East Anglia (21 March 1970)

Current status: Active

The first whiff of a collectors group in East Anglia appears in the Cartophilic Notes and News of July/August 1969 [Vol.3, No.28, p.638] a mention, just in passing, that Mr. Francis H. Pitts, former Honorary Secretary of London Branch, had just retired and moved to 107 Lone Barn Road, Sprowston, Norfolk. He had been replaced at London Branch by Roy H Wheeler, who had sworn in at the meeting of 20 May 1969. Mr. Pitts knew that there were a number of collectors in the Norfolk area, but they seemed not to have anywhere to meet or exchange cards.

According to the Cartophilic Notes and News of November/December 1969 [Vol. 3, No.30, p.684], almost as soon as he landed, he started canvassing publicity for the Society and for cards in general by appearing in the Eastern Evening News paper on the 11 August and having an interview with the B.B.C. which was later screened on East Anglia TV, and given a five minute spot in the programme “Look East”. He also spread the word closer to home, yet further, putting a request in our magazine to say that he “… would be pleased to hear from other members living in East Anglia with a view to arranging a few meetings for 1970.”

The inaugural get together is reported to have been held in “a front room of a suburban house in the wilds of Norfolk”, this was presumably in Sprowston, but the first actual meeting was held in the Grafton Arms at Barnham in Suffolk on Saturday the 21st of March 1970, starting at 2.30 p.m. and finishing at 5.30 p.m. The invitation had been sent out to five friends, but somehow nine collectors attended. Full details appear in their Newsletter No.1, dated April 1970, and written by D.A. Bell (currently based at RAF Swanton Morley, in Dereham), who was elected Secretary. You can read that newsletter in its entirety at http://www.eaccc.co.uk/archive.htm but in case it ever disappears, the records are that they decided, in order, that a club should be formed in East Anglia, and be called “The East Anglian Cigarette & Trade Card Club”, to be abbreviated to “EAC & TCC”. Membership was open to any card collector in the region. A close liaison would be maintained with the Cartophilic Society of Great Britain. The officials were elected - Mr Francis H. Pitts as Chairman, Mr. D. A. Bell as Secretary, and Mr. T. R. “Ritchie” Summers of Thetford, who had found and arranged the venue, as treasurer. It was agreed to hold future meeting in May, June, and September, the next being set for 23rd May, 1970, back at the Grafton Arms, starting at 2.30 p.m. it was requested that anyone who attended should bring some cards for display, auction, and exchange. The annual subscription was set at 5/- to purely cover expenses, with the cost of the venue, and refreshments, being shared between those who were present at that time. And it was decided to advertise in the Eastern Daily Press.

Page two of the newsletter has a list of those in office, plus present and intending members. Some are as yet unknown to me, whilst others leap off the page – one of these, who is later listed as “a founder member” of the club, is Mr. A. S Gooding, or Alexander Gooding, a dealer of some repute who specialised in Churchman and Ogden`s, especially Guinea Golds. One of the prospective members is simply listed as “Mr. Potter”, but the address, of 138A Thorpe Road, Norwich, gives the game away, for this is G.F. Potter. Another I spot is Mr J.H. Fowle, life member of the Cartophilic Society.

The second club newsletter, issued in June 1970, reports that it was decided to base themselves permanently at The Grafton Arms. The club now had thirteen members, and a twelve lot auction took place in which only two lots remained unsold – the total raised was £3 18s. 6d. of which 7/10d. went to club funds. It was also discussed that some time in 1971 an exhibition might be held in Norwich, perhaps at the Norfolk Rooms. And the next meetings were announced, to be on the 4th of July and the 10th of October. Full details of the “exhibition in Norwich” appear in the “Cartophilic Notes and News” for January/February 1973 [Vol. 5, No.49, p.1248] where it is revealed to have been a display of cards in the Long Gallery of the Theatre Royal in Norwich. This ran from Monday 30th October to Saturday 11th November 1972. The article includes a breakdown of the contents of all fifty frames and exhibits, which were thematically relating to theatre and film; it also says that all these items were from the collection of F.H. Pitts Esq.

The inside back cover of that same magazine gives meeting dates for 1973, all Saturdays, some at 11.30 am, including the third Branch Annual General Meeting on March 10th and the majority at 2.30 p.m. These were all to be held at The Euston Village Social Club, near Thetford, and the secretary was now G.F. Potter.# In the “Cartophilic Notes and News” for July/August 1973 [Vol. 5, No.52, p.1345] it was announced that the display in the Theatre Royal would be taking place again from the 1st of October for one week, perhaps two. It was also being considered whether to include displays of non theatrical cards.

In the meantime page 1347 details an excursion by Fred Piper and friends to visit the East Anglian Branch on Saturday 23rd of June 1973. It includes several interesting details that do not seem to appear elsewhere, including forenames, Frank Pitts and George Potter, revealed to have once been the editor of the Cameric Notes and News. And Mr. [T.R.] Summers was the Treasurer. Ted Prior of the Universal Cigarette Card Company stalled out.

