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News Items for Session 2020 - 2021
David Stalker (Caledonian P.S.) - 'Errors of Design on New Zealand Stamps' & The Courvoisier Christmas Issue Proofs of New Zealand

11 March 2021

David astonished us with the sheer number of errors in design. Many had been brought to the attention of postal authorities when the stamp was about to be put on sale or in the days after issue. Some stamps with errors in design continued to be sold, sometimes with a correction made during reprinting. Withdrawing some of these faulty design stamps had been attempted and with limited success. There is controversy in catalogues – some do not list withdrawn stamps (that have appeared on the philatelic market) while others do.

Some differences between the stamp design and actuality might be attributed to artistic licence but many errors were mistakes, purely & simply.

The first error appeared on the 1898 Pictorial issue. Space does not permit reporting all errors shown by David but examples are given in these minutes. In the 1936 ANZAC issue, the soldiers are shown landing on a beach near Wellington (NZ) and not at ANZAC cove, Turkey. A European ladder stands against a building on the 7d/8d 1940 centenary issue and not the Maori notched pole. In the same issue (½d) Maoris are shown sporting moustaches when it is their tradition not to have facial hair. A Marino sheep with magnificent horns was shown alongside its lambs in 2005 farm animals set, even though Marino ewes do not have horns, an addition that created a furore in NZ sheep breeding circles. The “Teddy Bear” stamp of the 1996 Health issue showed a child in a car seat alongside teddy, both facing forward which is contrary to NZ law. It was withdrawn and reprinted with teddy airbrushed out. 100 of the originals were sold and now command four figure prices. Uniforms were frequently the source of error. Even the Queen appeared improperly dressed, having the insignia of an Order missing – withdrawn to be reissued with correction, but not before some had been sold. The 1932 Health Issue featured the Hygieia, the Greek Goddess of Health. However, her semi-nudity offended the ladies of Auckland and issuing a stamp with such a design was an error of judgement. More recently (2006) Maori New Zealanders were offended by the comic cartoon depiction of their performing arts. The issue was pulled. New Zealand Post even has the capability to offend other countries! The Free Tibet movement managed to get a CAL stamp printed and issued. When the Chinese Government discovered this CAL was to protest the 50th anniversary of the occupation of Tibet, a major diplomatic incident resulted. The most recent error is the Tokyo 2020 set issued after the Olympiad was known to have been postponed.

David then showed a display on the NZ Courvoisier Christmas issue. Until the early 1960s the New Zealand Post Office had ordered all of its stamps from British printers only. After 1964 printers in other countries were also invited to submit stamp designs. Courvoisier, the renowned Swiss printer was selected to produce the Christmas issues for 1972, 1974, 1977-81 and 1983. As expected, these are beautiful stamps executed with high quality printing. David showed the stamps together with printer’s proofs and workshop waste on which amongst other things trials were present using different shades of colour. He also pointed out alterations to designs made after a design had been accepted. With the end of stamp printing by Courvoisier, its archive was sold by auction. David was able to buy a number of unique items which showed colour separations and their combination as the finished stamp. These were mounted on presentation cards.

Roy Burnett (Aberdeen P.S.) - '6 Kings of Persia'

11 March 2021

Shah Naser El Din introduced a modern postal service after visiting Great Britain and the first Persian stamps were introduced in 1868. Examples of these (with a design based on Persian coins) were presented. In 1876 they were replaced by stamps with the Shah’s portrait and they in turn were replaced in 1885 by a set featuring a lion in front of the sun (an ancient Persian emblem). On cover all of these stamps are rare though Roy was able to show an example of internal mail. The assassination of Naser El Din in 1886 brought an ill-prepared son, Mozzafer El Din to the throne and new stamps carrying his portrait were issued. Five years later locally produced stamps appeared which were also overprinted. Forgeries of these are common. We were treated to 4 covers which again are uncommon and eagerly collected by the Iranian diaspora who want to own a link with their ancestral home. With the death of his father in 1907, the autocratic Mohammed Al Mizra became the new Shah, ruling for just long enough for his portrait to appear on stamps before he was forced into exile. His son, six years old Ahmed Mizra, was placed on the throne and following established practice stamps with his portrait and others with the ancient Persian lion emblem were printed. His reign coincided with the discovery of vast oil deposits near the Iraq border. This was also a time of many overprints and surcharges.

Britain had been occupying the port town of Bushire since the end of the Anglo-Persian war in 1856 and as a consequence British India stamps were used. Roy showed us several examples, identified by the postmark. In 1915 (during WW1) Persian stamps were overprinted “Bushire Under British Occupation” and used for 70 days as a reminder of British power, when it was known that there was a German subversion attempt. Although neutral in WW1, some fighting took place in north Persia (between Russians and Turks) and Britain occupied the strategic southern oilfields. Surprisingly, this neutral country overprinted a victory issue. A great famine occurred in the post-war years and Roy showed postal tax stamps that were required on all mail to raise funds for famine relief.

