Report of Meeting, November 22, 2008
Postal Stationery I
PRESENT: Fourteen officers and members were present; apologiers for absence were received from four members.

The Chairman welcomed members present, including especially Yasser Omar (ESC 605), attending his first meeting, and gave a brief report on last weekend's meeting and exhibition in Sharm el-Sheikh. John Sears than gave a brief report on the previous day's sale of material submitted by himself and Dennis Clarke (ESC 165) for auction with Grosvenor in London.

The meeting discussed the York meeting organised by Keith Pogson (ESC 130) for July 2009 in conjunction with York Racecourse stamp fair, and decided that though the fair is over two days, July 17 and 18, our meeting would take place as normal on the Saturday afternoon. Frames will kindly be provided via Richard Wheatley (ESC 168). Those considering an overnight stay should contact the Secretary for accommodation details.

Mike Murphy then made a brief presentation on his work in attempting to classify the Rural postal markings and sought members' help in criticising his work. He was delighted that three volunteers came forward.

Two new members were elected to membership - Hany Haddad (ESC 633) of New Jersey, and Andre Slivitzky (ESC 634) of Quebec: welcome to both of you!

Brian Sedgley appealed to members to pay their 2009 subscription on time (the due date is January 1), and pointed out that payment by bank standing order removed any problem with memory lapses, finding the chequebook or a stamp, and remembering to visit the postbox!

John Sears reported that Auction 46 had been successful, but that there had been difficulties with receipt of lots from one vendor who had not been well. The Circle apologise to buyers who received their lots very late, and will do our utmost to ensure that there is no repeat. Members gave a round of applause to Mike Bramwell (ESC 448), who has had to withdraw from the role of despatcher because of other philatelic duties, and John Sears appealed for a volunteer to take over. The role involves receiving lots from vendors, sorting them and sending to buyers - and a lot of email/telephone liaison.

Edmund Hall reported grave news from the QC, where, for lack of material, he might have to consider reducing pagination to 20 from 24, or combining two issues into one, and made a strong appeal to all members to write something for the magazine. Ideally he would like to see one major piece of research or information of about 12 pages, together with several single-page or even half-page items in each QC, to give a balance hopefully of interest to all. Please finish off that piece you started in 1988 and send it to Edmund.

Various suggestions were made for easing the burden, and then Yasser Omar addressed the meeting as a newcomer, making well-thought-out points about how the Circle can widen its appeal. Much of this fell on gratefully welcoming ears - particularly from Edmund - and the meeting raised several exciting possibilities, especially for the website.

Yasser suggested that senior members might make themselves available for "mentoring" comparative newcomers - so we will list on the website the Register of Members' Interests produced for the September 2007 QC, so that contact might easily be made. He also made the suggestion that less experienced members would gain from being able to see actual pages from successful exhibits from past masters - something Edmund is already starting to do on the website. But to extend this feature he will now liaise with John Davis, who has copies of many past exhibits in the Library, and place them on the website for all members to see. We also take this opportunity now to appeal to all who have been successful at competition to have their exhibits scanned and send them to John and/or Edmund.

Finally, Yasser suggested that the QC's pages should be placed on the website, but safely behind the members-only password. This will have the advantage that every illustration is presented in colour, and that a back archive of copies can easily be consulted. Edmund promised to consider how best it might be done.

All in all, Yasser's ideas reflected quite closely the way in which Edmund and the Committee had been envisaging the growth and wider appeal of the website. His comments were very much welcomed - and members should keep a close eye on the site: it's going to be intriguing to watch it develop.

Peter Andrews then presented the meeting of the day - an overview of Egypt's postal stationery, but in view of the forgoing lengthy discussions, and of the fascinating and massive range of material in his collection, Peter was unable to complete his presentation. So he will continue at the January meeting, and the alterations to the programme for 2009 will be:

January 10 (Services Club) - Peter Andrews/John Davis, Postal Stationery (continued)
July 18 (in York) - David Sedgwick, Port Said; Richard Wheatley, Simon Arzt; ESC 166, Egyptian Hotels

Aided by material from John Davis, Peter explained the development of postal stationery by category, with time to deal only with wrappers, registered envelopes, letter sheets and postcards - so there is still much to come. He showed mint and used examples virtually complete, explaining how changes in postal rates - down as well as up - led to regular changes of design and value.

Several questions were raised - why were 20m and 15m registered envelopes issued within a brief period in 1938-39? Has anyone seen a used version of the registered letter sheet with 1983 Air Mail boxed handstamp? Can anyone explain definitively why return halves of reply cards were sometimes given additional local franking when the vignette was supposed to defray postage to country of origin?

Stanley Horesh pointed out that all the catalogues detail a mistaken size for the 1929 Harrisons Fuad 15m blue registered envelope - which should be between 106 and 108mm deep, not 116mm as described.

And both Peter and John showed stunning used examples of the very rare 1908 reply cards with the "reply" information barred out by overprint in 1928-29 - one of them used in 1932 from Alexandria to Glasgow (above), the other in 1954 from Jean Boulad to Ahmed Mazloum (left). There will be more of these goodies to come in January.
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