|Report of the Meeting, February 25 2012
A.G.M. and live auction.
PRESENT: John Sears (President), Stanley Horesh (Deputy Chairman), Mike Murphy (Secretary), Edmund Hall (Editor/webmaster), Brian Sedgley (Treasurer), John Davis (Librarian), Sami Sadek (Committee), Mike Bramwell, Joe Chalhoub (Canada), Angela Child, Cyril Defriez, Denis Doren (Canada), Mostafa El-Dars, Pauline Gittoes, Peter Grech, Paul Green, Neil Hitchens, Alan Jeyes, Costas Kelemenis (Greece), Wolfgang Kohler, Mahmoud Ramadan (Egypt), Sherif Samra (Egypt), Atef Sarian, Tony Schmidt, Vahe Varjabedian (Egypt).
APOLOGIES: Apologies for absence were received from: Peter Andrews (Chairman), David Sedgwick (Publicity), Dick Wilson, Tony Chisholm, Ibrahim Shoukry, Margaret Chadwick, John Clarke, Sue Claridge.
In the absence in the Antipodes of the Chairman, the Deputy Chairman opened the meeting by welcoming all those present, particularly a gratifyingly large number from overseas, including Denis Doren from Canada attending his first meeting, a feature that also applied to Neil Hitchens (UK).
He reported that we were fortunate this year in having had a visit from Tony Chisholm (ESC 288), our Antipodes Agent, and his wife, and mentioned the convivial lunch held to make them welcome at the home of John Sears, our President, and his wife Pat. To set against that visit, however, he had to mention the resignation, after seven years of excellent service, of Dick Wilson (ESC 230), our North American Agent, and paid full tribute to his experience and wisdom in keeping us abreast of affairs in the area, in accepting (and occasionally having to chase) subscriptions from members, and especially in facilitating our affiliation with the American Philatelic Society. Dick, thank you for your long service; the Circle is grateful indeed.
In opening the meeting proper, the Deputy Chairman first called for a minute's silence in memory of the three members who had passed away during the year, Peter Goodwin, Bill Scheetz and Christ Henstock. There then followed apologies for absence and approval of the minutes of the 2011 AGM. Chairman's Report: The Chairman's report was read in his absence by the Secretary. It described 2011 as a great year, with first-class displays and a re-awakening of interest in a community study of TPOs, which showed quite a phenomenal interest in a subject which no one had put forward as "their" specialty.
He looked forward to the forthcoming meeting on post-Kingdom issues as following this trend, and hoped that everyone would contribute to their utmost.,
It will not have passed without notice, it said, that the recent "all members" meeting produced some quite spectacular material, and appealed to members to bring forward at these meetings anything that interests them even if only a few sheets. "Remember that whatever interest you is sure to interest someone else in the Circle, and who knows - you may start something big!" The Secretary noted at this stage that our next meeting at Philatex on April 21, is an "all members" ten-sheets meeting.
The Chairman offered sincere thanks to all members of the Circle and particularly the Committee members without whose valuable assistance - sometimes in quite trying circumstances - things cannot continue.
Secretary's Report: The Secretary announced that membership was slightly down in 2011, to 186, with three deaths, five resignations and five lapsings offset by the election of only four new members and restoration of two previous members for a net loss of seven. But he offset that by putting before the meeting five new applications, two of which had come via Yasser Omar (ESC 605) in Dubai. The meeting offered Yasser its grateful thanks, and welcomed to membership Essam Saleh (Alexandria), Andrew Titley (Texas), Louis LeBlanc (Louisiana), Nabil Guirguis (Windsor), and Iosif Nassati (Athens).
At this stage Joe Chalhoub (ESC 385) sought a moment to speak in support of our long-time American colleague Charlie Hass (ESC 181), who is far from well and suffering an inability to concentrate on his excellent philatelic research as in the past. Joe appealed to all members to try to support Charlie, and mentioned the possibility of a new book on the Bar Overprints, a favourite topic of Charlie's on which he has worked for decades, as a potential re-starter of the dynamo that we miss so much.
The Secretary then announced that the Macarthur Award for the best and most significant QC article from the previous year had been won not by a single vote as in 2010 but in a landslide, and asked the Deputy Chairman to present the trophy to Peter Grech (ESC 266) - his third success - for his article on Helouan and its postal history. Peter thanked members for voting for him, and said he was both honoured and embarrassed to receive the award again. (see below)
Treasurer's Report: The Treasurer presented the accounts for the year to December 31, 2010, which showed an overall loss for the year of £453.37. Income was much reduced by the fact that only one full Auction had been held during the year: as a result the regular transfer of funds from the Auction account was reduced from £1,200 in 2010 to £50.01 last year. Expenditure was also reduced, and the change to a new printer has enabled full colour in the QC without an increase in costs. He warned that postal charges were again likely to increase this year, and appealed once more for members to send in their subscriptions on time. For UK members, certainly, the most convenient way is to pay by standing order to Barclays Bank (Wood Green Group), sort code 20-98-21, account number 60334731: please use your surname and membership number as references. The report was approved (proposed Edmund Hall, seconded Alan Jeyes).
