On Tuesday October 15th Banbury Stamp Society welcomed Mark Bailey who presented his material on the ‘Centenary of the Penny Black 1940.’ The Penny Black was the world’s first adhesive postage stamp and was introduced in May 1840. In 1938 meetings were held between the GPO and the Royal Philatelic Society (‘The Royal’) to discuss how to commemorate this event. The GPO agreed to issue a set of stamps and the Royal started to plan for an international Philatelic Exhibition. Twenty artists were invited to submit designs and Mark showed a number of essays and sketches from this competition. The winning design was by Edmund Dulac, who had also designed the 1937 Coronation Issue for George VI. There were six values, from a ½ d to 3d – the GPO had considered a higher value for air mail and registration but the printers (Harrisons) suggested this would not be possible in the timescale.
Mark showed examples of all six stamps, including a full sheet of the 1/2d stamp. In addition to the release in Great Britain, the stamps were also overprinted for use in Morocco and in Tangier. We then saw covers from the first day of issue through to as late as the 1960’s, including covers on the Channel Islands where wartime stamp shortage lead to the 2d stamps being cut in half diagonally for use as a 1d.
The exhibitions associated with the commemoration were smaller affairs than planned because of the outbreak of the Second World War, but there were still two exhibitions in Bournemouth and a large event held at Earl’s Court, all of which raised funds for the Red Cross. Mark showed a range of covers and other material from these events, including the banquet menu from Earl’s Court which did not show much evidence that wartime rationing had started.
In the second half, Mark showed how the rest of the world celebrated the centenary, and a wide range of countries issued commemorative stamps. Not surprisingly, Germany did not but even there, many philatelic societies produced commemorative labels, and covers. The USA was still neutral in May 1940 and so chose not to issue a stamp, but again Mark showed many commemorative labels, including a fine reproduction of the 1d Black which was given to people who donated to the war effort.
Our next meeting will be on a different evening to normal: Wednesday 30th October at 7:30pm at Hanwell Fields Community Centre when Don Davies will present ‘GB Postal History with a difference’. We would also like to extend an invitation to the Banbury Festival of Stamps on Sunday 10th November at BGN School where there will be stamp dealers, refreshments and the Midlands Philatelic Federation Convention being held jointly with the Thames Valley Philatelic Federation. The Banbury Stamp Society is on-line at ‘www.banburystampsociety.co.uk’, or contact John Davies on 01295 255831.