OPS Auction…next two meetings cancelled

Your committee has decided that our auction will go ahead as planned (16th March 2020), in accordance with current Government advice for meetings of under a hundred people. Obviously, anyone feeling unwell should not attend. If many lots remain unsold, we may auction them at a later meeting.

The auction went ahead with about sixteen members in attendance, sitting well-spaced out. Bidding was competitive and the OPS lots made a profit of about £100. Now sadly, the Government advice is for no unnecessary travel or contact with other people, so we will be cancelling the next two meetings and will wait for further advice. The Committee Meeting scheduled for April will be delayed until a new date can be arranged before the AGM. 

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Simon reviews our recent meetings:

We were grateful to Martin Farr and Graeme Stewart of Thatcham Philatelic Society for giving an interesting evening of displays on Chinese Myths and Legends, Hiroshige’s Tokaido Road, and Post Boxes.

At the next meeting, two of our members, Alan Cowie and Bill Jackson displayed the contrasting philatelic histories of Iraq and France. Colin Searle of Stratford on Avon Philatelic Society then treated us to a lovely display of Gibraltar, which included the innovative and helpful use of PowerPoint slides to allow for close up analysis of stamps without the audience having to get their illuminated magnifying glasses out!

December saw three events. First, members took the letter “O” in all sorts of ways to show Obock, Oceanic Settlements, Officials, Oil, Oil Rivers, Olympics, Oman, Orange River Colony, Osterreich, Overprints, Owls and concluded with a charming display by Ray Mutton of the Oxford High Street. Second, our now well-established Christmas lunch at the Royal British Legion allowed members to have an excellent meal before facing the customary tricky but rewarding quiz. The month concluded when our longest serving member, Bob Spencer, gave a fascinating account of Early Spain up to 1939.

The first meeting of 2020 was a morning one with members displaying on ‘Space and Telecommunications’, which proved there are a lot of space stamps to collect! Displays included Sputnik and Apollo missions, the Space Race between America and the Soviet Union/Russia then joint issues between them, Nigeria in the Space Age, as well as radio, telephone and GB’s television-related stamps of Dr Who, Thunderbirds, and Wallace and Gromit!

Dr Simon Heap

Simon reports on our Autumn 2019 Meetings

Oxford started its 2019/20 season in September with its Silent Auction, which may be “quiet” as prospective buyers examine items brought in by members and quietly place their bid on the bidding form. However, with annual subscriptions to be paid, and the usual busy bourse in play, the Rose Hill Methodist Church Hall was far from “silent”!

Later that month, Peter Pugh of Rugby PS provided a most interesting display of picture postcards illustrating the construction and use of the Trans-Siberia railway from its start in 1891 up to 1912 together with covers from Hong Kong & PO in Treaty Ports, with all pages profusely illustrated with photography of the trains and ships enabling the mail to run from Hong Kong to Europe by this route. He also covered the effects of the 1910-11 Plague in the Harbin region.

It is not often that the word ‘Philatelist’ appears on a Blue Plaque attached to a building of a celebrated figure. Yet a special event occurred on 8th October with the unveiling of a Blue Plaque to Frank Arthur Bellamy, our founding Secretary and Treasurer, and his niece, Ethel, whose career was also worthy of note.

Dr Simon Heap

Bellamy Plaque unveiled at last!

The plaque was unveiled at 2 Winchester Road on 8 October 2019. The speakers were Professor Robert Evans of the Oxford Blue Plaques Scheme, Mr Bill Jackson, former President of Oxford Philatelic Society, and Professor Karin Sigloch of Oxford Earth Sciences Department. The ceremony was attended by philatelists and representatives of the Bodleian Library, Magdalen College School, and the Oxford Astrophysics Department.

The weather held for us and we retired to the near-by Rose & Crown for ample supplies of pork pie and cream cake! It was noted that Ethel would have received mail from seismological stations all over the world, presumably passing on the stamps to her Uncle Frank. Click on the PAGE above for a transcript of Bill’s speech.

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