Report of the Meeting, September 20, 2014
Simon Arzt and 1933 Railways Exhibition issue
PRESENT: 17 members and one guest attended; apologies for absence were received from 12 members

Back in familiar surroundings at Stampex, the Chairman was pleased to welcome several overseas visitors, including for the first time Pietro Bajocchi from Cairo, who was accompanied by his son Raoul as a guest. On a more sombre note however, he had to announce the death after a short illness of David Worrollo (ESC 659) and to sympathise with Pauline Gittoes (ESC 662) on the recent loss of her husband.

The Secretary announced that all three 2014 issues of the QC so far were up on the website for members to review, and thanked Edmund Hall for all his hard work in making them available. He reminded members that by choosing to forgo the printed version at the end of the year they will save 5 off their 2015 subscription - and the Circle more than that in postage costs. He announced a message of good wishes from Ole-Fredrik Olsen (ESC 530, Norway) describing "I love The Quarterly Circular, the information in it from our members, and the board members voluntary work to keep the Circle going.."
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Simon Arzt is clearly identified on the early tobacco price list (left) - but is that the man himself
photographed in 1890 on the balcony of his first store in Main Street, Port Said?

The Secretary reported that the autumn Auction was nearly ready for publication, and that the 2015 meetings list was virtually complete, though seeking a venue for the period of Europhilex (May 13-16) was proving a headache.

We then were entertained to the first half of the afternoon's displays, Richard Wheatley on Simon Arzt. He produced a fascinating glimpse into the life of the Port Said entrepreneur, ranging from tobacco imports through to the massive store on the waterfront that catered to travellers' needs of each and every type.

Showing a wide range of material including photographs and printed ephemera from the company and the store, he was able to confirm (probably!) that Simon and his brother Mayer (whose autograph he displayed) were originally Polish Jews - but the question of whether it is actually Simon Arzt's photograph on a depiction of his earlier store was left open.

Richard showed the development of the store's characteristic advertising cachets ("Now open on the Quay Front") as well as an astonishing pair of covers with Arzt datestamps that survived the crash of the Imperial Airways flying boat Cygnus at Brindisi on December 3, 1937 - and received different "Damaged by Sea Water" cachets. Overall, a quite remarkably wide-ranging display of fascinating material.

Sept14_2 We then moved on to the second display, by Armen Varjabedian on the 1933 Railways Exhibition issue, giving his very first exhibition. With only four stamps to consider, he kept members' attention with a personalised and thoroughly-researched talk.

He was able to show the "Royal" misperforates, though admitted that he was still seeking the rare Cancelled-back stamps (there are only 50 of each), but displayed the full sets properly cancelled on a tiny business card - surely unique - and a fabricated postcard on which an already used stamp had been affixed OVER the exhibition cachet.

He showed the 13 mills value properly paying the overseas postcard rate with Hotel cancels, and the 15 mills properly used for Air Mail as well as the 20 mills on an official cover on the last day of permitted use, April 18 1933. Two covers saved from the Cygnus (right)

Perhaps most remarkable was an internal Express cover (below) franked with a block of four of the 5 mills stamp, making up the 20 mills rate from Port Said to Alexandria.

In discussion afterwards Armen admitted that he had intended to say much more, but that nerves got the better of him. Members assured him that his initial toe in the water of displaying was both entertaining and instructive: clearly he has a promising future.

While the displays were being made the mini-auction was ticking away in the background, with a few more lots provided than at the July meeting. The upshot, thanks to the hard work of Jon Aitchison and John Clarke, was a commission profit to the Circle of 19.80, equivalent to an extra membership!
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Armen (blue shirt) looks on as members admire his display

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