Philatelists help preserve social history
Franked stamps, postcards and envelopes from generations ago help tell the social history of New Zealand.
Palmerston North ‘ philately fellas’ Colin Dyer and Bruce Graves are looking forward to a national stamp collection display on Saturday, hosted by the Manawatu Philatelic Society for the first time.
‘‘Manawatu holds three national trophies and won the national interclub stamp competition last year, and whoever wins gets the honour of holding it,’’ long-time stamp collector Colin Dyer said.
As far as he and Graves knew, it was the first time the local society had won the competition.
‘‘It’s quite a big occasion for us. We’re hosting nine different clubs and displays of national and international standard from 30 of the best collectors in New Zealand.’’
Along with a display featuring the world’s biggest postage stamp, a colourful almost A5-sized monster from Mongolia, there are ultra small stamps issued in South Australia and South Africa.
Graves has a postcard sent via a mobile field services post office set up in Ploegsteert, Belgium, postmarked June 15, 1917. Written in pencil, it was sent to Miss Zena Ross at 237 Main St from her brother Glen Ross who fought during the Battle of Messines.
‘‘Postcards were the text messages of the day. Stamp collecting has evolved into a lot of social history sidelines. The value is in the whole franked envelope,’’ Graves said.
He said between 1914 and 1917, the Featherston Military Camp was the fifth biggest post office in the country, shipping out 18 tonnes of mail a week. There were also busy post offices at camps set up at the Awapuni Racecourse and at Rangiotu.
Another from March 1916 bearing three halfpenny stamps featuring King George V, was franked in the no longer existing Marotiri Post Office. Graves said the advent of tarseal and the internal combustion engine spelled the end for many rural post offices along with the associated dairy factory, as milk could be transported greater distances for processing.
Along with the social history lessons and ‘‘some quite brilliant’’ exhibits, Saturday’s 9.30am to 4.30pm display in the Community Leisure Centre will feature competitions, information on stamps and collecting from guest presenters, and dealer stalls. Entry will be free.
Bruce Graves local philatelist with two 100-year-old letters.