Tag Archives: National Philatelic Society

The National Philatelic Society Library at the BPMA

by Mike Bramwell, Hon NPS Librarian

National Philatelic Society LibraryObservant visitors to the Search Room at the British Postal Museum & Archive will have noticed that the classification labels on the books round the walls change from numerical to alphabetic in the corner of the room near the microfiche viewers.  This is where books from the BPMA Library meet items from the NPS Library.  In the Search Room are four bays holding our general and specialised stamp catalogues and our books on Great Britain and Commonwealth philately.  Work has been going on to reduce the inevitable duplication of the stock belonging to the two libraries held in the Search Room.  There is also a bay where we keep over 150 current volumes of philatelic journals in both English and a range of foreign languages.  These items can be used by all visitors to the BPMA, although only NPS members can borrow them.

National Philatelic Society LibraryIn fact the whole of the NPS Library occupies nearly a quarter of a mile of shelving in two sites, each with two locations.  The two libraries are complementary to each other, although both have substantial holdings of books and journals on British philately. 

Behind the scenes, in another room in the Mount Pleasant complex we have the remainder of our books, which total more than 7500 and runs of English language journals going back some 20 years shelved in rolling stacks. 

National Philatelic Society LibraryThe remainder of our material, which is in fact by far the larger part, is stored in our out of town depository near Wokingham.  The older journals, both English and foreign language, are kept in what was the Coach House of farm specialising in Race horses.  Our material relating to philatelic exhibitions together with extensive holdings of auction catalogues from the major British auction houses and bureau material, i.e. the descriptive leaflets produced by stamp issuing countries which describe new stamps in detail are kept in a barn in the same site.

The library is staffed by volunteers between 11am and 3pm on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays and we will be pleased to talk to visitors to Freeling House, although that will sometimes require a phone call to the ‘stack room’.

BPMA Events Programme 2010

Our 2010 Events Guide has just arrived in the office and is now available online.

As usual the BPMA are hosting an exciting programme of Exhibitions, Walks, Discover Sessions, Talks and Tours. Many of our exhibitions and events next year will also be part of London 2010: Festival of Stamps and relate to the theme of George V, the philatelist King. Highlights include:

Treasures of the Archive
An exhibition of unique treasures from the BPMA, including a sheet of penny black stamps and the original die, among many other items of unparalleled significance in UK postal history.

Empire Mail: George V and the GPO
A major exhibition looking at the passions of King George V, the ‘philatelist king’ and the extraordinary period of design and innovation in the General Post Office during his reign.

Speakers include Vice President of the National Philatelic Society Dane Garrod, designer and illustrator Ronald Maddox and Keeper of the Royal Philatelic Collection Michael Sefi. BPMA Curator of Philately Douglas Muir will speak on stamp designer Bertram Mackennal, and designers and authors Brian Webb and Peyton Skipworth will speak on artists who worked for the GPO, including Barnett Freedman, Edward Bawden and Eric Ravillious.

Walking Tours
This year we are introducing a shorter highlights tour, taking you through the heart of GPO London in just 90 minutes.

We hope to add new events throughout the year, so keep checking the What’s On page for more information.

If you receive our Newsletter by post you will be sent a copy of the Events Guide in the New Year. Contact us on info@postalheritage.org.uk if you’d like one sent to you, or download the pdf version from our What’s On page.

The man who posted his dog and other reasons to visit a stamp show

by Jennifer Flippance, London 2010 Project Officer

Stamp shows are an important element of philately and stamp collecting, providing an opportunity for collectors to catch up with friends, purchase items, exchange material, attend society meetings and enter their collections in competition.

Visitors and traders at Westbex 2009

Visitors and traders at WestBex 2009

Last weekend, I took a trip out to the first show of the year to be held by one of the regional federations of the Association of British Philatelic Societies, the Thames Valley & District Philatelic Federation stamp show – Westbex 2009.  It was hosted by the Thatcham and District Philatelic Society, a popular stamp club of over 80 members who meet twice a month.  The show took up two halls in a local school, which were mainly filled with dealers, catering for a wide range of tastes and budgets.

In addition there were prize-winning displays from members.  Stamp collecting has an active competitive element.  Enthusiasts collect, write up and display a topic of their choosing and these displays can be entered into a variety of classes.  These range from the more formal classes like traditional philately and postal history, but also include thematic classes and open classes where a much wider range of material, beyond stamps, can be displayed.

The National Philatelic Society also held a meeting where members could present a small selection of their collection.  These covered a broad range of subjects, from Machin stamps to posted autographs, to the history of the Post Office Savings Bank.

Viewing the competition entries, WestBex 2009

I found one prize-winning exhibit particularly interesting.  Its subject was W. Reginald Bray (1879-1939), who experimented by sending items through the post that challenged the postal system, for example, by being unusual objects or through having challenging addresses.

Bray posted himself (he is actually believed to be the first ‘human letter’) and the family dog, along with less animated items such as a turnip, sheep’s skull and bowler hat.

Some of the fascinating items on display from this eccentric individual included postcards made from shirt cuffs and others addressed, ‘to a resident of…‘ followed by an image of the town cut from a picture postcard with no other clue as to where it might be.  Some letters had addresses written in verse or picture puzzles.  Many were returned, officially stamped (and you can imagine the rather vexed postal employee) ‘CONTRARY TO REGULATIONS’ or ‘INSUFFICIENTLY ADDRESSED’. 

Next year, ABPS regional shows like WestBex, will form part of the London 2010: Festival of Stamps, aiming to attract new members to this rewarding hobby.  The dates of 2010 shows are available at www.london2010.org.uk/exhibitions-and-events