Report of the Meeting, January 7 2012
Sinai and Gaza
PRESENT: 16 members were present; apologies for absence were received from five members.

In the absence of the Chairman in Saudi Arabia, the Deputy Chairman welcomed members and wished all, present or not, a Happy a Peaceful New Year, and preferably a more prosperous one than 2011. He welcomed the day's speaker, Edmund Hall (ESC 239), and said he looked forward to a fascinating and fruitful afternoon.

He then announced the Circle's gratitude to Jack Graham (ESC 541), of Oregon, who has most kindly offered his collection to us to be sold in aid of Circle funds. The first 30 or so covers have arrived - the rest slowly, as Jack can gradually bear to part with them - based on the Pyramids and Mena House Hotel postmarks. Those who view the forthcoming Live Auction will see some of the material; more will appear in our auctions later in the year. The Circle is immensely grateful to Jack for this most generous gesture.

The Secretary mentioned that we shall also shortly be receiving the collection of our great late friend Peter Goodwin (ESC 297), which he has asked to be sold via the Circle auction on behalf of his grandchildren. After being broken into suitable-size lots, it will appear in later auctions.

He reinforced the fact that three of our meetings this year would be "bring and show", in an effort to extend the attendances, and urged members to bring suitable material, bolstering the strength of the TPOs meetings already carried out. For serious study, however, a full meeting is clearly not suitable, and a small committee will meet shortly to attempt to break the back of the TPOs update. Their efforts will be reported in the QC but for convenience will be published in full on the website.

He handed over to the Librarian a reprint of the 60-page handbook of Egyptian Postal Markings of 1865-1879, a gift from the author, Peter Feltus (ESC 114), and expressed the Circle's gratitude. Here is another study (latest edition 1982) which is crucial to our researches - but badly in need of a thorough update.

The Secretary mentioned a note from one of our members who is keen to extend his collecting in the following areas, and would welcome hearing about any material a member might have for sale: Government mail sent from a government department or person, pre-adhesive up to the 1922 OHEMS overprint; Egypt cancels of any sort showing the star and crescent; philatelic material or documents related to the Egypt-Sudan slave trade or (19th century) public health and sanitary measures, including disinfection. Please contact the Secretary in the first instance if you are considering parting with such material.

Two new members were elected, from France and the United States, and three more applications will be dealt with at the February 25 Annual General Meeting.

The Treasurer reported that subscriptions for 2012 - which were due on January 1 - were rolling in, but again appealed to those who can do so to pay by standing order - Barclays Bank, Wood Green Group (sort code 20-98-21, account number 60334731) - which is painless, trouble-free, and helps both the member and the Circle!

The Editor/webmaster suggested that the March QC might be delayed because of his pressure of work, but the meeting rallied round, and there were enough volunteers to ensure that it should be issued on time.

It was then on to the meeting proper, with Edmund Hall doing his level best to unravel the intricacies of the military and political situation of an area fought over almost continuously, with an astonishing display of stamps, postal stationery and postal history reflecting virtually constant changes of rule since Sinai became considered part of Egypt "proper" in 1906.

Since Egypt overprinted and then produced special issues for "Palestine", meaning the Gaza Strip, an area which started life only after the 1949 war becomes part of the mix, and the passing parade of authorities include Egypt, Israel and now the Palestinian Authority, all of whom reflected their interest in stamps, postmarks and special issues.

The display of over 160 Sheets started with Egyptian Sinai in the 19th. century to 1914, later covering 1917 - 1956 and finishing with Egyptian Sinai 1979 to the present. Gaza starting with the 19th. century Turkish post offices Gaza and Khan Yunis, the British Mandate, Egyptian Occupation 1948 and 1957, Israeli occupation 1956 and 1967 and finally the postage of the Palestinian Authority 1995. The military aspect covered WWI & WWII, the Arab-Israeli wars 1948/1956/1967/1973 as well as the peace keeping forces of UNEF I, UNEF II and the MFO. Forces from over twenty countries.

At the end of a panoramic run-through an area that turned out to be much more than just rock and sand, Jon Aitchison (ESC 661) thanked Edmund profusely, reflecting on the multiple changes in Sinai since he first visited Naama Bay (Sharm el-Sheikh) more than 25 years ago. The display, he said, covered an enormous area both geographically and philatelically, and the amount of material displayed did full credit to the stamps and postal history of a region whose final story has yet to be told. Members showed their appreciation in time-honoured fashion.

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