|Report of Meeting February 25, 2006
Ten Sheets at Stampex
The Acting Chairman opened the meeting by welcoming such a good turnout of members, and in particular Mrs Pamela Bertram, widow of our late Chairman: members had invited her to lunch before the meeting, and Pamela was pleased to meet so many of her husband's colleagues, and at last to learn what he got up to on his Saturday afternoons! There was also a warm welcome for our overseas members - ten overseas members from seven non-British countries were represented - and for two new members attending for the first time.
The Acting Chairman mentioned that by rule any proposed changes to the Circle constitution must be in the Secretary's hands a month before the Annual Meeting, which will be on May 6; and that it had been decided that the Bourse to follow the AGM would be a purely informal affair with no bureaucracy or commissions.
He mentioned two forthcoming events - the Washington meeting on May 31 (contact Dick Wilson, US Agent, for details) and the joint meeting with the Sudan Study Group in Bradford on August 19 (contact Richard Wheatley), and mentioned that the Revenue Society had invited members with an interest in Middle East revenues to attend a Ten Sheets meeting in London on June 17 (contact: Mike Murphy).
The Secretary put to the meeting one application from a new member, and appealed for all members to return the Data Survey sheets sent out with the last QC: about 80 had been completed by our 185 members. He reported that papers seeking affiliation with the American Philatelic Society had been filed with Dick Wilson, in an attempt to widen our appeal in North America; and that the Auction list was virtually completed and would be with members and on the website very shortly.
A member from Italy (ESC 417) raised the question of the Circle Record held by the Librarian, John Davis, and queried whether its content might be more easily available. As a first step, members who hold any part of the Record are asked to contact John with details so that he can collate what facilities might be required to resurrect the full magnitude of what was the central core of the Circle at a time when its membership was not quite so far-flung.
The meeting proper provided a varied and quite astonishing range of Circle interests, with no fewer than 15 of the 25 members present showing Ten Sheets (or thereabouts). It was noted with a great deal of pleasure that both new members opted to display - thank you and congratulations to Hilary Shaw (ESC 594) and ESC 591. There is however space here only for the briefest résumé of each display.
The Secretary opened by showing printouts from the regularly updated Question and Answer section of the website, illustrating its wide range, and appealing to members to read the Queries and to provide Edmund Hall with Answers (or indeed further Queries) to maintain a continuing sense of activity and novelty on the site.
Stanley Horesh showed a wide range of Red Cross correspondence from the aftermath of the 1956 and 1967 wars, the Red Cross acting as a go-between for the warring nations and passing back and forth mail on the appropriate forms seeking information about missing or captured soldiers and civilians of both sides.
Egypt's conquest of Palestine and the Holy Land in the early part of the 1830s, which finally resulted in the founding of the Mohamed Aly dynasty of Egyptian rulers, was the topic of ESC 417, who showed a document in Italian from the scene of battle in 1836 and a remarkable news "bulletin" written in French in 1832, reported on progress at the front.
ESC 266 was able to embellish his recent magisterial exposition of the life and times of the Ramleh Electric Tramway in Alexandria with a series of recent finds, including some outstanding historic postcards showing steam trains on the tracks before electricity made its mark. The topic provoked much discussion.
ESC 305 is building a new collection based on the "Suez Canal Zone", which he defines as the postal history of the Canal area rather than the well-known Suez Canal Company material, and showed some gems which he will display in Washington, including two Waghorn Suez covers and one with the rare Madras/Waghorn/Suez mark as well as a Greek Post Office cover from Port Said.
There was a mixed bag of wonders from Dick Wilson, who showed stunning hand-drawn covers sent from the Continental Hotel to London at the end of the First World War; and also a series of Egyptology-related covers and autograph letters from the likes of Howard Carter and Lord and Lady Amherst who introduced him to the world of Ancient Egypt.
Ulrich Eckstein took us back to the world of classical Egyptian postal history with a wide-ranging display whose highlights included covers from the Greek Consular Post Office in Alexandria and another posted on the last day of the Posta Europea before its takeover by the Egyptian Government.
From a similar period, Brian Sedgley showed disinfected mails and a series of covers with the markings of private forwarding agents, as well as covers and markings from the Austrian, French, British and Italian consular offices operating in Egypt.
One of the new members, ESC 591, displayed how his interest in the Cairo-Baghdad Air Mail Service developed into researching material of the Overland Mail and the Nairn company service; while the other, Hilary Shaw, displayed some of her fledgeling collection of Egyptian instructional markings including an unusual "Found in Letter Box" cachet and an even more unusual letter mistakenly sent to Port Said instead of Portishead.
Khetcho Hagopian stunned members with a comprehensive display of the Egyptian Postal Organisation's "new" postal stationery, discussed as "forthcoming" some two years ago but not yet officially issued. Khetcho showed all six items, and told how he was able to test the validity of some of them but not all.
Disposal of an insurance company archives in Cairo allowed Vahe Varjabedian to obtain a range of "ACA" perfins previously known only in two examples. He was able to illustrate their use - always on revenue stamps - on Al-Chark Assurance Company receipts and policies ranging from 1956 to 1960, after which they disappear.
Mike Bramwell provided a most unusual display of labels from Egyptian perfume bottles and boxes, mainly apparently of the 1920s and 1930s, ranging from Art Deco designs to a series based on "fairly undressed" Sudanese ladies.
Cyril Defriez displayed Egypt's New Issues of 2003-04, including the full sheet of 25 portraits of Presidents of the Egyptian Bar Association, explaining that the portrait of the then current President was ordered cut out of every sheet - and ESC 556 was able to provide just such a snipped sheet as the only one available in Cairo, as well as wondering at the immense variety of postage rates his family used from Egypt currently!
John Davis provided a comprehensive display of some of the wonders of the French Consular service, the longest serving of the Foreign Offices, with its services available in Alexandria Cairo, Port Said and Suez from 1837 to 1931.
Mike Murphy showed how the lawyer Gabriel Boulad used to have fun using cutout value vignettes from postal stationery to "frank" mail within Egypt and to France, Lebanon and Turkey, raising the question of the length of validity of postal stationery, and perhaps pointing to at least one unknown piece of barred-out Farouk stationery.
The Acting Chairman thanked all those members who had provided such a wide-ranging display and remarked on how enjoyable and fascinating the afternoon had been, embellished by large contingent of overseas visitors.