Simon’s Spring report

In the spring, Oxford Philatelic Society held its popular auction, which attracted a lot of members and bidding, and made the Society a handy profit to add to its coffers. Having being judged earlier, the next meeting allowed our nine-page competition participants to display their interesting entries to the membership. Two displays formed the President’s evening in May. Firstly, Charlie Buxton’s ‘One hundred years of One Pound stamps, 1878-1977’ covered Victorian telegraph and Jubilee stamps, Edward VII’s £1 stamp, George V Seahorses, as well as George VI’s High Values and Royal Silver Wedding issues, and finishing off with sheets and large blocks of QE2 stamps. Secondly, President Alan Cowie gave a fascinating display on Hungary, a country he knew well from working there but only started collecting in recent times. A Japan-man at heart, Alan loves trying out new countries, and a lovely display of hardly ever seen early-mid period Hungarian stamps proved he can fulfil his ambitions! In mid-July two members of the Stratford upon Avon Philatelic Society came south for an evening in Oxford. A wonderful combination of Dr John Gledhill’s ‘Overprinted British Revenues’ and Alan Godfrey’s ‘The Last Explorer – Sir Hubert Wilkins’ made for an educative, entertaining and enlightening evening.

Dr Simon Heap


My Recent Acquisitions…a popular Meeting!

Mon 4 Feb 2019

Present 20+ members.   12 Displays + 1 display from previous Sports / Hobbies Topic of 4 Jan !


Vic Thorpe : Latest GB Stamps issue; 3 x Dutch Mini-Sheets used on parcel to the UK; a set of mint GB FRAMA from the 70s ; Poached Eggs and 5 x U/I ‘stamps’ presumed to be PO training but not confirmed.


Laurie Simons : A stock sheet with many Penny Reds and one two-penny blue – all used with a variety of cancels and previous owners notes. Some remarkable -but unassuming – rarities of great value found.


Paul Dickinson : an extensive range of mint GB Wildings, Cinderellas of Austrian origin eg Princess Elisabeth and battleship SMS Viribus Unitis plus a Lundy Puffin !   Stephen Marks provided more detail of the ship and its actions in the Adriatic in WW1.


Alan Cowie : the GB New stamp issue ( of RPSL note ); Indian stamps of KGV and KGVI plus the simple mint set of KGVI Nigeria; Japanese Foreign Mail Roller cancels of the 1930s including late usage in 1950; 3 x Japanese covers with, respectively, Large commemorative and Large Scenic cancels plus the very scarce ( willingly ) ‘ OVERPAID’ cachet.


Bill Jackson : additions to Bill’s collection of dead countries / stamp issuing authorities including Stampalia (!). 1930s SON postmarks from the Belgian Congo; Danish West Indies stamps; also from Kionga ( later in GEA ); a card of unusual overprinted stamps not all identified; and some curiosity stamps from Austria.


Charlie Buxton : focus on GB KGVI high values especially the £1 RSW ( FDC to the USA ) and the 1937 £1 on large parcel piece and 11 of the Festival £1 on NHS revenue document.


Mick Bratley : Items issued by GB for the 100th Anniversary of the RAF including a commemorative medallion ( Mick’s father was in the RAF ). Also showed 2016 omnibus collection of our Royal platinum Wedding Anniversary.


Mike Kitson : A large collection of Austrian PO cancels on stamps.- several hundred or more with POs as far afield as present day Romania. Some / many extremely scarce cancels.


David Potts : a group of Austrian Black ( and colour ) Print proofing stamps on A5 presentation sheets. Wei-Hai-Wei stamps & postcard. plus impressive China mint sets from the 1970s. Russian 1931 Zeppelin issue sets and Greek ‘Enosis’ set with Hansard quotations.


Ray Mutton : Bird Stamps and paper currency ( Cinderella ) issued by Len Hill for his Jason and Steeple Islands off the NW Falklands group. ( Len Hill was founder of the Birdland in the Cotswolds.)


Bob Spencer : A collection of pre-stamp and later covers from the Channel Islands – several with enclosed letters or notices- internal but also to France.


Stephen Marks : unidentified Cinderella items include one with Yiddish overprint on Polish area stamp ( unique Y language overprint ? ). Cover with SAMOS stamps; a souvenir folder of 1946 Czech origin commemorating Jan Masaryk; Belgian railway stamp used on freight card; 1919 cover between Austrian and Danish stamp dealers.


