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.




Simon reports….Auction success

The year kicked off with the ever popular Ladies Choice evening of display on the theme of “capitals, cities, and cathedrals”. Bob Galland gave an excellent display of Queen Victoria surface printed stamps at our next meeting. In February, Oxford’s Publicity Secretary Simon Heap gave a morning display on the postal system of Calabar, Nigeria, during the colonial period, which included a detailed history of the four GPOs, numerous pillar boxes and expanding postal service of the town across the seventy years up to 1960. Quiz night brought out the competitive spirit and deep philatelic knowledge (and ignorance!) amongst the six teams of members. In the meantime, the society’s annual 9-page competition was being judged – full displays and results at a future meeting. Two more Oxford members, Alan Cowie and Jan Simons, combined to provide a fascinating morning meeting on aspects of Japan: a glorious trot through Japan’s postal issues from start to present-day and then a wonderfully specialised display on the Japanese postal history in Manchuria. The very well attended society’s auction concluded this quarter’s meetings with over 200 lots providing for an exciting evening of viewing and bidding for all.

Dr Simon Heap

Note from treasurer: 25 members bid for lots, spending on average £30 each. The OPS lots made a profit of about £120 for the Society…suggestions for library purchases are always welcomed!

Simon reports on our New Season

The 2016-17 season, which has seen two new members recruited, began with a Silent Auction, A morning meeting was devoted to Art and Artists. At the next meeting, two members of Leighton Buzzard Philatelic Society, John Hossack and Richard Page, gave noted displays on Sierra Leone and Birds of Prey respectively. Another morning meeting covered the letter ‘P’, with Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Poland, Port Said displayed as well as GB POs abroad, Paquebot Covers through Japan, and Pottsville, USA. Malcolm Gascoyne of the neighbouring Henley Philatelic Society gave an excellent display on the stamps and postal history of Sarawak. In December, the society held its well-attended Christmas Social. Later in the month, the always popular ‘Recent Acquisitions’ evening gave members a chance to show everyone their new philatelic procurements.

Dr Simon Heap

Simon Reports: Frank Bellamy anniversary event.

Oxford PS

2016 started off with a meeting displaying the themes of exotic flowers and birds. Then, Colin Lee and Bob Patterson of Reading PS showed the Faroes and Solar System respectively. In the next meeting, Joint Secretary David Potts displayed diverse material relating to Opatija in former Yugoslavia.


February 15th saw two meetings: in the evening was the Society’s Annual 9 page competition, judged by Patrick Reid and Christine Earle – not an easy task when accompanied in the same room by the tricky and boisterous annual Philatelic Quiz. However, earlier that day, things have been more contemplative, as the society marked the 80th anniversary of the death of Frank Bellamy, who had played a key role in the development of the Oxford Philatelic Society for many years as its founding Honorary Secretary and Treasurer from 1890 to 1936. Founded in December 1890, at a meeting at which Bellamy took the minutes, the Oxford Philatelic Society has been celebrating its 125th anniversary. This event was part of those celebrations.


Frank Bellamy’s commemorative event in Oxford

1603-Frank Bellamy's Commemoration-Gathering

Bellamy also helped to establish the Oxford Photographic Society, was an active member of the Ashmolean Natural History Society of Oxfordshire, and contributed significantly to astronomy in his post as an observational astronomer at the Radcliffe Observatory. Buried at St Sepulchre’s cemetery, Frank Bellamy’s grave is virtually the first you encounter as you walk through the entrance archway:


Members of the following groups attended: Oxford Philatelic Society, Friends of St Sepulchre’s, Ashmolean Natural History Society of Oxfordshire, and Museum of the History of Science.


After several words of thanks for the life of Frank Bellamy, a wreath was laid.


Oxford Chairman Stephen Marks at the graveside of Frank Bellamy

1603-Frank Bellamy's Commemoration-Chairman Stephen Marks at graveside

The event can be viewed at:


Marking the early days of the society, a March meeting was titled ‘The 1890s’, with members displaying a variety of countries: from QV GB, Persia and scenic views of British Guiana, Tasmania and New Zealand to the Treaty Ports of China and Sweden’s lovely SON postmarks, while two displays concentrated on the Royal Niger Company and Niger Coast, showing some very rare material on cover.

Simon Heap

OPS History now published…Look here to get one!

OPS History

On 15th February 2016, the 80th anniversary of the death of founder member Frank A. Bellamy, Alan Hughes presented us with the first copies of his 63 page history of the Oxford Philatelic Society, now in its 125th year. In the morning, a Memorial event was held at Mr. Bellamy’s grave in St Sepluchre’s cemetery in Walton Street. It was attended by several OPS members and members of other societies also founded by Mr. Bellamy. Alan Hughes gave a short talk about Mr Bellamy’s considerable contribution to the early development of Philately and his activites as a prominent citizen of Oxford. He also gave an interview to the TV Channel “That’s Oxford”…you can see it here.

Members can obtain copies of “The History” at meetings for a donation of £10 minimum (to cover printing costs).  Alternatively, they can apply to Dr. Simon Heap, 76 Waynflete Road, Headington, Oxford OX3 8BL ( ), enclosing a cheque for £12 minimum (to cover postage and printing costs).

Interested non-members may also apply, but be warned that the print run has been only 150.


Simon reports on OPS autumn Meetings:

Oxford PS

In October the energetic David Rye presented Costumes on Stamps. November saw members show off their new acquisitions, including Albania, Nicaragua, Russia, French Post Office at Zanzibar, and Nigeria and NZ covers to Joan the Wad. Simon Richards proudly showed off his medal acquisitions from Germany exhibitions: firstly at Gotha and secondly, a weighty, impressive Silver [only Gold, Silver and Bronze awarded] medal from Sindelfingen. A meeting on transport gave a chance for members to show off bicycles, airships, trams, trains, animal transport, TPOs, ships, paquebot, planes, river boats, and a range of motor vehicles from across the globe. In December, the Society had a convivial Christmas Lunch at a new venue in Oxford, complete with Chairman’s speech and quiz. Our last meeting of 2015 was devoted to the letter ‘G’, and members showed off Germany, Gibraltar, British PO abroad letters to Genoa, Greece, Ghana, GB Graphite stamps of 1957-60, and King Ghazi of Iraq, amongst many excellent displays, even Guineaworm and God!
Simon Heap

Simon Heap Reports…New Season opens with BBC2 visit!

Ending the 2014-15 programme, Tony Stafford gave an excellent display on the British Salonika Force of half-a-million men operating in the First World War and beyond. 200,000 soldiers died, but only a small proportion in battle. The new season kicked off with the important business of paying our subs and collecting our 2015-16 programme booklets, while in the background a Silent Auction was held.

I am happy to report that member Alan Hughes has completed his extensive research into our 125 year history. We hope to sure the fruits of his labours in the coming months, including in a future issue of ABPS.

In early October, members displayed material on Canada. A team from BBC2 were present to film member Vic Thorpe as part of their forthcoming documentary on Generation Lifestyles.

1510-Oxford Photo for ABPS