Updated 10/10/08, changed and added text ( the link now works )
I have often been asked asked "what are my hobbies"? Replying "Philately" I get different reactions from different walks of life. In the past people have often said of me "you must lead a boring life". I differ to disagree with them as my stamp collecting hobby is not just about saving pretty bits of sticky paper.
Back in the UK when I was a schoolboy I once did field trip to Wicken Fen. later in life I converted this trip into a short paper which I later showed to my local comprehensive . This was just an attempt to try and explain to the kids and teachers that there was more to philately than just collecting stamps. It can involve history, geography and much much more.
Lodes, ditches and drains
Lodes are ancient navigable waterways that carry the drainage water from the drains and ditches that criss-cross Wicken Fen.
Wicken Fen is an internationally important wetland in the UK, run by the National Trust, it is home to thousands of animal and plant species, and it has been said that it "offers a unique window onto a lost landscape".
The National Trust was only 3 months old when, in 1895, it was approached by Mr Herbert Goss with a request.
The entomologist asked "if they would consider saving Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire." Four years later they purchased 2 acres of the fen from Goss’s colleague, JC Moberley for £10.
Fifty six further separate conveyances of portions of land and today they care for 653ha (1612 acres) of one of the most important surviving areas of wetland in Western Europe.
The National trust have an ambitious plan to continue the expansion of Wicken Fen to create a 10,000 acre reserve of wetland.
What has this to do with stamps or philately people ask?
Introducing you to Decimal Folded Machine Booklets. Starting with The £1 Mills Series, illustrated by artist Jeremy Sancha. Number one in this series is "Wicken Fen "Ely".
On 2 Oct 1989 Royal Mail issued a booklet of stamps that struck me as being very nice at the time. These had an illustration of Wicken Fen on the cover.
Gibbons catalogue number FH18, printed on a matt card, the booklet contained 5 x 20p Machins and a label requesting users to please use the postcode . The stamps were printed by Harrison and Sons Ltd in Gravure on ACP(H)/DEX paper.
Some four months later this booklet cover was re-released printed on a glossy card, the date, 30 Jan 1990 . This time it was Printed by Walsall Security Printers Ltd in Lithography (also sold at £1). Gibbons catalogue number is FH19. It is written that "This was an experimental printing to test a new cover material, this appears glossy when compared to FH18. " Interestingly the next printing number 2 in the series FH20 Click Mill, Dounby, Orkney reverted back to the matt card.
The stamps also changed with FH19 and FH20 from Machins to that of 5 x 20p double headed stamps designed by Jefery Mathews for the 150th anniversary of the penny black ,these were printed in litho on ACP(C)/PVAl paper.
More of the History of Wicken Fen can be found here.
It has been stated "it is one of Britain’s oldest nature reserves, and England’s first.
Centuries of management by sedge-cutting and peat-digging have endowed it with a unique fenland habitat rich in rare wildlife. Insects are particularly abundant, with thousands of species of moth, butterfly and beetle, almost 2,000 different species of fly and 20 of dragonfly. Twenty nine species of mammals and over 200 bird species have been recorded on the fen"
I feel more could be taught through our educational system particularly through stamp collecting, this could also possibly get kids involved more with the hobby.
I hope you have enjoyed this post with a difference. Here ends the lesson for today.