Report of Meeting, May, 10 2008
A.G.M. and Bourse
PRESENT: 14 members were present, including two from overseas; 16 members sent apologies.

The Chairman welcomed those present, and especially the visitors, Sherif Samra (ESC 311) from Egypt and Peter Goodwin (ESC 297) from New Zealand.

Minutes of the last meeting (2007): These had been published in the QC of June 2007, and were approved (proposed Peter Andrews, seconded Mike Murphy).

Matters arising: There were no matters arising.

Chairman's report: Peter Andrews reviewed a successful year, and named among the highlights the acquisition of the Postal Bulletins from Egypt, which, after much thought, were being made available on computer disk: sales of the first ten volumes available had already commenced.

He welcomed the appointment of David Sedgwick (ESC 589) as Publicity Officer, which he hoped would bring the name of the Circle into the limelight and help to increase membership, and recommended the potential visit to Sharm el-Sheikh as well as the invitation from New Zealand members to their proposed meeting in February.

He noted the gift to the Library of our US Agent, Dick Wilson, of a disk detailing some 500 pages of his medal-winning collection Postal History of British Forces in Egypt 1801-1914 and hoped that other members may produce similar disks. He thanked the Committee members for their support and continuing hard work on behalf of the Circle, and applauded the recent publication of the List of Members - while lamenting that, at their own choice, several names were still missing.

November meeting in Egypt

Dr Sherif Samra, President of the Philatelic Society of Egypt, spoke at the AGM, describing ever-closer relations between our Egyptian colleagues and the Egyptian Post Office, and announced that it was intended to run an international exhibition in conjunction with the PosTech 2008 UPU-based meeting to be held in Sharm el-Sheikh, at the tip of Sinai, in early November this year.

Details were not yet completed, but he invited all Circle members to attend what promised to be a spectacular show, with some 300 display frames: there will be the opportunity to exhibit at the event, which will be sponsored by the generosity of the Egyptian PO.

As further details come to hand they will be made available to members on our news page, but anyone interested should contact the Secretary, who will ensure that all are kept up to date with developments. at the moment of writing seven nights in an all-inclusive five-star hotel in Sharm is under £500 for the period envisaged, flights included.

Secretary's report: Mike Murphy reported briefly that membership continued at around the 200 mark, and noted that although this was the time at which members who had not paid their subscriptions were to be lapsed, there had been no adverse reaction to the increase in subscriptions. Recent publicity intended to attract more members included his articles in the special issue of The Israel Philatelist linked to the international exhibition in Tel Aviv, and his four-page "My Collection" piece on Rurals in the June issue of Stamp Magazine. He applauded the appointment of David Sedgwick as Publicity Officer, and read out a brief report from David in which he detailed publicity activities including the production of colourful flyers advertising the Circle, which he had distributed to various sources including conventions, stamp fairs and philatelic society meetings. He is also offering auction houses space on the website in return for advertisements in the QC. Members who require supplies of flyers to pass around should contact David or the Secretary.

Mike then turned to the MacArthur Award, and welcomed the advent of a reminder notice in the December QC, which had quadrupled the number of entries! He was delighted to announce the 2007 winner - by a single vote after fierce competition - as Ahmed Abu Mouse (ESC 584) of Abu Dhabi, for his articles on the Fuad portrait issues. The trophy will be sent to him as soon as it can be properly engraved.

Treasurer's report and Adoption of Accounts for 2006: In Brian Sedgley's absence, the Secretary said there had been a deficit in 2007 of £586.10, caused entirely by the £1256 purchase of the Postal Bulletins and offset by a further transfer of £1500 from the Auction account. It was noted that subscriptions appeared to be down by £750 year on year, but it was explained that many members pay in advance - the 2006 figure was some £400 higher than expected. There was some discussion over the stated value of the Circle's stamp collection (including the Library) and it was noted that last year's decision to adjust the figure to £1000 and that of the Library to £3000 had not been carried out: the meeting agreed that the adjustment will be made for 2008, taking into account the value of the new Bulletins. The Secretary proposed a vote of thanks (seconded John Clarke) to our Accountant, ESC 272, who as usual performed his duties without charge: it was greeted with acclaim. The Accounts were duly adopted (proposed John Davis, seconded Alan Jeyes).

Auction report: In the absence of John Sears, the Secretary read his report, noting a successful Auction 45 just completed, with 22 vendors and 63 bidders, who purchased 354 lots. The expected commission due to the Circle will be over £500, and donations by members or the ESC Library would provide a further £500 - he thanked particularly Jack Graham (ESC 541), André Navari (ESC 534), Peter Feltus (ESC 114) and Sue Claridge (ESC 356) for their generosity.

