1st October 2019 North Macedonia & Belgian Congo – Rugby Philatelic Society Members

On Tuesday October 1st welcomed two members from Rugby Philatelic Society.  In the first half of the evening we were given brief history through stamps of North Macedonia.  We started in the 1850’s, when the region was under Turkish administration, with a cover with a Turkish Post Office postmark and with the letter written in Greek.  In 1908 a set of stamps was issued to commemorate the constitutional reform that Turkey had introduced to try and stabilise its influence in the region, but by 1911, a set of stamps issued to coincide with an imperial tour was boycotted by the population unhappy with Turkish rule.  By 1912 there was war in the Balkans which led to Turkey losing control, but the liberators then fell out over how the region was to be split – leading to the second Balkan war.  Serbia occupied the region for a time before being replaced by Bulgaria.  The Great War was initiated by events in the Balkans and ended with Bulgaria signing an armistice and the creation of ‘The Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes’, later changed to Yugoslavia.  Macedonia was part of this and we saw a range of stamps and postcards used in the region with most of the material from the Serbian post office.  The Second World War led to turmoil in the region again with Bulgaria and Germany as occupying forces and issuing stamps for use in the region.  At the end of the war, Yugoslavia became closely allied with the Soviet bloc until the most recent Balkans war when Macedonia won independence as a country, although it has only had its name agreed with Greece in the past year: the Republic of North Macedonia.

The second half of the evening was a ‘social philately’ display of ‘Minerals of Belgian Congo’.  The display was broken down into sections depicting different mineral resources, illustrated with postcards, paper money, mining company shares and stamps.  We started with the most common and, for the local population, most useful mineral: clay.  This was used to make pots, brick and roof tiles.  We quickly moved through the commercial metals such as copper and then on to gold and diamonds.  One interesting fact that I learnt was that Congo was the source of the Uranium used in the Manhattan Project, which developed the first nuclear weapons.

Our next meeting will be on Tuesday 15th October at 7:30pm at Hanwell Fields Community Centre when Mark Bailey will present material on the Centenary of the Penny Black 1940.  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.