Tag Archives: British Library

The London 1948 Olympic Games – A Collectors’ Guide

From 25th July to 9th September 2012, the British Library is running the exhibition Olympex 2012: Collecting the Olympic Games, telling the story of the past and present of the Olympic Games through the medium of postage stamps and related memorabilia. As well as contributing to the exhibition the BPMA has also been involved in the accompanying book The London 1948 Games – A Collectors Guide.

This new publication by Bob Wilcock, of the Society of Olympic Collectors, gives us a detailed postal background of the 1948 Olympic Games.

London 1948 Olympic Games stamps, issued 29 July 1948

London 1948 Olympic Games stamps, issued 29 July 1948

It also includes an essay by the BPMA’s Curator of Philately, Douglas Muir, introducing the fascinating story of the 1948 stamp issue, demonstrating how – just like Royal Mail’s ‘gold medal’ issue today – stamps were used to celebrate and commemorate the Games. He writes:

As the stamp issuing policy at the time was very conservative, not all serious proposals resulted in commemorative stamps – but one event could not be ignored, and that was the holding of the Games of the 14th Olympiad in London and the south of England.

14 designers submitted designs, and from these the Council chose work by G. Knipe of Harrison & Sons, S. D. Scott of Waterlows, Edmund Dulac, Percy Metcalfe and Abram Games. Before these were shown to the King, the Postmaster General felt another option should be offered, and recommended a design by John Armstrong. The book contains images of all submitted designs as well as the issued stamps.

John Armstrong's design with mounted horse

John Armstrong’s design with mounted horse

With hundreds of colour illustrations, the books also features first day covers, postmarks, postal stationery, cigarette cards and other ephemera – a must-read for Olympic collectors.

The London 1948 Olympic Games - A Collector's Guide

The London 1948 Olympic Games – A Collectors’ Guide by Bob Wilcock is now available from the BPMA online shop.

The British Library Philatelic Rarities

by Adrian Steel

The entrance to the British Library, St Pancras

The entrance to the British Library, St Pancras

I was privileged to be shown around the British Library’s exhibition for the 2010 Festival of Stamps by David Beech FRPSL, Head of Philatelic Collections, recently. The exhibition, entitled ‘The British Library Philatelic Rarities’, opened on 1 February and runs until the end of the year.

Fifty of the gems of the British Library’s substantial collections have been selected and displayed in the pull-out frames, situated on the upper ground floor of the British Library’s main St Pancras headquarters. Along with the rest of the permanent philatelic exhibition, they are available to view during normal BL opening hours.

Philatelic Collections Frames at the British Library

Philatelic Collections Frames at the British Library

The exhibition of course includes penny blacks, as well as penny reds from Plate 77 (used and unused), but the rarities are from around the world, including the 1d stamp produced in 1765 for the American colonies, the introduction of which was so hotly disputed that the cry ‘no taxation without representation’ was raised.

During my visit it was particularly pleasing to see the number of different people who as casual visitors paused to look at the philatelic material on display, and the situation of the pull-out frames in the main public areas helps this. The London 2010 Festival of Stamps is all about taking the richness of philatelic heritage and the many rewards of stamp collecting to more people, and new people, and seeing what the BL hold will provide great encouragement.

BPMA aids author

Every week many people to come to the BPMA to use our Archive Search Room. Whether it’s family historians finding out about their ancestors, historians interested in communications or philatelists furthering their knowledge, all are welcome.

Len Stanway, author of the Malaya Study Group’s new book Malaysia and the Federation of Malaya – Their Stamps and Postal Stationery, has expressed his thanks to BPMA staff for filling a gap in the available information on the printing of postal stationery for Malaya.

The author explained “When Messrs. McCorquodale took over the printing of envelopes and aerogrammes for Malaya from Messrs. De La Rue, the data on shipments was not fed back to the Crown Agents ledgers which are now held by the British Library. A Fiji researcher, John Ray, drew my attention to the existence of a BPMA file, POST 52/704, which contained reports from Post Office inspectors who were based at McCorquodale in the late 1950s and early 1960s to examine British issues and who handled Commonwealth shipments on behalf on Crown Agents in their spare time. This filled many of the gaps in the available information. You do not have to be a collector of Great Britain to find the BPMA a valuable resource.”

