15th March 2016 Rocks to Riches/GB George V – Anne Stammers/Bob Clements

On Tuesday 15th March, Banbury Stamp Society welcomed Anne Stammers and Bob Clements from Henley.

Anne Stammers is the secretary of the British Thematic Association and she presented material on the theme ‘Rocks to Riches’ – a very broad topic which started when she was working for a laboratory researching uses for gold and platinum. As a thematic display it included postage stamps, postal history, and postal stationary as well as relevant historic items such as receipts. She started with material on rocks, including some C19th covers with rock related postmarks – La Roche in France and Quartz Reef in New Zealand. She then moved on to rocks containing riches, in particular Gold, Silver and Platinum as well as gem stones. Covers ranged from Kimberley in South Africa, famous for diamonds to Broken Hills in Australia where silver was discovered in 1844. The California gold rush started in 1848 and Anne showed a Wells Fargo Commission receipt from 1874 for $837 of gold dust. The final section of the display showed examples of jewellery from early Egyptian and pre-Columbian gold, through the medieval period and finishing with Fabergé.

The second half was presented by Bob Clements who began by explaining how he had started as a ‘schoolboy collector’ and then come back to philately after a break and decided to collect stamps Great Britain from Queen Victoria’s reign. Having ‘finished’ that he moved through subsequent monarchs and is currently on George V, which he displayed. Although Stanley Gibbons’ catalogue only shows six issues during the reign of George V, Bob explained why there is a large number of catalogued varieties, particularly among the Downey Heads: a new printer (Harrisons) won the contract despite having no stamp printing experience and so poor printing and engraving quality gave rise to a number of varieties. On top of that, neither the King nor the Queen liked the design. The Mackennal head was approved by the King and reverted to intaglio printing and so was more reliable, but variations in ink supply over the life of the issue gave rise to six basic shades for the 1/2d issue, rising to eighteen shades in the specialised catalogue. Bob was dubious about some of the scarcer shades and the possibility of them not being authentic, and warned that these should only be bought from a reputable dealer.

The next club meeting will be on Tuesday April 5th at 7:30pm at Hanwell Fields Community Centre. The Society will be welcoming Philip Mackey who will be presenting on the subject of ‘Classic France Stamps and Postal History’. The Banbury Stamp Society can now be found on-line at ‘www.banburystampsociety.co.uk’.