Report of the Meeting, May 10, 2014
Annual General Meeting
IMPORTANT: The Annual Meeting took a momentous decision in an attempt to counter the potentially disastrous effects of Royal Mail's postage increases on our worldwide despatch of the Quarterly Circular. As an experiment, all of this year's QCs will be placed on the website for members to download if they wish. The printed version will also be sent out as normal - but at the end of the year members must let us know which version they wish to have. Those choosing the online version will have their subscription cut by £5 to £15. The subscription rate for those choosing the printed version will stay at £20 for 2015, but as we cannot forecast what the "online" uptake might be, we suggest strongly that there may have to be an increase for the printed version from 2015.

PRESENT: 15 officers and members were present; apologies for absence were received from ten members.

Minutes of the last meeting and matters arising: Approved by acclamation; no matters arising.

Motion proposed by the Committee: The motion sent to all members with the AGM details, suggesting that the QC be presented online to save postage costs, was subject to an amendment proposed by Edmund Hall (ESC 239) and seconded by Sami Sadek (ESC 559). After much discussion, the amendment was passed by nine votes to two.

It reads: In light of recent massive increases in Royal Mail postal rates, it is proposed that the 2014 Quarterly Circular be placed within the members-only section of the website for viewing, download or printing by individual members as they wish. Printed QCs will be sent out as normal for 2014, and the subscription rate will not change for 2015. Members will be asked to express a definite preference to the Secretary by the end of 2014: those choosing the online version will have a reduced subscription of £15 for 2015; those not expressing a preference will be considered to have chosen the printed version. If necessary in light of the online take-up, we regret that 'printed-version' subscriptions may have to be increased for 2016.

During this debate the Secretary noted that members of the New Zealand Chapter have voluntarily increased their subscription to £25 to counter the postal increases. Members expressed the Circle's great gratitude. Chairman's Report: Peter Andrews reported that 2013 had been a very successful year, with fascinating displays, but that it had been a fight. He appealed to all members, and particularly those newer on the scene, to volunteer to present their interests and research for the interest of their colleagues. He noted that displays did not always require a full three-hour presentation, and that half-meetings were perfectly acceptable.

Initial mini-auction a great success

Our first mini-auction, the brainchild of Jon Aitchison (ESC 661) and intended to provide an added attraction in our Meetings List, proved a real success, with six vendors offering an interesting and varied 47 lots, of which 23 (49 per cent) were sold to seven purchasers.

We are grateful to Jon and his colleagues, John Clarke (ESC 497) and the Treasurer, Brian Sedgley (ESC 268), for their hard work in organising the lots and the cash transactions involved, which resulted in over £70 for Circle funds. As a first step, we did experience the odd teething troubles, but nothing important, and we look forward to the next mini-auction at the July 19 meeting at the Royal Philatelic Society.
Secretary's Report: Mike Murphy reported that membership had remained fairly constant in 2013, with eight resignations, three deaths and three lapsings, offset by six new members and the return of three former members to membership, which now stands at 181, the lowest in several years. He did, however, present one more new applicant, who was confirmed by those present: welcome to Moe Rizkalla of Sydney.

He handed over to the Chairman who reported that the Macarthur Award for the most interesting QC article for 2013 had been won by a single point by Mike Murphy (ESC 240) for his article on the Boulad cut-outs, and presented him with a new Tutankhamun trophy provided by Sami Sadek, the former Scribe awards from the era of Nabil el Hadidi having come to their end.

Treasurer's Report: Brian Sedgley noted that the accounts showed a surplus for the year of £668.16 (against £4403.12 in 2012), due very largely to decrease in the amount transferred from the Auction account, on which, after the postage increases, we continue to depend. He reported that the Auction account and the general account had recently been merged to reduce potential confusion, and noted a slight increase in the accumulated surplus to £16,270.71.

Jon Aitchison pointed out, however, that this amount included £5,251 for our New Issues stamp collection "based on catalogue value", and queried whether this amount was realistic. Brian Sedgley made clear that the stated value covered both the stamp collection and the Library, but after much discussion it was agreed by the meeting that since Egypt had ceased sending us new issues it was unrealistic to try to continue. It was agreed that its keeper, Cyril Defriez (ESC 172), should show the collection at one of the 2015 meetings, and after that we investigate the sale of the stamps in aid of Circle funds.

