History revealed through postage

hilatelist George Stewart FRPSL with the latest book Study Paper No. 9, The Farthing (British West Indies Study Circle) he has contributed to.

AN enjoyment of postage stamps, collecting postage covers, CALs (Custom Advertising Labels) and researching postal history has fascinated philatelist George Stewart for more than 40 years.

A member of the Southland Stamp Club and editor, Mr Stewart said the hobby not only gave enjoyment, it could also increase people’s knowledge, especially if they were keen to research various stamps, the reason they were produced and where they had been used.

His long-time interest in philately has resulted in a corroboration with two United Kingdom philatelists to produce the book, Study Paper No.9, The Farthing (British West Indies Study Circle).

A fellow of the Royal Philatelic Society, London, this was the second publication for Mr Stewart, who had also published 100 copies of Definite Stamps of Southern Rhodesian, 1937 in 2011.

To become a fellow of the society, a member had to complete significant work for philately, such as publishing books and producing displays.

Born and raised in the then named Rhodesia, Mr Stewart emigrated from Zimbabwe to New Zealand 26 years ago.

His interest with his homeland continued, especially through his philatelic interests.

It was his mother who introduced him to postage stamps.

“My mother had a godson, which she sent first day covers and a [stamp] catalogue to.

“It got my attention, and since then it has gripped me.

“I have found [the hobby] fascinating… sometimes it is the history, sometimes the geology.”

It was during the Covid-19 lockdown last year that Mr Stewart and two other philatelists, Richard Capon and Bill Gibb FRPSL, both of the United Kingdom, collated their farthing collections and information for the book.

It was a stamp dealer in the UK who introduced Mr Stewart to Mr Capon, who also knew Mr Gibb, which eventuated in the trio holding zoom meetings during last year’s lockdown.

“We had a zoom meeting and decided to publish a book.”

These farthing stamps were only used in seven countries, five in the West Indies, as well as Fiji and Malta, he said.

“They were a subsidised rate. The ethos was for a cheap postage rate to share knowledge, because in those days the main source of news was from newspapers.”

Although the stamps were common, the covers were mainly sourced from specialist dealers in the UK, Mr Stewart said.

The earliest cover in the book was from 1890 and the most recent was 1956, with Mr Stewart providing 20 covers for the book and the other two more than 20 each.

Celebrating all things philatelic
MEMBERS of the Southland Stamp Club celebrated its 90th anniversary at The Cabbage
Tree restaurant in Otatara earlier this month.

Founded on March 18,1931, as the Invercargill Stamp Club, the name was changed to the
Invercargill Philatelic Club in 1937, and later to the Southland Philatelic Society in 1942, before finally to the Southland Stamp Club.

More than 40 members and guests attended the celebrations, including nine from Dunedin, as well as members from Te Anau, Manapouri, Winton, Wyndham and locals.

Formal toasts included The Loyal Toast by president Ritchie Dick and The Society by Royal Philatelic Society of New Zealand vice-president George Stewart, with a reply by life  member Ian Folster, who had been a member for much of the 90 years.

Two philatelic displays included a postal history of Southland including a rare Bluff Harbor (no U) postmark, and covers which had been produced by the society, including some from the 21st anniversary in 1952, and the society’s two national exhibitions in 1996 and 2001.

– The Southland Stamp Club meets on the first Thursday of the month at the Age Concern
Rooms, cnr Forth and Nith Sts, Invercargill, at 8pm. Everyone was welcome.