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RESPONSE TO THE PTS STATEMENT
In April 2015, completely out of the blue, I received a rather rude letter from the PTS stating that they had received enquiries from collectors and dealers about me and the unlisted George V shades. On the advice of two good friends, Patrick Pearson, who was the Chairman of the Expert Committee, together with the President of the A.I.E.P. who was in London at the time, I replied in full and assumed it would be the end of the matter.
Many months later, however, I received phone calls from two other friends informing me that the PTS had released a Statement about me and the unlisted Royal Cypher shades of George V. Independently, they both used exactly the same phrase: “It’s character assassination”. I then noticed that the word “enquiries” had now become “enquiries and complaints”. (Both the PTS letter and Statement can be found on Stampboards).
Why should anyone with enquiries or complaints about me go to the PTS instead of contacting me directly? I am not a PTS member and I no longer deal in stamps. Many years earlier, when I was a stamp dealer, I served as both Vice-Chairman and Hon. Treasurer of the PTS which was then the epitome of honesty and integrity. What really disturbed me, on reading it, were the lies and deception which the PTS Statement contained, clearly intended to damage both me and my reputation.
I asked the PTS what the “alleged” complaints were. After all, it is only right for me to know about any “complaints” about me so I could answer them. The PTS consistently refused to supply any details whatsoever about the complaints, even after a request under the Freedom of Information Act. I even said they could redact the names of anyone who “complained” but they still wouldn’t supply the information requested. What were they so worried about? I could only conclude that the enquiries and complaints do not exist. Their absolute unwillingness to help is why it has taken me over five years to publish a response.
Regarding unlisted George V Royal Cypher shades, the PTS Statement clearly states “Trevor Harris markets these shades.” This statement is totally untrue. I have never marketed them nor offered them for sale anywhere, not even when I used to take a table at stamp exhibitions to sell my surplus stamps, although like any collector I reserve the right to dispose of any of my stamps as I choose.
The PTS assert that I refer to myself as a committee. I never have. They also state that they do not recognise Hendon certificates. Not completely surprising as the PTS issue their own certificates in competition with mine. Regarding what Ross Candlish said about my certificates (at Stampex 2014/15), Ross and I clearly have different recollections. Ross himself has sold unlisted George V shades, and at a premium. Concerning where I conducted my research, the PTS didn’t ask the people who knew about it.
I have never issued a price list of unlisted George V shades although I hope to publish one in the future which will contain articles and my latest research with prices kindly supplied by stamp dealers who are PTS members. As these dealers and others display, market, price and sell unlisted George V Royal Cypher shades, it is ludicrous that I was the only one targeted by the PTS Statement.
To illustrate the PTS’s behaviour, when I wrote to them about the people who allegedly made “enquiries”, I was writing solely about these mysterious people- “If people who have contacted you do not like the unlisted shades which I have expertised the answer is simple- tell them not to buy them”. (Printed in bold for clarity). However, the PTS wrote in their Statement “These are the words used by Mr. Harris himself, If people … do not like the unlisted shades … the answer is simple- tell them not to buy them.” The PTS deliberately removed words from my sentence to intentionally change its meaning!
Despite all the above, I sought to resolve this matter amicably with the PTS. My offer was rejected. In consequence, I have decided to publish this response to set the public record straight. For the last 45 years, I have been studying GB stamps from 1855 to 1936 in great depth and my research has been used in updating, expanding and improving GB specialised catalogues and elsewhere.
I have written numerous articles on GB stamps, from Queen Victoria to George V, which have appeared in national stamp magazines and brochures and I was delighted to learn that HM The Queen had instructed that one of my stamp articles be placed in the Royal Library. I also lecture on GB stamps. Collecting un-catalogued and unlisted George V shades does not have to be expensive, however it can be extremely enjoyable and if you have an interest in shades, very satisfying.
Prior to the publication of the PTS Statement, there were one or two serious differences of opinion between me and two members of the PTS Council. They must have thought that by attaching the PTS’s name to an unjustified attack on my good name it would give their statement the appearance of respectability. The PTS’s comment about my integrity regarding certification beggars belief. My decisions on any item I expertise are always totally honest and objective and its ownership is never taken into consideration.
This entire episode has caused me a great deal of pain and distress, not least because the PTS has long been an organisation held dear to me and others with a passion for stamps. My entire life I have been totally honest and have helped put two people in prison for stamp theft (for one I received the BPF/PTS award) and I will stand up against dishonesty wherever I find it. My charity work has been recognised with the award of The Freedom of the City of London. What I do know is that I love my stamps and care for other people.
My thanks and appreciation go to the many collectors and dealers around the world – including PTS members – who have offered me their support and advice on this matter.
Trevor I. Harris A.I.E.P.
Member of The International Association of Expert Philatelists
Winner of The Rowland Hill Award for research into the shades and printings of British stamps
Winner of the Great Britain Philatelic Society Cup for writing original published articles