Report of the Meeting, July 7, 2012

PRESENT: Fifteen members were present; apologies for absence were received from six members.

The Chairman opened the meeting by welcoming an unexpectedly large attendance in light of countrywide floods and the alternative attraction of the Wimbledon ladies' final, and there was a special welcome for Dr Sherif Samra, President of the Philatelic Society of Egypt. He described the meeting as an important one with the aim of attracting more members to the possibilities of collecting material after the abdication of Farouk - a point at which many seem to feel that Egypt collecting came to an end. He looked forward to some stimulating displays.

The Chairman also announced the sad demise of Philatex, whose organisers had decided that it was no longer possible to continue in light of the sale of the Horticultural Halls in Victoria, home to the exhibition for many years, to a local school. Probably we shall have to switch our annual Philatex meeting back to the Victory Services Club.

The Secretary had the sad task of announcing the death at 92 of Jean Flower, last surviving daughter of William Byam, our founder, and noted that John Davis represented the Circle at her funeral. A floral tribute was sent on behalf of officers and members [link?]

He announced that the last packet of vendor's material had been received from Egypt on that day, via the good offices of Dr Sherif Samra, and paid tribute to Sherif for his continuing voluntary role as courier of moneys and material between Egypt and UK. It truly is very much appreciated in removing all risk of things "going astray" in the post.

Auction 51 is therefore about to be completed, and the Secretary made special mention of the great efforts put in by Keith Pogson (ESC 130), who has taken over the role of "Auction accountant" from John Sears. Although Keith has been surprised at some of the associated costs - and promises that changes are likely - it was announced that bidding on Peter Goodwin's material was strong, and that more then 5,000 had been raised for his grandchildren. It is hoped to run another Auction based on Peter's material in the autumn.

The Secretary announced recent successes at international exhibitions, including Gold medals for our members Greg Todd (Paris) and Hany Salam (Jakarta) [link?]

Two applications for membership were reviewed and in each case approved, so we are happy to welcome Bart Belonje (Netherlands) and Yannis Lazarides (Qatar).

The meeting proper provided a quite remarkable range of "post-monarchy" collecting interests, ranging far and wide through not only stamps and varieties but also postal markings, international reply coupons, geographical areas, "clandestine" markings, miniature sheets, postal mechanisation, official "year" displays ... all in all, plenty of opportunity for those seeking out a new pursuit.

They will be dealt with briefly here since it is hoped that at least some of the short displays might be expanded into full meetings or QC articles.

Edmund Hall (ESC 239) showed a wide range of covers in attempting to match up the rate with a single stamp of the appropriate value, and explained that for much of the period the postal authorities made manful efforts to print a stamp for every postal rate, leading to such "odd" values as 13, 32 and 37 mills. But there were times, because of a change of rate and the necessity for stamp printing to "catch up", when even the basic internal letter rate was without a suitable stamp. He pointed out several values that were rare on cover because the period of usage was short; and how a stamp might be revalued but not redesigned when a change of rate occurred.

The display of John Clarke (ESC 497) covered a series of "odd" unaddressed plain covers, virtually all with Cairo Philatelic Bureau cancels and apparently intended to represent first-day covers, with stamps on which suspicion has rightly been cast. Dating from a time when it was unusual in the extreme for first-day covers to be produced for definitive stamps, these included mainly six-bar Farouk overprints, but also varieties on the Palestine overprints, and formed a fascinating range of material that we should all watch very closely!

Stanley Horesh (ESC 118) showed a series of covers illustrating conflicting fortunes in the Gaza Strip area as it was first occupied by Egypt, then by Israel, then Egypt again and Israel again with UN forces often keeping the sides apart. Included were Egyptian covers from Gaza, El Arish, Khan Younis and Deir el Balah, Israeli markings from Gaza and Khan Younis, and Danish, Canadian and Indian UN markings, as well as a UNEF free-mail cancel from Rafa of September 1957.

Not for the first time, Ted Fraser-Smith (ESC 238) went off at a tangent, describing his search for varieties on full sheets of post-monarchy definitives and recognising that, with stamps generally printed in two panes, varieties on one pane did not match those on the other: he was able to discover "new" varieties by examining the second pane. He noted also that there are probably many more printings than are listed, with the clue in slight variations in the way the control numbers were printed on a re-issue or reprint.

Cyril Defriez (ESC 172) showed some better known and listed varieties, but also some astonishing double-perforated issues in immediate post-monarchy definitives, and an imperforate pair of the Syrian version of the 1959 UAR Post Day issue in addition to the recognised distorted logo. His eagle eye also spotted that though the 1983 Cairo University stamps were perforated 11x11 , the stamp on his FDC had a perforation of 13 x 12 . Why?

Mostafa El-Dars (ESC 556) was able to show three of the wonderfully ornate official year sheets, intended for display in embassies, at exhibitions etc, holding a full year's actual stamps stuck on to large printed sheets, and including definitives, commemoratives, miniature sheets, even Officials. He showed 1963, and then 1972 and 1971, both Arab Republic of Egypt, but in the upper half of 1971 all Nasser-related stamps were still named for the United Arab Republic.

Alan Jeyes (ESC 293) returned to the three-bars theme to show varieties on the E1 (split bars and bars inverted), and postcards with the Farouk stamps barred out by hand (one to Boulad had Fuad's stamp barred by hand as well!). He also showed essays for the final series of Postage Dues, including a full set in unadopted colours, with instructions in Arabic to change them to the colours we recognise.

John Sears (ESC 188) enjoyed the designs of some of the more recent miniature sheets and showed some of the more outstanding designs, and especially the se-tenant pair and the miniature sheet commemorating the opening of the Aswan Suspension Bridge in 2002 (designer Said Abd el-Aziz El Badrawi).

Peter Andrews (ESC 122) showed souvenir material from the Cairo 1991 international stamp exhibition, which many of those present had attended, and described and displayed the 10pi postal stationery envelope and recounted how fortunate he was to have a full set of day-themed postmarks postally used.

At the end, Mike Murphy (ESC 240) showed a range of International Reply Coupons issued for Egypt, illustrating how inflation gobbled up their value during especially the 1980s and 1990s; and also a series of machine-cancelled covers with Arabic figures inserted into the "waves" and into the slogans where present. No one could come up with a convincing explanation of their use. But he also showed two covers with red-letter indicators of a Belgian sorting machine used briefly in Cairo in 1960-61, including a unique example with the letter K twice imposed. As examples for further study, he suggested Bareed Ahly and postal agent markings, the EMS service, the modern postal stationery, and postal re-use of cancelled cassette envelopes.

The Chairman summed up the meeting by observing that it was "quite obvious that there is more interest in the post-monarchy period than one would think". He thanked members for displaying a lot of varied and unusual topics to think about.

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