The Nottinghamshire Philatelic Society
I first met Ken Benham, a Notts Philatelic Society stalwart in 1975, when I accidentally saw him in a solicitor’s office in Conisborough, South Yorkshire. He had been rummaging through the solicitor’s storeroom, which had not been entered since Victorian times. He had clearly been looking for stamps. I asked him whether he had found anything interesting. He showed me two covers, each bearing penny black stamps, a strip of three used 2d blues on piece and a plethora of 1d reds. I told him that I was a collector of British West Indies stamps. Ken then told me that he had a specialist Leeward Islands collection, which he had built up over many years. Thereafter, I regularly visited Ken’s stamp shop in Hockley and later the stamp fair which he organised at Nottingham YMCA. He regularly gave me verbal updates on this collection. Alas, Ken died a few years ago and I assumed that I would never again see this elusive philatelic masterpiece. Then, a few weeks ago, I unexpectedly received an e-mail from Ken’s son, asking for my advice concerning the Leeward Islands collection! My first step was to inspect it. What an amazing treasure! The best book on Leeward Islands philately is ‘The Leeward Islands Notes for Philatelists- Second Edition’ by M N Oliver, FRPSL, published by the British West Indies Study Circle (Oliver). Oliver was first published in 2000 and was extended to 324 pages in 2011.
I checked Ken’s collection against the Oliver book. I will limit this article to the stamp varieties caused by constant errors on the key form produced from the die (the original engraved piece of metal from which reproductions are taken to form the plate from which stamps are printed) and flaws, which are not constant and occurred during the print run to the head plate or, more often, on the duty plate (the country name/value in money). Ken’s notes on his stamp exhibition pages show that he was referring to authorities in use by philatelists in the 1960s and1970s. There is not a mention of Oliver anywhere! Amazingly, stamp varieties reported by Ken in the 20th century are very similar to varieties reported in Oliver in the 21st. Oliver has a few varieties not shown in Ken’s collection, but there is an equal number of varieties in Ken’s collection not reported in Oliver. I will report the new discoveries in the British West Indies Study Circle Bulletin in due course.
It is only now that I have fully appreciated the history of the stamp variety, which is as follows:
1. A philatelist discovers a new variety and possibly displays it at a stamp show.
2. The discovery is reported in a philatelic journal or directly to an author specialising in the subject. A public, rather than a private, report is preferable. This ensures that the philatelic world has a record of the discovery.
3. A specialist book is printed to include the new variety.
4. Catalogue editors, who have absolute discretion, consider whether or not to include the variety in their catalogue.
Ken’s collection includes plate blocks of four showing the ‘loop’ variety at row 2, stamp 2 of each of the 1954 QE2 Leeward Islands set; an example is shown in Fig1. This variety was included in Oliver in 2011. It has only now appeared for the first time as the ‘loop flaw’ in the 2017 Stanley Gibbons Catalogue (SG 126a/SG138a.) Ken’s collection includes most of the Leeward Islands King George VI varieties which have first appeared in the SG catalogue in recent years, as well as some which have not appeared in SG or even in Oliver!
Fig 2 shows some of Ken’s notes including, in the top row, the ‘Broken E’ variety (SG 112a) and the ‘Broken Tower right scroll’ variety (SG 114ae) and on the bottom row, three varieties, which do not appear in Gibbons or Oliver.
Most Nottinghamshire PS members will have seen a selection of my Danish telephone kiosk collection and items related to them. Unfortunately, the Portuguese kiosks have absolutely nothing to do with philately, except for the fact that they featured on a set of four stamps issued se-tenant in 1985. They sold mainly refreshments and actually predate those in Denmark, not surprisingly as refreshments predate the telephone! They are just as quirky, probably more so, and definitely more flamboyant and diverse.
They first appeared on the scene in the 19th century, providing tables and chairs and snacks and drinks and a place to meet and chat. In their heyday, there were over 100 kiosks in Lisbon, but their popularity had waned by the beginning of the 20th century. Under the Salazar regime (1930s to 1974), the café culture, public gatherings and intellectual debate were actively discouraged. Then in the 1980s, Portugal joined the European Union and embraced modernisation and urban renewal, welcoming fast food restaurants and global brands. So, over the years, kiosks closed and became dilapidated. Some were moved into storage. But at the beginning of the 21st century, thanks to a rethink by a proactive council and the enthusiasm and zeal of entrepreneurs, kiosks were restored to their former glory. Many are refreshment kiosks, but others sell magazines, cigarettes or lottery tickets. The green kiosk shown on the stamp is a tourist office.
