The Nottinghamshire Philatelic Society
The collection of postmarks is not everyone’s idea of mainstream philately. It can, however, be extremely rewarding and a relatively inexpensive exercise. The quality of the postmark impression on the stamp is largely dependent upon the person who applied it. Struck by hand with implements made with and from different materials such as rubber or metal with varying inks and application pressures, often not perpendicularly, and on to uneven surfaces- stamps are raised and envelopes have folds- results in a wide range of quality. Furthermore, the postmark can appear partly on the stamp and partly on the envelope. In any event, most postmarks are larger in size than the stamps themselves. This means that in most cases the whole postmark does not appear on the face of the stamp.
Postmarks on stamps can be acquired for a few pence if common, for $10 - £50 if scarce or up to a few hundred pounds for a rare one. (You are unlikely to see two!) Quality and clarity of impression also have a bearing on price. There are a few expert postmark collectors who will buy a common postage stamp bearing an incomplete, hardly legible postmark because they know that the postmark is not common and could be rare. However, most of these stamps will bear part of an image which the expert has not seen before. Upon returning home, he will identify the postmark from images in philatelic literature. If identification is impossible, he will retain the stamp until identification eventually becomes possible. I have seen articles in magazines asking for help with identification.
Ken Benham’s Leeward Islands postmark collection takes the hobby to new heights. Ken only collected postmarks of the highest quality and clarity on covers, except where postmarks are rare and unlikely to be seen elsewhere. There is no chance here of wondering what the whole postmark would look like. Stamps on cover can acquire a premium and with an interesting postmark, a higher premium. Ken’s postmark collection is extensive and includes most of the known postmarks of the Leeward Islands and of each of the presidencies of Antigua, Barbuda, Dominica, Montserrat, St. Kitts, Nevis, Anguilla and Virgin Islands.
One page from Ken’s collection shows two covers bearing federal postage stamps cancelled respectively by St. Joseph and Mahaut Dominica postmarks.
Ken’s note reads ‘Two philatelic covers correctly rated 4½d …,posted 8th January1940, eight days after the stamps were invalidated (31 Dec 1939), hence the blotted out ‘due’ marks. The St. Joseph envelope was apparently not registered in Dominica, hence the London registered label and handstamp ‘Posted out/of course’. Oliver’s ‘Leeward Islands Notes for Philatelists Second Edition’ states that St. Joseph Post Office was closed in "1920?" but then goes on to state, inrespect of this St. Joseph postmark, ‘Earliest known date 6 Dec 00’ and ‘latest known date 25 Dec 37’. Oliver states that Mahaut Post Office closed on 30 June 1905, but then goes on to say in respect of this Mahaut postmark, EKD 26 Mar 35 and LKD 31 Dec 39. Both envelopes were to Roger Wells, the Grimsby architect and ‘Postmark King’. Some readers will recall that in the Spring 2015 Newsletter I stated that some Caribbean postmarks were being used in WW2 by the Secret Service. Since this time, a Julian Chapman Scholarship award from the RPSL has been made (alas not to me!) to allow further investigation to be made. The results of this investigation have still to be published. However, leaks lead me to believe that some POs were reopened, especially in remote areas, to speed up delivery of the mail. I am also led to believe that scarce philatelic material was made for sale to philatelists for much needed income. A lot of the philatelic activity in WW2 was organised by the Crown Agents.
Background: The 1903 Motor Car Act (3, Edw.7, ch. 36) required all motor vehicles to be registered with their local council and issued with a number plate, which was to be attached to the vehicle. Registration fees were 20/- for a car and 5/- for a motorcycle. The Act also allowed for manufacturers and dealers in motor vehicles to be issued with a General Identification Mark (for a fee not exceeding £3), which could be attached to any unregistered vehicles being tested or demonstrated. The 1929 road Act (10 &11, Geo 5, ch. 72) imposed Excise Duty on mechanically propelled vehicles and introduced the Tax Disc as visible proof of payment. Under the Act, Trade Licences (discs) and Trade Plates were to be made available to motor traders for the purpose of moving otherwise unlicensed vehicles on the road. These Trade Plates (special red on white number plates which could be fitted temporarily to any vehicle) were carried in pairs with a holder for the licence disc on the front plate for cars and on the rear plate for motor cycles. Fees for Trade Licences were £10 for cars and £1.10.0 for motor cycles. While ordinary tax discs were circular, trade discs were issued in various distinctive shapes over the years (triangular, rectangular/oblong, trapezium and square), but always printed in the same annual or quarterly colour schemes as the current tax disc. Figure 1 provides an example of these trade plates.
Figure 1. Trade plate which was mounted on the rear plate on the rear of a motor cycle.
