History of the Austrian Philatelic Society (APS)

by Andy Taylor, APS Editor

The Austrian Philatelic Society [APS] started life as the "Austrian Stamp Club of Great Britain" [ASCGB] and has become through a series of advances and setbacks the leading international organisation for English-speaking collectors of Austrian stamps and postal history (having many members in Austria itself!). The APS welcomes anyone who is, or wishes to become, a specialist collector of Austrian philatelic material, and anyone who wishes to deepen their knowledge of the political and cultural conditions from which it came.

The ASCGB was founded by Major Cowie and a small group of enthusiasts on 1st January 1948, with the objective of "serving the interests of collectors of postage stamps of Austria, and fostering good fellowship between collectors in Great Britain and in Austria". Regular meetings were held in London. Until he retired in 1950, Major Cowie single-handedly ran the ASCGB, issued a monthly newsletter, circulated a packet and ran a new issue service! Later, Mr E. Lewy & then Mr K. Tranmer carried the load.

The changing needs of the membership led to the formation of a new society "The Association of Austrian Philatelists" [AAP] to hold meetings in London; ASCGB meetings there ceased. An Austrian Philatelic Exhibition was held in Manchester in September 1961; this was a great success and many new members joined the ASCGB. Soon, monthly meetings in Manchester were held, the interests of the whole membership being met by the Bulletin and by a regular circulating packet. A Manchester-based Committee emerged and took over the running of the ASCGB.

The Bulletin continued until 1965, and was then relaunched as the present journal "Austria" under the Editorship of John Giblin, continuing the features which had proved popular in the previous issues with the aim that "the accumulated issues would eventually be a handbook in English to cover the entire scope of Austrian Philately". We now have our third editor (Andy Taylor); and issue 196 will be published in October 2016.

The programme of monthly meetings in Manchester (and occasionally elsewhere in the north of England) ran successfully for many years. An annual weekend meeting for members and partners was held in 1991, and proved so enjoyable that it has been repeated every year since. A visit to Vienna was arranged in 1998, the excuse (should one be required) being the ASCGB's 50th anniversary, and repeat trips were held in 2000 (for WIPA), and annually from 2001 for the December Numiphil.

Friendly relationships had been established during 1998 between the AAP, who had continued to hold monthly meetings in London, and the ASCGB. The passage of time and the departure of some older members (along with the happenstance that Dr John Beech was Hon Secretary of both societies) made it possible to address the oddity of there being two Societies in Great Britain with basically identical objectives. After lengthy discussions, the final negotiations being held in Baden bei Wien during WIPA 2000, the re-united Austrian Philatelic Society was created. Its structure explicitly encourages Local Groups (not necessarily confined to GB!). The old ASCGB north-of-England activists became the Northern Group and the AAP became the London Group; enthusiastic members are seeking to start other Groups. The journal "Austria", the auction, the circulating packet and the library all continue to grow and flourish!

The start of the Partnership between the Austria Philatelic Society of Great Britain and PhK Merkur Innsbruck.

It was during the 50th Anniversary trip of the ASCGB (now the APS) to Vienna in December 1998 that Joyce Boyer discovered that Austrian Philatelic Clubs were not like those in Britain but were a place where members gathered to talk about and sell or exchange stamps and other material. As she had been having great difficulty in finding material for her chosen areas of Ötztal and Innsbruck Postal History, she spoke to Prof. Richard Zimmerl of VÖPH and asked if he knew of any collectors in the Tirol who she could contact for help. His response was to give three names and then followed up with confirmed addresses. The people concerned were Mag. Klaus Schopfer, then Obmann des Philatelistenklub Merkur Innsbruck, Dr. Hans Moser, and Theo Bader. Joyce wrote to all three and each encouraged her in their own way. Mag. Schopfer and Dr. Moser both invited and encouraged her to visit the Merkur Club and told members of her interests and the dates on which she would visit the Club so that they could bring any material they had for sale. The success of this first visit to the Club has lead to further visits each year when she is on holiday. One year Joyce was asked if she was interested in Postablagen and when a positive reply was given she was asked to say what these were. The reply was obviously acceptable since the next week many previously unseen examples were produced.

Joyce has also visited Dr. Moser and viewed sections of his very interesting collection and it was during one of these meetings that the suggestion was made that the Philatelistenklub Merkur Innsbruck and the Austrian Philatelic Society should become partners. In addition to the English members being welcome to visit the Innsbruck Klub the APS editor has taken advantage of the partnership to seek help with articles in our magazine. To mark the formal formation of the partnership in July 2002 Joyce visited the Klub on a Wednesday evening and gave a display from her collection of 'Postablagen of the Ötztal'. After the meeting many members visited a nearby hotel for less serious discussions.

In September 2003 three members of the APS with two partners attended the "Salon" at Innsbruck taking with them ten exhibits from seven members. These exhibits were positively acknowledged by many visitors. More recently Joyce has given displays of "Tirol TPOs" and "Postal History of Spalding, Lincolnshire" to the Klub.

Since 2003 the partnership has grown. It is encouraging for the future that several members of each club have joined the other.

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©Andy Taylor. Last updated 23 Sept 2016