Our History

Well, the first forty years, for now…

(extracted for the Members Guide)

The idea of an India Study Circle was first put forward by Mr N J Mills, a stamp dealer of Eastbourne, through the medium of a short news item in 'Stamp Collecting' at the end of 1949. There was sufficient response for Mr Mills, appointing himself as Hon. Secretary, to announce the formation of the Circle early in 1950. He began circulating exchange packets to members, the number of which had grown to 28 by the time that the first edition of 'Notes and News' was issued in June/July 1950. Successive editions of 'Notes and News' followed in August, September, November and December 1950. From the second edition, members’ queries and answers formed a regular feature and the fourth and fifth editions contained articles from members; the first article was written by Mr V A Rowe, who remained a member for over 20 years.

There appears to be no complete record of membership for the year 1950, but the editions of 'Notes and News' show that such distinguished philatelists as the late Messrs. Gledhill, Hornal, Renouf and Stewart were amongst the members. 

Alas, 1950 saw both the birth and death of this India Study Circle, because after the fifth edition of 'Notes and News' Mr Mills disappeared without trace !

Resuscitation of a new India Study Circle must largely be credited to Mr R A Killick of Brighton who, having canvassed members of the original Circle, undertook the joint roles of Secretary, Editor and Packet Secretary on 16th November 1951. The outcome was the publication of the ISC 'News Sheet' No. 1 in December 1951 announcing the names of 22 members. Apart from those mentioned above, this list included the name of C T Sturton who was still on the roll in 2001.

By the end of 1952 membership had increased to 69 and this included the first members from U.S.A. Jal Cooper and Robson Lowe were to become the Society’s first honorary members. Mr Killick added to his tasks and the Circle’s activities by conducting postal auctions. 

Until he resigned in December 1954, Mr Killick continued as general factotum and during his three years of office 20 editions of the 'News Sheet' were published – edition No.20 carried no less than 26 pages. Membership had risen by this time to 100.

The duties of Secretary and Editor of the ISC 'News Bulletin' [as it was re-titled] were carried on by Mr V E Simms from January 1955 until December 1956. Auctions were also conducted by Mr Simms, but Mr Killick continued to manage Exchange Packets. Under the influence of Mr Simms, the 'News Bulletin' improved in appearance by carrying illustrations produced from a Gestetner machine purchased especially by the Society for this purpose.

In February 1955, the first exclusive meeting of the India Study Circle was held in London; heretofore the only meetings had been as part of the Sussex Federation Convention, arranged by Mr Killick. At this first meeting the Circle elected its first President – Dr F P N Parsons – who held this office until his resignation nineteen years later. It was also during 1955 that Study Groups were first formed; these covered [a] T.P.Os, [b] India Used in Persian Gulf, [c] India Used in Burma and [d] World War I F.P.Os. On 1st September 1955 the ISC was affiliated to the Empire of India P.S. And on 21st January 1956 the first Annual General Meeting was held.

Unfortunately, during 1956, Mr Simms was posted to Kabul and, although he attempted to organise the Circle from there, only two 'News Bulletins' were issued in that year. However, Mr R E Ellison stepped into the breach and carried on as Secretary and Editor until his untimely death in September 1959.

Once again the India Study Circle had to be resuscitated, and from that point it grew rapidly. In 1957 the circle was affiliated to the Philatelic Congress of Great Britain. Study Group activity increased and this resulted in publications being produced. With a growth in membership, the organisation needed enlarging and Mr H T Y Eaton handled postal auctions and Mr R S Ring operated the exchange packet from April 1957 until relieved by Mr B T Cheverton in March 1959, whereupon Mr Ring became the first Librarian.

In September 1959 Mr Eaton took over as Secretary, Treasurer and Editor of the 'News Bulletin', whilst Dr S F Contractor relieved him as Auction Superintendent. A further division of responsibility then came about with the establishment of a 'Queries and Answers' section compiled by Mr A C Gledhill, replacing the ad hoc 'Problems and Answers' conducted previously by various secretaries.

Mr Eaton carried on as Secretary/Treasurer until January 1965, thereby completing the then longest term for that office. During his term there were further changes in organisation. Mr W E Northey took over as Compiler of 'Queries and Answers' in November 1962; in May 1964 Mr J G Davey became Exchange Packet Superintendent, and Mr Eaton’s load was lightened still further by the appointment of Mr P R Roake as Editor of the 'News Bulletin' in April 1964. In 1964 the India Study Circle was affiliated to the British Philatelic Association.