Priscilla Morris :  Fresh from her visit as an Arbiter at the Gibraltar Chess Congress,  P showed  her last week’s addition of the new World Heritage Site of Gorham Cave, Gibraltar (2016). and also some Australian scenic stamps, which I now discover are in fact World Heritage Sites series 1 (1993) and series 2 (1996).



All in all, a very varied and interesting morning which did not end until 1245 hours.


Sorry you weren’t there Simon !

AC 4 Feb ’19 

Simon reviews our new Season to Jan 2019

The 2018/19 season has got to a great start! Our Secretary, David Potts, gave a fascinating display of his wide-ranging collection of Cinderella stamps, aided by an excellent handout summarising the types of such stamps. Then David Walker of Wokingham PS displayed the Antarctic explorer Ernest Shackleton.


November saw an unusual event with our Programme Secretary, Bill Jackson, giving a public lecture at the Weston part of the Bodleian Library of Oxford University on our multi-dimensional founding Secretary and Treasurer Frank Bellamy, which included a sample of his collection held by the Bodleian in their extensive John Johnson collection.


A large turnout of members at the Christmas lunch in December showed how much this annual social event is now firmly entrenched in our programme. A morning meeting for members to display on the ‘60s produced a wide range of subjects: teenage collecting of China, Austria and Germany, French FDC and Maxim Cards, the GB £1 Windsor Castle issue, Japan’s Millennium sheets and demise of the airmail stamp, and three covers of the 1760s!


Hugh Bennet gave a wonderful display on the stamps of the Pacific nation of Kiribati. The first half was on the 1970s definitive stamps, including original designs by local children. In the second half, being intimately involved in planning and carrying out the selection, design and production of recent stamp issues, Hugh helped us gain an insider’s view on contemporary stamp manufacture. Using innovative A3 sheets throughout, we hope other societies consider Hugh for their future programme of events, as such insights made for a memorable and different-from-the-usual kind of display.


2019’s first meeting on sports, games and hobbies gave the chance for members to show off everything from Kent County Cricket Club, the World Cup and Olympic stamps to sumo wrestling and gardening!

Dr Simon Heap

Simon Reports on end of 2017-8 Season!


John Davies of nearby Banbury Philatelic Society and Stamp Active Network fame, gave us a fascinating display on the Penny Black Jubilee of 1890, the year that our society was founded. To everyone’s amusement, he began by observing how few modern commemorative make it onto envelopes these days and, being as scarce as Penny Blacks, he offered the audience considerable sums to buy such rare modern items!


The 2017-18 season ended with a new event: a ‘social’. On a warm summer’s evening, many members brought things to sell and swop and discuss all sorts of matters, philatelic and not so philatelic. It went well, and has found its place in future seasons. Speaking of which, the new one began in September with subs collected, programme booklets issued and a Silent Auction, with bids written down beside items for sale until a designated time when the last on the list paid and carried off their winnings.


A morning meeting on the letter ‘D’ noticeably failed to have any Denmark displayed. Nonetheless members displayed plenty of apposite and interesting ‘D’s: dogs, Disney, the delightful/dire stamps of modern Tuvalu issues, designers and dealers, ‘Dwor’ – the Polish for manor house, postage dues from and to Japan, dancing, dinosaurs, Danzig, the UN Year of the Disabled, disasters, decolonisation and development, and the aircraft manufacturers of Dassalt, De Haviland, Dornier and Douglas.

Dr Simon Heap


Simon Reports on start of 2018

2018 started with a morning meeting on ‘monarchy’, which covered Queen Victoria, the Queen Mother, the Austro-Hungarian monarchy, King Farouk of Egypt and the kings of Spain, Sweden, Nepal, Thailand, as well as the rulers of Bahrain and Jordan. The engaging Dave Armit then gave a splendid evening on a miscellany of philatelic matters, not the least was his role as auctioneer at some of the country’s major stamp auctions. This was followed by a beautiful and comprehensive display by Vic Thorpe on GB Prestige Booklets, presentation packs and smiler sheets. Vic deliberately engaged the audience with plenty of interesting observations and comments bringing forth lots of questions, comment, and discussion.

