Report of the Meeting, September 17 2011
PRESENT: 14 members were present, and apologies for absence were received from six members.

The Chairman welcomed members present, and especially Vahe Varjabedian, our one foreign visitor to Stampex, and mentioned that perhaps the comparatively small attendance reflected on the gradual decline of Britain's major annual stamp exhibition. He referred to the sad demise of our ebullient New Zealand member Peter Goodwin, and members stood for a minute's silence in his memory. As time was running short, he urged members to make their bids for Auction 50 [as it transpired, 41 bidders - just one fifth of our membership - acquired a fraction of under 50 per cent of the 725 lots available].

Before the meeting proper, Peter Grech announced his new publication, 1910 Heliopolis, Grande Semaine d'Aviation. Despite the title, this full-colour A4 volume of 47 pages and a similar number of pages of appendices, is in English, telling the story of the 1910 air meeting, its aircraft and its flyers, and detailing the list of all recorded postcards associated with it. This is a major piece of research not only for air mail enthusiast but also for all those who care about Egypt and its recent history. It retails at £18, with a special price for Circle members: please contact the Secretary in the first instance.

The Secretary then mentioned the necessity of arranging next year's meetings list, and sought advice on how to deal with the complete separation of dates for spring and autumn Stampex and Philatex in 2012. After discussion it was decided that the meetings list will comprise: January 7 (Services Club), February 25 (AGM and Live Auction at Stampex), May 5 (Services Club), July 7 (Services Club), September 29 (Stampex). All speakers and November meeting to be announced.

A membership application was then considered, and Mr Chris Henstock, of Buxton, Derbyshire, was duly elected. We are sad to have to report that within a few days we had an email from his family to announce that Mr Henstock had passed away that very weekend. The Secretary has sent the Circle's condolences.

And so it was on to the TPOs meeting, one of the first actual study meetings that the Circle has held in many years. The tables were remodelled into an open square so that all could see what was happening, and we then considered in order each type from Peter Smith's 1983 volume The Travelling Post Offices of Egypt in the search of dates outside those recorded, new routes using recorded handstamps, or new CDSs altogether.

Two of the new markings discovered at the meeting:
Left, Type 6A1.2, Cairo-Mansura of 3 AP 36 (MM);
and right, 6A1.4, Shabrakhit-Damanhur of 25 MR 35 (PA)

Some members who could not be present had sent in examples of markings or dates that did not appear in the book, and we are grateful indeed to Vahe Varjabedian (ESC 390), Ted Fraser-Smith (ESC 238) and Peter Smith himself (ESC 74), though our former President reported that his major TPO collection remained boxed up and unavailable after a relocation.

Many others had brought examples to the meeting, and we also had at hand the extensive collection of Peter Heim (ESC 384), who had sent it from Germany for the meeting. Members were astonished at its diversity, organisation and abundance… but unfortunately there simply was not time to take it into consideration.

The meeting worked hard for 2 ½ hours, examining, verifying and recording updated markings, passing each round for all to see. The exercise created an enormous amount of interest - even from those who profess "not to have any TPOs" - and we reached as far as Type 6A2.1 before it was time to draw a close. A problem arose in discussion of variant types, not quite as recorded in the book, and for shortage of time we had to defer these to another occasion.

Clearly there remains very much more work to be done. Clearly also, a round-table meeting of 14 members is, though fascinating, not the most efficient way to achieve speedy results in recording and classifying. So it was decided that the continuing research will be carried out by a much smaller group over much more time. The results will be extensive indeed: for sheer practicability, they will be posted on the website - with full credit given to the owners of the markings - rather than published as a book or in the QC … it has no limit to its extent.

The meeting ended with all those present exhausted but in good spirit - and there is much more to come.

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