Chairman’s Blog No. 1, January 2021

Philately in most of its forms has suffered nearly a year of the effects of the pandemic, but the Transvaal Study Circle has also been affected by changes in the composition of the committee. Our world was by the middle of 2020 in the grip of a virus forcing normal contacts in meetings, stamp fairs and auctions.

Remedial policies to reduce the very substance of philately to well-established activities like publication of research and exploration, which continue to thrive. These activities however require organising, for the successful study of stamps and postal history is best achieved by interaction between individuals across huge distances. The “wave of digital transformation” that has swept through international cartography, which was my professional background, has also been a force for change in philately.

That transformation is of course based on earlier changes such as the common use of colour scanning which is now within the budgets of many specialists. Air letters and postcards have all but been replaced by e-mail. Administration, publication and money transfers are quicker than they were, but must be guided by rules.

These rules have to be acceptable to societies like ours and adhered to. Achieving the best outcomes comes from the dedication of the study circle’s officers and their ability to grasp the opportunity afforded by modern technology. That has always been an aspect of way-finding. I am delighted that we now have a draft of a Constitution which will, when agreed, regulate our activities as a non-profit  making society.

As I write this, we invite those who possess an interest and appropriate skills to volunteer for the vacancy of webmaster. Our new web site <> was launched at the beginning of the new year and is aimed both at existing members and new ones. It will be the primary framework for information about the study circle. It will help the Treasurer collect subscriptions whether for the basic benefit of access to digital and/or paper versions of The Transvaal Philatelist (TP) including the ability to download past issues when they are in our digital archive. We are also looking for someone who is keen to fill the post of Community Engagement Secretary, by a member who is keen to be abreast of developments, and in contact with members and potential members.

The current lock-down against Covid -19 is barely a month from the scheduled General Meeting in London. It will certainly be a virtual affair and run according to the agenda to be published and circulated by e-mail. The persistence of the disruption caused by the pandemic has had two opposing effects on the study circle. We have been able to embrace the change to a new website while continuing to publish The Transvaal Philatelist  under the new Editor.  Members in South Africa were all seriously affected by postal delays. The option of receiving the TP in digital format rather than in paper sent by post was a bonus for them, but will allow us to reduce postage costs. The UK’s leaving the European Union may however increase charges and paperwork for posting to members on the continent. We intend to make use of the digital transformation to render a new normal service to members and advertisers

CB. 28 January 2021

This article was amended on 9 February 2021.

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