At the end of 1965 membership stood at 170. It was apparent that further re-organisation was necessary to relieve Mr Cheverton of the combined duties of Secretary and Treasurer, which he had accepted purely on a temporary basis when Mr Eaton retired earlier in the year. Accordingly, a separate Treasurer [Mr G C Horsman], Membership Secretary [Mr M E A Manning] and Publicity Officer [Mr G Davis] were appointed and Mr Cheverton agreed to continue as Secretary. Mr D C Padgham took over as Librarian and Mr H W Heath as Auctioneer.

In January 1967, the 'India Post' was born and was, as stated by the Editor, 'dedicated to all those who had made the previous seventeen years of its forerunners possible'. In April 1967, following the death of Mr Northey, Mr Eaton came out of retirement and took over 'Queries and Answers', and Mr W C Ainsley became Treasurer.

The continued growth of the India Study Circle demanded a further division of responsibility and Mr Davey’s task as Exchange Superintendent was eased by the operation of a separate States packet by Mr W E Molineux in May 1968. In January 1969 Mr R Pay became Membership Secretary and Mr Eaton added the role of Auctioneer to his duties.

At the Annual General Meeting on 6th December 1969, Honorary Life Membership was bestowed, for the first time, upon three members: Dr F P N Parsons, the late Col. D R Martin and the late Mr A C Gledhill, in recognition of their services to Indian philately in general and to the India Study Circle in particular. Similar honour was bestowed in 1970 to Mr G C Danby.

In 1970 membership reached 250 and, to coincide with Philympia, the Circle held a combined meeting-lunch-auction, which was attended by over 100 members, including 20 from overseas. Growth of the Circle demanded yet a further change in organisation and a separate States auction was established under Mr A C Read from the beginning of 1971. A new post of Research Co-ordinator was also created and accepted by Mr D H Giles.

In 1971, to celebrate its coming of age, the India Study Circle acted as hosts to the British Philatelic Association Convention and a grand exhibition and auction was held at Carisbrooke Hall in London. This exhibition was opened by H.E. The High Commissioner of India. A special postmark, designed by Mr G.C Horsman was struck on 4th November 1971 during the British Philatelic Exhibition. To commemorate the 21st Anniversary of the India Study Circle.  Regional Meetings were held in Birmingham and Manchester. Due to illness Mr Davey had to relinquish the duties of Exchange Superintendent, which he had carried out so successfully for seven years, and Mr R W Tasker became the new office holder.

At the beginning of 1972, with membership now over 300, members were treated to a new look 'India Post', largely as a result of the Editor being relieved of the production problems by Mr R A Mockford.   A separate 'Newsletter', produced by the Secretary, was also introduced to keep members better informed of activities.

In April 1972, after holding most offices at some time or another for about fifteen years, Mr Eaton had to relinquish his duties. Mr Horsman took over as Compiler of 'Queries and Answers' and Mr G M Rosamond became General Auctioneer. Later in the same year Mr J W Kaupe was appointed Public Relations Officer, taking over from Mr Gerald Davis. Regional meetings were held in Bournemouth and Manchester. At the AGM Mr R F Shroff was made an Honorary Life Member.

In 1973 the only organisation change was when, in July, Mr R J Norman became Treasurer. A Regional Meeting was held in Manchester and also, for the first time one in New Delhi on the occasion of 'INDIPEX'. Following this latter meeting a regional organisation for greater participation by Indian members was established. 'India Post' earned medals at 'STAMPEX' and 'INDIPEX' - in both cases at a level which made it top of its field in philatelic literature.

At the AGM In December 1973, Dr Parsons announced his retirement from the office of President which he had held since 1955. Mr Gerald Davis was appointed President for a term of three years, to be succeeded by Mr D H Giles. Honorary Life Membership was bestowed upon Mr Cheverton for his services to the ISC spanning a period of 14 years.

1974 began with a membership of 350 and maintained steady growth. At the AGM a further division of responsibility was agreed by the appointment of a separate Chairman, whereas heretofore the duties of President and Chairman had been combined. Dr S F Contractor was appointed Chairman for 1975. It was also found necessary to make a further division of auction responsibilities, and a third Auctioneer [Mr A L Harris] was appointed to deal with Stationery and Fiscal material.

