The population of Iceland has never been large which explains exactly why its early stamps, and particularly the early Postal History, are so elusive; in 1851 the total was a tiny 60,416 - this only rose to 77,967 by 1900 and 118,888 by 1939. This did not, however, deter the late Angus Parker (1927-95) from devoting a lifetime to collecting Icelandic stamps and covers. This catalogue records his remarkable achievement, in assembling a superb collection of Iceland from the prestamp period right through to the fascinating World War II period. He could have acquired a 'Skilling' cover on a number of occasions (he even retained the photograph of an 1874 4sk cover that he had spotted in a Sweden auction in 1959), but he chose to include an off-cover stamp rather than a cover, and thereby keep his 'powder dry' to acquire a few hundred other items instead. Apart from that conscious omission. this is a truly comprehensive collection.
Angus' meticulous records of his early (1950-52) purchases of Iceland material - made from the age of only 22' - have survived: they mostly relate to stamps (inc. a "considerable collection" at £8 in Oct. 1951), but a 1931 Zeppelin cover was acquired from Alan Bolton in Nov. 1950 t()r 7s-6d, and 18 covers/cards were added from Bill Freshwater in Jan. 1951 along with some unusual postmarks ("FRA ISLAND". etc.). Then (in March 1951) there were many more additions of covers or Postal Stationery (with some specialised Air Mails from Francis Field and a 5s-0d Paquebot card from Ritchie Bodily) and so it goes on, with the earliest "Cavendish Stamps" purchase - from Geoff Manton in Dec. 1951 - predating the start of Cavendish Auctions in 1952! In the two years from 1950 to 1952 there are over 100 entries for varied Iceland purchases of all kinds from many different dealers and auctions.
Thereafter few of Angus' records survive. but it is clear that the 'easy' stamps were soon completed and he was already turning his attention to serious Postal History; in January 1957 he bought the famous 1867 "LIVERPOOL/SHIP" cover to France from Ritchie Bodily. By the time I first met Angus in 1978 he had almost completed his main Iceland collection, but he continued to acquire many, many items but did not get around to sorting them or writing them up. Indeed he sometimes found it hard to find things he owned, as a copy letter in the tile from him, dated May 1984, shows; "...J bought it [one of his rarer covers] in the J 960s hut unfortunately mislaid it and this one is not currently available for inspection as I have no idea where I have put it"! Luckily I found the item in question in one of his unsorted bundles.
It has taken me several weeks to sort through all the unmounted Iceland and to amalgamate it with the main collection that was on typed exhibition pages, but it has amazed me how little duplication there is of the rarer items; Angus may have forgotten where he put things, but he remembered exactly what he had bought. He certainly started to compete early on; he had an award in 1952 from the Wallington Philatelic Society competition for his Iceland, and entered it in Stampex in 1963. He joined the American Philatelic Society in 1966, he attended the 1968 Mexico International, he was in Cape Town in 1971, and showed Iceland (as the Guest of the R.P.S. President, John Hubbard, R.D.P.) at the R.P.S. in London in January 1973, following that up with a major display of Iceland (plus Yemen) at the Collectors Club of New York in March 1974. The R.P.S. Secretary, George South's report on the 1973 Iceland display noted that Angus was "one that J regret to say. small hand of professionals who are really prepared to put something into the hobby".
At the Stockholm & Basel Internationals of 1974 his Iceland was rather under-judged, with a mere Silver-bronze awarded on each occasion; this seems to have decided him - after a pause of 1 0 years or so when he became a greatly respected Judge - to switch the focus of his exhibiting to Yemen, for which he soon had a basket full of Gold medals (from all the major 1986-90 Internationals). Iceland was. however. Angus' first love. and he continued to collect it with great enthusiasm right up to end of his life. It has never been an easy country to collect because of the lack of available material, but that spurred him on all the more; he loved a challenge. This latter characteristic is amply illustrated by the final section of this catalogue - Angus' favourite 'fun' collection - the Local Issues or the N.M.S. in Madagascar. Most collectors have never heard of these stamps. but they are every bit as rare and interesting as the early typed issues of the Uganda Missionaries. They are so rare that they are almost impossible to collect, which is exactly why Angus collected them' His single-frame exhibit to the Royal in Feb. 1991 was probably the best display of N.M.S. stamps that has ever been seen.
If the best of Angus' Iceland Postal History were mounted and displayed competitively today, it would undoubtedly receive the International Gold medal that he deserved. This catalogue finally brings together for the first time the whole range of what Angus had acquired during almost 50 years of searching.
James Grimwood-Taylor, 26'" February 2009.