Wednesday, 18 February 2009

The story behind the stamps

Magical stories from envelopes
Those attending the February meeting of the Old Buckenham Social and Wine Circle were treated to a look at the detailed life of a stamp collector and the stories behind his collections. The speaker, Tony Blackburn from Diss, explained how he had specialised in stamps from the period of the Spanish Civil War. Because there was no opportunity to print new stamps, those from areas controlled by Franco had overprinted the existing Republican stamps with various slogans. Even when the Nationalists could print their own postage stamps they continued to overprint them with messages. This subject had provided a fertile area for specialised collecting and Tony already had several hundred of his pages acquired by the British Library with even more to be passed on later.
Members had the opportunity to see a very small part of his collection before the second part of his talk. Several of the envelopes (covers) that Tony had obtained were from, or addressed to, the same person, an engineer on the motor vessels Palayo or Pinto. This led to what is known as “social philately”, trying to find out about the lives and people who were writing these letters just before the second World War. More covers were obtained and part of the life of A W Thompson was slowly uncovered from his time regularly sailing from Liverpool to the Mediterranean area with a variety of cargo to the Pinto being a ‘rescue ship’ accompanying convoys during the war and being torpedoed and sunk by a German U-boat. Help in uncovering this story came from all over the world, mainly by chance conversations, from newspaper articles and the remaining members of A W Thompson’s family.
The next Social and Wine meeting will be on Thursday 12 March in the Church Rooms when Quinton Spratt will be talking about peacocks. All are welcome to come along to hear this talk.

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