The 25th Anniversary of the India Study Circle was celebrated in 1975, notably with a major display and auction at the Royal Commonwealth Society in London. Displays were also made to the 'Royal' and at the 'Gibbons Gallery'. At the end of the year membership had reached 390 (237 in Great Britain, 59 in U.S.A./Canada, 43 in India, 10 in Australia, 8 in Holland, 7 in Scandinavia, and members in France, Switzerland, Spain, Italy, Luxembourg, the Philippines, Indonesia, South Africa, Rhodesia and Papua New Guinea). Mr Roake retired as Editor of 'India Post' and Mr Mockford was appointed in his place. Mr K J Tutt became Membership Secretary, in place of Mr R D Pay. Mr D Owen Davies assumed responsibility for the States auctions and Mr G Wilson took over from Mr A L Harris as Auctioneer [Postal Stationery & Fiscals]. Mr Derek Lang was appointed Research Co-ordinator with responsibility for direct liaison on research matters with the Indian Chapter. Mr L R Dearlove took over as Illustrator for 'India Post' succeeding Mr Gog Horsman.

In 1976, Mr John Kaupe relinquished the duties of P.R.O. and Assistant Secretary on taking up an appointment in South Africa, and Mr Horsman handed over the job of 'Q and A' compiler to Mr E G Oehme. Because of some confusion in India as to our aims and interests, our name was changed to the 'India Study Circle for Philately' at the AGM In December 1976.

At the same meeting Mr Derek Hammond Giles was elected President, following the automatic retirement of Mr Gerald Davis, who had served his 3-year term of office; Col L.G Shenoi was appointed Research Co-ordinator and Professor K.D Singh Liaison Secretary of the Indian Chapter; and Honorary Membership was granted to Mr Gog Horsman. The Annual Subscription was increased to £5.00. Membership at this time stood at 423. 'India Post' was awarded a Silver Bronze at HAFNIA-76 at Copenhagen and a Silver Bronze at the International Philatelic Literature Exhibition at Lugano in 1977.

In 1977, considerable difficulty was experienced in finding members willing to take on the various jobs necessary for the efficient running of the Circle. However, at the AGM In December 1977, the following appointments were confirmed – Mr B.T Cheverton to succeed Dr Soli Contractor as Chairman - [Dr Contractor having served his allotted 3 years]; Mr R S Nuttall to be Secretary [Mr Cheverton having held this post for 12 years]; Mr R Wood to be Assistant Secretary, and Mr K G Adams to be General Auctioneer [following the resignation of Mr Geoff Rosamond].  At this meeting also, Honorary Membership for 1978 was bestowed upon Mr Peter Roake, in appreciation of past service as Editor of 'India Post'.

1978: Following Mr Cheverton’s visit to India and his report on the spurious material being produced, the Committee set up a Forgeries Committee under Mr John Trowbridge. Mr Derrick Burns took over as Treasurer from Mr Dick Norman. At asiapex ‘78 in the U.S.A., Mr R Skinner organised the first meeting for members in the East. Professor Singh in his turn organised Arapex ‘78 at Udaipur. Marcus Samuel’s book 'Specimen Stamps of British India', published by the I.S.C., encouraged the Committee to embark on Derek Lang’s Postal Stationery project. Mr Derek Dawes took over as Membership Secretary for UK members, while Mr Tutt retained responsibility for the overseas membership.

1979: Meetings were resumed at the National Liberal Club. Mr Derek Dawes also took over overseas membership from Ken Tutt, and Mr J Stewart took over the General Exchange Packet. Mr Eric Goodson organised his first and highly successful meeting for members in the North at Preston. Mr Ron Wood followed suit for members in the South at Petersfield.

1980 saw INDIA-80 and the Circle donating its own Peacock Trophy, in an attempt to encourage research into modern aspects of Indian Philately. Also, there was an excellent meeting of the I.S.C. In Delhi, organised by Prof. Singh and chaired by Mr D N Jatia, with several prominent UK members present and Mr R K Saiyad, Postmaster-General, as guest and Vice-Chairman for the day. The 10th May, during London-1980 witnessed the largest meeting of the ISC ever held, with more than 40 overseas members and 100 home members in attendance. Those present were privileged to see the superb material displayed by Messrs A C Beeling from Holland, Pierre Couvreur from France, and D N Jatia from India. Dr Contractor’s Auction which followed was an event in itself, with £10,000 worth of members’ material on offer. During the year, Mr Hugill Clarke was elected P.R.O. And Mr A J M Meadows took over as States Auctioneer.

1981: Mr Henry Heath was elected President and Mr Derek Hammond Giles took over as Librarian from Mr David Padgham, who had held the post for over 15 years. The year saw the tragic loss of our first President, Dr Paul Parsons, and past Editor of 'India Post' Mr Peter Roake, along with other prominent researchers. In the U.S.A., affiliation with the American Philatelic Society was effected, and Mr Don Griffin’s plans to promote the Circle by offering annually an engraved plaque were finalised. Membership stood at 531.