A registration envelope printed by McCorquodale for the Malayan state of Selangor

A registration envelope printed by McCorquodale for the Malayan state of Selangor

The Federation of Malaya came into existence in 1948, became independent of the United Kingdom in 1957 and was incorporated in an enlarged Malaysia in 1963. Len Stanway’s book explores the stamps and postal stationery issued during that period, including, where known, all printing orders and varieties. The postage due stamps of the Malayan Postal Union were in use throughout the period, so their full story from 1935 is described, as are the state and federal revenue stamps issued during the Federation period. Philatelic and political background information is covered in introductory chapters, together with brief biographies of the rulers and other eminent persons connected with the stamps.

Volume 1, covering the 1948 to 1963 period, was published this month and is available from the Malaya Study Group’s website: www.malayastudygroup.com. Volume Two will cover the 1963 to 1994 period and all Malaysia postage due stamps, while Volume 3 will cover 1995 to 2009. Supplementary information for 2010 onwards will initially be provided through the columns of The Malayan Philatelist, the journal of The Malaya Study Group.

A McCorquodale aerogramme for Singapore used by fan to ask Miss Doris Day for the words of "Deadwood Stage".

A McCorquodale aerogramme for Singapore used by fan to ask Miss Doris Day for the words of "Deadwood Stage".

Len Stanway’s interest in philately began at the age of 6 and he has been a member of the Malaya Study Group for 30 years. He is also a member of Singapore Stamp Club and the Sarawak Specialists’ Society, and a Fellow of the Royal Philatelic Society London. He holds various posts in local, regional and national philatelic societies, and has written extensively for various society publications and stamp magazines.

If you are interested in conducting philatelic research at the BPMA please see our website for further information on what records we hold and how we can assist you. The Archive Search Room is open every weekday from 10am to 5pm, except Thursdays when we are open until 7pm. The Search Room will also be open on six Saturdays throughout 2010; see the What’s On section of our website for details.

Welcome to the London 2010: Festival of Stamps

After a long time planning and a lot of work by many people at the BPMA and other organisations the London 2010: Festival of Stamps will soon begin.

A 1963 US stamp depicting a broken chain and the words "Emacipation Proclamation", produced to celebrate 100 years since the abolition of slavery.

Stamp from the United States of America, 1963. Courtesy of Sands of Time

We will be making a buzz throughout 2010 about stamps and introduce many new people to the wonderful world of stamps, stamp design and postal heritage. One of the first events of the Festival is Post Abolition: Commemorative stamps from around the world (18 January – 30 June 2010). This new display in the London, Sugar and Slavery gallery of the Museum of London Docklands looks at how the abolition of slavery has been commemorated through the everyday postage stamp. 

The Festival continues with an exciting programme of exhibitions and events planned, with something to appeal to everyone.

As well as celebrating stamps, London 2010: Festival of Stamps also marks the centenary of the accession of George V – the philatelist king. To mark the occasion, don’t miss the BPMA’s major exhibition Empire Mail: George V & The GPO in co-operation with Guildhall Art Gallery and the Royal Philatelic Collection. The exhibition opens at the prestigious Guildhall Art Gallery on 7 May 2010 and runs until 25 July 2010. Many items from the BPMA’s wonderful collections will be on display in this exhibition that explores the life of King George V, through his personal passions as a philatelist and wider world events. There will also be a display of exquisite stamps and stamp artwork from the Royal Philatelic Collection.

Postal Union Congress £1 stamp, 1929. Shows King George V and an English knight on horseback.

Postal Union Congress £1, 1929. GBR02.25

Later in the year, BPMA will be releasing a new book about George V by our curator of philately, Douglas Muir. Based on extensive research, much of it original, this will be an vital addition to anyone interested in the period, which saw some of the most beautiful and highly regarded of British stamps, such as the seahorses and the PUC £1. 

Alongside Empire Mail: George V & The GPO, the BPMA will also be staging a display of Treasures of the Archive at our Search Room in Freeling House. The exhibition will feature unique pieces from the collections of The British Postal Museum & Archive. This includes a sheet of penny black stamps and the original die, among many other items of unparalleled significance in UK postal history.

EXHIBITIONS AND DISPLAYS

As well as our own exhibitions, the BPMA is co-ordinating an exciting programme of events with partner organisations throughout 2010.

British Library Philatelic Rarities
British Library
1 February – 31 December 2010
The permanent 1,000 frame ‘Philatelic Exhibition’ will be refreshed with new or not recently exhibited material from the British Library’s world class collections. There will also be a programme of educational talks.

An early air mail envelope

Air mail envelope. Image courtesy of The Trustees of the Bath Postal Museum

King George V Exhibition
Bath Postal Museum
1 February – 30 October 2010
The Bath Postal Museum is staging an exhibition depicting the events that occurred during the reign of King George V (1910 to 1936). Items on display will illustrate how events that occurred during this period resulted in changes to peoples’ lives and their standard of living.