The next mention of the branch comes in “Cartophilic Notes and News” May/June 1974 [Vol.5, No.57, p1534 – 1536], which is a huge write up on the Cambridge Cigarette Card Exhibition at the Guildhall on the 7th,, 8th, and 9th of March, the piece was written by Michael Reeve, and it also revealed that The Cambridge City Council had given the club a grant to finance the exhibition, due to the success of the event in Norwich. The exhibition in Cambridge was definitely a few steps up as it included two hundred frames and nearly ten thousand cards; it was estimated that 1500 visitors had passed through the doors.

A curious occurrence was reported in “Cartophilic Notes and News” November/December 1974 [Vol.5, No.60, p.1639] the Editor having been informed of some confusion in the postal codes. This led to the rather amusing fact that in our Branch listings the meeting place address had to say “Euston, near Thetford, Norfolk”, despite the fact that Euston was fully inside in Suffolk, this was because the postal authorities decree that Euston has to take its postal address headquarters from the name of the nearest town, even if it was over the border. I wonder if that is still the case today?

Page 1417 details their last meeting of Summer, twenty-one members and visitors filling the Euston Village Social Club Hall. A hot topic was the forthcoming display at the Theatre Royal in Norwich, but an interesting cutting proved the star of the show, this showed a Mr. Norton, current incumbent of a tobacconists shop in London Road North with a hoard of packets of cigarettes that had fallen behind the shelving through the years. This was headed to auction in Norwich, the auctioneer is not recorded. And Michael Reeve had got the go ahead for another exhibition in Cambridge from the 6th to the 9th of March, and was hoping to show another two hundred sheets of cards.

Two pages of January/February 1975`s “Cartophilic Notes and News” [Vol.6, No.61, p.1656] were devoted to the sixty sheets of exhibits at their third display at the Theatre Royal. As they had discussed, these were on a mixture of subjects this time, though twelve frames featured theatrical and film cards; the others included local East Anglian cards, motoring, natural history, naval and military, and there was even a display of cartophilic literature and catalogues. The next month, “Cartophilic Notes and News” (March/April 1976 - Vol.6, No.68, p.1924) said that meeting dates for the year had been arranged, and it was decided that because Easter and the Cartophilic Society AGM were in April there would be no Branch meetings at that time; also the Branch AGM would be on the 20th of March. There was an auction of fifty-six lots which raised the sum of £17.60 for Branch funds. And newsletter 52 was now out (February 1976) According to the May/June “Cartophilic Notes and News” [1976, this copy had no year date - Vol.6, No.69 p.1968] this Annual General Meeting had notified a credit balance of £29.68, and a profit for the year of £12.03. The Chairman, Secretary, and Treasurer were re-elected, and P.A. Scully became Vice Chairman with J. Shaw as Auditor. There was a fifty-six lot auction, at which a collection of 71 Chinese language cards failed to get a single bid, and four lots had unfortunately been left at home so would be carried forward. There were two changes, the lots for auction could no longer be brought to the room but sent instead in advance to Mr. A. Young of Felixstowe Ferry – and that from May 1st all meetings would start at 11 am with the formal business beginning at 2 pm.

Despite this promising career, suddenly East Anglia do not appear in the Branch Meeting Dates page of the “Cartophilic Notes and News” for September/October 1976 [Vol.6, No.71 p.2038], and for the following edition they are back but only with the Secretary’s name and address, no meeting details. Then in “Cartophilic Notes and News” January/February 1977 [Vol.7, No.73, p.2107] the Branch Information pages say “Withdrawn from Branch Membership” and have the Secretary, G.F. Potter’s, address. Maybe the clue is on the same page, which carries a note to say that Francis Pitts, of East Anglia, had died, and a tribute would appear next month. This appeared in the March/April 1977 edition [Vol.7, No.74, Page 2118], with an obituary for Francis Henry Pitts, written by George Potter, where he was revealed to have been a member of the Cameric Club, and a Local Government Officer, who on retirement from his job moved from New Malden to Norwich in Norfolk in 1969. Shortly after that he had appeared in the “Eastern Evening News” and mentioned his intention to form a local club, to which one of the first respondents was George Potter. Mr. Pitts had been Chairman for seven years and most of the time served as club auctioneer as well, until resigning in October 1976 due to continuing ill health. Page 2112 tells us that there had also been a name change, as a small notice says that the Society had received, from the editors, a copy of the newsletter of “The East Anglian Cigarette and Other Trade Card Club”.

The last record I have at the moment, because this is a work in progress, is “Cartophilic Notes and News” March/April 1977 [Vol. 7, No.74, p2122] – it contains a write up of the branch meeting on Thursday January 13th, the day Norwich was hit by a blizzard. There was an auction of sixty lots, top price being paid for 24 type cards to include rare trade - it sold for £7. The total of sales was £94.40 and there were thirteen lucky bidders.

There is more to add, but this is an adequate start to insert on their birthday. And, as always, if anyone can flesh these bones out, do contact us.