The Nottinghamshire Philatelic Society
The first railway line in Denmark was opened on 27 June 1847 and ran between Roskilde and Copenhagen. One hundred years later, the occasion was recorded on this plaque seen at Roskilde’s railway station.
The event was also celebrated on this FDC, no 4, issued by Magasin du Nord, Copenhagen in 1947. Later cards, at least from no.20 onwards, had ‘Magasin’ at the bottom, but this one has ‘Bikube’ (Beehive), trademark of the founding company and owner, Th. Wessel & Vett. The beehive represented the company and the bees buzzing around it were the workers, all contributing to the success of the company.
Australia designed and printed its own stamps, with responsibility for all of the changes that occurred, and in writing up my collection I wanted it to illustrate, as far as possible, the story behind those changes. It soon became clear that mounting the stamps in the order in which they appear in my British Commonwealth catalogue was not going to suit that purpose. The experience of sorting them out in a more historical way has added to my interest in a way that arranging by catalogue never could have done and I will try to show why.
The example I am going to use is the set of six royal portraits stamps, SG234- 237d, the first of which appeared on 12 April 1950. The designs were based on contemporary photographs by Dorothy Wilding and, in terms of design alone, the set presents very well. But it contains three green stamps of different denominations, two scarlet stamps of different denominations and stamps both with and without watermarks. Repetitions of colours immediately raise questions, particularly where those colours had been agreed by the International Postal Convention. Green, red and blue stamps were to pay the basic international rates for printed matter, postcards and letters, respectively. The mixture of watermarks in the set is also of some consequence because in 1948, to reduce costs, the Australian Post Office discontinued the use of watermarked paper for all definitives below the operative single-weight letter rate. These stamps, then, clearly emerged at a time of rapid changes in postal rates and arranging them by catalogue, watermarked followed by unwatermarked, would not have suited my plan at all. Grouping them on the basis of their dates of issue, however, has resulted in a close match with their historical development.
The story begins with the postal rate changes that took effect on 1 July 1949, at a time when the new designs were being planned. The Post Office had asked for an increase in rates to cover rising costs. At the same time, nationally, there was pressure on the Government, so many years after the war, to abolish the ½d War Tax which it had imposed on most postal items on 10 December 1941. Its decision to abolish the ½d tax and simultaneously increase the general postal rates by ½d was probably greeted with some wry comments by the Australian public but, at least, except for increases on a few supplementary charges, the costs of postage were unchanged. Production of new 1½d green (printed matter rate) and 2½d scarlet (international postcard and internal letter rate) stamps continued as planned. The 1½d stamp is without watermark. The only philatelic effect of the 1949 rate changes was the appearance on 14 August 1950 of the brown 8½d Aborigine definitive, SG238, the fee for registration having beenincreased from 3d to 6d. The 8½d stamp is not a member of ‘the set’, but this is where it belongs historically.
Then, on 1 December 1950 there was another increase in postal rates. General charges were raised by a further ½d and this time, taken together with other tariff changes imposed, the effects on the range of stamps needed were considerable. A plan was devised for a new series and, as a result, the 3d scarlet was issued in February 1951, the 2d yellow-green in March and the 2½d purple-brown in May. In this case both the 2d and 2½d stamps are without watermark, the fee for a single-weight letter within Australia and the British Empire being 3d.
But that was as far as the new series went because the Post Office continued to lose money and it quickly became apparent that further rate increases would be needed. These were introduced on 9 July 1951, less than 8 months after the previous rate changes. With 3d being the new basic international rate for printed matter, and 3½d the new internal and British Empire rate for a single-weight letter, the 3d scarlet stamp was reprinted in grey-green (to comply with U.P.U. requirements) and on unwatermarked paper. This, SG237d, the last stamp in the set, was issued on 14 November 1951. Chronologically, and in relation to the story behind Australia’s definitive stamps, it fits much better with the 1951-52 set, SG247-252, where it becomes the first item. It looks good there, too.
Writing up my Australian stamps in a way which matched their development involved, first and foremost, paying close attention to the dates of issue given in the catalogue. The example I have given shows how, in the process, it was sometimes necessary to take a rather cavalier attitude to sets as previously compiled. The outcome, though, has been a collection that tells a clear story.
I am grateful to Bill Whitaker for providing information on Australia’s postal rates. ‘The Definitive Stamps of the Reign of King George VI’, published years ago by the Australian Post Office (undated but originally priced 50 cents), provided the other historical details.
The following is an extract from the St Helena Island info website. It is an article about the Island’s stamps.
“Although our airport didn’t start commercial flights until October 2017, our first Air-Mail was taken 50 years earlier! In the middle 1960s a Westland Whirlwind helicopter from HMS Protector landed on the Plantation House lawn, delivering to Governor John Field and taking away the island’s first ever Air-Mail . Only one-way, but it was a start. Presumably the replies didn’t have to wait for the next Navy vessel with a helicopter to visit; we assume they came by sea in the usual way!