(Source: sites on the internet. To see a panoply of kiosks, google ‘Portuguese Kiosks’ and click on ‘Images of Portuguese Kiosks’. You will also see a couple of red imported English telephone boxes! It’s definitely worth a visit.)
There are a number of clues that point to a cover being philatelic rather than commercially used. 1) Is it a First Day Cover? This is usually a good indication of philatelic mail. 2) Does it bear a complete set of stamps? A really good pointer. 3) Does it bear the incorrect postage? Too high is a give away and too low is asking for postage dues. 4) Is there a return address? These are usually sent to a non-existent post restante address. 5) Has the addressee bothered to open the letter? These often contain a piece of card or folded paper to bulk up the cover. 6) Is the addressee a known philatelist with a large amount of covers having his or her name and address? 7) Any combination of the above.
The scan shows a cover from my collection. It is a FDC, over franked and it was not opened. The addressee was a known philatelist. Obviously philatelic, but I was intrigued by its bulk. Looking through the flap I could see the piece of card and a folded piece of paper. My curiosity got the better of me and I decided to open the envelope. It is illegal to open mail which is not addressed to you, but I had bought this some time ago on eBay and I decided that it was now my property, both the envelope and its contents. It was also at least 42 years old. (I hope I am right!)
From the scan, it can be seen that this cover is registered on the first day of issue. It bears four 3d SG194 and three 6d SG195 stamps, making 2/6d. These are overprinted stamps, issued on 4 January 1965 to commemorate the ‘First Local Post’. The correct rate of postage at this time was 3d up to 1oz within the Commonwealth and 1/9d for the registration.
Inside the envelope was an invoice from the Postmaster, Mr Lawrence. As can be seen, the addressee, J Treloar, had requested stamps from the ‘First Local Post’ issue of 1965. A glance at the cover shows that the stamps have been cancelled on the day of issue, 4 January 1965, but the invoice is dated 2 September 1965. The full order could not be fulfilled as the two values were no longer available, although they would have been available on the first day of issue.
The cover kept its secret for 42 years until my curiosity got the better of me. Certainly, a better item with the invoice than without.
Registered FDC with 2 of the ‘First Local Post’ overprints cancelled on the day of issue and the inserted invoice.
This cover was sent from St. Helena to Castries, the capital and largest city in St. Lucia. It has no name of the recipient or street name. According to Wikipedia: St. Lucia’s main post office is in CASTRIES. Because most parts of the country do not use standard street addresses, mail is largely sent to P.O. boxes. Any mail sent without a town name ends up in the Castries post office.
This cover has a ½d franking tied with a cds and a framed 'T/C' handstamp with the manuscript ‘30’ charge for underpayment. Within the Empire, the postage up to 1oz was 1½d.
The Postage Dues have been applied and cancelled in Castries.
From Sandra Poole:
An Unusual Place for an English Pillar Box.
Bill Whitaker submitted this photo of a King George VI letterbox taken on 8 September 2016 in Portsmouth. So what’s unusual about that?
Well, it’s actually in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, USA! The box is situated outside a post office on Daniel Street’ If you are really curious, you can go on Google Earth and see it in its new surroundings. It’s obviously not in service (a metal plate is blocking the aperture) but it is unusual to see in an outside area that the collection plate is still in situ. It would be interesting to know why this very English letterbox is now standing on a street in the United States of America.
A new letter Box for Nottingham.
I took this photo on 30 April, within the 6 possible days of this box appearing. As you can see, it was not yet ready for service- there is no collection plate and the aperture is blocked Its location number is painted where the collection plate would soon be. The box is situated on Gregory Street, Lenton and replaces a Victorian pillar box, which had been outside a sub-post office about 150 yards away on Abbey St. The sub-post office was demolished to make way for the new tram; the former letterbox was last seen lying on its back on the demolition site. The two boxes share the same number as it refers to the location, not to the box. The new box became operative on 16 May 2017 and the hand-painted number is now covered by the collection plate. This a rare photo.
