Report of Meeting, July 14, 2007
British Forces in Egypt
PRESENT: Sixteen visitors and one guest were present. Apologies for absence were received from seven members.

As the Chairman was delayed on family business, the Deputy Chairman opened the meeting by welcoming those present, including several who have not been regular attenders. He mentioned that the Philatelic Society of Egypt is again holding a mini-exhibition in November, and asked anyone interested in visiting to contact the PSE at or via the Secretary.

He then called on Mohamed Nofal to introduce his new publication, Postcard Collectors Guide: Part 1 - Alexandria, Egypt 1890-1956. Mohamed explained that the volume, the product of 14 years' work, was merely the first in a series covering all of Egypt's postcards, and represented a first attempt to set in order this fascinating collecting area. He described the classification of publishers, series and card numbers as very complex (his list comprises no fewer than 1,150 publishers of Egypt cards), and, offering members present a copy at a generous discount price of 30, added: "I need your encouragement and constructive criticism to enhance the project as time goes by". Mohamed kindly presented an inscribed copy to the Library.

The Secretary, Mike Murphy, then announced another important Library acquisition in the form of 20 volumes of the weekly Egyptian Postal Bulletin, dating from between 1890 and 1925. These volumes, containing unique primary source material in the form of notices from the Egyptian Post Office HQ to branch offices, have been provided by Peter Feltus in California, to whom the Circle is indebted for setting a reasonable price. Our intention is that information contained therein will be published gradually in the QC and on the website and made available to all members as soon as possible: the sheer mass of new information will necessitate spending some time in its preparation.

The Secretary then presented draft lists of the long-awaited Full List of Members, which appears as a Supplement to this QC, together with a list of Members' Interests, for ease of mutual communication. He regretted that some members had resigned recently, and that others, having failed to communicate despite several notices, were in danger of having their memberships lapsed. He announced the following dates for 2008: January 12 (Services Club), topic TBA; March 1 (Stampex), Ten Sheets; May 10 (Services Club), AGM & Bourse; July 12 (Services Club), TBA; Sept 20 (Stampex), Acquisitions/Queries; Nov 22 (Services Club), TBA.

He spoke of a recent meeting in London with Dr Sherif Samra, President of the PSE, who clarified the position of subscriptions and the L'OP: Sherif will write to all PSE members outside Egypt to apologise for having fallen behind with production of the L'OP, a promise to improve matters in the near future, and to explain that membership carries with it all the benefits of services carried out in Egypt such as liaison with the Philatelic Bureau, seeking out of information, publications, particular philatelic wants or New Issues.

The Treasurer, Brian Sedgley, announced that the recent QC had included an unfortunate typing error in the Circle's bank account details. Members wishing to pay subscription by direct debit (a boon for the Circle!) should kindly make arrangements to pay Barclays Bank (sort code 20-89-21, account 60334731) using your surname and ESC membership number as the reference. In the absence of John Davis, he also announced that the Circle Library was now insured, for the minimum 10,000.

John Sears announced that the recent Auction No 44 had produced more than the usual number of niggles, but that the final outcome was a profit of some 1,250, 750 of which had been transferred to the general account.

Turning to the topic of the day, David Sedgwick (ESC 589) said that his aim was to give a rough chronological overview of the presence of British Forces in Egypt, mostly between 1880 and 1950. The emphasis of the session was upon the 1930s concession period.

Covers were shown from the 1882 quelling of the Arabi Pasha uprising and of the conquest and re-conquest of Sudan (1884-98) and representative covers of the presence of British Forces in the periods before, throughout and after World War I. The talk covered the change in relationship between Great Britain and Turkey during this early period and mentioned Britain's necessity to protect the routes to further parts of the Empire, particularly India.

Mention was made of the presence of Empire (as it was at that time) forces in Egypt, and the concession period was illustrated with covers and stamps from two principal areas - the so-called seals and the Crown Cancel covers. The former were illustrated profusely with booklet panes of many of them, and each of the 11 types was shown on cover. The procedure required by the Egyptian postal authorities was emphasised and the varieties on each of the stamps was shown to be a study in itself. The possibilities in developing collections in the sub areas (eg, rettas, varieties, postage dues, etc.) were indicated.
The 25 different Crown Cancels had to be used in a precise form agreed with the Egyptian authorities. Most of the 25 were illustrated, including the rare No 7, and the occasional uses and attempts to use "wrong" procedures were also shown. The whole concession was legitimate only for items sent to Great Britain or Ireland, but a cover successfully sent to Canada was shown, and there were several illustrations of attempts to use other incorrect procedures, calling for postal dues to be required in Great Britain.
The change to Army Post stamps in 1936 was also illustrated and a variety of covers from World War II was shown with several different cancels. A selection of items illustrating some of the social activities and possibilities for troops in Egypt was also shown.

The Chairman thanked David for a splendid and well-thought-out display, and called for more of the same in the future. Members showed their appreciation in time-honoured fashion.

* As a footnote to the meeting, John Davis (ESC 213) announces that he has completed 27 chapters of his book, which will probably be entitled The History of the Postal Concession for British Forces in Egypt 1932 to 1952, and that he would like to hear from any member who might be able to help with details of any unusual or significant material. All help would be very much appreciated.

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