NORMAN COLIN HOPSON, AUSTRALIAN POSTAL HISTORIAN 1929-1998
Norman Hopson and Alexander Robert ‘Bob’ Tobin will always be linked together because of their four seminal volumes published on the N.S.W. and A.C.T. Post, Receiving, Telegraph & Telephone Offices, over the years from 1991 to 1998 and posthumously in 1999. Regretfully I never met them, but their publications largely hijacked me away from stamp collecting to an interest in Australian postmarks, particularly those of N.S.W.
This cover was a slight let-down as I felt that the postmark of its point of origin should have been much clearer! In fact, if it had not been registered with a HOBBY’S YARDS, New South Wales registration label, the visible parts of the 2-word cancels ‘HO(?B)..’ and ‘..(?R)DS’ would defy most Australian postmark enthusiasts. Why would such a darkly coloured 30c triple of the 1973 Christmas stamp be used as postage? I would have cried if I had received such a cover. The cover is addressed to N C Hopson, Post Office, Clarence Street Sydney NSW 2000, and the date is clearly shown as 26 AU 74/ N.S.W (Type 2A, 1934-80), but the small size and sharp uniformity of the date suggests the small nylon date wheels of the Type 3A series, but these are distinguished by having ‘N.S.W - AUST’, instead of N.S.W. in the postmark (Figure 1).
In fact, on page H-1a of Hopson and Tobin, Volume 2, there is a fine example of the Type 2A HOBBY’S YARDS where the date size can be compared with the Type 2A of HOLBURN (Figure 2).
The reverse of the cover shows the northward path via transit towns, NEWBRIDGE/ 5-P 26 AU 74/ N.S.W (Type 2A[T] 1912-79) and BATHURST/ 26 AU 74/ N,S,W - 2795 (Type 4 [i] 1971-80) and it is somewhat surprising in view of the registration, that there is no cancel at Clarence Street, Sydney post office (Figure 3).
A map of a small part of the central-east N.S.W., shows the position of the postmarks, red arrowed for Hobby’s Yards, green for Newbridge and blue for Bathurst (Figure 4).
Only three postmarks were used at Hobby’s Yards from the post office’s opening in 1879 until its closure in 1982: the original numeral ‘1375', the type 1 D(i) from 1913-15, and the type 2A of the cover. A fine example of the numeral is seen on a pair of the red N.S.W. ‘Shield’ stamps (Figure 5).
The following is a very condensed form of a biography of the late Norman Colin Hopson written by a philatelic colleague. Norman was born on 9th December, 1929 at Broken Hill, N.S.W. and was educated at Condobolin, where his father was a telegraphist. He started work as a telegram messenger in 1946 and transferred to Sydney where he was accepted in the Postmaster General’s (PMG) training school, and became a permanent officer of the P.M.G. department, serving in 4 N.S.W. towns. In 1965 he was promoted to postmaster at Tamworth, and he moved to a similar position at Clarence Street post office Sydney in 1971, until his retirement in 1984. From the 1930's he was to become a lifelong philatelist.
He was interested in the postcards, postal covers and other memorabilia of the Broken Hill area; he became one of the leading authorities in Australia specialising in the field of N.S.W. post offices, postal history and postmarks. He was involved at the executive level of several N.S.W. philatelic associations and won prestigious awards for his collections. He died on 25 March 1998 and was buried in the Condobolin N.S.W. cemetery. A drawing of Norm Hopson is seen in Figure 6.
This is a short adaptation of the late Norm Sheppard’s Vale Norman Colin Hopson , 1929-1998, which appeared in the April 1998 issue of the ACCC of N.S.W. Bulletin.