Accounts were adopted (proposed: Edmund Hall; seconded Mike Murphy) by acclamation, and the Treasurer proposed a vote of thanks to the accountant, Stephen Bunce (seconded Mike Murphy), again by acclamation.

Auction Report: Mike Murphy reported that Auction 52 (October 2013) had sold 48 per cent of 552 lots, providing the Circle with commission of £889.96, and that the Live Auction in February this year sold 58 per cent of 205 lots, producing commission (including donated material from Hilary Shaw and André Navari) of £558.40). He emphasised the importance of the Auctions and hoped that members would provide him with typed and illustrated lots for sale in the autumn Auction 53 by August 10. Editor/Webmaster Report: Edmund Hall reported that as long as members continued to supply fascinating articles the magazine would continue to flourish. He hoped to be able to make further additions to the website's members-only section in the near future, and reported that, in addition to online presentation of the 2014 QC, plans were going ahead for the digitisation of all QC, L'OP and Egyptian Topics back copies.

Librarian's Report: In his absence his report was read out: John reported increased activity on the lending front in recent months and urged members to use the well-stocked Library in their researches. He reported with gratitude the gift of a beautifully bound copy of Egypt Early Airmail 1910-1936 by Lucien Toutounji (ESC 264) and of books and archives from Peter Heim (ESC 384). The Library had also benefited from the purchase of Peter Grech's two favourably-reviewed books on the French Post Offices in Egypt. Income for the year was £17.50, and expenditure £117.82. Election of Officers: The meeting heard with great regret that David Sedgwick, Publicity Officer, was not well and unable to continue. Members appealed to colleagues to contact the Secretary to volunteer.

Any Other Business: The Secretary announced that he had been able to augment an almost complete list of members back to 1935 found in a Peter Goodwin notebook and proposed to publish it on the website with an appeal to members to complete any gaps in the list.

He read out - anonymously - an email from a member in the USA accusing a member in Britain of maligning him over the abortive sale and return of philatelic material. The meeting instructed the Secretary to investigate further: he is happy to report that he now has assurances that the dispute is amicably resolved. Both members have been advised that any such matter should be settled between the members concerned rather than causing potential harm to the Circle's reputation by opening it to public attention. The President, John Sears, proposed a vote of thanks to the Committee for all their hard work during a year that had held rather more difficulties than most.

Date of the next AGM: Members are happy with the Services Club. A similar date will be chosen for 2015. There then followed the Mini Auction (see panel) and an interesting Ten Sheets meeting:

Tony Schmidt (ESC 198) followed up his article in QC 105 (March 1978) by showing postal paper ranging from 1893 to 1903 with cancellations of MPI, MI or MP (for Mandats Postaux International); and also intaglio seals of Roda / Fayoum and Abuxah / Fayoum on postal paper.

Mike Bramwell (ESC 448) showed a series of "doubly vandalised" covers from the Continental Hotel to UK, all having had their stamps stripped off. The other vandalisation, however, took the form of beautiful hand-drawn illustrations covering the 1917 envelopes. Artwork accompanying his recent purchase suggested strongly that the drawings were the work of EBN, ie E.B. Norton, illustrator of many Egyptian postcards.

A 'doubly vandalised' beautiful hand-drawn envelope sent Registered
from the Continental Hotel, Cairo, to St Johns Wood and dated 1 VI 17

Pauline Gittoes (ESC 662) asked a query about colour shades and variations in recently printed Egyptian stamps, and wondered about their collectability. The meeting felt that quality control at the printing house was not up to standard, explaining many of these variations, but also that paper changes, subsequent issues of the same stamp, and even slightly altered designs for reissues all played a part in providing a wealth of minor varieties, many of which deserved their individual listings in the major catalogues.

Mike Murphy (ESC 240) presented a couple of Rural covers with the Rural Service / Qantara-Rayyah CDS that simply looked "too good to be true", with perfect strikes of the cartouches of Canal Garden and Ezbet Abu Subeih. Since this CDS, with recorded dates ranging only 1945-1950, is unusual, he appealed to members to come forward with other examples for investigation and authentication.

John Clarke (ESC 497) surprised the meeting by showing a 17-millième Farouk Marechal royal imperforate with a double watermark, even providing a magnifying glass to prove his point. How could it be?

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