The extraordinary world of licences
Press release from RPSL
A most extraordinary, and fascinating, presentation was given to the Royal Philatelic Society London on 27 April when Edward Hitchings introduced the members to the world of ‘UK Licences (and related ephemera)’. A licence is ‘an official document that gives you permission to own, do or use something, usually after you have paid money and/or taken a test’.
While some licences were introduced for social reform, the reality is that most were probably issued to raise revenue, particularly at a time of war. Some are well known, such as for television, to own a dog, driving vehicles, and tax discs for vehicles. Others shown were less familiar, albeit in some cases, surprisingly recent, such as a Bird Ringing Permit of 2016, a Peddler’s Certificate of 2015, and a Sex Shop Licence of 2008. Some of the licences would seem very expensive today, such as that for a hawker with one horse or other beast costing £8 a year in 1832.
The downside of collecting licences, as Edward explained, is that they are ‘not easy to store, not easy to display, and easily damaged’. Nevertheless, Simon Moorcroft, in giving the Vote of Thanks, echoed the view of all those present that ‘an incredible range of licences that were entertaining, interesting and informative’ had been shown.