In 1921 a senior officer in the Persian Cossack Brigade, Reza Kahn, overthrew the Shah and seized the throne. Naturally, he issued his own coronation stamps (overprints, of course). His crowning in 1925 founded the Palhavi dynasty. An internal airmail service started in 1927 for which stamps were produced by overprinting the lion issue. Controversially, the German Junkers company were given a monopoly contact. In due course normal definitive and airmail issues appeared. In 1933 a new currency (Dinar / Ryal) was introduced and the country renamed Iran (Land of the Aryans). Stamps were overprinted, accordingly! This Shah, though a great admirer of Adolf Hitler, opted for neutrality when WW2 broke out. With the signing of the Anglo-Soviet agreement in 1941, the need to supply Russia by land through Iran became vital and both counties invaded to secure the route. Reza Kahn was forced to abdicate and leave for South Africa (where he died). He son, Mohammed Reza, ascended the throne to become the final Shah of Persia. Pictorial stamps were released for a variety of commemorations and Roy displayed these on cover as well as individually. In 1951, a momentous decision was taken, to nationalize the oil industry, an act commemorated on stamps over the following decades. Although now a wealthy state, this wealth remained unevenly distributed. Shah Mohammed Reza’s modernization programme “The White Revolution” to develop a westernised nation was inaugurated in 1961 and celebrated on stamps. At the same time the he tightened his grip, fearing a socialist uprising (as had happened in other middle east kingdoms). It was apparent by stamps that were issued that he was becoming backward-looking and not a constitutional monarch. For example, there was an issue to commemorate the crowning of his wife as Empress (a first for Persia) and another to mark the 50th anniversary of his dynasty (as part of an unpopular ostentatious celebration). His final issue, in 1978, was attractive. It featured ancient monuments and artefacts with a gold profile of the Shah. The Shah’s efforts to create a modern state in a western mould failed when clerics ousted him with the population supporting rule under traditional Islamic values. As well as announcing the new state with an overprint, the postal authorities showed that in 1978 the 2,500 years old Peacock Throne had come to an end by obliterating the effigy of the Shah.

John Jackson (Leicester P.S.) - 'Thomas Cook'

11 February 2021

John explained that tonight’s display resulted from his interest in the Netherlands 1940 Queen Wilhelmina issue and the presence of these stamps on undercover private mail transmitted by the travel company Thomas Cook between belligerent counties. His collection grew because it is a fascinating piece of postal history. The company organised the passage of mail through neutral Netherlands (Amsterdam PO Box 501) and Portugal (Lisbon PO Box 506) to destinations on “the other side”. The Dutch operation lasted until the German invasion in May 1940 but the Portuguese operation ran throughout the war. There was two-way traffic. A letter sent from Britain would be sent in an unsealed envelope on which the addressee’s details were present. The only identification in the letter was the sender’s name. This envelope was put in an “ambulance” envelope along with a note carrying the sender’s name and address, a second envelope with the sender’s name c/o PO Box 501 (or PO Box 506) for any possible reply and a 2/- postal order. It was posted to Thomas Cook in London. London sent the letter with others to PO Box 501 (or 506) where each was stamped with a Dutch (or Portuguese) stamp and posted. If a reply was received, it was sent to London (in an “ambulance” envelope) where a label with the original sender’s address was stuck on the front together with a British 2½d stamp for delivery. After this explanation, John displayed a series of envelopes which had been sent to Europe (to both Germany and occupied countries) and others that had been sent from throughout Europe (and Tunisia) to the UK. Both PO boxes were featured. An unusual item was a 1/- postal order returned to a Dutch seafarer with an explanatory note – the charge was 2/-. He concluded his display by showing several covers that did not involve Thomas Cook, but were also underground mail. They had been sent to the USA (when still neutral) or Sweden for forwarding to the Netherlands.

Members Participation Evening

14 January 2021

8 Members of the society provided displays of 1,2 or 3 sheets for other members to appreciate.

David Millar: “Victorian Mail”. A letter with local interest concerning missing silk
Francis Podger: “2 Postcards” An exploration of their carriage to Singapore and Dutch East Indies
Sandy Forbes: “South Australia Colour Trials” A specialist study of a Victorian issue.
Charles Lloyd: “Belgian Congo Postal Stationery”. Carte Incomplete travelled to Chile.
“Belgian Duo stamps” Celebrating 70 years of the Belgian Congo Study Circle
Brian McQueen:“Germania” A collection in the stage of formation of this classic design
David Easson: “The German Flowers definitive”. A beautiful issue in use since 2005.
Colin Campbell: “Oil” US Covers with advertising from the early 20th century.