And when did this happen? Well according to the book ‘St Helena 500’, by Robin Gill & Percy Teale, published in 1997, it was on 26th September 1964, but when we published with that date we were contacted by David Lawton, who actually served on HMS Protector at the time and recalled the date being somewhat later. Research by David into HMS Protector’s logs confirmed that the ship was nowhere near St Helena on 26th September 1964; the actual date was 11th April 1966, on the ship’s return from an Antarctic Patrol. You can’t argue with military records so, useful as St. Helena 500 is, it seems that in this case they got the date wrong. But it is, at least, the right helicopter! A helicopter expert told us:
“The aircraft in the photo appears to be Westland Whirlwind, register number XA868, which had the call sign 940 from September 1963, which is visible on the nose of the aircraft in the second photo, although it is blurred. The very same aircraft is pictured very clearly on the Wikipedia page for HMS Protector, but with a later call sign, 449. The two white rectangles below the 940 are not windows or lights, but are white penguin symbols, which I understand get (or got) painted on after serving in the Antarctic. HMS Protector was an Antarctic patrol ship at the time. So given that while the 940 nose number is blurred, the penguin symbols serve as additional confirmation.”
The two photographs are of a cover in my collection which shows an official cover cancelled ‘ST HELENA / C/ 25 AP / 64’ with a corresponding violet oval handstamp ‘COLONIAL TREASURY/ DESPATCHED / 24 APR 1964 / ST HELENA’. This hand stamp is repeated on the reverse. There is also a blue ‘BY AIR MAIL / PAR AVION’ label affixed to the front cover. On the reverse is an old newspaper clipping which was stuck first to a piece of card and then to the envelope. It has discoloured with age, but reads: ‘ST HELENA’S FIRST AIRMAIL’:
St Helena, the colony without an airstrip, despatched the first airmail in its history on Sunday, April 26th last. The circumstances were described in the weekly St Helena News Review of Saturday, 2nd May, in the following terms. “His Excellency the Governor arrived back on St. Helena last Sunday from an official visit to Tristan da Cunha. “When His Excellency landed on Plantation Lawn at about 7.30am from a Royal Navy helicopter, which brought him off H.M.S, Protector lying about a mile offshore, a new chapter in the Island’s history had begun, for this was the first aircraft to land on St. Helena and it was indeed folly for his touchdown to be made immediately in front of the official residence of the Governor’s ADC.
Also of historical importance was the fact the helicopter took on board a large bag of mail handed over by the Postmaster himself, and so we saw the first ever mail to leave St, Helena by air to be landed on HMS Protector, which kindly took it to England.
Using a perpetual calendar, I find that David Lawton’s date of 11 April 1966 was a Saturday, but the Governor arrived back on a Sunday, which ties in with 26 April 1964. I am in no way arguing with the log of H.M.S. Protector, but it would appear that the first airmail from St, Helena was taken off on 26 April 1964.
I found this cover amongst my usual odds and sods and asked John if he knew anything about the ‘stamps’. He kindly sent me the following 3 emails with the requested information. (Reproduced here with his permission. (S.P.)
1.The stamps are meter markings and they turn up quite frequently in New Zealand. Your type was introduced in 1928 and the number 1565 would be that allocated to the shop Nees Hardware, 119-121 Cuba St, Wellington The company applied the meter markings and these were recorded by them for paying the Post Office. I am no expert in this area, but I understand there were some strange rules about the use of meters, probably UPU related. It seems they were not supposed to be used on mail going abroad (the Post Office put stamps of the same value over the meter markings), so yours may be a very nice proving cover.
2. For your cover, there is some uncertainty about what applied to meter usage in 1950.
(John then went to the Postal History Meeting for further information on the cover.)
3. It seems that in the early days of modern usage, the meter markings were not valid for postage-paid items on overseas mail. Any covers with meter markings had to have the appropriate postage in stamps as well. I think that nonsense stopped in the 1920s, so your cover is quite correct.
(According to an excerpt that John sent me, from the International Postage Meter Marks Catalogue/ New Zealand, there were seven values in this series ½d, 1d, 2d, 2½d, 3d, 6d and 1/-)(S.P).
I had already booked to go to Denmark for a holiday, but it still came as a surprise when I received an e-mail from a Danish friend inviting me to present, by request of another member, my display entitled ’Magasin du Nord’ to the prestigious Kjobenhavns Philatelist Klub. Unsurprisingly, a display on this topic had never been shown there before! At least, I had three weeks to prepare, reorder 90 sheets and mount some new material.
The meeting was held in the library as the usual, larger room was unavailable, but this was fine, probably less daunting. and it being the first meeting after the summer break with some members still away, there were only around 20 of us there anyway- just like an NPS meeting!
But there the similarity ends. My friend met me at the door about half an hour before the meeting was due to start. There were already quite a few people there, socialising, discussing, drinking, showing, and I was introduced to everyone, with those arriving later also coming up to shake hands. Cakes and drinks, hot and cold, were on offer; beer had to be paid for. The meeting started at 7pm and this in a most unorthodox way! Song sheets were distributed and a member sang a philatelic song, which he had probably written himself, to the tune of ‘I Love to go a-wandering’ with members joining in the chorus. Well, it was novel to say the least!
