Welcome to the story of London Branch, technically the first of all, as we are directly descended from the original London Branch of the Cameric Club, which was founded in 1935 and shortly after started meeting at the Bonnington Hotel in London on a regular basis. It was not a meeting as such, just that any collectors living or working in, the Capital, or wishing to travel in, were welcome to come and chat, do a bit of card swopping, and selling.
The Cartophilic Society, perhaps inspired by the success of the Cameric, had been formed in 1938. Its inaugural meeting was on the 15th of December 1938 at Anderton’s Hotel, 102-105 Fleet Street in London, a popular site for many clubs to use as a starting venue, in fact it was where the forming of an English Football League was first discussed; it also had long links to the legal profession.
The Cameric moved their meetings to Caxton Hall in Westminster London, just before Andertons hotel ceased business; the hotel was demolished in 1939. Caxton Hall was actually once the local seat of government, but after the creation of the much enlarged City of Westminster in 1900, it was renamed as Caxton Hall in order to commemorate the printer, William Caxton, who had not only once been almoner of Westminster Abbey but had set up the first printing-press ever known in England in an unused chapel there, the first book printed being “The Game and Playe of the Chesse” in 1474.
Caxton Hall was a splendid venue and attendance in the early days soon grew to a regular 45-50 collectors, also, importantly, our finances were very satisfactory. According to the “Cameric Notes and News” Volume 10, New Series, May 1956, the next meetings were to be Friday May 18th and Wednesday June 6th, starting at 6.30pm. The Branch Secretary was given as Fred Piper of Croydon in Surrey, who was also Branch Secretary for the Birmingham Branch.
The Cameric and the Cartophilic merged in 1964, and in that same year London became the first Branch by default, simply by the fact we existed before any others.
During the 1970s we used to meet on either Mondays or Fridays, from 6 pm until 9 pm. At that time our Branch Secretary was Roy Wheeler who used to live in Pinner.
In 1980 we issued a set of “London Branch Personalities” cards. These were standard sized, with black and white images to the front, of officials and prominent collectors who attended our meetings; the backs had “London Branch Personalities” in a top oval, followed by the subject`s name and notes about their collecting specialities on the backs.
Card number one commemorated Fred Piper, who had died that year. A full list of the other cards in the set can be found at: http://www.nslists.com/80lond.htm
We stayed at Caxton Hall until March 1984; it was not our choice to leave, but it was closing at the end of the month, an event which was not entirely unexpected, as the registry office, used by so many stars and celebrities, had been closed since 1978, and the building was slowly being abandoned around us giving us the sense of meeting in an old deserted and spooky house. We were still all very sad, as a lot of us had spent many pleasant hours there with all the card events we had visited; the Cartophilic Society’s Annual General Meeting, as well as the Britannia and London Cigarette Card Company auctions. However we were heartened by the fact it would not be demolished, it would be turned into new homes, flats and offices. Little did we realise that the building would continue to moulder away behind locked and silent doors, and the conversion would not start to take place until 2006.
Anyway with the closure of the Caxton Hall, our branch meetings, and the Cartophilic Society`s own 1984 Annual General Meeting had to relocate. We chose to go to the Eccleston Hotel near Victoria Station.
The following year we celebrated our Golden Jubilee, and issued a one off commemorative card to mark The Golden Jubilee, 50 years, of the London Branch, giving the date as 28 September 1985 [and therefore 1935]. The front shows a Drummer of the Coldstream Guards.
1988 was the Golden Jubilee of the Cartophilic Society, to celebrate this an exhibition and lunch took place at London`s Barbican on, October 15. This included three displays of cards from 1888, 1938 and 1988. All members attending the lunch received a special souvenir, a postcard sized copy of “The Marquis of Lorne” card (as shown on this more recent cover) which at that time was the earliest dated card in existence.
At the end of 1988 we decided to move on from the Eccleston Hotel, and our January 16, 1989 meeting took place at the Victory Services Club in Seymour Street, close to Marble Arch tube station. These were much more accessible premises, and also half the rent; we celebrated our move with a sixty lot auction. You can read the story of the VSC at https://www.vsc.co.uk/about-us/our-story
1995 was the 60th anniversary of the Cartophilic Society and we decided to mark the event by issuing another set of cards; this second series of “London Branch Personalities” is now of twenty cards, and has “1935 1995” in the formerly blank bottom bar. A list of all the personalities appears at : http://www.nslists.com/95lond.htm
In 1998 we were involved with the Sixtieth Anniversary Celebrations of the Cartophilic Society. This card was given away to members at the special celebration, and what could be more fitting for a subject than Andertons Hotel, where The Society was first discussed all those years ago?
On the 29th of April, 2000 we celebrated the Millennium by hosting the Cartophilic Society AGM at Watford Leisure Centre. We had hoped to go to a location in Central London, but costs were too steep. It was also a sad day because the Society President Edward “Ted” Knight, as shown here, was retiring. He was very pleased with being the subject of this commemorative card, and that the new President, Derek Jenkins, presented him with an enlarged and framed copy.
Shortly after that we left the Victory Services Club, we settled into our latest home, a very comfortable, Victorian-themed snug, complete with Chesterfield sofas. This is called “The Carpenters Arms” and you can find it at No.12, Seymour Place, Marble Arch, Central London W1E 7NE. Its still a five minute walk from Marble Arch Underground Station (on the Central Line, and within Travelcard Zone 1) The hostelry was established in 1776, rebuilt in 1872, and is now coincidentally the HQ of another “London Branch”, that of CAMRA, the Campaign for Real Ale – in fact, we perhaps ought to let you know they used to feature six different guest ales every month! Our branch meetings took place every month, starting at 5 pm; there was usually at least one dealer in attendance with a good stock of cards, and an excellent auction with approximately 100 lots that started at 6.15, this also included lots which had been brought along on the day by our members, and the cards were at prices to attract all purses. As our Branch Secretary said “…you`ll struggle to find better priced cards anywhere, let alone in The Capital City”.
In 2009 we again co-hosted the Cartophilic Convention with Hants and Surrey. This time even Watford was too costly, but this time things had increased far enough to push us to the border of the M25. Anyway it was the first time we had visited Surrey. We eventually decided on The Xcel Leisure Centre in Walton On Thames, and we had high hopes, in fact, our Commemorative Card, says it “…is expected to be one of the biggest ever….” This year, President Jenkins gave his final report, because he was retiring; being sworn in was his replacement, current Vice President Walton and a member of our club. A wag or two found the similarity in name of our new President and our location to be amusing. But why is it every time we bring the Society Convention to our area, we are having a Presidential changeover?
To bring you right up to date, on Monday March 16, 2020 we met as usual, but under strange and straightened circumstances. Coronavirus was taking a grip and we had only half the usual number of attendances. Our “bring and buy” auction still raised £300, but we decided that we would suspend the future meetings “for the time being”. At the time we actually said “Let us all hope it is not be long before we can return…”
But as of August 2020 we still cannot.