Report of the meeting, October 1, at Autumn Stampex, London

Perhaps encouraged by the added attraction of the big Autumn Stampex exhibition going on alongside, there was an encouraging attendance of 12, with the Chairman able to welcome four overseas visitors. Those present: Jon Aitchison (Chairman), Mike Murphy (Secretary), Neil Hitchens (Webmaster), Sami Sadek (Treasurer), Mike Bramwell, John Clarke, Herb Cowley (New Zealand), Hany Makram (USA), Christopher Smith (USA), Ronny Van Pellecom (Netherlands), Richard Wheatley. Prospective member: Keith Nickol. Rail strikes ruled out some members, and apologies were received from John Sears, Pierre Grech, Paul Green, Hani Sharestan, Tony Cakebread, Anabright Hay, Vahe Varjabedian, Trent Ruebush, Ibrahim Shoukry, Brian Sedgley, Denis Doren and Peter Newroth.

In a relaxed and informal “ten sheets” meeting, the majority of the discussion revolved around a potential project introduced by the Secretary for a comprehensive online catalogue recording all known flaws and varieties of the early classical issues of Egypt. While recognising that the amount of work necessary would be enormous, the meeting agreed that the benefits of bringing together – and advancing – the listings published by the three main catalogues Nile Post, Balian and Abdel-Hady, all of them two decades old, would far outweigh the effort.

The success of such a venture – which for the moment is considered “approved in principle, but still under consideration” – will depend on the goodwill and expertise of those already fully immersed in the field as well as the gathering of evidence from the Study Circle Record and senior collectors willing to provide photographs of full sheets or large blocks for research purposes, hopefully to allow the opportunity to be taken up by those not so burdened by many years!

The Webmaster announced that website storage capacity had recently been almost doubled, to take into account the digitising of all QCs back to 1935 – now happily complete and all available on site– and the extra space required by publication of members’ outstanding collections as well as the online catalogue material.

Various questions of detail were raised, including whether the listing should be priced – the meeting favoured considering a system of “scarcity ratings” rather than actual prices, which would need to be updated every few years. The appearance of the catalogue will be a task for the webmaster and editor, and will be designed to be as clear and easy of understanding as possible.

More consideration needs to be given, and will take some time, but the meeting agreed that the project was well worth considering, and we hope it will bear fruit in the near future.

Various members then showed their “ten sheet” contributions including:

Herb Cowley (ESC 709): A series of copies of covers bearing New Zealand Health stamps and 1940s Officials sent home by the 32,000 Kiwi troops stationed in Egypt – mainly 3d and 9d – using EPP30 and 42 handstamps. These were not on sale in Egypt and must have been sent over for the use of loved ones.

Richard Wheatley (ESC 168): Correspondence from the Giza Pyramids excavations of the American group led by the archaeologist George Reisner between 1902 and 1908, including a letter signed by Gaston Maspero.

Sami Sadek (ESC559): TPO covers afloat, showing the markings used on the Mediterranean, the Red Sea, various inland canals (Mansura-Manzala, Bahr Chibin and Kafr Zayat-Atfeh), and the Nile (Asyut-Aswan, Challal-Wadi Halfa).

Mike Murphy (ESC 240): Postage-Paid covers from Alexandria (two types of cancel) and Cairo (ten types) from the mid-twenties to the mid-fifties. Remarkably, no word on this service is found in official documents.

Jon Aitchison (ESC 661): a treasure-trove of artists’ paintings and drawings intended as the basis for stamps to be issued since the 1930s. Several signed, many approved for publication, definitives and commemoratives.