July 2013

We were treated to two excellent and engaging displays from Ian Nutley and Derek Mauri. Their two chosen topics – Inflation in Germany in 1922-4 and World War II Propaganda & Forgeries were in some historic ways connected and both were excellent illustrations of how history can be so well illustrated through philately.

Derek Mauri went first with a fascinating and detailed account of the period in Germany in 1923-4 when inflation (deliberately brought about by the German government to defeat the post war reparations imposed by the victorious WW1 powers) meant changing the postage rates in rapid succession. This period is well documented. You can go online and the details of monthly and sometime weekly changes to the postal rates of Germany of this period, and indeed all periods up to the present, can be found. Collectors will easily remember from their youthful collecting days the packets of stamps that we used to get with German stamps of the period overprinted with thousands, millions and then milliards (billions in today’s English) overprints that were applied to stamps of the period. Derek showed us several contemporary examples of mail, both local and international, with the correct postage rates applied. There actually must have been several instances when the understandably confused German public had no idea what to put on their envelopes and their recipients got hit by surcharges! The period of hyperinflation came to an abrupt end when the government decided to create a new currency. Meanwhile everyone who had a pension lost out and the seeds were sown for the political upheavals that led to the rise of Adolf Hitler, the Nazis and the destruction of much of Europe.

And that was the link with the next half of the Wallington and Carshalton Club’s display. Ian Nutley (picture above) gave a presentation on so called “Propaganda & Forgeries’ during the Second World War. Winston Churchill set up a unit devoted to sending messages to the German population and people in German occupied territories designed to give a different and negative view of what the Nazis were doing. Phoney postage stamps, phoney currency and other items were produced, some of them used and distributed; some were merely designed but never used. Little or nothing was recorded by the SOE and PWE executives involved. Because of the very nature of their work they left few traces. Ian is to be commended tor his efforts in researching this period of subterfuge and lies for the benefit of us all! Ian’s display was full of insights and revelations about a period of our history that is just within the memory of people still alive but not for much longer! A particularly interesting and arresting part of his presentation focussed on forgeries of stamps and allied items. The really mind boggling part was when he drew our attention to the fact that because of collectors’ interest in this subject there are now even some forgeries of some of these wartime attempts at fooling the enemy! We also saw some of the propaganda efforts of other powers including those of Germany – forged money, fake postage stamps with a propaganda theme and more.