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OPAL History
From time to time over the past fifty years, there has been fierce debate about the Society's title. This arises from the word “Oriental” which has changed its meaning over the years from “East of the Mediterranean” (Concise Oxford Dictionary) to its modern meaning which takes in the whole sweep of Asia south and east of the Himalayas. As a result we now get people applying to become members from Japan and S.E. Asia. However the current consensus is that the acronym “OPAL” is how we are best known, and so that is how we will stay. Like most societies OPAL has had its ups and downs: the late 70s was a low point with the membership less than 100, however a meeting of members at the London 1980 exhibition proved a turning point, and under the guidance of Keith Tranmer, backed by Bill Robertson, the society returned to its former vigour. The current definition of OPAL's aims was set out at this time and for the first time a proper constitution was adopted (recently revised to keep pace with modern practice). The current membership is about 132, with half in the UK and the rest spread around the world. There are over 50 members in the USA where we liaise with ONEPS, our US equivalent; European numbers are slightly less with a strong group in Germany where we have links with our equivalent society, Naturally there is a strong Turkish group with others spread around the world from Sweden to Australia. Because of its wide geographic spread, the Society has always seemed fairly rootless. In the early days regular meetings were held in Caxton Hall, London, (which is probably why that city features in our name) but now there is only one regular meeting the Annual General Meeting held in the late spring, usually in London. In recent years locally organised meetings have been held in the UK and USA. The main unifying thread in the Society is the Journal which went from strength to strength under the editorship of Jeff Ertughrul, who received many awards for the standard which he set. The Journal is now edited by Robert Bradford. Many of the Society's members, past and present, have distinguished themselves in the world of philately, particularly in the wide range of published works by people such as Coles & Walker, Tranmer, Birken, Bayindir, Phipps. Others, such as Otto Hornung and Christopher Cruttwell, both sadly no longer with us, have distinguished themselves as prominent exhibitors. The Society is proud to have made a significant contribution to the world of philately in the past, and is confident of maintaining its influence in the future.