Robert Vincent (Bob) Swarbrick
This Collection took the best part of 50 years to assemble. The increasing difficulties of adding significantly to its detailed studies have persuaded Bob that it is time, finally, for other students and collectors to have the opportunity to acquire the many gems that it contains. Jamaica has always attracted collectors of both Stamps and Postal History, because of the wide variety of material (of all periods) that can be found from this sunny Caribbean island. However, it is very rare for anyone to attempt to form so comprehensive a collection as that which is described in the following pages.
Since 1930 there have been auctions of a number of "Great" Jamaica collections, but there are only a very few that bear comparison with the "Swarbrick" collection. The 1933 L.O. Trivett collection consisted of 375 lots, the two separate (Stamps & P.H.) 1940 auctions of the famous L.C.C. Nicholson collection totalled 677 lots, the 1957 Urwick sale included 627 lots, the 1972 Erickson sale had 529 lots, the V.N.F. Surtees catalogue of 1976 included 742 lots and the 1982 sale of the "Wilson" collection in Canada (that consisted of 98% pre-
Bob's purely philatelic expertise is clearest in the studies of the 1890 2½d on 4d overprint settings and of the War Tax overprints, but the following lots demonstrate that he has steadily mastered the philatelic intricacies of each of the country' issues, and in most cases he has expanded our knowledge of them. His researches into the Booklets, postal Stationery and Revenues of Jamaica have continued throughout. At the same time he has produced new and definitive studies of many Postal History topics; most notable are his analyses of early maritime mails. (As demonstrated in his remarkable recent display to the Society of Postal Historians in which he showed how the winds and tides of the Caribbean has influenced the usage of the various "Ship Letter" marks of Jamaica). No stone has remained unturned in Bob' researches into the fascinating histories of the Commercial Rooms mail bags, the early namestamps (of which several new discoveries are described in this catalogue), the early transit mail, the Forwarding Agents, and the maritime routes and rates.
In addition to these studies of the early Postal History of Jamaica, Bob has produced authoritative studies of the Squared Circle cancellations of Jamaica, the "Woodblock" postage due marks (most of which are rarer than their more famous cousins, the postage due numerals of Malta), the Free/Official mail of the island, Q.V. Late Fees, the pioneer Airmails, the rare and little-
It is very good to be able to report that Bob is not giving up his hobby, because he has now discovered a new and very different theme to pursue which will give him even greater opportunities for research; he is now seeking Postal History from any area of the world that is connected with the Royal Marines. He has already filled a number of albums with a startling array of covers, and his marines library is growing apace. Bob demonstrates very clearly that today's student of Philately or Postal History is every bit as much a researcher as he is a collector. The late Tom Foster (to whose excellent book on the Postal History of Jamaica we refer in many of the descriptions that follow) was both a pioneer and an inspirational student. Bob has continued where Tom left off. And yet Bob will not be entirely lost to the world of Jamaican philately either, he has decided to continue his researches into one area of Jamaican material -
It is a great privilege fpr myself, and for the rest of the Cavendish's team of describers (namely Ken Baker, Ian Kellock and John Cowell) to have been given the task of preparing the great colle3ction for auction. Meanwhile I am very pleased to have been instumental in arranging for the British Caribbean Study Group to publish a bound edition of several hundred pages from the collection with Bob's own descriptions and layout. (This book will be available later this year.) Finally I would like to thank Bob Swarbrick himself for all his advice, his assistence with proof-
James Grimwood Taylor, 17th August 1995.
My introduction to the stamps and postal history of the island of Jamaica came about in the then traditional manner, through the interest and advice of a friendly dealer.
As a very young man, some 50 years ago, I attended a Stamp Fair in Manchester. Having raided the family Tea caddy, and with some knowledge and much enthusiasm, I threw myself on the mercy of the assembled dealers. I well remember meeting one, A.W. Morley, who asked my interests. I proudly said "British Empire", he sadly shook his head and remarked that he thought the field too big. "Specialize", he murmured, "Specialize". He then went on to explain that he had recently bought a collection of Jamaica stamps, both loose and stuck into an old ledger. It was, he explained, a life time's collection of a Missionary who had worked in Jamaica. Just how Mr. Morley knew that the Tea caddy only had a modest lining, composed of the birthday 10/-
We concluded a deal, and I handed over my birthright, in exchange for a promise that, on his return to "the office", he would send me the parcel. On MY return to my "office" when I told my father what I had done, I was treated to a short lecture on "fools and money" and "that's the last you'll ever see of that".
I did have to wait, probably two anxious weeks, but finally a large parcel arrived, with a note apologising for the delay. It seemed that he had been waiting for a suitable size sheet of brown paper!
What a feast! Thousands of 1d Keyplates, hundreds of ½d CA's envelopes and wrappers and all sorts of goodies to sort. There were so many I just didn't know what to do with them. I even considered making fire screens as a commercial venture.
There were disappointments of course. Quite a few fiscally cancelled stamps had to be discarded; how was I to know at that tender age that they were TRD's? I made up club packets and approval sheets, but I couldn't keep pace; I was certain that the Key Plates were reproducing themselves as quickly as I weeded them out. Another minor disappointment was that the "Missionary", a man called Sherring, wasn't a man of the church at all. In those days, the technique employed to sell a collection was rather similar to the scam now used to sell a second-
The modest £5, trustingly given to a total stranger, has given me a life time's pleasure. Times change, although I am certain there are still some dealers as honest as my chance encounter all those years ago. I would like to think that perhaps my father, for once in his life, WAS WRONG.
Bob Swarbrick, 20th August 1995
|Link||Collection||1990s||Selected items from Bob's extensive collection|
|Link||Article||1986||Modern 'To Pay' Handsatmps||BCPSG #141|
|Link||Article||1990s/2001||Street Letter Boxes of Jamaica||Update to Foster papers|