Philip Thomas Saunders

AN APPRECIATION (BWISC Bulletin #86, September 1975).

It is with the very greatest regret and sorrow that these words are written to you about our Founder who passed away rather suddenly, after prolonged illnesses at his home Min-y-Nant, New Radnor, Powys on the 28th May, 1975 and his funeral and interment took place on the 2nd June at St. Mary’s Church, New Radnor. Many members will have known for some time that Philip’s health had been failing but nevertheless when the event occurred it was a great shock to hear about it and those of you who have not heard about Philip’s death previously must feel the same way.

Philip was born in Westminster, London on the 10th August, 1899 and his working life was spent in banking and during the last 25 years or so he devoted himself to philately. He joined the Royal Philatelic Society, London in 1954 and was a Fellow at the time of his death. He founded the British West Indies Study Circle in January of that year and was its Hon. Secretary and Hon. Treasurer from the Circle’s inception until he resigned as Hon. Secretary in December, 1971, though continuing until April, 1974 as Hon. Treasurer. He was Editor of the Circle’s Bulletin for the first twenty- one quarterly issues (April, 1954 to April, 1959) during which time he had seen it well established from a Roneo type publication to a fully professionally printed quarterly. Philip was responsible for collating the very fine display of B.W.I. material provided by 47 members of the Circle given to tle Royal Philatelic Society, London, at 41 Devonshire Place, on March 24th, 1960. At the Circle’s 18th Anniversary Meeting held on April 15th, 1972 Honorary Life Membership was conferred on him in recognition of his tireless efforts for the Circle during those 18 years.

Soon after moving residence to Kingsthorne, Herefordshire, Philip founded the Herefordshire and Mid-Wales Philatelic Society, declining office but serving on the Committee for several years. He was also a founder member of the Insurance and Banking Philatelic Society for many years, and up to the time of his death a member of the Welsh Philatelic Society. Philip’s early collecting interest embraced all King George VI issues but he soon discovered that the stamps and postal history of the British West Indies provided more scope. From the collection of Cayman Islands which he formed in the mid-fifties and from his researches in the ensuing years into its postal history emerged “The Cayman Islands, Their Postal History, Postage Stamps and Postmarks,” which was published in 1962 in collaboration with the late F. F. Aguilar and this book is still the standard work on the subject. Philip subsequently turned his attention and studies to the postal history of Dominica, and before ill health overtook him had contemplated producing a series of articles or a small handbook on the postmarks of this colony, and to this end he had prepared a large amount of text on the stamp issues and the postmarks and had also built up a large dossier of drawings to scale and photographs to illustrate the numerous types of cancellations.

Outside philately his interests were many and included all sport, especially tennis and cricket - he had been a member of the Surrey County Cricket Club since early manhood until about 1960 when moving home from London to the country made attendance at the Oval difficult. Philip loved the countryside and nature interests and was a member of the Radnorshire Society.

Philip retired from the Westminster Bank Limited (as it then was) in August, 1959 on reaching the retiring age of 60 after 43 years’ service, and it might be opportune here to mention that as a young man of 29 his first major literary effort was the historical account of “Stuckey’s Bank,” published in 1928, a book which met with general acclaim from banking circles, concerned as it was with the private banking businesses which Stuckey’s acquired and which is part of the local history of the West Country in general and Somerset in particular during the 150 years prior to 1928. Those in the banking fraternity may recall that in 1909 Stuckey’s was merged with Parr’s Bank, subsequently to be absorbed in the Westminster Bank Limited, now the National Westminster Bank Limited.

Philip saw service in World War I having been a 2nd Lieutenant in the Royal Flying Corps from 1917 to 1919 and was granted his aviator’s certificate by the Royal Aero Club of the United Kingdom in June, 1918.

Our Study Circle has suffered a very great loss indeed and the best epitaph we can erect to Philip’s memory is to carry on the tradition of the Study Circle and to strengthen the foundations on which he built and to make the Study Circle financially sound, enduring and helpful to all those who are interested in British West Indies philately. If we can do this and at the same time extend the membership of the Study Circle nothing would have pleased Philip better and perhaps over the years this will in fact occur as a continuing process.

In conclusion a reference must be made to Rose who shared with Philip every one of his interests to the full and the two of them complemented each other and between them have done a very great service to British West Indies philately.

On behalf of all the Members our most sincere sympathies are extended to Rose in her bereavement.