Polar Blog

It seems lately as if a Covid lockdown never happened, the number of recent events past present and future going on. Sadly it did happen and many suffered for it. After a summer family wedding in the heat – remember that? – I enjoyed meeting members at local shows, visitors to London, and viewing the catalogues including the massive Peter Cranwell sale in Australia. Truly a lifetime collection, the majority in Shackleton cards, concentrated on the Nimrod expedition. Some realisations might make you blink for ‘just a postcard’! See Page 97.

Later in autumn I enjoyed a presentation of a new book on the ladies left behind after Scott and his companions died returning from the South Pole, a visit to see Oates memorabilia of his life, and a couple of scarce postcards I bought. (Figure 1: Shackleton MW GF-2, and posted September 1904, Cleobury Mortimer, in the Midlands? Discovery reached Portsmouth in

On the eve of her late Majesty’s funeral, a London book fair was still going ahead so thinking outside the box I stayed on the outer post codes and bussed in with little trouble, and even had an improved Sunday train service home due to the extra demand of attendees to see it live.

I will be off to Liberec shortly, so back to packing – my short exhibit has gone ahead via the Royal and the UK Commissioner. Finally, An event I am very happy about is the 1 year anniversary of my great niece this July past. A bit too early for induction into collecting – more like demolition of toys, paper even dinner!

Hopefully you can all find some happy events to brighten the coming winter months – by the time you read this the major Polar Salon and stamp Exhibition will have occurred in Liberec, Czech Republic as previewed in the June Polar Post. We will bring you full reports and pictures to invigorate the March 2023 edition. There is also the annual Amundsen Memorial Lectures at the end of November in Oslo.

I wish you all the best for the Christmas season.

It is said sometimes it’s who, not always what you know - and since I last shared my events that has been very true!

A long standing contact asked me to visit and consider taking a good number of a lifetime Polar postcard collection not seen on the market in over 40 years. Some were unknown to me or Margery Wharton’s catalogue and many others only seen 1 or 2 previously including a scarce Aurora card dated 28/12/11. During the whole intervening period my local stamp club has been busy with guest speakers on subjects from Haiti, GB, Mexico and local postcards, Cinderella competition. Later the serious annual Postal History Cup went to my Shackleton First Voyage with Scott in 1901 (sample Wrench Postcard N°2 signed).

The 70th Jubilee local celebrations culminated in a massive music festival down the ages of our Queen’s reign in glorious sunshine. I hope you had as much fun! Just before, the regular Woking postcard fair is always a good day out sometimes with a card or 2 and always catching up with old friends- Robert Hurst and I do just that! It’s worth the effort to go to these shows to reward us and the effort of the trade getting there.

Swinpex was another glorious day out with a strange twist for me - not much to find on the day but a dealer I missed then was at my local fair on Sunday - and I got a number of nice TAE / IGYE covers all from a member Bellchambers, some handwritten or typed. ( Royal Society Base cachet). We had our usual joint meeting with FIPSG and interesting mix of items at the show. My final event was the open day of Thames Valley Philatelic Federation with the main event the Falkland conflict of 1982 40 years ago and GB overseas rates and attendees own show up to 16 pages. These are always great days for learning about others interests - and a tasty lunch!

I hope some of this encourages you to get out and about and enjoy the hobby.

Another progressive hobby period as Spring starts to spring in my garden and cheer up the longer days after quite a cold Polar type spell!

Reverting to the London International in February it was great to meet a number of members over the days I attended. Especially the RPSL Open day in its new home but historic building with lovely wood stairs, panels and so on. Abchurch Lane is mentioned in the 13th century! Particularly the Spink sponsored canapés and fizz following the tours and the invited Displays from overseas visitors – chatting with our member Roger van Laere from Belgium was one - I did not need dinner after! I liked the stunning items from Serge Kahn’s recently discovered and assembled story of correspondence about Dumont d’Urville from the 1820s and 1837-40 expeditions – how does this still keep coming out from family archives? Thank goodness for the continuity of established families where such records can lie undisturbed and safe for years, nay centuries!

Sadly the Ukraine war started on the Friday to dampen the atmosphere even after finding a pile of BAT and FIDS covers going reasonably – even a £1 box - but Saturday we finally got our administration back in line with AGM and short displays before finishing up a final tour of the show and buying 3 good Polar cards! See the full Reports from Officers on pages 41 to 45. I enjoyed a visit to Camberley Philatelic Society locally afterwards with a colleague from Wokingham P.S. to show some of my side interests – and of course promote Polar with some comic North Pole discovered cards (Figure 1) - its a pub! And rare Scott’s Last Expedition items. Reward? A certificate AND a bottle of red wine, very nice.

Next came the FIPSG weekend conference about which you may have heard the worst - 22 people as I write advised that they succumbed to food poisoning, which I don’t recommend, awful! The good part however before that occurred (Sunday early morning around 3/4 am), was my purchase of 2 rare Polar cards and stamps from the Quest Expedition (See Page 56).

About 2 weeks later I felt able to start ‘normal’ life again. I shall be Exhibiting in Liberec this autumn, in Czech Republic, for the first time in years with a 1 frame. I may see some of you there for the Polar Salon, see Page 47.

Finally, it is 110 years since the loss of Scotts’ Polar party and I found the illustrated South Pole Requiem in a collection of ephemera from the family archive I bought years ago (Figure 2). See you at SWINPEX on 11th June at 1pm (And yes I did see all the hullabaloo about finding Shackleton’s ship Endurance, Figure 3, poor ship!).

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!