Report of Meeting, March, 1 2008
Twentieth Century Postal Rates
Ten sheets at Stampex
PRESENT: Twenty Officers and Members were present; apologies for absence were received from a further seven.

As the Chairman was delayed by horrendous traffic problems, John Sears assumed the mantle with enormous good grace and opened the meeting by welcoming those present, and especially the four overseas members who attended - small in quantity but high in quality! He regretted to have to report on the recent demise of John Catchpole of Cornwall (ESC 537).

The Acting Chairman was then able to welcome - to a rousing storm of applause - David Sedgwick, who has volunteered to act as Publicity Officer, a role that has languished unfilled for some time. The position involves liaising with the philatelic press to ensure that our name stays before the public's eye in an attempt to gain more members; and also to seek advertising for the QC, cutting Circle costs and, we hope, enabling use of more colour illustrations. David, who will become a Committee member, was assured of the active help of the Secretary, Treasurer and Editor/Webmaster in his new role. In light of the appointment, it was decided to retain membership of the ABPS for a further year.

With an eye to gaining more members, the Secretary mentioned that he had recently written two articles based on the Circle, one for The Israel Philatelist to be distributed at the May 2008 Tel Aviv International, the other for Stamp Magazine in the UK.

The Secretary reported that a letter written to the 17 Egyptian members who had questioned the necessity for the increase in subscriptions made at last year's AGM had been acknowledged and circulated but that there had been no further reaction from Cairo.

He said he had been delighted to receive recently a disk from our US Agent, Dick Wilson (ESC 230), containing his medal-winning collection of material titled Postal History of the British Forces in Egypt 1801-1914, and much, much more in a comprehensive and detailed encyclopaedia of some 500 pages. A further copy had gone to the Library.

In similar vein, the Secretary reported that he had that day returned two borrowed copies of the Postal Bulletins to Tony Schmidt (ESC 198), who had lent three more (1885-1887); and he announced that two individual members had successfully purchased 31 more copies of the Bulletin (nine of them duplicates) from Egypt.

There was much discussion over how these crucial mines of information should be made available for study. The fragility of the books makes impossible their physical loan to members, so they are being photographed and made into disks in jpg format for members to own. As is usual for Library items, members should meet the cost of postage and packaging: the meeting agreed a charge of £5 per disk to members worldwide, with reductions for those ordering several volumes. It is hoped that two years' worth of information will fit on one disk (British Forces is one disk).

Members without computer facilities will need to go to a friend for help, or their local library, as the time and effort involved in our Officers printing out the 70 or so pages for each year would be prohibitive. For similar reasons we regret that it is not possible to carry out research on particular topics on behalf of members (but see Page extract).
Details received from Tony Chisholm (Antipodean Agent) of a meeting planned for New Zealand in February 2009 have been posted on the website; Cairo is also pulling out all the stops by planning an exhibition meeting in the first week of November and invites any member interested to display before an international judge at what will be a top-level meeting. Those interested should contact the Secretary (for Egypt) or Tony direct at

Edmund Hall then opened the meeting proper by completing his January display, "Twentieth Century Postal Rates", with material from the 1960s onwards. Though republican postal history is often looked at askance, he showed just how fascinating and varied such "modern" material can be with a well-researched collection of covers displaying changes in rates and how the issued stamps rarely kept pace. Members were enlightened and amused - and gained some clues as to what adhesives had a very limited use and should be sought out on cover! See previous meeting report for examples

The "Ten sheets" theme followed. Here is an abbreviated report on an entertaining and necessarily varied series o displays covering virtually all areas of Egyptian postal history:

Tony Schmidt showed the Michael Barker parcel cover addressed to the Barker company in Alexandria and furnished with no fewer than nine Alexandria Interpostals. The lesson was one of care: while the original address written in Liverpool had survived 20 years of display in a frame in a sunny room, the Egyptian ink in which a receiving officer had made notes had faded almost to invisibility.

Leon Balian explained some of the details of his Stamps of Egypt: Book Two catalogue, and how the two volumes complemented each other and had been intended from the start to be used together; hence there was no duplication of material or illustrations. He gave details of the new areas covered, including comprehensive coverage of the French Post Offices issues, Egypt's control numbers, the 1933 Air Mails, and every flaw and plate variety on the commemoratives from 1940 to 1980.

John Sears showed maritime material, concentrating on the port facilities of Alexandria and Port Said, with covers and cards showing customs houses and the like. He showed a fine registered cover from the Seamen's Home in Alexandria and a remarkable rare Port Said (Port) CDS struck in blue as well as all three markings of the UAR Station Maritime.

A recent acquisition in a Rural Service marking of the Shatanuf-Shisha rural line was displayed by Cyril Defriez, who noted for the very first time that the phrase Rural Service on the CDS had been mis-spelled Rural SeEvice with a double-E. It is the first time such an error has been spotted on a rural postmark, and members are now on the lookout for any more! See Q46

Member ESC 266 showed the development of the Port Said local area known first as the Quartier Arab (1895), and then via Hai el Arab (1908) to Qism Sani (1930s) and finally to Qism Tani (1960s) - all of them shown in postmarks; and he was even able to trace the site of the post office itself. He also showed cards tracing the changes in the Simon Arzt store in Port Said.

David Sedgwick showed what he described as "odds and ends", which included some spectacular pre-stamp covers from Egypt to France and UK, and other slit and vinegar-splashed in an attempt to purify them against malignant disease en route.

A fascinating display of overseas postage due stamps on Egyptian covers was produced by John Davis, ranging widely from France, Greece and Italy through Switzerland, Yugoslavia and USA to Transvaal and ending with a cover with three different nations' dues - Egypt because unfranked, Singapore on arrival, and UK after readdressing.

Brian Sedgley showed a selection of the fascinating Italian-language postmarks of 1874-1884 from Upper Egypt and the Sudan, that is, Egypt south of Sohag, explaining the variations in the Poste Egiziane markings and how difficult it was to find those of Sudan in particular.

Confusion about the issue date of Egypt's recent prestige booklet, Discover the Treasures of Egypt, was illustrated by Mostafa El-Dars, who showed first-day cancels on the booklet's sheets, apparently from different arms of the Philatelic Bureau, dated 8 May 2004 and 22 January 2004 (like the UPU-based website). The mystery continues….

Mike Murphy showed how two examples of the cassette envelopes, valued at £E2 ½ and £1 (1999 issue), now superseded, had been overprinted in Arabic "Cancelled" with a large black box; and then reused by the Post Office itself for mail between offices.

Finally, Charlie Hass illustrated the origin and usage of the 1898 bilingual 3 millièmes on 2 piastre Postage Due surcharge, detailing the necessity for its use for mails from soldiers in the Sudan who had no access to stamps and displaying an astonishing variety of covers including a "forerunner" with a 2m Due bisect used with a full stamp to pay the 3m Due rate on a cover from Berber. He also showed an amazing use of the 10m Crown Overprint Due stamp, on a cover from Qus that happened to arrive in Alexandria on Oct 10, 1922, with a deficiency of 5m - hence a first-day cancel on the new postage due stamp.

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