Lanarkshire Philatelic Society

 

Belgium

 

Bill McKinlay

 

It was not until 1830 that Belgium became an independent kingdom, and is one of the last remaining constitutional monarchies in Europe  –  after a very chequered history!  Bill McKinlay, a member of the Belgian Philatelic Study Circle, presented his display to the Lanarkshire Philatelic Society last Friday (1st February). 

With postcards, stamps, and covers he led us through the history of the country beginning from the time of the cave dwellers who lived along the banks of the River Meuse.  Many years later, Julius Caesar entered Belgium and it became part of the Roman Empire.  This lasted until 481AD when King Clovis I defeated the last Roman administrator in Gaul.  The country then went through turbulent times under Spanish, Dutch, Spanish, French Rule – pause for Interim Government – then French, Austrian, French and finally Dutch Rule!   In 1830 Belgium came into existence as an independent kingdom. 

In 1849 Belgium was able to issue its own stamps – and these were on display.  Also showing were special label  stamps of 1893 bearing the words ‘Do not deliver on a Sunday.’  These were not a general issue but could be bought and affixed by those who preferred not to have the postman working on a Sunday!

On the 4th August, 1914, Germany invaded Belgium.  The Belgian Government transferred to Le Havre in France and stamps, in the name of Belgium, were issued from there.  Within Belgium, Germany took over the postal system. After the November 1918 Armistice stamps were issued by the Patriotic Fund. These showed various views of King Albert of the Belgians and also of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. 

In May 1990, covers and stamps were issued to commemorate the ’18 Days War of 1940’ – when, for 18 days, Belgium resisted against the might of the German Army – before King Leopold III capitulated.

In 1944 came liberation and some special stamps were issued to commemorate this.  In difficult financial times some 1936 issues were overprinted with the letter ‘V’ – for Victory!  New issues were also printed with the letter ‘V’.

‘The Winter Relief Fund’ was the first to show St Martin dividing his cloak and giving it to a beggar – this same subject has reappeared on many stamps throughout the years following the War.

Many of the stamp issues – of peace time – were also shown.  These cover many themes;  Cultural; Belgian Disasters; Children’s Games – this issue was of 6 stamps which, when put together, showed Breughel’s painting; Historic Buildings; National Scientific Institution; the Royal Family; In Celebration of Belgian Beer!

In proposing the Vote of Thanks, Alan Wishart remarked on the very informative display which had given members a most enjoyable evening.

Our next meeting in St Andrews Parish Church Hall, Avon Street, Hamilton, is on Friday, 15th February, 2008 at 7:30pm when Jim Crawford will present his display of material on ‘Tristan da Cunha.’   

Our Annual Display is on February 16-17 in the Banqueting Hall of Chatelherault Country Park, Ferniegair, Hamilton.  Opening hours are 10am – 4:30pm (Saturday) and Noon – 4pm (Sunday)  entry is free.