By Richard Garcia

The philatelic extravaganza is special for several reasons. These three days will see a number of important stamp collectors travelling to Gibraltar from the United Kingdom, France, Germany and Morocco. Collectors from Spain and Portugal have also been invited. Many of them will be exhibiting material from their collections. The events are supported financially by the Alwani Foundation, which is the patron of many initiatives of an artistic and cultural nature. What is bringing the international philatelists together in Gibraltar is a series of three events.

The first is a commemoration in Gibraltar of the Sesquicentennial (the 150th anniversary) of the Royal Philatelic Society London. This philatelic society is the oldest in the world, and was founded in 1869. It was given the title of Royal in 1906, when the future King George V was Prince of Wales and was the Society’s President. Since then, the Society has enjoyed royal patronage and the present patron is Her Majesty the Queen. The Royal, as the Society is affectionately known, is a registered charity and has an important and extensive library, museum and archives. It also holds a number of philatelic collections donated to it over the years as well as numerous artefacts relating to the design, production and printing of postage stamps. The Royal has a worldwide membership, which includes many of today’s most important philatelists.

The event marking the Royal’s Sesquicentennial has been organised by the Society’s Overseas Representative for Gibraltar, Richard Garcia, who is a Fellow of the Royal. He has been assisted by Stephen Viñales, who is also a Fellow of the Society. The displays on Monday 21 October will be given by them and by visiting Fellows and Members of the Royal. As there is limited space in which to adequately, securely and safely display the material on show, the displays will be rotated every 45 minutes. This will allow two sets of collections to be displayed in the morning session, starting at 10.00 a.m. and two further sets of collections in the afternoon, commencing at 2.15 p.m. In the late morning, an illustrated presentation will be given by Richard Garcia and Maurice Hadida on a book that they have co-written on the Morocco Local Posts and the Sherifien Postal Service, which will be published later this year by the Royal.

“The Royal has a worldwide membership, including many important philatelists.”

A similar pattern will be repeated on Tuesday 22 October and on Wednesday 23 October. Tuesday will be dedicated to the philately of Gibraltar. A wide range of material will be on display. This will include early stamps of Gibraltar, postal history and postal stationery, British stamps used in Gibraltar prior to the issue in 1886 of the first Gibraltar postage stamps, artists’ designs for stamps by Freddy Ryman MBE and Christian Hook, proof material prepared by the printers as part of the design and printing process, and even the stamps of Gibraltar used in Morocco at a time (up to 31 December 1906) when the Gibraltar Post Office operated the British postal service in Morocco. Most of the material on show will be displayed by Members of the Gibraltar Study Circle, many of whom will be travelling to Gibraltar to participate in this series of philatelic events. The Study Circle is an international philatelic society, with predominantly UK membership. It also includes a significant number of the principal Gibraltarian philatelists. Stan Lawrence of the Study Circle has been instrumental in co-ordinating the displays from the members travelling to Gibraltar from abroad for the occasion. He is also a member of the Royal. There will be three sets of philatelic displays in the morning session and two in the afternoon session.

Wednesday will be dedicated to the philately of Morocco. Members of the Great Britain Overprints Society, which is also an international philatelic society with predominantly UK membership, will also be travelling to Gibraltar to participate in Morocco Day IV. The UK co-ordinator for this event is Tony Stanford, who is also a Fellow of the Royal. The focus on this day will be on the philately of Morocco. Some of the material on show will be Gibraltar stamps, postal history and postal stationery, from the time when the British Post Offices in Morocco were under the control of Miss Margaret Creswell, the Gibraltar Postmistress. She was an amazing lady, and was the only woman to be the head of a Gibraltar Government Department in the 19th century and the first half of the 20th century. Another of the displays will feature the Algeciras Conference of 1906, which was a prelude to the division of Morocco into the French and Spanish Protectorates. The stamps of the German Postal Service in Morocco will also be shown. Once again, there will be three sets of philatelic displays in the morning session and two in the afternoon session.

“The focus on this day will be on the philately of Morocco.”

On Thursday 24 October, some of the philatelic visitors will be going to Morocco on a day trip to Tetuan via Ceuta. Some of the visitors to Gibraltar will be accompanied by their spouses or partners, and events of a social and touristic character have been arranged for them.

The organisers of the event wish to thank the Gibraltar Museum for the loan of the display cases in which the stamps and other philatelic material will be shown, and Gibraltar Philatelic Bureau Ltd who are arranging for the transport of the display cases to the Library.