He reported that some difficulties had been experienced by Officers dealing with books from this auction, and noted also that some members seemed unclear about how invoices should be paid. The preamble to Auction 46 in the autumn will concern itself with both these matters; and the Secretary reported that online payments would be available via MoneyBookers as well as by PayPal. John Sears thanked the Auction team (Peter Andrews, Mike Murphy, Edmund Hall and Mike Bramwell), but warned that auctions could not be taken for granted and that the Circle could not afford to depend on this as a constant source of funding.

Editor/Webmaster report: Edmund Hall announced that he had again produced four QCs in the calendar year, and appealed to members to put pen to paper - any brief note of query or elucidation would be welcomed, even at half a page length. He noted that henceforth the members' section of the website would be protected by password, and hoped that this would encourage members to submit collection material to be placed in that area. He thanked Steven Kaplan (ESC 352) for his astonishing series of 112 pages on Egyptian Meter Marks and for permission to place it on the site, where it will join Dick Wilson's British Forces and André Navari's De La Rue collection. The members' area is growing - but Edmund suggested strongly that continuation depended entirely on feedback by members providing new material or reaction to established material. Without some serious response by the end of the year, he felt that it might be difficult to continue with this venture.

In the meantime he continues to seek new material for the members' area, and is in negotiation with the Royal Philatelic Society, seeking permission to re-use articles by Circle members published in The London Philatelist, copyright of which remains with the contributor.

Librarian's report: John Davis reported that the purchase of part of Robin Bertram's library had been an unexpected boon: the intention had been to by Peter Smith's Egypt for the Library, but with it came a large number of other books, several of which were sold in Auction 45 for a total of £387.10, more than doubling the amount paid. About 20 Sudan-related books remain to be sold, via the Sudan Study Group auction next April. The Library had also acquired a number of disks, including the first ten volumes of the Postal Bulletins (four members have agreed to purchase them so far), together with Dick Wilson and André Navari.

Proposed Change to Rule: Because of a certain disquiet about the decision taken at the 2007 AGM to raise the subscription by £5, the Secretary proposed a change of rule seeking earlier and more specific notice of any proposed change to the subscription, so that it might be more widely publicised before the AGM. On the proposal of Edmund Hall, seconded by John Davis, the suggested period of notice was changed from ten weeks to 12, and the motion, proposed by the Secretary and seconded by Edmund Hall, was then agreed by 13 votes to nil. The interpolated sentence is in italic in the amended Rule 4 paragraph 1 that follows:

4. ANNUAL MEMBERSHIP SUBSCRIPTION shall be payable in advance on January 1 each year at a rate set at the previous year's Annual General Meeting. Any proposal to vary the annual subscription must be made in specific terms (ie, notification of a specific amount) to the Secretary at least twelve weeks before the date of the AGM in order that all members may properly be notified, preferably in the next available QC. Members joining after August 1 will pay a lesser amount of subscription as decided by the Committee for the balance of the year in which they joined. If normal annual payment is not made by the date of the AGM, delivery of the QCwill be halted and the Officers will advise the member in writing that unless payment is received within 30 days membership will be terminated. No further notice will be given of termination, but membership may thereafter be restored, at the Committee's discretion, on payment in full of all outstanding subscriptions plus an administration fee of £5.00.

Any other business: 1. London 2010 at the Design Centre, Islington - The Secretary noted that the organisers were seeking sponsors, in the absence of financial support from the Royal Mail, at the rate of £10 per frame (minimum ten frames). At the same time, the Sudan Study Group had invited the Circle to share the cost and manning of the society table it had decided to take (£250 for the full week, May 8-15). Discussion ranged wide, about whether a meeting might be possible on the Saturday, whether the Circle should mark the occasion with a dinner, whether those manning a table would be allowed free entry, whether there was enough space on a single table for publicity ... and finally it was considered that no decisions could be taken in light of the present lack of detailed knowledge. The Secretary agreed to explore further and report back.
2. David Sedgwick made the suggestion that an all-day meeting, with sessions at 11am and 2pm, as recently experienced at an India Study Group meeting at the Royal, might be a way to attract farther-flung members. He also raised the possibility of a regional meeting, perhaps in York, and the Secretary noted the speedy increases in costs at the Victory Club. The Chairman suggested Birmingham for a regional meeting, and the Secretary and Chairman will work together on planning meeting venues for the coming year.

Date of the next AGM: Details of a date approximating to this one in early May will follow.

Meeting of May 10

ATTENDANCE: as above for AGM. The Secretary presented three new member applications, from the United States, Australia and France, all of which originated in the website. All were approved. The informal Bourse that followed again proved a great success, with a wide range of material brought for sale.

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