Cards from New Zealand Post.
I recently received the cards below sent by John Waller of the Waikato PS and kindly donated by a fellow member, who had heard of my interest in private mailboxes. The card immediately below, showing a wide range of these boxes, is a ‘postage paid’, NZ Post change of address notification card with spaces on the back for name, new address, signature, subscription/customer reference number, telephone no., old address and a suggestion that you send the card in an envelope if including confidential information.
The card below (2 December 2002) is a Christmas card that the postman sent customers- in the hope or expectation of a Christmas tip no doubt! You also had the chance to enter a New Zealand Post prize draw competition and win a $10,000 holiday by sending in a NZ Post used stamp booklet. The top card measures 20 x 9.8cm; the lower card, 11 x 17cm.
The horizon label now has a data matrix and I expect you all want to know what information this one holds. Here you go then:
2A PRN021636A10357A1D24072010000150100120270217122 !!!
Well, not much help there for the layman. This next line (edited) had my house name and number, post code and ‘GBR’ The second line up to ‘A1D2’ appears on the label. Look at the other numbers and you’ll see the weight ‘00150’-150g (00.150kg), the price-120 (£1.20), followed by the date-27.02.17. The 407201 is probably the branch number. But that still leaves a lot of numbers to decipher. Solution in the next newsletter- if anyone sends it in.
Anniversary of the Machin. The Machin definitive stamp, designed by Arnold Machin, made its first appearance on 5 June 1967 and Royal Mail marked the 50th Anniversary with a special slogan postmark. On my copy- see below- it is ‘double printed’. The ‘Definitive’ is also missing the third ‘i’ and the final ‘e’.
‘The Mail Passing Double Loop, D.H.Railway’.
The Darjeeling-Himalayan Railway was built between 1879 and 1881. It was the first hill railway in India. It ran between New Jalpaiguri and Darjeeling in West Bengal, a distance of 55 miles.
According to Wikipedia, in the mid-19th century, the British had set up a sanatorium and military depot in Darjeeling, which also became a trading point for tea. The existing cart road could not cope, hence the need for a railway. I am assuming that 'The Mail' on the post card the Darjeeling Mail, which connected to the DHR. I believe the card dates from the 1920s, when my grandmother, whose card it was, was living in India, (My grandfather was in the army and had been posted there.)
Availability or Non-Availability of GB Pictorial Stamps.
Not so long ago, Douglas Harvey notified me that the main post office in Nottingham was no longer selling pictorial stamps apart from the Christmas issues and that this was the case in other Post Offices. Whether this was some, most or all was not clear, so I made a few enquiries. Mike Vokes (Barton Seagrave, Kettering) stated that his sub-P.O. takes standing orders for commemoratives and sells them from issue day onwards. Steve Speak said the Holmes Chapel, Crewe, sub-PO just sells presentation packs and a friend in Sibley Hedingham, Essex said the P.O.in a nearby town sold them the last time he was there. Allen Wood told me that they were freely available at his post office in Ruddington. So why the problem at Nottingham Post Office? I asked to see someone senior when I went there. She was on my side, but said sales stopped because of a lack in demand (only c.6, with a regular order). She couldn’t tell me whether it was a branch or company directive. I said people were largely unaware of their existence and that they could be sold alongside the others. She seemed to agree.
From Alan Squires:
Self- adhesive Stamps are Bad News for Philatelists.
When I first started collecting stamps it was my intention to obtain both mint and used copies for each of the stamps I purchased. Shortly after starting my Commonwealth collection I came across a stamp I already had, but this was a pair of mint stamps. A block of two, well that was different, so I bought them. I was soon buying blocks of four or six to add to the singles I already owned. Then came the marginal pair, and the double marginal pair, and the marginal block of four. There was something about blocks of stamps that, I felt, always added to my collection. They were not duplicates, they were an addition to an ever-growing collection. Recently, as I stuck a number of second class stamps on to envelopes ready for posting, a thought occurred to me. Philatelists of the future will not know the pleasure of collecting stamps in blocks or with margins as they are now individual stamps stuck separately to a backing sheet, ready to be peeled off and used.
So, as well as the problem of how to mount them in our albums, we have now lost the magic of blocks and marginals.
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