History of the GBPS Competitions

The early competitions are somewhat patchily recorded. A new annual competition was announced at the AGM in April 1960, with the rules set out in February 1961. Entries were to be 6-12 sheets, and the competition would not be held unless there were at least six entries. The records of the first annual competition on 19th April 1961 were "inadvertently destroyed", but first and second prizes (albums to the value of 10 and 5 guineas) went to K.Rushworth (KGV 4d) and R.F.Strange (KGVI plate varieties).

The second competition was on 16th May 1962 but there is no information regarding the result. The 1963 competition was postponed because "of possibility of transport chaos". In 1964 the rules were modified; the original competition became "No. 1" (9-12 sheets), and a second one, "No. 2", was introduced (6-10 sheets). President Ron Lee gave a handsome trophy to be awarded annually.

The Secretaries' Cup was presented by Phil d'Arcy and Richard Payne in 1976. It seems that no competition was held in 1978, but in October it was announced that "The Council are actively investigating new rules for the Society Competitions", and these were subsequently introduced. In 1979 the R. A. G. Lee Cup became for a single General Philately competition, and the Martin Willcocks Award for Postal History and the MacPherson Cup (for those who had not previously won an award) were introduced. The Theo Jones Open Class Salver was added in 1999.

The 2015 competitions were regular entries to Spring Stampex, which had GB philately as its designated focus as part of the GBPS Diamond Jubilee celebrations, and were thus a mixture of one-frame and larger entries. Under the circumstances, an award was given for each type in the Lee, Willcocks, and MacPherson categories. The 2021 competitions were virtual-only (for scans) as a normal meeting could not be held due to the Coronavirus situation. The 2022 competitions built on this by allowing both physical and virtual entries to compete.

It was agreed that from 2023 separate physical and virtual competitions would be held for the three main classes (General Philately, Postal History, and Open Class), and that the MacPherson Cup would not be a separate competition, but would instead be open to qualifying entries submitted in any of the three main classes.

Special competitions for overseas members, in which entries were provided as colour photocopies or scans, were tried as an experiment in 2005 for the GBPS Golden Jubilee year. They were held again the following year, and every third year from then on until 2021 (except 2015 when overseas entries were part of the main competitions). The option to submit virtual entries in the main competitions from 2023 made separate awards superfluous.