The Find: A recent purchase of an Irish (Tipperary) driving licence proved to be very fortunate as the lot included a previously unseen 1921 first-issue trade licence. It is in the form of an inverted triangle and inscribed CYCLE G.I.M and as it has not been cut or folded to shape, it was probably never attached to a number plate. The term G.I.M. (General Identification Mark} was replaced after 1922 by ‘Trade Plate’, although G.I.M. is still used in Australia. The shape of the equivalent 1921 G.I.M. for cars is unknown (to me), but following the 1922 Finance Act, a new category of Limited Trade Plate (L.T.P.) was added and this was in the form of an upright triangle, while the General Trade Plate (G.T.P) was a rectangle/oblong.
Figure 2. A 1921 G.M.T. licence prior to cutting, folding and inserting in the trade plate.
What increases the interest in this item is the fact that it was issued on 2 June 1921 in County Tipperary in the North Riding of Ireland during the Irish War of Independence. At this time, Ireland was under British rule and as a result of the unrest and IRA violence, the British Government’s Restoration of Order in Ireland Act (10 7 11 Geo 5 ch.31) came into force in August 1920. After even more violence, in December 1920 Martial Law was declared in County Tipperary together with Cork, Kerry and Limerick, extended in January 1921 to Clare Waterford, Kilkenny and Wexford. Under these Restoration Regulations, a permit was required for a driver to have, keep or use any motor vehicle in Ireland and, as seen in Figure 3, the conditions were quite strict. A photograph of the driver (this one is a bit faded) was also to be attached to the permit.
In May 1921, Ireland was partitioned and the Anglo-Irish Treaty of December 1921 ended British rule in 26 counties of Ireland. The Irish Free state was created in December 1922 as a self-governing state with Dominion status. Later, Irish trade plate issues are not known but after 1922 (until the early 1930s)ordinary tax discs were issued in the British patterns and colours with Irish Gaelic script in the outer ring but with the inscription in English, as seen in Figure 4.
You have probably never heard of the Antarctica Confederation of City Republics but the postcard featured shows the ACCR and the ‘stamp’ on the left shows the ‘Republic of Grahamia’ founded in 1981. Of course, it is all a load of rubbish and a bit of fun for collectors of fantasy stamps.
This particular ‘fantasy land’ was created by Bruce Henderson and a lot of the stamps are of high quality and humour. It also has its own web site. The item shown was a gift at last year’s World Cinderella Congress. Note the ‘Grahamia’ postmark!
The Universal Postal Union was formed in 1874 by the Treaty of Berne. It is a specialised agency of the United Nations that coordinates postal policies among member states. The first picture postcard was a painting on card sent by Theodore Hooker to himself in London in 1840. It bore a penny black stamp and is thought to have been made as a joke as it parodied the postal workers of the day. By the mid-1890s, they were becoming very popular as tourist souvenirs. The UPU regulations stated that the card could be sent through the postal service, but they only had to have the address on one side and a picture on the other. There was no space for a message from the sender. Often the producers would leave a small space next to the picture so that a message could be included. (See fig.1) The reverse had the instruction that only the address was to be written on the back. (See fig. 2) It was not until 1907 that the UPU amended the regulation to allow a message to be written on the same side as the address. These became known as the ‘divided back’ picture postcards. (See fig.3) By this time, there were a number of PPCs being used in America which had a space for a message and the address on the same side. The anomaly from my collection of St. Helena picture postcards is shown in fig.4. This is a UPU divided back picture postcard of St. Helena sent from Porthcawl to Cardiff. It bears a halfpenny Edward VII stamp which was cancelled ‘OC1/02. This is five years before the regulations allowed the divided back picture postcards to be used.
Having written about the flamboyant telephone kiosks in Denmark and the quirky refreshment kiosks that appeared on stamps in Portugal, I thought it was time to look more closely at our own red telephone boxes- elegant and stylish- before they all disappeared. In fact, although I know there are different types of box all starting with the letter K, there is little else that I know about them and I have had to turn to Wikipedia to help me out. The K1 telephone kiosk, produced in 1920, was made from concrete and painted cream with red ‘glazing bars’. Six remain, two still standing on streets. The K2, in classical style and with a domed top, was made out of cast iron and was painted red. The K2 appeared in and around London in 1926, whilst the K1 continued to be erected elsewhere. Concrete was again used for K3- cheaper than K2, more expensive than K1- and the box was painted in the same colours as K1. Of more interest to philatelists, perhaps, was K4 as it incorporated a post box and a stamp-vending machine on the outside. This was a limited issue of fifty and there are still ten remaining. The K5 may be discounted as not being a solid or permanent structure and the K7, so it appears, never became a reality The K6, marking the silver jubilee of King George V, was introduced in 1936 and was the first red kiosk to be used nationwide. It was smaller than the K2 and it had eight rows of glass panes, instead of six. The K8, introduced in 1968, broke tradition with a completely new and more ‘modern’ design and a slightly brighter red paint. This went on to be used on earlier boxes, which had originally used a slightly darker red paint. The telephone boxes were manufactured at five different foundries- Bratt Colbran, Macfarlane (Saracen Foundry), Carron, McDowall, Steven & Co., and Lion Foundry- the last three also manufactured our red letterboxes. By 1970, 70,000 telephone boxes had been produced and many are still standing in Britain today, although no traditional red boxes have been made since 1985. But it is not only in Britain, that our boxes may be found. Many people will have seen them in Malta and Gibraltar on their travels, along with our red letterboxes. Some have ended up in a museum abroad or otherwise on view, particularly in the USA. And some there are actually used as a phone box! 15 Considering how the mobile phone seems to have taken over the world, it is surprising that our iconic red boxes are still being used to make phone calls anywhere. But others have taken on a new role.
