Polar Blog

First, Welcome to a New Year and progress of sorts to more events for our hobby. Since
my last notes we have had good news and sad news. The good news for me was hobby
meetings starting up for Philatelic Society and Postcard clubs locally, and I hope for you
wherever you are. Also a big auction of Polar items from Scott’s carpenter, even if not so
much postal history, saw some lovely ephemera not often available – and an enjoyable 2
days away to view.

Sad news as you read on pages 6 and 7 the belated news of Peter Wordie whose death
was very quietly recorded by the family. He was a grand custodian of marvellous, mainly
Antarctic and Falkland Dependencies mail items. Many with great pedigrees he bought in
assiduously from auctions as far back as the 1950s and others received from his father Sir
James Wordie, a member of Shackleton’s Endurance voyage!

I illustrate the front of an Air Letter sent from the Falkland Islands to Dr. J. M. Wordie. Sadly most of the text is missing. The reverse part-typed message is all about Bases as far as can be deduced from mentions like Hope Bay but only a small handwritten edge clue if anyone recognises it.

I also had a lunch with Gerry Pearce our President who helped me acquire a very good item for my Scott Exhibit. Also a visit to the James Caird Society AGM at Dulwich, to meet The Honourable Alexandra Shackleton, President, (Shackleton’s granddaughter and a Residential Weekend visitor to Cambridge a few years ago), and a number of my collector and business friends. (In case you did not know, I am a founder member, now as far back as 1994 – how time flies.) It is worth a look at: www.jamescairdsociety.com

This leads me nicely on to big personal news - I was elected in December as a Member of the RPSL. Having known Lesley Marley as a splendid Exhibitor and Displayer with her pelagic stories at PPHSGB events it is gratifying to see her personal honour of a show at the Royal on 4th November 2021 (See Page 5). It is a great reflection on our Society to have such a member!
I hope you all made the best of slightly more flexible meeting options at Christmas and New Year as I did, and enjoyed the London International. In advance, I thank all our Committee and ex Officio helpers for continued brilliant work in keeping the Society active. The full AGM reports will be in our next issue.

Later this year we shall have the 30th Anniversary of the first Residential Meeting in Cambridge at the end of October and in December the 70th Anniversary of the founding of the PPHSGB.

Don’t forget to send articles or short notes space fillers to John. He would particularly like to see scans or photos of covers returned from South Georgia and all Antarctic Bases from 2019 to date.

Collecting life has sped up in the last 3 months since I wrote and I hope much of this is percolating down to all of you - local clubs restarting with guest speakers finally agreeing presentations, STAMPEX as major event, large regional postcard fair as well as exciting Auction material. I still find a few good Polar postcards at Fairs and especially used with comments about the exploits of Scott and Shackleton. These filtered down into subjects or geography through the amazing network of dealers we have who do work extremely hard lugging their boxes and albums around to these events all over the UK. Do support them as trust me we will miss them when they are gone! See the Scott card / message and famous scarce Scottish NAE piper and penguin! Recent classic Postal material from both Polar regions saw continued strong prices as there has been a dearth of such lately. Finally finally the 50th Anniversary of our sister Society the Falkland Islands Philatelic Study Group was celebrated in September with a special three-day get together. Including a fabulous day out and lunch at the SS GREAT BRITAIN Exhibition centre at her restored resting place in Bristol docks.

My overwhelming impression is of how brave the passengers were to travel- and how short judging by the size of the bunks they were expected to live in for weeks voyaging to Australia and America! An especial big thanks go to Peter Cranwell for a large donation of unused GB postage stamps to use on Polar Post despatched from England by Paul Jones and Simon Lealman. And the big message this issue is a massive thank you not just from me but the whole PPHSGB family for John’s incredible 25 years at the helm of Polar Post - and especially for the way he continually fits my ramblings and last minute articles and scans into a sensible and logical format! (p.s. I became a Great Uncle recently so life has become even busier and very worthwhile for the smiles I get!) Don’t forget to send articles or short notes space fillers to John.

We the Committee members wish to put on record our grateful thanks for his stalwart dedication to our Society on behalf of the membership.

The Polar Post has grown and evolved over his stewardship from plain print to colour covers and now full colour content. He was also involved in the nascent Website efforts. With negotiation for competitive cost, print and paper quality, postage costs and modern layout. With information gathering on voyages, members’ questions, stamp issues and tasteful In Memoriam for members
passing. All additional work not always realised. His overall knowledge and dedication should not be underestimated and is very much appreciated – Please carry on John as long as you can and ensure the standards are maintained.

A symbolic 3 cheers!

