Report of Meeting, May 2, 2009
A.G.M. and Bourse
PRESENT: Fifteen members and one guest were present; apologies for absence were received from four members.

Before the meeting the Secretary drew attention to gifts to the Library of reprints of old Egypt postcards, together with bookmarks and a 2009 calendar similarly based, produced by Mohamed Nofal (ESC 489).

Consideration was then given to an application for membership from Atef Sarian, of North London, who attended the meeting as a guest: he was welcomed to membership without a dissenting voice.

Chairman's Report: The Chairman then welcomed those in attendance, and after apologies for absence and a negative on matters arising from the minutes of the last AGM, opened his annual report by saying that we had had a successful year, though with one or two disappointments. These included the resignation of Sherif Samra (ESC 311) as President of the Philatelic Society of Egypt - "a good friend to many in the Circle; we shall miss him very much" - cancellation at the last minute of the meeting planned for Alexandria, and cancellation for lack of support of the New Zealand meeting - " a great pity". He noted that five days of completely philatelic events was rarely found, and hoped that a meeting might be reinstated for next year.

But not all was gloom and doom: he was happy to note a year of worthwhile displays - particularly from the Acquisitions and Queries meetings, and wondered whether more of these short-talk meetings should be scheduled. The greatest step forward, though, had been on the website, where the hard work of Edmund Hall (ESC 239) had produced something always fascinating and constantly updated with something new. He urged all members to log in and look at the members section, which he hoped would eventually become a wonderful reference library of Egyptian philately.

Looking forward, he welcomed the prospect of our July meeting being in York, and urged consideration of more regional meetings - "I implore you to try to ensure that we get at least one each year" - and offered to arrange a meeting in Birmingham if members wished. He hoped York would be a great draw, and the first of many. The Chairman thanked the Committee for its willing help and support over an interesting year.

Secretary's Report: The Secretary spoke of his grave disappointment at the cancellation of the Alexandria meeting. He advised that membership was increased slightly over the year, from 191 to 199 members, but feared that as several members had yet to pay subscriptions due on January 1, there may be some lapses to come. He noted that the advent of voting papers in the December QC form had quadrupled the numbers supporting the Macarthur Award, and handed over to the Chairman to announce the winner: for the second successive year it was Ahmed Abu Mousa (ESC 584), of Abu Dhabi, with his Retouches and Flaws on the Fuad Second Issue. The meeting congratulated Ahmed, and noted that clearly this is the sort of article we like to see in the QC!

Treasurer's Report: The Treasurer presented Circle accounts to December 31 2008, noting a higher income from the increased subscription rate as well as an increase in donations and a small income from the sale of Postal Bulletin disks. Expenditure on the QC was slightly up, and Library expenditure very much reduced after the one-off purchase of the Postal Bulletins in 2007. The transfer from the Auction account remained constant at 1,500, leading to a surplus for the year of 1,961.18 as against a deficit of 586.10 in 2007. See details, pp. xx-xx. Members voted to adopt the Accounts (proposed, John Davis; seconded, Peter Andrews). The Treasurer then proposed a vote of thanks to the Accountant, member ESC 272, which was seconded by Edmund Hall and warmly applauded.

Auction Report: John Sears reported that the recently completed Auction 47 had sold 8,800 worth of material with only two returns. There had been delays, however, with late delivery of material and late payments, which could potentially cut the Circle commission. He noted that Auctions depended on the same members to supply material each time, and urged all members to become involved for the good of the Circle.

Editor/Webmaster Report: Edmund Hall (ESC 239) reported that the June QC was virtually full, but after that there was a yawning gap - and appealed to members to supply any item of interest, whether a learned research piece of eight pages or a one-paragraph titbit: all was grist to the mill. He referred to another postage increase in April, and Sami Sadek (ESC 559) suggested that we might we consider online publishing as a cheaper alternative.

On the website front, he reported that much new material had gone up in the members-only area in recent weeks, and was determined to carry forward the mix of archive material from the QC or elsewhere with chapters and updates from Peter Smith's wonderful book, and augmented by pages from members' collections. He welcomed the Chairman's enthusiasm, and urged all members to contribute new illustrations.

Library Report: John Davis (ESC 213) said that he could not yet provide a complete accounting as he was still awaiting the results of the sale of the late Robin Bertram's Sudan books through the Sudan Study Group auction. He announced, however, that the net profit from having bought Robin's books at Grosvenor would be 199.50 plus the SSG figure, plus quite a long list of books added to the Library itself. He announced the Circle's gratitude for gifts of Whatever Happened to the Egyptians? (AUC Press 2000; ESC 266) and Postcard Collectors' Guide to Egypt II: Raphael Tuck (Mohamed Nofal).

ESC 75th Anniversary and London 2010: The Committee expressed its great gratitude to Stanley Horesh (Deputy Chairman) for having arranged the celebration luncheon meeting for the Victory Services Club on May 7, 2010, and arrangements were discussed at length. Eventually, on the proposal of Edmund Hall seconded by Peter Andrews, the meeting voted to provide a cost-free lunch for all foreign members and spouses, subject to a refundable deposit. Since space may be limited, early acceptance by all members is advised when full details will be announced later in the year. The date and venue are confirmed: please come to help us celebrate!

The Circle will be sharing a table at London 2010 with the Sudan Study Group and the meeting discussed ways in which we might seek publicity and new members. Mike Murphy expressed the hope that the book he is writing with Dr Ibrahim Shoukry on the Rural Post might by then be available, and among many other suggestions it was decided to publish a full-colour QC with contributions from as many members as possible: we appeal to all to send in suitable articles, and to volunteer to "man" the stand at London 2010.

Because London 2010 clashes with our normal AGM date, it was decided to delay full consideration of next year's meeting dates until we can judge the success of the York regional meeting, though we shall, as ever, coincide as much as possible with Stampex and Philatex.

Affiliation to the ABPS: Full consideration was given to continuing our affiliation with the Association of British Philatelic Societies (ABPS), and the Secretary drew attention to submissions by 12 members as well as reading out recent emails from three ABPS officials - Colin Searle, the Secretary, John Baron, vice-chair of the Executive Committee, and Willie King, chairman of the PR Committee, all of which were received in two days after clarification of what the ABPS did for its affiliates was sought. In essence, the ABPS officials all admitted that the organisation had largely lost its way, that it was in the throes of change, that a better world was coming, based largely on a much-improved website (sponsored by Grosvenor!), and appealed for us to remain affiliated and to stick with them as the ABPS set out on the right track again... Interestingly, they also raised the question of double-payment of affiliation fees (members might have already paid through membership of a local or other specialist society; something that had not occurred to us. A straw poll revealed that about half of those present were members of another society).

Discussion was long and intense, but it rapidly became clear that the feeling of the room was that our affiliation fees gained us virtually no benefit and that though we supported the idea of an organisation fostering philately in the UK and improving its standards, we did not feel that the ABPS was yet in a position where we could pledge it our support. A motion proposed by John Sears and seconded by Peter Andrews was accepted by 11 votes to two: we shall withdraw our affiliation and observe progress before deciding whether or not to renew.

ESAC 266 then proposed a vote of thanks to the Committee for its work over the year, and the Annual General Meeting was formally closed. We then moved on to the Bourse, where, as usual, much material was brought and mulled over, and both buyers and sellers went away happy...
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