While familiarising myself with the collection at Dacorum Heritage Trust, it came much to my surprise to find that Dacorum is, to some extent, a hub for postage and philately – the study of postage stamps and postal history. Post may be a less used medium today, but fortunately this does not take away from its rich and prevalent history around Dacorum. Such things have been both well documented and preserved, and range from the actions of individuals, such as photographer Edward Sammes’ collection of postcards made in the early 20th century, to the efforts of the Dickinson Paper Company. The latter of which played an influential role in all facets of Dacorum life, including post, as well as the global papermaking industry. Our collection contains various tools used in postage: locally produced postcards, stamps, Dickinson Company ‘Lion’ brand and special edition envelopes and, of course, stamped correspondence.
Dacorum has also been home to several philatelic societies, those committed to collecting stamps, learning moreabout the history of post or deigning to preserve it. Examples of the efforts of these societies can be seen occasionally in Dacorum’s history. The contemporary president of the Berkhamsted Philatelic Society, Harold Waterton, appeared in a 1977 Gazette article about his postcard collection. Meanwhile, at Dacorum Heritage Trust, a postcard made to commemorate the 21st anniversary of the Hemel Hempstead Philatelic Society in 1984 can be seen displaying various postmarks – including a special one made for the exhibition on their 20th anniversary the previous year.
Not only does Dacorum have philatelic societies, in the past it has also been a hotspot for philatelic entertainment! The most notable example of this saw a flock of 30 pigeons released in June 1973, carrying microfilm advertising the International Airmail Exhibition in Manchester the following month, they flew from Kodak House of Hemel Hempstead to Windsor- where the first air mail letter was sent in the UK. Local philatelic societies were not involved in this event, and instead it was seen as a celebration of the 50th anniversary of the London Aero Philatelic Club. Whilst the flight of 30 pigeons didn’t make for much of a spectacle, samples of the microfilm were sold during the exhibition and examples still exist today.
Oliver Warner, Kickstart Documentation Assistant