Each year there is a competition for the Armstrong Cup. It is a 16 page competition, where members speak to their exhibit, and the audience judges who is the winner. The cup was donated by the late Richard Armstrong, a long-time member of the APS. Richard was born in Warrington, Lancashire, and began collecting at the age of 12. He was first interested in Chile, Belgium and Argentina. His father was also a keen collector, of Great Britain, and Richard took over this collection, building it into a specialised collection with an emphasis on the Victorian Line Engraved issues and Postal History. Richard arrived in New Zealand from England in 1968, and fairly quickly became a member of the APS, becoming President of the Society and a Life Member. He was also President of the Federation of New Zealand Philatelic Societies. Richard was President of the World Stamp Exhibition 'New Zealand 1990' held in Auckland, and was the Treasurer of the Zeapex Trust for many years. Richard received many awards and Honours, and in 2006, at the APS Exhibition that year, was awarded the New Zealand Philatelic Award of Excellence. In an obituary in New Zealand Stamp Collector (December 2010) he is described by Gerald Ellott as "the perfect English Gentleman, he was a great peacemaker, stamp collectors are renowned individualists, and we each have our own ideas of what and how we whould collect. Richard had that knack of agreeing with everybody's quirks, and never caused anyone to be offended".
The Armstrong Cup was first presented in 1976.
There were three presenters for this year's competition. First up was Roger Marshall, speaking about the general issues of the French colonies, noting that the Yvert catalogue devotes six pages to these. The first French stamps were issued in 1849, and these were used in the French colonies of Guadeloupe, Martinique, Reunion and French Guiana. The first stamps issued specifically for use in the colonies appeared in 1859, with an eagle design within a round frame. The stamps were reprinted in 1887, and it is difficult to distinguish between the 1859 and 1887 issues.
In 1871 and 1872 the Ceres stamps were issued for the colonies, borrowing from the design already in use in France. These stamps feature the head of either Ceres or Emperor Napoleon III, and like the eagle stamps issued earlier, are very difficult to distinguish from those being usede in metropolitan France. The Ceres stamps issued for use in the colonies were imperforated. There were four stamps, two of which were also reprinted in 1887. A similar situation existed with the 1876 Peace and Commerce stamps, which were also printed imperforated for use in the colonies from 1877. A new series in 1881 featuring "Commerce" alone and inscribed Colonies was issued, to be followed in 1892 by the Navigation and Commerce series. These were printed with the name of the territory included. During this time, Algeria, and French diplomatic posts abroad, used normal French stamps. Imperforated postage due stamps were made available for the colonies from 1884 to 1906.
Stamps were issued for the French colonies until the time of general Charles de Gaulle, and eventually French Guiana, Guadelupe, Martinique and Reunion went back to using the stamps of metropolitan France.
Graeme Robertson spoke about stamp duties arising from the New Zealand land wars of the 1860s. The wars started in 1865, and the British Government sent out troops, but asked New Zealand to contribute to the costs of doing so. This was done through the imposition of a stamp duty, from 1867. The duty included a receipt duty for all payments over two pounds, and initially was one penny. This rose to two pennies from 1915. There was a range of duty stamps. Initially supplies ran out, so Full Face Queens could be used as duty stamps, and these have a pen and ink cancellation. By February 1867 there was a sufficient supply of duty stamps. In 1878 the long type duty stamps were replaced by the short type, which were a direct copy of the Great Britain inland revenue stamps. The Second Sideface stamps were for both postage and revenue purposes. In 1867 there was a range of embossed duty stamps, the most common examples are for cheque duty, and they were also used for receipt duty.
Franking machines were introduced in the early 1900s. Until 1921 New Zealand was the only country in the world to use such machines. From 1907 a franking machine could be used (instead of a stamp) to show that duty had been paid. There were also perfinned stamps to prevent theft.
Brian Marshall spoke about maps of New Zealand that appear on stamps issued by other countries. He noted that maps are a common design feature on postage stamps, but it is less common for a nation to issue stamps which show a map of another nation. A country might include a map of another country on its stamps for a number of reasons. Usually, the stamps would indicate a close economic, historical or social tie between the two countries. Sometimes though a country will issue a stamp with a map of another country for no good - or valid - purpose whatsoever.
Brian identified a number of countries that had issued stamps where New Zealand was the prime focus of the map on the stamp.
Some were for genuine purposes, such as those of the Cook Islands which in 1965 issued a set commemorating the achievement of internal self-government. The 4d stamp features a New Zealand flag and maps of New Zealand and the Cook Islands. The stamp was overprinted in 1965 to mark the death of Winston Churchill, and with a three cents overprint in 1967 with the introduction of decimal currency. The tenth anniversary of self-government was marked by the Cook Islands with aanother stamp, featuring the flag of the Cook Islands and maps of New Zealand and the Cook Islands.
The Netherlands reproduced Tasman's chart of New Zealand to commemorate the 350th anniversary of Tasman's sighting of New Zealand, and Norfolk Island in 1993 issued a stamp featuring Tuki-tahua's map of New Zealand, which he drew for the Norfolk Island lieutenant-governor Philip Gidley King in 1793. The stamp commemorates the bicentennary of contact between Norfolk Island and New Zealand.
Tonga in 1972 issued a set of stamps showing sea trading routes between Tonga and New Zealand, and in 1986 Tuvalu issued a set of stamps each featuring a map of one of the member nations of the South Pacific Forum, of which New Zealand is a founding member.
Cambodia, North Korea, French Polynesia and New Caledonia all issued stamps featuring maps of New Zealand, as part of the International Stamp Exhibition held in Auckland in 1990. Dominica and Togo both issued spurious stamps commemorating the bicentennial of the death of Captain James Cook. The stamp from Dominica features Cook's 1770 chart of the North Island, while the stamp from Togo shows Cook's route around a modern map of New Zealand. Cook never sailed anywhere near either Dominica or Togo, and New Zealand has no special relationship with either country. In the late 1960s and early 1970s Cook was a popular topic for themetic collectors.
The Isle of Man issued a stamp with a map of New Zealand on it in 2000, to commemorate the round the world Isle of Man Global Challenge, a yacht race. Wellington was one of the ports of call. Micronesia in 1999 celebrated "Earth Day" with a stamp showing New Zealand and a moa, captioned as the "World's Tallest Bird". Micronesia issued at least 180 stamps in 1999!
Bruce Chadderton rounded out the evening with a display of Chinese postal history. This was a display item, and not a contender for the Armstrong Cup. Bruce noted that the Republic of China issued its first stamps in 1912, and that various countries had their own post offices in China. He displayed an example of early definitves on cover, and a post-war cover showing a rate of $800 to send a cover to Canada. He also showed the use of high value overprints, and noted that it was common to find stamps on both sides of a cover. There was also a high use of revenue stamps on mail.
The winner of this year's Armstrong Cup, by the closest possible margin, was Brian Marshall.