|Report of Meeting September 22 2007
Recent acquisitions or queries
PRESENT: 19 members were present, and apologies for absence were received from seven others.
The Chairman opened the meeting by welcoming those present, including three visitors from overseas in Peter Newroth, Moti Kremener and Vahe Varjabedian, and offered commiserations to member ESC 266, who bravely attended despite suffering complications from a recent operation for a detached retina; and to Lucien Toutounji, who recently suffered severe damage to his arm and shoulder while playing tennis.
On a happier note, he congratulated Peter Smith (ESC 74) and Dick Wilson (ESC 230) on recent Gold medals in the United States; and Mohamed Nofal (ESC 489) on winning the Postcard Traders Association Desmond Chamberlain Cup for postcard research for 2007 for his new book on Alexandria postcards.
He then announced that Edmund Hall (ESC 239), Editor/webmaster, had again won the Macarthur Award, for the best QC article in 2006, with his survey Operations Kadesh and Musketeer: the Tripartite Aggression, in the December QC. The Chairman appealed to members to make more effort to support article writers by voting.
Edmund was then called on to explain the thinking behind his new project for the website, as outlined in the September QC. He described an exciting vision of the site as an area for members to use both as a reference library and as an updatable resource: the idea is to post there all basic information on a series of topics so that members can visit and at once gather in all that has previously been published, instead of having to follow up QC, L'OP or other published references which may or may not easily be available.
The second, interactive, part of the idea is for members to be able to submit their own researches or observations on the posted topics, with a view to including a wide range of opinions, based on the knowledge of members who may perhaps never have met! In this way, earliest/latest dates can be updated virtually instantly, and all the membership has the potential to learn of such changes without having to wait for publication of the next QC.
Aware of members' sensitivities with regard to safeguarding their own research, he envisages access to such topics being protected by an individual password in a members-only area; and that new information will be posted only with the approval of senior members with knowledge of the topic. Dissenting views will be welcomed; and new dates accepted only with suitable visual evidence. Members will have no direct access to amend entries.
For those unable or unwilling to access the website, Edmund will organise a system whereby new topics or newly updated topics are given a brief mention in the QC so that members can request a printout of the fresh material: this printout will then be included in the posting-out of the member's next QC.
Members present listened with increasing interest as the idea was developed, and after a series of questions and answers from the floor the whole meeting - even those without internet access - was won over to the concept's basic simplicity and interactivity. Mordecai Kremener (ESC 291) said that a certain amount of material should be made freely available with the intention of attracting future potential members; and the suggestion was greeted with approval.
Accordingly, Edmund was given the go-ahead to follow up on the concept, and members visiting the website now will find that a fascinating start has been made on a few topics on our members proto-web pages. All are welcome to submit supplementary items, whether in the form of original material, illustrations, updates, original research … whatever it might be: credit will readily be given to the supplier of the updated material. Those who would like to post entirely new topics should check first with Edmund that nothing similar is already in train (in which case their material would be either incorporated or set alongside). To those present, this seems like a brave new world of interactive research with all previous studies immediately to hand; it will require an enormous amount of work from Edmund Hall, so let us all support him in this new venture.
The Secretary then spoke of the list of members finally published with the September QC after more than two years of effort, and mentioned again that any member who wishes to have details included in either list - of addresses or interests - should contact him: an updated list will appear in the QC.
He mentioned that a member had recently had cash stolen from an envelope sent to Egypt and announced that Dr Sherif Samra, President of the Philatelic Society of Egypt, had offered to accept sterling cheques made out to him on behalf of the PSE. They may be sent to him direct or via the Secretary, who offered Sherif grateful thanks and mentioned that he thought that liaison between the two societies of London and Cairo had probably never been closer.
As evidence of this came news of a new catalogue of Egyptian stamps, painstakingly produced over 15 years by Magdi Abdel-Hadi (ESC 445) in Cairo and now nearing completion. After much discussion, members felt that though the market for another catalogue might be bulging, the Secretary should suggest that the new work might be published in sections covering specific areas - classic issues, say, or Fuads, commemoratives, Farouk issues, postage-dues - to make it more attractive to the potential purchaser.
The Secretary then mentioned gifts to the Circle received from two members - Peter Feltus (ESC 114), who had donated photographs of the 1867 2pt blue imperforate sheet from the Qubba Palace sale, together with early Journal Officiel sheets for the Library, together with Hotel material which will be sold in the Auction; and André Navari (ESC 534), who had given a wide range of surplus philatelic material which again will go through the Auction in aid of Circle funds.
Officers reported briefly, including an appeal from Edmund Hall for articles for forthcoming QCs, and thanks from John Davis (Librarian) for donations from Leon Balian (his part II Catalogue), Mohamed Nofal (Alexandria Postcards); and the Philatelic Society of Egypt (Postcode coding book for Cairo in Arabic - immediately handed on to Ted Fraser-Smith).
As usual, the Acquisitions and Queries meeting raised a wide range of topics, starting with the Secretary illustrating copies of some pages from the recently acquired Postal Bulletins, which he explained he had started to photograph, with a view to making all pages available in easily portable CD-Rom form: so far the years 1890 and 1894-1897 inclusive have been completed.
A similar prospect is being made available by André Navari from the Guide to Mudirias and Place Names, which he is also hoping to be able to make available in a searchable database form, so that place names may be found even when all that may be read on a CDS is just a few contiguous letters. André's copy of the Guide has page 99 missing: if any member can produce page 99 he will be doing all of us a massive favour!
Other material on display included ESC 266 (use of the French PO 5080 canceller in Alexandria in July 1862, six months before it was introduced in France); Peter Andrews (query on a skeleton datestamp); Alan Jeyes (query on tax rates from India - resolved at the meeting); Ted Fraser-Smith (type styles in censor labels, use of the negative to show postal markings, variations in the Tutankhamun gold beard settings of May 1993); David Sedgwick (Egyptian military and an unrecorded Rural marking); John Davis (query from Bill Johns on a ship cover Opened Under Martial Law; and his own study of the large 10m green military stamp); Brian Sedgley (classic postmarks including Chantier VI and a new Teh el Barud Station mark); and Mike Bramwell (recent acquisitions in postcards).