1982: Mr G C Jain was elected President of the Philatelic Congress of India. Mr G Wilson retired from the position of Auctioneer, Stationery and Fiscals. Andrew Hinrichs, on a visit from Canada, died in the UK. The deaths of Gog Horsman and Bruce Adams were also recorded.

1983: Mr Alan Parsons became Chairman, Mr Alan Murray assumed the role of Stationery/Fiscals Auctioneer and Dr Bill Fincham commenced operations as Stationery/Fiscals Packet Superintendent. Mr Stewart relinquished the General Packet. The death of Mr G Wilson was recorded. The 5th November saw some 70 members present in London for a special 'Event' at the National Liberal Club. President Henry Heath displayed his superb material featuring the Tibetan Commission and the Younghusband Expedition as well as some unique Used Abroad. Dr Contractor conducted a successful £10,000+ Auction. Honorary Life Membership was extended to Don Griffin of America.

1984: Dr D Owen Davies was elected President. Dr John Warren took over in America as Regional Secretary from Don Griffin who had suffered a severe stroke. Mr Basil Cheverton took over the running of the General Packet. Honorary Membership was extended to Mr Ron Pay and to Lt.Col. C N M Blair CMG, OBE. During his visit to India as Vice President, Basil Cheverton, with the co-operation of the Indian Chapter, instituted a re-structuring of that body – Mr D N Jatia RDP, Chairman; Mr S C Sukhani, Treasurer; Mr H Mehta, Distributor; Prof. K D Singh, Secretary; Col Shenoi, Librarian; Mr A R Singhee, Research Co-ordinator; Messrs Y Kumar, G Madanmohan Das and V S Dastur as additional Regional Coordinators.

1985: Harry Eaton, Ron Pay and Dick Norman, all old servants of the Circle, died.  Basil Cheverton implemented the 'Widow’s Service' on their behalf. The 'End of an Era' occurred with the takeover of the National Liberal Club. Dr G Kaye was elected as Chairman.

1986: Meetings were now at the Royal Commonwealth Society. After 9 years, rising prices forced an increase in the Annual Subscription to £8. Both David Padgham and Ron Mockford received the B.P.F. Award of Merit for their services to philately. The ISC was accorded a singular honour when, for the first time, an outside body was invited to mount an Exhibition at the National Postal Museum. Appropriately, the Circle commemorated the 150th Anniversary of the Convention with the French to convey the Mails via the ‘Overland’. Mr Hammond Giles co-ordinated and mounted the display and produced a booklet telling the story of this unique event. Basil Cheverton was elected President. Honorary Life Membership was conferred on Gerald Davis and Derek Hammond Giles.

1987: Following the President’s visit to India in February, the Indian Chapter was re-structured. Mr S C Sukhani’s role as Treasurer was changed to that of Secretary; subscriptions now had to be paid direct to the UK. March saw a 'special event' with Dr Contractor mounting a major Auction which realised over £10,000. During the year, John Stevens took over as Treasurer from Derrick Burns; Peter Walsham handed over the distribution of 'India Post' to Ron Wood, Alan Murray resigned from running the Stationery/Fiscals Auction, Alan Parsons took over as Chairman from Dr Kaye. The Subscription was raised to £10.

Robson Lowe and Ron Mockford were made Honorary Life Members. The AGM proposed a Constitution to replace the Rules of the Circle.

1988: In February, for the third time in the life of the Circle, a display was presented to the Royal Philatelic Society: it was organised and presented by Gerald Davis. Neil Blair died in June. Mr L C J Brown took over as Hon.Auditor from George Hammond. Dr W Fincham was elected Chairman. Derek Dawes produced the new Constitution, which was accepted by the AGM In principle, with the demand for considerable amendment.

1989: January saw the visit to India of Dr Contractor’s party for India-89. The group included the Chairman, Treasurer and Secretary. Despite bomb scares, resulting in a two-day delay, the party arrived in time for the meeting in Delhi. This highly successful meeting was organised by Messrs Mehta and Sukhani and chaired by Mr Medhora; a record 90 members and guests attended. In October, the President visited India and had several small meetings with members. Ron Mockford was elected President in place of Basil Cheverton. Mr L C J Brown replaced John Stevens as Treasurer. Mr J C Brown was appointed Auditor. Dr Allan Brown took over the running of the General Packet from Basil Cheverton.