Report of the Annual General Meeting, King’s Head, Marylebone, Feb 8

PRESENT: eight members attended. There were apologies for absence from 17 members.

2019 AGM Minutes were approved: it was noted that the Circle’s grant of 650 euros to help with publication of his Alexandria Postal History will be presented to Ronny Van Pellecom at London 2020. A link to this can be found Here .

Chairman: The Chairman welcomed those present, including especially Dr Serif Samra from Egypt, and reported on a successful year in 2019. He regretted very much that ill health meant that he had been unable to visit Cairo in September for the 90th Anniversary of the Philatelic Society of Egypt, and congratulated the auctioneers on a very successful autumn sale which raised considerable funds for the family of Peter Andrews.

Auctioneer required

Wanted urgently: any member willing to take on the crucially important role of Auctioneer. Our two auctions a year provide much of our cash-flow; and new ideas and new thinking are required. The new face in the role, who should preferably, though not necessarily, live in or near London, will be given every help. But what we need is someone who will face the challenge and do it his way…

Emails to will receive replies with alacrity.

Auction: Mike Murphy restated his standing down as Auctioneer after some 25 years in the post, and said that the continuing challenges, though delightful and distracting, called for a rethink of past practice. He was happy to go out on a high note, raising some £14,000 for the Andrews family with the room sale in November. A new Auctioneer is sought. He reported that 35 of 43 email bidders were successful, winning a total of 148 lots, while in the room ten bidders took 106 lots, outbidding email bids 57 times and buying 47 lots that had no email bids.

A combination of vastly increased PayPal fees and higher postal rates left the Circle facing a critical shortfall from 24 of the 35 email bidders, with net-paid totals failing to meet the invoiced bid-plus-commission total. He recommended that the long-standing practice of commission covering PayPal fee plus postage was simply no longer sufficient and must be abandoned.

After a great deal of discussion, it was agreed unanimously (proposed Jon Aitchison, seconded John Davis) that all future Auction and annual subscription payments by PayPal would attract a 5% surcharge. Auction invoices will also include an estimated charge for postage and packing to be paid by the winning bidder. The PayPal 5% will of course not apply to those paying by cheque or bank transfer; and the present Auction commissions (10% buyer, 5% seller) will not be affected.

Notice was given that a postal/room auction will be held at our joint meeting with the Sudan Study Group in Derby in April: each group will submit some170 lots to email bidding, which will then be finally decided in the room, with - exceptionally in this special one-off case – members of each society able to bid on the other’s lots. This most unusual decision was accepted unanimously. The meeting then voted with acclaim in favour of a proposal by Peter Grech, seconded by John Davis: “On behalf of all ESC Members, a very special Thank You to Mike Murphy for his outstanding achievements as ESC Auctioneer for the past 25 years, in addition to his other duties as Secretary, and more recently as Editor, all performed so efficiently and gallantly”.

Accounts: The Treasurer noted that because of our very early AGM date the Accounts had not yet been finalised, but that the Circle was now £35,000 in credit compared with £27,000 at the end of the previous year [this figure was later amended to reflect the amount due to the Andrews family from Auction 59]. It was agreed to make specific among the Circle’s assets that our New Issues stamp collection should be valued at £500 and the Library at £2,000.

Secretary: The Secretary reported that membership had stayed constant at 165 during the year, including the advent of two new members and restoration of a third, and was given approval to accept new members if there was a long gap until the next meeting. He again lamented the poor response to voting for the MacArthur Award, despite more intense publicity, and the Chairman was pleased to be able to hand the statuette to the winner, Sami Sadek, for his innovative work on combining TPO postmarks with rail timetables to reveal the precise route and timing of covers via their backstamps.

Meetings: The Programme Secretary reviewed an exciting year, with local meetings and others further afield, including Derby (an initial joint meeting with the Sudan Study Group), Stockholm, Cairo and finally, in early December, a massive meeting in Monte Carlo highlighting the best exhibition of Egypt material ever seen (link to Monaco report can be found here): the Circle dinner in Monaco was attended by some 20 members and guests. The Programme Secretary looked forward to more international meetings as providing a social and exhibiting facility for overseas members, who form 70 per cent of our membership. Sami Sadek proposed (seconded Jon Aitchison) a vote of thanks to Hany Salam, prime mover behind the Monaco exhibition, for helping to bring knowledge of Egypt and its stamps to a new range of newcomers. There was much discussion about local venues and their costs, the meeting finally favouring the Victory Services Club over the King’s Head by five votes to one with two abstentions. In future we shall plan to have two meetings a year at Stampex, one in Derby and two at the VSC.

Editor: The Editor noted that QCs were being produced on time despite his inexperience, and thanked regular contributors for their patience and continuing supply of fascinating material, while suggesting (gently) that all articles would be gratefully received, but that those of 2-4 pages would be most easily dealt with.

Website: The Webmaster reported that his experiments with digitising old copies of the QC and L’OP had been successful, and cost-free, so we hope that more will soon be available online. He mentioned several recent design improvements, and forecast that many more would be forthcoming as we move towards a more user-friendly design with added features now that the present site has been completely understood and appreciated.

Library: The Librarian reported that he had brought two books with him for a member to borrow, but even though the Library had expanded beyond its floor-to-ceiling cupboard over the past 40 years, two others requested were not found among them. He is working on a new list of books available, which will be too big for the QC but will be posted on the website.

Any other Business: It was decided that the November meeting would be a room auction at the Victory Services Club (November 7 or 14); and that the 2021 AGM will take place in July at the VSC. Date to be arranged.

There then followed a meeting on postcards, including a bizarre, even morbid, display of anonymous cards by Mike Murphy on the Denshawai Incident of 1906, the spark that lit Egyptian nationalism after a fracas between villagers in Menufieh and British officers out pigeon shooting left one officer dead. The cards show the villagers being tried, hanged and flogged – unbelievable by today’s standards, but propaganda proof of British rule in Egypt. John Davis showed a remarkable series of cards of Napoleon and French influence in Egypt; and Jon Aitchison a display of printed advertising postcards, mainly concerned with advances in engineering.

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