Philatelists help pre­serve so­cial history

The Tribune (NZ) - - NEWS - RICHARD MAYS

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.

WAR­WICK SMITH

Bruce Graves lo­cal phi­lat­e­list with two 100-year-old let­ters.

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