Members then got up in turn to display their latest acquisitions, followed by power point displays on the same topic.
It was 9pm by the time we had all viewed the short displays and at last it was my turn to present my 5 frames. I had already been told I could talk for 15-30 minutes and so I did, tracing the actual and social history of the department store from 1868 onwards- a bit of nostalgia for most of the viewers, some of whom were probably dragged there to buy schoolwear. One of them told me he hated the store, but all seemed to enjoy viewing a completely new subjest. The meeting finished at 10pm, and for me at least it had been a wonderful experience.
(photo: Henrik Selsoe)
Magasin du Nord postcard sent in 1911
Apparently, the number of Post Offices in the UK has fallen from 25,000 a few years ago to 11,500 in 2018, a drop of 13,500. And, of course, Nottingham’s main Post Office, was one of the casualties, moving to WH Smith in May, joining the other 170 or so now run by that chain. However, amongst those that do still remain in Nottingham and surrounding areas, is the rather unusual Wolds PO, at 183a, Loughborough Rd, West Bridgford:
It is situated in a parade of shops, built probably in the 1920s or thirties. It is actually the converted garage of the former butcher’s next door and the current owner has been there for 20 years; it was a post office before she moved in and there has never been anything else there. Coincidentally, a former post office, not far away on the same road, was also situated in a converted garage. Stranger still, the Wolds provides a service for philatelists. Café Nero on Central Ave. was a former PO with at least a clothes shop in between, and the PO in Rossell Square was replaced with one in the Co-op.
Book Recommendation: Bill Whitaker
Some of you may be familiar with the writings of Hunter Davies in newspapers and magazines but may not be aware that he has been a keen stamp collector for many years. In 1983, he published a book ‘The Joy of Stamps’ in both hardback and paperback. It is a fascinating and light-hearted read with many obscure facts about our hobby and some funny (and not so funny) jokes about stamp collectors/philatelists. A reviewer of the book summed it up: ‘If you have ever stuck a stamp on an album page and are prepared to laugh at yourself, you will enjoy this book greatly’. (Daily Mail) The book is readily available on-line at abebooks.co.uk at very modest prices.
So the Catalogue Reads ‘Red’- Bill Whitaker
We have all read in Gibbons that the colour of the stamp is red, but if you collect early Australian Commonwealth stamps known as ‘King George V heads’ you will know different. Be warned if you have any red stamps it can be any of the following:
BRIGHT BROWN-RED BRIGHT RED BROWN-RED to ORANGE-RED BROWNISH-RED BROWNISH ROSE CARMINE-PINK to ROSINE CARMINE-RED (PALE TO DEEP) CARMINE-ROSE (PALE TO DEEP) CRIMSON-DAMSON DEEP RED DEEP ROSINE DEEP SCARLET DULL RED MAROON ORANGE-BROWN ORANGE-RED PALE ROSE-RED PALE TERRACOTTA (BRICK) PINK (PALE TO BRIGHT) PINK EOSIN PLUM RED-BROWN REDDISH-PINK ROSE ROSE-CARMINE ROSERED ROSINE SALMON (PINKISH TO REDDISH) SALMON EOSIN SALMON-RED SCARLET SCARLET-RED.
Please do not ask to identify any of your red stamps!!!!
Well, They Made me Smile- Bill Whitaker : A short glossary of some philatelic terms Postal History The result of using First Class Mail Postal Stationery Misspelt result of using Second Class Mail Unhinged Specialist collector Rough Paper ? ”Private Eye” Cliches Any political speech Double Perf. Drunk’s view of the capital of Western Australia Dry Ink The drought gets even worse Postmark Luke and John but not Matthew.
Our First President-- Bill Whitaker
Our Society was formed on 11 November 1913 and our first President was W.V.Morten, FRPSL. I have, by chance, a copy of the ‘Stamp Collection Annual’ for 1912 and, on leafing through this interesting publication, I came across a section headed ‘Celebrities of the Stamp World’: one such celebrity is W.V.Morten, whose entry reads as follows: “Morten,W.V. Leeds, FRPSL. A prominent North of England philatelist and student of the stamps and postal history of Great Britain, and writer (under a nom de plume) of several important articles and British postage stamps and postal affairs. Owner of a remarkable historical collection of documents, prints, pamphlets etc, illustrating the rise and development of the British postal service exhibited at the South Essex Stamp Exhibition 1911, which was awarded a Special Diploma.”
I presume he subsequently moved to Nottingham and set a standard for future Presidents to aspire to.
Postmark Slogans- Sandra Poole
Royal Mail has been busy producing more slogans; here are just three of them. ‘The People’s Friend’ is a publication of short stories which is still running after 150 years. The poetry day slogan arrived on the right day, but what are we supposed to do about it- suddenly write reams of poetic works or read and recite it? And is it the only day we can do so? And the post code is 60.
DISCLAIMER: While every care is taken during the production of the reports, neither the editor or Society Officers can accept any liability for views or unintentional publication errors that may occur.
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