Report of Meeting November 11 2006
1867 1pi; 1874 Issue; Overseas offices Postmarks
Peter Andrews, the Chairman opened the meeting by welcoming all those present, especially those just returned from the trip to Egypt, and noted the difficulty of crossing London on Armistice Day (the Secretary took note that November 11 is not the best day for a meeting).

He echoed the thoughts of all who had made the trip in paying generous thanks to our colleagues in Cairo who had worked so hard in organising both phases of the visit - the mini-exhibition in the club-rooms celebrating 75 years of the Philatelic Society of Egypt, and the social programme intended mainly for family members who were "abandoned" while the menfolk looked at stamps, but in fact proving equally popular to both groups!

He said it would be invidious to name names, but felt that he had to single out for special mention the President of the PSE, Sherif Samra, and its Secretary, Hany Salam, for their immense work in providing such an outstanding display of philatelic material in such congenial surroundings; and to Jeanne Fikry and Aida Salam, who had worked so hard in sometimes difficult conditions not only to provide an outstanding programme of events but also to perform the even more difficult duty of acting as chauffeur and guide. Members greeted the mentions with acclaim; and our President, John Sears, was kind enough to propose a vote of thanks to Mike Murphy and Alan Jeyes for having organised various aspects in Cairo and London.

Mike Murphy then mentioned that the possibility of future visits had been raised, perhaps even on an annual basis, and said that the Circle very much welcomed the initiative; more detailed thought would be needed to go into the practicalities. He mentioned the press coverage given in Cairo newspapers, and said that both groups hoped it might lead to wider public attendance than on this visit.

The PSE under its new Board of Directors is keen to expand its membership, and urges as many ESC members as possible to join its ranks: the Secretary is willing to collect the £15/€25/$30 subscription and forward it to our colleagues in Cairo. As an innovation, small laminated membership cards are now being produced: the PSE requests a passport-size photograph to be incorporated into these cards for this year onwards.

Various matters of correspondence were mentioned, including an invitation from the American Philatelic Society, to which we are now affiliated, to attend one or more of their forthcoming shows, and including a programme through to 2011. The Committee will discuss these dates.

Members were notified of the sale via Feldman's in Switzerland of the Samir Fikry Large Gold medal collection (Dec 3, and the Robin Bertram collection at Grosvenor Auctions in The Strand in London (December 8, - for the latter all members have received an outline listing of lots, and a full catalogue will be sent on application to Grosvenor..

Brian Sedgley, Treasurer, and John Sears then reported on Auction finances, and welcomed the success of the last two sales, resulting in a larger than usual contribution from the Auction account to the General account. Despite the ten-day hiatus for the visit to Cairo, Auction 42 will be completed in the next day or two. Lists of lots for Auction 43 should reach the Secretary by February 15. John Davis, the Librarian, reported that the sale of back copies of the QC had been successful; and that more were still available.

Stanley Horesh (ESC 118) then opened the meeting proper with the suggestion that there was no need for today's collectors to shy away from study of classical-era stamps on the grounds that they were too expensive, and showed that much pleasure and research challenge could be derived from the 1867 1-piastre, a stamp generally available at under £1. Basing his work on Byam's report in L'OP 114 (p 393 et seq), which details a large number of varieties on the stamp - made, said Byam, with the aid "of a powerful glass and a powerful imagination" - he explained that his collection was based on buying between 200-300 examples, the residue of the Byam sale, and that his talk would do no more than scratch the surface of a "fascinating study - there's no end to it!". The printing stones, he explained, were laid down as four clearly distinguishable types, each of which had characteristic varieties to be discovered, and some of which were gradually removed by the printers, allowing progress through time to be reviewed. He showed examples of all the varieties in profusion, apart from the version in lake (Stone X), which he said Byam doubted had ever been issued.

Stanley's display was augmented by John Clarke (ESC 497), who showed two copies of the 1pi lake, both with watermarks impressed on the face, as well as some imperf examples.

John's major display, however, was on the 1874 Issue, for which he showed a comprehensive range of stamps in both perforation variants, 12 ½ and 13 ¼ by 12 ½. He concentrated on tête-bêches, of which the issue has a plethora, found on all but the 20pa and the 5pi, and showed a glorious block of nine of the 2 1/2pi with the sole inverted stereo in the pane (position 154) in its centre. The stamps, John explained, were a re-issue of the disastrously produced 1872 Issue, but in many ways proved even less successful, with poor perforation throughout and the crass transposing of the side panels of the 5-para stamp, This could not possibly happen with the 1 piastre, which was the only one produced from a single stereo - all others comprised a frame, the two side panels, and the Sphinx/Pyramid design.

Brian Sedgley (ESC 268) continued the classic-era theme by showing the postmarks of Egypt's overseas offices, augmenting his own extensive collection with several photocopy pages of staggeringly wonderful covers from the outstanding collecting of Professor Peter Smith (ESC 74), to whom he paid suitable tribute. It was noted that while Costantinopoli is a fairly straightforward CDS to find - Brian showed examples of all its variations - such offices as Leros and Tenedos are immensely difficult, and covers are not known from these short-lived and far-flung offices. He was proud to have found a Gedaref (Sudan) intaglio seal cancelling a stamp in a dealer's box for £1, and noted that Mytilene is always a good clean mark. He pointed out that the travelling post office marking Uffizio Natante appears always to be struck at 90-degrees to the stamp when the ALES handstamp is in use; and normally upright on the COSP version. Can members confirm or deny this tendency from their own collections?

The meeting closed with the Chairman welcoming a whole afternoon discussing the basis of our interest - stamps - as opposed to one aspect or another of postal history; and thanked the exhibitors for taking us back to our roots. Members showed their appreciation in the traditional manner.

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