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 1992-2002 Contents

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Fred Loxton photo portrait
 125 year celebration cover of the Balsam Post  Pen and Ink portrait of Fred Loxton

BALSAM POST - The Fred Loxton Decade - 1992 to 2002

by Chris Thomas

The Balsam Post is the newsletter of the Postal Microscopical Society, with articles by members for anyone who shares our passion in microscopy. In March 1992, the first Balsam Post under the new editorship of Fred Loxton appeared. He introduced himself with the modest but telling words

" When I was first asked if I would accept the job of editing this magazine, I had some reservations. On reflection, I realised that this was a job that I could do and I finally accepted with enthusiasm."

Over the next decade, he fulfilled that promise! Fred was the successful editor of the Balsam Post from 1992 to early 2002, before handing on the baton to Steve Gill.

The Balsam Post as a newsletter with comments and articles had its origins about a decade earlier. Barry Ellam, microscopical raconteur, began expanding the newsletter of a few factual photocopied pages with additional comments and notes on subjects microscopical which he thought might interest the reader. Ernie Ives then offered to help with the editing of the newsletter and included articles by other members of the society as a way of sharing our enthusiasm, tricks of the trade and successes and failures. Ernie edited the Balsam Post for next eight years with issues extending now to 20 to 30 printed pages and appearing at least twice a year. There were contributions by a variety of authors, including many who have made regular contributions right up to the present time. Keeping a newsletter going takes a lot of commitment and in 1991, after making the Balsam Post an integral feature of the PMS, Ernie felt it was time for someone else to take over.

Fred carefully built upon the work of his predecessor whilst retaining the unique informal nature of the Balsam Post. The size of each issue increased to between 30 to 40 pages and the number of issues per year gradually increased to four. This required a professionalism that ensured that copy kept coming in, that people were willing to contribute and that it was all kept within budget. But this was all done unassumingly in the background, for to outward appearances, the Balsam Post was (and still is) a friendly informal affair in which the authors expouse their interests and experiences in their own words. This is no mean task! People who have to review articles by other people can always find corrections to be done or better phrasings and would find it difficult not to offer suggestions. However, my experience, and that of other contributors, was that if you submitted an article to the Balsam Post then you would see it practically unchanged in print. Fred had a remarkable restraint and yet would help those with an article if they desired. Thus he ensured that the Balsam Post was a true mouthpiece of its (article contributing) members. All the articles of this period are indexed in linked pages to this one and give an idea of the wide interests represented by the PMS.

My own involvement with the Balsam Post began in 1994 when Brian Darnton asked me to do an illustration for one of his articles on diatoms which was used for the cover of the July issue. When approached, Fred encouraged me to submit more images for both in and on the Balsam Post. Hesitantly at first and then with increasing frequency, I found myself trying to provide pictures for the newsletter. Fred's low key but supportive attitude to contributions had a key influence on my direction as an illustrator and microscopist. I learnt that what you saw in a sample was equally dependent on both the eye and on knowledge gained from reading about the subject and you can go to the linked pages with Balsam Post covers to see the results.

While many of us know 'Fred Loxton, the Editor', fewer know of his multiple other interests. He enjoys old slides and is one of the few people who will successfully tackle repairing them. Papered slides were an attractive feature of Victorian microscopy and Fred has also developed the skill of their preparation. Cameras and photography gear are another interest which he will hopefully have time to pursue again, this time adding the trials and tribulations of digital imaging and processing to his increasing store of knowledge. An avid reader of factual history books, he has also started learning bookbinding as a skill - very useful for those older microscopy books that need some TLC. If that were not enough, the man is also an active swimmer!

Fred can look back on a successful and distinctive 10 years of the Balsam Post and look forward to re-immersing himself in his interests. Naturally we look forward to reading about them in the Balsam Post!

01/12/2002 CJT


 1992-2002 Contents

 Balsam post 1992-2002 home

 1992-2002 Cover index

HOMEWHAT IS THE PMS?WHAT'S NEWCONTACTING USCLUB MEETINGSLIBRARYADDRESS BOOKLETTERSSALES AND WANTS BALSAM POST COLOUR SUPPLEMENTSPRINGTAILS MISCELLANEOUSRELATED SITES