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News: BTA Meeting at York 20th July 2019

  02/08/2019 @ 5:06pm

Displays kicked off with Mike Blackman showing umbrella and parasol manufacturers. Manufacturing of course provides the opportunity to collect much more than stamps, and Mike’s sheets included illustrated covers, postal calling cards, trade cards, invoice headings and perfins. One of the trade cards had a printing interest, being printed on card with a special coating of kaolin which enabled some attractive colour printing and overall iridescent effect. While one USA illustrated cover claimed it was from “the largest umbrella factory in the world” not everything was on an industrial scale: stamps were shown from the Far East and Africa which depicted traditional methods.

David Hope then showed Swiss Post Buses with a display of a great variety of material: covers, postal stationery, booklets, postmarks, publicity cards and photographs. The system started in 1906, with a single route running approx 30 km out from Bern. At the end of World War I the army had a surplus of motorised vehicles which the Swiss Post Office took over and adapted to update their fleet. While the early services ran during the summer only in 1925 a winter service was launched. Also in the 1920s a campaign “Holiday in Switzerland” began, aimed at the native population, and a number of new routes were inaugurated through some of the major passes through the Alps. This is a service with a long history which is still going today.

We then moved on to a display of stamps. Rodney Knight explained that he is not a thematic collector, and so brought along some of his China and Taiwan collections featuring Chinese paintings, some on silk. Some were done purely as paintings, some done to decorate items such as fans, and all delightful to look at.

Edith Knight then showed postcards of the British Mediterranean and Atlantic Fleets in Majorca. The British Mediterranean Fleet was part of the Royal Navy, formed in 1654 and disbanded in 1967. Originally based in Mahon in Menorca it later rotated its base between Gibraltar and Malta. The postcards depicted the fleets on patrol and also sailors enjoying some rest and relaxation, plus one lovely original photograph from 1903 “Supplying fresh provisions to the British Mediterranean Fleet at Palma Mallorca”.


Anne Stammers showed pages depicting gold and silver mining: digging it out, refining it using cyanide, dredging from rivers and streams, and these days dredging from the sea bed. Some countries featured were to be expected, such as South Africa, but others were more unusual, such as New Guinea. At one time Canadian Airways flew prospectors out to a rumoured new source of gold in Newfoundland, but none was found. Famous names were featured, such as a Wells Fargo cover, which had actually carried gold.

Wendy Buckle gave a very brief potted history of the printing press, starting with Gutenberg”s invention, an adaptation of existing implements such as the wine press. This was a design which stayed in use largely unchanged until the Industrial Revolution which heralded metal rather than wooden presses, first the Stanhope then the Albion and Columbia. The big breakthrough came in 18…  when The Times of London installed the world’s first steam press, invented by Frederick Koenig. The nineteenth century also saw the introduction of lithography, originally for the reproduction of illustrations, and photogravure.

The final speaker was Barry Stagg showing Daffodils. Perhaps today they would be considered an invasive species, having originated in the Iberian Peninsular and North Africa, brought to the UK by the Romans. But despite 2,000 years of European habitation the first known depiction of them is not until between 1490 and 1508, in a painting by Leonardo da Vinci The Virgin of the Rocks. Sadly the flowers are on the edge of the painting, so the chances are he didn’t paint that bit but left it to a studio assistant. There are 30 species of daffodil with 30,000 varieties, but despite all this choice mistakes were and are often made in depicting them. They are are a flower to be reckoned with, being poisonous to horses and donkeys, not to mention humans, and their sap will kill any other plant – so don’t use them in a mixed flower display.

York Racecourse is a lovely setting for a meeting, and we are grateful to the organisers for their hospitality.


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