The Treasurer then proposed a warm vote of thanks to the Accountant, Stephen Bunce (ESC 272), which was seconded by Edmund Hall and warmly applauded.
Auction Report: John Sears (ESC 188) noted the slightly disappointing results from the single full Auction and the inaugural Live Auction last year, and wished the Auction Committee all luck in future sales, welcoming the kind offer of Keith Pogson to volunteer to take over the associated financial affairs. With the Secretary, he noted that although an April-May Auction was scheduled, it may be difficult to organise and lot-up the material from Peter Goodwin's legacy which is intended to be at its heart. The material has arrived from New Zealand, but is not yet in our hands, and so has yet to be seen and gauged. Most definitely there will be a full Auction in the autumn: there will be more news about the possibilities for spring as soon as the material has been viewed.
Editor/Webmaster Report: Edmund Hall (ESC 239) welcomed members' enthusiastic reaction to the advent of full colour in the QC, but otherwise his report was similar to last year's: "If you want the QC to continue, please submit material."
The meeting then discussed digitisation of the QC, that is, putting copies of all back issues on the website, in original page form, so that they can be viewed by members. The great advantage is that the whole mass of material will be available at the touch of a button, and will be word-searchable - enter the word "perforation", for instance, or "Fuad", and the search engine will show every instance of the word from the first issue of the magazine in 1935. There was much discussion, and it was agreed that the website pages must be available only to members (password protected), must not be capable of being edited, and must be searchable as described. Edmund estimated that the cost of digitisation may be of the order of £700 to £1000, and there was discussion about whether this amount may be offset by making a small charge for viewing the pages: the feeling of the meeting was that all the information should be free to members. On the proposal of Sami Sadek, seconded by Brian Sedgley, the meeting agreed without dissenting voice that digitisation should go ahead.
Librarian's report: John Davis (ESC 213) reported that it had been a quiet year for the Library, and again offered to save postage costs by bringing any book requested to a meeting to hand over. In respect of the previous item, however, he was concerned that the Circle's stock of back-copy QCs would rapidly become redundant if the QC is to go online and so suggested that all back copies be made available at very much reduced prices
Election of Officers: The meeting heard with deep regret of the resignation of Dick Wilson as North American Agent, a post he had filled with enthusiasm, energy and integrity since 2005, and thanked him for his outstanding and unwaveringly diplomatic service over the years. It welcomed with acclamation the kind offer by Trent Ruebush (ESC 197) to take over the role, looked forward to a warm and efficient co-operation with our new North American Agent, and wished him well in his new role.
There was no official further business, but there was much discussion of the cramped and inadequate balcony "room" in which we had been placed by the Stampex authorities for this meeting. It was clear that the regular rooms were all in use for other purposes, but the meeting felt that we should have been given warning of the change of accommodation and the Secretary was instructed to investigate and to ensure that such conditions were not imposed on us in the future. Because one wall was missing from the "room" attention was drawn to the fact that voices did not easily carry over the background noise of the full exhibition. It was agreed that at future Annual Meetings a microphone must be made available.
The meeting decided in principle that the date of the next Annual Meeting should echo as closely as possible this one, that is, on the Saturday of Spring Stampex. But if it is proposed that we be placed again in a balcony "room" alternative accommodation shall be sought.
Before the Annual Meeting closed, Peter Grech proposed a vote of thanks to the Committee for all its hard work over the past year. The proposal was greeted with acclaim.
There then followed our second Live Auction in the room, which helped to attract a record number of 25 members to the AGM. Despite the claustrophobic conditions, members seemed to enjoy the cut and thrust of in-the-room bidding, which followed email bids based on every one of the 200 lots being illustrated online, and there was intense bidding on some of the lots.
The upshot was that 147 lots were sold (73 per cent), split as last year half-and-half between those in the room (17 bidders, 76 lots sold, for £2018) and email bidders (20 of 26 bidders successful, winning 71 lots for £1820). Postage costs will mainly be taken from the Circle commission of £383.80; and the Circle is enormously grateful to Edmund Hall, the auctioneer, and his helpers, Mike Murphy, Brian Sedgley and John Davis.
We owe an even larger debt to Jack Graham (ESC 541, of Oregon), who very kindly donated a number of items from his collection to be sold for the benefit of club funds: we are delighted to announce that 12 of the 16 lots on offer sold, for a total of £570. And there are more lots to come in forthcoming Auctions. Thank you, Jack! In similar vein, Dick Wilson offered part of the proceeds from his sales for Circle funds, and we shall gain thereby by a further £65.00. Thank you, Dick!
For a change, there was no formal closure to the meeting, merely a feeling all round that it had been a happy and worthwhile afternoon, and that everyone had enjoyed themselves.