The ever popular quiz night brought out the competitive spirit and deep/shaky philatelic knowledge amongst the eight teams of members, selected in a new way which allowed for a far better level playing field – the order in which members signed the attendance register. A good morning meeting on the Caribbean was followed by the Club Auction which attracted a large percentage of the membership and many welcome clear outs of philatelic material to grateful new owners.
Dr Simon Heap

Simon Reports on 2017

Oxford, Nov-Dec 2017

The society is sad to report the untimely death of Alan Hughes, the author of our recent history celebrating 125 years of our history. Two members, Stephen Marks and David Potts gave the society an illuminating evening on China up to and from 1949. With China being a hot stamp collecting country – even on the school curriculum, everyone was educated into the history of Chinese stamps. The thematic meeting on Fish and Fishing produced a wide array of freshwater and saltwater contributions: from Japan, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Madagascar and Tuvalu, to fisherfolk, subsistence fishing, rod and line, spear-fishing, kite-fishing, Big Game fishing and commercial trawling. Simon Richards gave a wonderful display of Dominica, showing the key milestones in its philatelic history with rich material from his first class collection.


December was a busy month. A festive Christmas lunch at the Royal British Legion in Marston was enjoyed by two dozen members and their spouses, made even more enjoyable (and tricky) by some quiz questions for each table to solve. Then the always popular evening of Recent Acquisitions in the week before Christmas showed that members continue to add to their stamp collections and philatelic knowledge: Austria, British POs overseas, Canada, Nigeria, and a large number of forgeries with interesting histories.

Dr Simon Heap




Oxford, Sep-Oct 2017

The new season began in mid-September with a silent auction. Many auction lots attracted a lot of bidding with pens but not much silence amongst the chatter of the evening as member paid their subs, some new members joined us, and an extra copy of our recent history publication was distributed to members who had donated to get one in the first place.


In early October, the Letter “L” guaranteed a wide variety of philatelic translations by members: amongst which I can list Lebanon, Lithuania, Leopards, Lions, Llama stamps of Peru, as well as QV Line-Engraved, Lifeboats, Lace, and Lacrosse.


China, fish and fishing, Dominica, recent acquisitions and a festive lunch are lined up in the coming months running up to Christmas

Dr Simon Heap


Oxford, Apr-July 2017

April saw members of the society display their competition entries to be judged; when the society held its AGM a few weeks later, certificates, shields and cups were handed out to entrants. The wide range of entries showed that members collect all sorts: the battles of Coronel and the Falkland Islands in 1914; North Borneo; paquebot marks of 1920-30s Japan; tourism in Abbazia between the wars; propaganda mail of the Chinese Cultural Revolution; art work associated with the stamps issued with the UK postal strike of 1971; classic cars and tigers.


In mid-May, Stephen Marks gave his final Presidential display on Regime Change, a fascinating evening covering the stamps and postal history of, amongst many things, El Salvador and the overthrow of Arturo Araujo; Bosnia and Yugoslavia; Spanish Civil War’s propaganda labels; Vichy France; Post-War Germany’s four Occupied Zones, as well as Sardinia and Italy, and San Marino.


In July, Tony Stanford gave a very comprehensive display on the Indian and British Post Offices located in the Gulf States of Muscat, Bahrain, Dubai and Kuwait, finishing with Das Island, the last ever British overseas post office. Later that month, members of the society met at the hostelry of Sandford Lock, just south of Oxford, for a very sociable summer’s evening together.

Dr Simon Heap



Alan Hughes R.I.P.

With regret we announce the passing of member Alan Hughes, on 23 October 2017, who will perhaps best be remembered for his outstanding work on the research for and compilation of our 125th Anniversary souvenir handbook.


Alan had a long career with the Oxford English Dictionary and it particularly resonated with him that the first Editor of the Oxford English Dictionary, Dr Sir James Murray, had also been the first President of the re-named Oxford Philatelic Society from 1892.

Through his research, Alan was instrumental in highlighting the career of Frank Bellamy, a notable citizen of Oxford for whom a Blue Plaque is to be shortly erected. Bellamy was OPS founding Honorary Secretary and Treasurer from 1890 to 1936 and also a key member of the Oxford Photographic Society, an active member of the Ashmolean Natural History Society and a significant observational astronomer at the Radcliffe Observatory. It was Alan who spoke to set the scene at the 125th anniversary event in 2016 bringing together the Oxford Philatelic Society, the Ashmolean, the Museum of the History of Science, and the friends of St Sepulchre’s graveyard where Bellamy rests.

Our thoughts and sympathy go out to his widow Freda and his family.

Michael Proffitt, the Chief Editor of the Oxford English Dictionary, has given us a copy of his tribute to Alan, which you can read on our NEWS page.