Hooray ! At last a real event - Midpex took place on the 3rd July and was quite well attended if not as busy as in normal times. Nonetheless being able to chat with others and visit dealer tables gave a good feeling. Food and drinks were available and tasty and all congratulations to the organisers for a great day out as far as I enjoyed it. Got a few items if nothing spectacular. I am jabbed and had extra tests all negative and everyone seemed to behave well and I did not feel uneasy at all- perhaps because mainly the older sensible generation!

We got at least one new member by the way. And sold lots of copies of the new booklets co-authored by our very own Treasurer, FRPSL and now scribe Professor Brian Clayton!(See information on Page 70).

A new spanner appears to again be hindering our attempts to run a Society auction due to HMRC and EU vat changes but our man Steve is on the case during a summer recess.

Apart from enjoying non-philatelic life in our new town centre ‘cafe culture’. I got some new cards of Antarctic ships with a new style printers cachet from the Nautical Photo Agency (see below). They were not marked up as postcards but of ships scenes not seen before. Stay safe everyone and please send more snippets or articles to John Youle.

Despite the continuing ‘Lockdown’ in UK and elsewhere in various forms and stages I found plenty to do with our hobby but oh what changes we are putting up with and adapting to in this brave New World!

The foreseeable future will see us all leading a very altered way of life and my first real taste was a Zoom meeting on 11th March over the ether with my aged laptop!

A special invite via the FIPSG/RPSL to listen in and contribute - for which many thanks again - to first a virtual chat room and then enjoy Kim Stuckey’s slide show of ‘Britain in Ice’ covering very interesting mail of early FIDS and TAE/IGY in particular. Some amazing high value postal rates including 10/= FIDS ship stamp correctly used as part of a large cover to the FIDASE HQ in UK. Contrasting with ½d from same set Christmas card rate which took a whole year to arrive from Argentine Island in 1961/62 to New Zealand!

I also continued to benefit from online auctions with a dozen extra Polar related items. Some of these may be on show at the much delayed FIPSG 50th Anniversary event in September- at last - cross fingers!

I managed to nearly balance sales and purchases in their auction just ended in April. I hope the results for Steve restarting our own and ending shortly as I write, will help to stimulate you our members to return to adding to your own collection. I treated myself to 2 special items as it was my birthday on 12th April! At Easter I sent about 100 electronic greetings to family friends and fellow collectors world wide and received a huge positive response which was both reassuring that in the main you are well and also working through this epidemic. This gives me another opportunity to thank our tireless Committee and ex officio members for keeping our Society on track and organised!

Finally RIP the Duke of Edinburgh who in 1957 visited some FID Bases and many of us have covers stamped around 2nd January or just after including Deception island following the old Royal Yacht Britannia sailing out to visit them escorted by HMS Protector. And he wrote a book called ‘Birds from Britannia’ - not seen a signed one on the market however.

I hope you all got the chocolate eggs you enjoy at Easter and please send more snippets or articles to John Youle - personally I especially enjoyed the ‘Visit to Amundsen house’ last issue.

I write this as a soft dusting of snow is gently falling over our town – but elsewhere I know enough has arrived for sledging down hillsides and blocking roads! Ours is gone by the morning.

At least it’s enough to put one in the collecting mood with a ‘real Polar’ type scene. Normally when I begin to write these notes I can check my diary for events, auctions, meetings, emails since the last Polar Post edition - but sign of our times there is very little. A few items in on line auction or eBay tries to keep me engaged. So I will start 2021 off with a Preview – Shackleton’s last voyage on the Quest started 100 years ago this year - this last fling to explore his life long love of the Antarctic. I will start a short résumé in future Polar Posts to fill in more details but an interesting Postcard MW OA-1-a, a line drawn The “QUEST” helps to set the scene, Figure 1.

If anyone would like an item included please let me know and I will try to incorporate it into the story - if so, subject to space I will ask you to scan direct to John Youle with or without your
name being acknowledged as owner, up to you if anonymity preferred. Especially any pre-departure items of Quest – not much about generally of this voyage in my experience. (The stamps ‘overprinted’ post his death excepted). I do have some interesting ephemera, signatures and photographs to include already.

On other matters, I enjoyed the sight of my regular annual Christmas correspondent Bent Sørensen’s items sent to the Editor - one of our oldest and active members proving you don’t
have to be “webbed up” to contribute! I hope he continues to extract good items from his ‘Fred Goldberg’ mine!

Finally, I found very interesting the ‘snippets’ by Phil Schreiber last issue. More members should share such news - it doesn’t always have to be a long article to interest members. I wish you all the best for this year and hope for chances of face-to-face meetings - even if at 2 metres!

Take care and stay safe – and send John Youle any good Polar philatelic stories.