of the Nile, and a second, narrow gauge light railway for the Lower Egypt Rail Society (CFBE), on the eastern side. And tiny Fariskur town, on the Nile, had a station each side of the river to cater for the two systems…

Another cover, from Mansura to Palestine, took an enormously circuitous route back to Cairo, then Ismailia and Qantara when it could have been carried by boat from Manzala to Port Said and on its way … but investigation showed that the roundabout route was the norm. Why? More investigation might find out…

His work on these lines amazed those present, and happily will be presented in article form in forthcoming QCs. In the meantime, anyone who has access to any rail timetable of any period, pleased do not hesitate to let Sami have a copy. His work thrives on them.

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