Committee -> Roger Hosking

Roger Hosking 1925 – 2013 - A Memorial Appreciation

By Geoff Ellerton.

Former Honorary Life President Roger Hosking With the death of Roger Hosking on 9th Dec 2013, the world of maritime and railway postal history has lost one of its most devoted, erudite and passionate practitioners. He was, in the 1950s and 1960s, one of a small band of committed collectors of Paquebot and Travelling Post Office marks who were determined to record for posterity a specialised area of modern postal history, namely the postal markings on mail handled on board ships and trains around the world. He was an assiduous ‘seaposter’ and there will be few collections of 20th century maritime post which do not contain paquebot covers originated by Roger, often from remote and uncommon world ports.

There had been a number of previous attempts to record and codify paquebot marks but the publication in 1977 of the first edition of his “Paquebot Cancellations of the World” was a seminal moment, and the substantially revised and expanded 2nd and 3rd editions in 1987 and 2000 (for which he won an international medal) cemented his reputation as the doyen of maritime collectors. He drew on a wide network of correspondents to ensure he maintained the most comprehensive and up to date records of usage dates, new varieties and values. When the amount of new material recently warranted yet another edition, a task he no longer felt able to undertake, he generously passed over all his material to a new editor, and 2010 saw the publication with his blessing of the monumental new “Paquebot Cancellations of the World and more…” by Mike Dovey and Keith Morris. That very much exemplified Roger’s determination to ensure that the torch of his own knowledge and enthusiasm would be passed to and inspire new generations of collectors.

His desire to inspire successors was equally evident in his work with the TPO & Seapost Society. He joined it in 1954 and was active in various committee roles for many years. In 1989 he recognised that the Society, in which he was already an ‘elder statesman’, was in serious decline. He identified and organised a meeting of a half dozen enthusiastic younger members and reconstituted a working committee to reinvigorate the Society. He was elected Chairman and remained active in that role for the next 20 years, during which the Society’s fortunes and membership revived and prospered. He stepped down in 2010, handing over again to a new generation, and was elected by acclaim to be Hon Life President. He was an equally long serving and active member of the Maritime Postmark Society in the USA.

Roger was totally committed to sharing the benefits of his meticulous research with the wider community of collectors, whether individually, by displays to local societies, or through publications in specialist and general philatelic journals or in his books and monographs on a variety of topics. His publications, often through and to the benefit of the TPO & Seapost Society, included works on the Transatlantic Post Office, Cross Channel and North Sea shipping services, the Irish Mail, Ocean Letters, and US Sea Posts. Though he chose not to exhibit internationally, he had previously built up world class collections of English, Welsh, Scottish and Irish TPOs, and continued even in recent years to seek out new and rare, often unique, material, notably Scottish steamer marks, to enhance his already magnificent seapost collections.

He will be greatly missed not only by his devoted wife of 62 years, Mollie, and their family, but by all who were privileged to know him and to benefit from his encyclopaedic knowledge and friendship.

Geoff Ellerton
(Hon. Treasurer, TPO & Seapost Society 1989 – 2012)

18th December 2013


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