The box above, in Nottingham, has been converted to a ‘café’ and has been in business for 6-7 months. Appetising cakes, advertised on one of the blackboards, are also available.
The box on the left, in Tollerton, is used as a library- this is fairly common, but I haven’t seen a ‘swap box’ for books before. This one on the right is at Cutthorpe (near Chesterfield) and is beautifully maintained. Another one that I have seen has a defibrillator. Not seen: a cinema and an art gallery!
Please Keep for your Future Reference- Alan Squires
I know that it is important to keep certain documentation and some material should be kept for a set period of time. Receipts are a good example. You may want to return an article under its warranty, which in most cases was not date-stamped by the vendor because it was already packaged with the goods. A set of instructions on how to use an item can be useful. Strangely enough, the instruction manual is very important if you are burgled. The company will ask for it as proof that you actually had the item that you are claiming for. With modern technology, it is useful to keep this manual in case anything goes wrong or you simply forget how to access a certain function. I recently purchased for the princely sum of £2.95 a small tube of cyanoacrylic glue from a well-known internet trading company. Inside the packaging was a small piece of paper 80mm long by 40mm wide. This was the list of instructions for returning the product if it was damaged. There was a lot of information on this important piece of paper, so the type-face was about 6 point, ie about 6 point. The very last line, in much bigger font, said ‘Retain for future reference’. Either the product is damaged when I get it or it isn’t. If it’s in good order, as it was, I no longer need instructions to send it back. If I do need to send it back, I’ve got to go back and buy a really good magnifying glass to decipher their instructions.
Quick off the Mark- Sandra Poole. This slogan congratulates the 2017 winner of the Man Booker Prize, awarded to George Saunders on, I believe, 17 March. This is dated 18th March 2017.
Posting a Letter- Alan Squires. The postal services are always complaining that they are getting fewer letters as their prices go up and they have to compete with other delivery companies. Why are we sending less mail? Is it due to the ease of electronic communications? Or is it too much hassle now to post a letter? I had to post three letters, one of which was bigger than the standard envelopes. I had put first class stamps on two of them as they were ready to go. My nearest pillar box is 200 yards down the road.; my nearest post office is 1¼ miles away. I would have to visit the PO to find out what the larger envelopes would cost. I know from previous experience that the car journey to the PO and back takes about 45 minutes. If I walk, it takes about 75 minutes, but it is healthier for me and the climate and is stress free as I do not need to worry about traffic or parking etc. When weighed and measured, the postage was 65p, First Class mail. I thought that was a reasonable price to pay and started to leave. My PO is in a convenience store and as I passed the tills, a range of confectionery caught my eye. I realised I just fancied a bar of chocolate to boost my metabolism for the walk home. There it was, a Mars Bar. Not having had any chocolate for many months (honest), I was about to pick one up with mouth starting to salivate (probably due to the ringing in my ears from my Tinnitus) and noted the price- at 72p about the same as 1st class mail. I reached into my pocket for a £1 coin, when it struck me.15/-for a Mars Bar. 15/- shillings for a piece of chocolate. My letters were travelling the length and breadth of the country for less than 15/-. Needless to say, I left the Mars Bar where it was.
Please Keep for your Future Reference- Alan Squires I know that it is important to keep certain documentation and some material should be kept for a set period of time. Receipts are a good example. You may want to return an article under its warranty, which in most cases was not date-stamped by the vendor because it was already packaged with the goods. A set of instructions on how to use an item can be useful. Strangely enough, the instruction manual is very important if you are burgled. The company will ask for it as proof that you actually had the item that you are claiming for. With modern technology, it is useful to keep this manual in case anything goes wrong or you simply forget how to access a certain function. I recently purchased for the princely sum of £2.95 a small tube of cyanoacrylic glue from a well-known internet trading company. Inside the packaging was a small piece of paper 80mm long by 40mm wide. This was the list of instructions for returning the product if it was damaged. There was a lot of information on this important piece of paper, so the type-face was about 6 point. The very last line, in much bigger font, said ‘Retain for future reference’. Either the product is damaged when I get it or it isn’t. If it’s in good order, as it was, I no longer need instructions to send it back. If I do need to send it back, I’ve got to go back and buy a really good magnifying glass to decipher their instructions.
Painted Doors in Madeira- Sandra Poole
We have been to Madeira several times, but on a recent visit we saw for the first time a small street with most, if not all, front doors decorated with pictures-some 3D- in many different styles. The one below seemed a fitting one with which to end the newsletter. The chair, incidentally, is not part of the picture, but belongs to the café!
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