Report of the Meeting, Febuary 23 2013
Annual General Meeting and Live Auction
For the third Stampex meeting in a row, there was enormous confusion on the part of the exhibition organisers about timing and meeting room designations. Several societies were severely discomfited, and only after much toing and froing were we able to start the meeting approximately on time. The Chairman opened the meeting by welcoming all those present, particularly a gratifyingly large number from overseas.

A minute's silence was held for three long-serving and stalwart members who have passed away since the November meeting in Lars Alund (ESC 105), Peter Feltus (ESC 114) and Stanley Horesh (ESC 118). All will be sorely missed.

Apologies for absence

Minutes of the last meeting and matters arising: Approved by acclamation; no matters arising.

Chairman's Report: Peter Andrews reported that the year in question had been very successful, with some fascinating displays, and that the Committee was working hard to continue the trend. He noted in particular that we had had successful "study" meetings recently, most recently on Directional Markings; he welcomed this return to older values, and recognised that without such research meetings the Circle would not be making progress.

Secretary's Report: Mike Murphy reported that membership had remained constant over the year in question, the number of resignations, deaths and lapsings being matched precisely by the advent of new members (12) and the return of three former members to membership. Membership is now 186, but it is expected that we shall lose more in the coming month as those who have failed to pay their subscriptions are shed.

He reported that after the runaway win by Peter Grech in 2011, the Macarthur Award for the most interesting QC article for 2012 had been won by the smallest of margins - half a point. The Chairman presented the award to Edmund Hall (ESC 239) for the first of his two articles on Gaza and Sinai.

In respect of the green sheet "Strangled by the Post Office" the Secretary reported that there had been a good response to the discussion document about how to deal with vastly increased postal charges in the UK. He urged all members to contribute to the discussion, which will lead to a specific motion for consideration at the 2014 AGM.

Treasurer's Report: Brian Sedgley also referred to the ill effects of the postal increases, and noted that although the accounts showed a surplus for the year of 2,361.87 (against a loss in 2011 of 453.37) this was due very largely to a transfer of 2,470.12 from the Auction account, without which we would again have run at a loss. He warned that the full effect of the postal charges had not yet hit, and urged the 31 members who had not yet paid their subscriptions to do so quickly or risk losing their membership.

Jon Aitchison (ESC 661) queried the valuation of the Circle's stamp collection "at catalogue value", suggesting that catalogue value was an unrealistic assessment. The Treasurer assured the meeting that the method of valuation would be rigorously examined before the next AGM.

The Accounts were adopted (proposed: Edmund Hall; seconded Sami Sadek) by acclamation, and the Treasurer proposed a vote of thanks to the accountant, Stephen Bunce (proposed Brian Sedgley, seconded Mike Murphy), again by acclamation.

Auction Report: Mike Murphy emphasised the importance of the Auctions to the Circle's general funding, and hoped that everyone would bid high this afternoon (see below). The "big" Auction would take place in the autumn, when he hoped that all members would do their best to provide interesting lots for sale - and then to bid as high as their wallets/purses would allow. Typed illustrated lists to Mike by August 15, please.

Editor/Webmaster Report: Edmund Hall reported that the full-colour QC was being well received, that costs were worrying, but that as long as members continued to supply fascinating articles the magazine would continue to flourish. He hoped to be able to make further additions to the website's members-only section in the near future, and reported that plans were going ahead for the digitisation of the QC back copies.

Librarian's Report: John Davis apologised to members who had ordered back-copy QCs: he had been hampered by both personal injuries and computer problems which meant that despatch had been delayed. For one reason or another some members had not received QCs this year, so John had provided them as a follow-up. As an example of rising postage costs, he noted that three QCs to South African in 2011 cost 1.98; last year three more to the USA were charged at 5.54.

Election of Officers: John Davis, nominated by Peter Andrews and seconded by Mike Murphy, kindly agreed to stand for the post of Deputy Chairman vacated by the sad death of Stanley Horesh, and was elected by acclamation.

Date of the next AGM: In light of the continual confusion by Stampex officers about where, when and how long our meetings should take place, the Secretary was instructed to write a firm note to the exhibition organisers. Partly because of this confusion, and partly because it was felt that meetings in November, January and February was squeezing matters too much, it was agreed that the Committee would take a long look at how and when Circle meetings are arranged, in time for changes to next year's programme. The AGM will not be at Stampex.

There then followed the Live Auction, in which it became apparent only after the meeting that a computer glitch had prevented consideration of email bids by some half a dozen members. We apologise deeply and sincerely to those who have been inconvenienced in this way, and the Secretary has worked hard to try to unravel what bids might be saved. Checks have been put in place to ensure that there is no future recurrence of this omission.

Partly as a result of this, even though there was strong bidding in the room, the Auction was not as successful as last year. At the time of writing matters are still to be finalised but it appears that we will have sold about 60 per cent of the 204 lots, with room bidders providing about 1200 of the approximately 1900 sales. This is a very disappointing result after sales of about 3800 last year, and will be reflected in the Circle commission when final figures are circulated.

The meeting ended cheerfully, and it is clear that Stampex has its attractions, eminently suitable for informal meetings where members can get together and chat. But not for an AGM.

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