President's Display

10 December 2020

President Harry Jackson tonight provided all visitors to our ZOOM meeting with a display of 'Monte Rosa/Empire Windrush a Ship & its Postal History'

This ship was a large passenger liner with considerable cargo capacity built in Germany in 1930 for the Germany - South America run and for cruising (Mediterranean or Norwegian Fjord coast). For the time, its propulsion was unusual for a ship of its size, being by diesel engines (hence the prefix MV). Harry divided his display into four parts, according to episodes in the ship’s career: 1) as a pre-war liner / cruise ship, 2) wartime service, 3) post-war prize ship and 4) the “Windrush” legacy. Each of these periods was illustrated by covers and stamps with postcards, contemporary photographs and press cuttings. The MV Monte Rosa was requisitioned by the Kriegsmarine in 1940 and used in a variety of tasks including as a moored Luftwaffe barracks at Stettin. Although badly damaged, she was allocated to Britain as a prize boat in 1945, renamed HMT Windrush and refitted as a troopship. It was one exceptional voyage that resulted in a significant historic event in modern British social history. Finding the ship would be half empty on the return to Britain from the West Indies in June 1948, the managing agents sold discounted passages mainly to Jamaican men who wanted to emigrate to the UK for work. The Windrush arrived at Tilbury 21 June 1948 with about 1,000 passengers, about 500 of whom were West Indian men. After this, the vessel continued her trooping duties until 1954 when an explosion in the engine room led to a fire causing her to sink off the Algerian coast. With the exception of 4 crew members, killed in the initial explosion, everyone else was saved.

The post-war immigrants from the West Indies became known as the Windrush generation. From 2012 on changes in British immigration policy and laws found many of these people unable to prove their settled status (through no fault of their own) which led to deportations and to disruptions to the lives of many. It caused a national scandal in which wrong doing was recognized eventually. In 2018 an approach to Royal Mail for a commemorative stamp to mark the 70th anniversary of the Windrush voyage was rejected and a parliamentary petition for one ruled as a matter not within government authority. However, the Kingsway Project, which was also looking to commemorate the same 70th anniversary discovered the Royal Mail’s Customised Stamp Sheets. These sheets were aimed primarily at companies to advertise their products, by selecting one of 27 stamp designs (the size of a Machin) and designing an adjoining “label” of the same size carrying the advertising message. The Kingsway Project used the Customised Stamp Sheet system to produce a “Windrush 70” sheet of 20 stamps; Harry displayed a “Windrush 70” sheet and gave information about this short-lived Royal Mail product.

We were fortunate to have Annette Robinson of the Kingsway Project (Birmingham) attending our meeting. She outlined the story of these stamps. 500 sheets of 20 first class stamps, alternating with 20 labels, were produced to the Trust’s design, approved by Royal Mail. The presence of a religious symbol, a cross, led to a delay and the product was finally signed off in 2018 with a few days to spare. Royal Mail discontinued this product after that date.

Towards the end of his display Harry played a short TV news clip from BBC Midlands Today which announced the release of these very special stamps. This clip was informative and appreciated by us for setting the issue in a human context.

Officers' Displays

12 November 2020

As a consequence of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic sweeping the world the society had no alternative but to cancel physical meetings of its members. Avenues were explored as to how we could possibly stay in touch and continue to hold meetings and presentations and this resulted in the the use of the video conferencing tool ZOOM.

Using ZOOM the first meeting of the society for the year was held tonight where three officers of the society elected to hold short displays as seen below.

Francis Podger provided the first display using Powerpoint. This was a display of 'Singapore - A Miscellany of Items'. and Francis began by outlining what he would show during the display. He began with a Share Certificate which was stamped in advance and stamped under 3 different stamp duty acts. Francis gave a detailed explanation of why the certficate had to be stamped three times due to the increases in revenue charges. He then displayed some Postal Stationery beginning with a GB 2 1/2d postal stationery envelope used in Singapore followed by 2 envelopes, Oxford to Singapore and Dutch East Indies to Singapore. Francis finished with 2 letters incoming to Singapore. The first one was a South Africa Registered Agent letter and the other from India was to the Colonial Secretary.

Charles Lloyd then displayed a series of letters from the different Mobile Post Offices(MPO) in South Africa in the 1950's. Charles explained that there were 14 MPO's in South Africa and that they could be Bilingual or Unilingual in that they could have it shown as English first or Afrikaans first. All registration labels were shown as English first.

Last to display was Norman Kelso who provided another powerpoint display of 2d Blue letters. Norman explained to everyone that 2d blue stamps were issued between 1840 and 1876 and that in all 15 plates were used during the printing although having been prepared plates 10 and 11 were rejected. He also mentioned that plates 1 to 6 had no identifying plate number shown on the stamp whereas plates 7 to 15 have the plate number identified on the stamp. On display were a number of different 2d blue letters from a number of different plates covering letters sent within the UK, sent to locations in Europe and and internationally to America. Also shown were letters which were underpaid.

This page was last modified on 14th April 2021


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