RPSL Bermuda Postal History: Forerunners to the UPU

5pm lecture/display to the Royal Philatelic Society London by BCS members David Pitts FRPSL and Dr Art Groten FRPSL (Curator), 28 April 2016

RPSL Meeting Bermuda Postal History

Left to right: BCS Members Neil Rigby, Richard Watkins, David Pitts, Charles Freeland and Arthur Groten.

90 RPS members, including five BCS members (see photo), were present to hear David Pitts and Art Groten talk about their spectacular display of early Bermuda postal history (RPSL members can access the full 45 minute talk on YouTube and view his slides on the RPSL website. For those who have not been following our columns closely, this exhibit has won a Grand Award in a regional US show and in 2014 was awarded a large gold medal at the Rio International. No previous Bermuda collector, no matter how distinguished, has previously won large gold for a Bermuda exhibit.

For those who have seen this magnificent exhibit previously, the content was relatively familiar, with five Postmaster stamps, the famous 1875 Moncrieff cover, the cover to London franked with two Penny Blacks and the earliest recorded letter from Bermuda in private hands. There were, however, at least two significant recent additions to the display: the earliest known cover from Bermuda in 1620 had been replaced by one dated 1617 and the 1863 cover to New Brunswick franked with an American-style Paid at Ireland Island recently sold by Spink (see my auction report).

Those who made the trek to the Royal were rewarded by collecting a 56 page full colour handout that comprised the whole of David’s 5 frame exhibit collection mounted on double Godden pages on which the collection is mounted for competition. This did not mirror the slides that he showed, which contained the highlights on which his remarks were based. These were divided into five main sections: forerunners to 1806, internal mail, military mail, ship letters and packet letters.

During a short but interesting Q&A session, David Beech asked who was Moncrieff (I had assumed he was a Scot despite his Pall Mall address on the famous cover). Beech then dropped a bombshell…he revealed that Moncrieff was also the recipient of two covers bearing Falkland Islands franks to the same address, and one is in the same hand. Were these Moncrieff covers early examples of philatelic mail then? David’s Bermuda example is certainly correctly franked at 7d for mail routed via New York, but if the regular 1d red was available why all those provisionals? The last digit of the year date is a little smudged but it looks like 1875. It is hard to think that Moncrieff would have travelled out to the Falklands in the 1870s, so did he do what Roger Wells did and ask someone out there to mail the envelope for him?

Charles Freeland

Watch on YouTube

28 April 2016 at 5 pm. David Pitts and Arthur Groten: Bermuda, Postal History from the Early Days to the UPU

This presentation will examine Bermuda’s postal history beginning with the earliest known cover in private hands, 1617. We will touch on all aspects of postal history organized by route. Rates and markings appear in their appropriate place in that narrative. A number of unique items, such as the Moncrieff cover, and iconic ones, such as the Postmaster Stamps, are placed in their context. Such a comprehensive study has not been attempted before.


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