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MAJOR EDWARD BENJAMIN EVANS, DISTINGUISHED U.K. PHILATELIST R.P.S.

The lilac ONE PENNY ‘View of Sydney’ printed stamp of New South Wales on the cover was uprated with a strip of 3 of the ½d slate QV stamp and it could have been used as early as 1892, but is undated, for all stamps were canceled with the barred numeral ‘37' of Warialda, N.S.W. It is addressed to Major Evans, Messrs Stanley Gibbons & Co., 391 Strand, London W.C., England and the reverse was not seen (Figure 1).

Figure 1

Edward Benjamin Evans was born at Norwich England on 3 November 1846 and he commenced collecting stamps as a student at Uppingham Grammar School in 1861. He was commissioned as an officer in the Royal Artillery in 1867, posted to Malta in 1876 where he met Lt. Speranza, formerly secretary of the London Philatelic Society. He studied Italian which enabled him to translate Dr. Emilio Diena’s Postal History of Italian States into English. He assembled an extraordinary collection of Maltese stamps which earned the highest award from the Societe Francaise de Timbrologie in Paris in 1878, and these stamps are now held in the British Library.

Evans became a member of the Royal Philatelic Society London in 1875. He was one of the original 3 members of the RPS’ Expert Committee in 1894 and helped edit and publish many of the Society’s handbooks. He specialised in the stamps of the U.S. Confederate States and published many articles on this subject in the Stanley Gibbons Monthly Journal, which he edited for 23 years. He also wrote a series of excellent articles on the Indian Feudatory States. His study of the U.K. Mulready envelopes was published in The Philatelic Record in 1891, and his collection was purchased by King George V, and they now reside in the Royal Collection.

By now a captain, Evans was sent to Natal in 1879 to take part in the Zulu war after the disaster at Isandlawana. While in South Africa he bought at face value a couple of entire sheets of the Transvaal 1879 provisionals 1d on 6d slate, with the red surcharge. At the beginning of 1880 he returned to England and took up an appointment as Adjutant of Artillery Militia at Wicklow, Ireland. His military duties at the time were light and this was a blessing. In the five years he spent in Wicklow he produced some important works. His contributions were, notably:
His papers on, the Stamps of Mauritius which were published in The Philatelic Record in 1880 and 1881; In 1882 he compiled "A Catalogue for Collectors of Postage Stamps, Stamped Envelopes, Wrappers and Postcards" which was priced by the publishers, Pemberton Wilson & Co. In addition he wrote an outline about the County Wicklow regiment and its frontispiece is shown in Figure 2.

Figure 2

Evans was Chairman of the Permanent Committee of the Philatelic Congress of Great Britain, 1911-1919, a judge at the London Philatelic Exhibitions of 1890, 1897 and 1906; he received the Lindenberg Medal in Berlin in 1908, and was one of the first twenty on the Roll of Distinguished Philatelists in 1921. He died at his residence at Cantley, Norfolk on 21 March 1922. A photo of Major Evans is seen in Figure 3.

Figure 3

Throughout his life, he contributed his expert knowledge to philately. His first article was "On Stamp Collecting," and it appeared in the "North of England Stamp Review and Advertizer" of November, 1864, under the pseudonym "Cheth." For this, his reward was a prize of stamps, the 'greatest treasure' of which was a set of forged Liberia. He kept these in his album for some time before he became aware that they were forgeries!

The London Philatelist noted in their obituary of the Major: The works and papers of Major Evans are distinguished by great lucidity and accuracy, two of the most important qualifications that a writer on a scientific subject can possess. He had a keen sense of humour, which constantly peeps out in his writings, and he could seldom resist the temptation of making a pun when he saw an opportunity to do so.

 
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