Congo (Katanga): 10 F Stamp with Air Katanga airplane tail

Congo (Katanga): 10 F Stamp with Air Katanga airplane tail

Impressions of Africa: money, medals and stamps
British Museum, Room 69a
1 April 2010 – January 2011
In 2010 17 African countries celebrate the 50th anniversary of independence from colonial rule. To mark this occasion the British Museum will be holding a small display looking at the images of Africa presented on coins, banknotes, medals, stamps and seals made for the continent during the past 100 years.

Throughout 2010 the Association of British Philatelic Societies (ABPS) will be holding regional events. Please see the London 2010 website to find out more about shows near you.

Other events are still to be confirmed, so don’t forget to visit our new-look website at www.london2010.org.uk for all the very latest news, visitor information and opening times. And please do check details before travelling as dates may change.

EVENTS AND ACTIVITIES

Alongside exhibitions and displays, the BPMA will also be holding Festival related activities. Highlights are listed below, but please see the London 2010 website, or the BPMA website to find out more.

Central Telegraph Office (GPO West) decorated with flags for the Jubilee of George V.

Central Telegraph Office (GPO West) decorated with flags for the Jubilee of George V. POST 118 290

Walking Tours

This year, for the first time, we have introduced two types of walking tour. The first type introduces Highlights of GPO London (Saturday 26 June and Tuesday 13 July, 1 ½ hours). The tour takes you in to the heart of old GPO London, exploring over 300 years of postal history, and developments in the buildings and iconic street furniture of telephone kiosks and letter boxes.

The second, longer Extended Walking Tour (Saturday 8 May, Sunday 5 September. Approximately 3 hours) offers the chance to explore GPO London in more depth.  

Talks

A special programme of talks has been devised for the Festival, each one covering a different aspect of philately or postal history. The programme starts off on Thursday 11 March (7-8pm, Phoenix centre) with a panel discussion on Stamps in the 21st Century. Guests from across the spectrum of philately and stamp design will discuss stamp design and the future of stamps.

As you can see, 2010 is packed full of events, exhibitions and activities for people to find out more about stamps, postal history and stamp design. We hope you can join us at the London 2010: Festival of Stamps soon!

Her Majesty The Queen Patron of London 2010: Festival of Stamps

Her Majesty The Queen has graciously agreed to be Patron of London 2010: Festival of Stamps, a year-long festival of philatelic exhibitions and events, marking the centenary of the accession of George V, the philatelist king. This continues a long standing tradition of philatelic patronage by the UK Royal Family.

The Queen has been Patron of the London International Stamp Exhibitions each decade since 1980. She is also Patron of the Royal Philatelic Society London, the oldest philatelic society in the world, of which George V was executive President until succeeding to the Throne, when he agreed to be the society’s Patron.

The Queen’s private collection – the Royal Philatelic Collection – includes many exceptional rarities, among them unique items such as drawings and proofs, and is said to be the world’s most comprehensive collection of postage stamps of Great Britain and the Commonwealth.

The Royal Philatelic Collection began in 1856, when the Prince of Wales (later King Edward VII) and his younger brother Prince Alfred (later Duke of Edinburgh), were given examples of the then new 6d stamps. Prince Alfred continued to collect and served as Honorary President of what became the Royal Philatelic Society London from 1890 until his death in 1900. His collection passed to his nephew (later King George V) whose own collection was already substantial. The form and structure of the Royal Philatelic Collection today is the creation of King George V and his philatelic advisers. After his death his successors have continued to add to the Collection.

The London 2010: Festival of Stamps will combine a wide range of exhibitions and events such as the International Stamp Exhibition at the Business Design Centre, and the exhibition ‘Empire Mail: George V and the GPO’ at Guildhall Art Gallery, featuring material from The British Postal Museum & Archive (BPMA) and the Royal Philatelic Collection. The BPMA is also coordinating this wider festival, which includes special displays at the British Library, the Royal Philatelic Society, London, the British Museum, Marylebone Cricket Club Museum at Lord’s, and several other venues across London. A range of philatelic events throughout the UK are also being coordinated by the Association of British Philatelic Societies.

2010 also sees the 170th Anniversary of the Penny Black and Twopenny Blue, the world’s first adhesive postage stamps.

Michael Sefi, Keeper of the Royal Philatelic Collection, commented: “We are delighted to have The Queen as Patron for this very exciting Festival, which will bring stamps and philately to a wider audience”.