March 2013

At the March meeting of the club, Bill Hedley, Curator of the Royal Philatelic Society’s Museum gave a talk and display on Hungary. His collection of Hungarian mail, stamps and related items to do with the postal history of this central European nation went back to the 16th Century and he brought material stretching from that time to the present day. Hungary has a complex history and Bill’s challenge was to use mail to illustrate this without making it too difficult to follow. For a country that has successively been an independent kingdom, then overrun by the Ottoman Empire, integrated into the Austrian Empire, defeated in war, chopped up and dismembered, occupied by Soviet troops, had revolutions and at least two spectacular experiences of hyperinflation and more, this was not easy. Hedley’s collection and talk showed how a country’s story is reflected in its communications, and especially its mail. Cities like present day Bratislava were once Hungarian and known in that language as Pozsony and in German as Pressburg as it was mostly known during the Empire period. Bill showed mail from this and many other historic places in a country whose borders have moved many times.

Collectors who began their hobby in the 1950s all remember the large quantities of Hungarian stamps on sale to collectors in those days. They were nearly always unused and were very cheap to buy. They all came from the end of World War 2 and with their special overprints reflected the world record inflation that the country experienced at that time. Bill has what for many were the only examples that they had ever seen of such stamps.