On Tuesday January 16th the Society welcomed Ken Flint as presenter. His subject was Cyprus, and Ken started by explaining how his collection began as a result of visiting the island in 1979 through family connections. As a collector he was drawn in by the sight of a stamp shop and after purchasing Greek material, was also offered some ‘under the counter’ material in the form of Turkish stamps, along with a warning that he could be deported if caught with the material! Attracted by the designs, Ken continued to collect year packs through the Philatelic Bureau and his presentation was a history of Cyprus as depicted by its stamp issues.
Cypriot history started in the Stone Age, but the discovery of copper gave the country its name and in Greek times, the cult of Aphrodite arose on the island. The Roman invasion lead to 500 years of relatively peaceful occupation and Paphos has remarkable mosaics which were preserved by earthquakes. In 45AD. Paul converted Paphos to Christianity and the Byzantine churches and their art work were particularly well represented on stamps, covers and maxi-cards. In the 11th Century Cyprus became bound up with the Crusaders – King Richard I rescued his fiancée Berengaria and married her on Cyprus and a number of crusader castles were built – again, well represented on stamps. Cyprus eventually came under the Ottoman Empire which allowed the church to continue its presence on the island but by 1853, with the agreement of Turkey, Britain took over and continued to administer the colony. Independence in 1960 also gave rise to the US and UK retaining Sovereign Bases on the island.
The second half of the display covered the turmoil since independence, driven loyalties divided between Greece and Turkey. Fighting, civil unrest and interventions from Turkey led to the UN becoming involved as a peace keeping force – a six month mandate in 1964 which is still in place today, 54 years later. In 1974 Turkey invaded the island and the resultant partition has been in place ever since. Ken’s material from the second half included mail from UN soldiers, particularly from Canada, as well as internal mail showing how the Turkish administered area developed its own postal issues and postal service, eventually replacing Greek names for villages with Turkish ones. It was particularly fascinating to hear from one of our members who had been living in the north of the island when Turkey invaded.
The next meeting will be on Tuesday February 6th at 7:30pm at Hanwell Fields Community Centre when members will display stamps and covers related to the letter G. The Banbury Stamp Society is on-line at ‘www.banburystampsociety.co.uk’, or contact John Davies on 01295 255831.