The Society runs a Packet, which is passed on by hand. As such, only those members living in the Reading area can receive it. Having said that, the area covered stretches from Newbury/Thatcham in the west to Maidenhead in the east and Wokingham/Bracknell to the south. Members can expect to receive about 20 packets each year.
Each packet consists of 20 to 24 booklets (see an example on the right), which are housed in a special box. These booklets are provided by members of the Society, including vendors from across the country and even abroad. Note that a vendor has to be a member of the Society in order to supply material to the Packet.
A sample page from a booklet is also shown on the right. If a member wishes to buy a stamp/cover/card, he or she must sign (or rubber handstamp) the space (once the item has been removed). He/she must also note on the front of the booklet the total number of items taken and their value. He/she must also note these totals for all the booklets on a summary slip. This is in turn countersigned by the next member on the circulation list, as proof that the Packet has safely been passed on. The slip must then be sent or handed to the Packet Treasurer with a corresponding remittance.
Members are encouraged to pass on the Packet with 48 hours. If someone is away, the Packet is passed to the next member on the list.
New vendors are always welcome. The Society levies a 10% commission on any sales, which includes insurance cover. With such a large membership spread across a wide area, some Packets are invariably delayed. To speed up payments to vendors, the Society runs three separate circuits so that Packets can be checked and payments made after each circuit. The Packet is then passed to the next circuit and so on, until each booklet has been around each circuit.
Empty booklets can be purchased from the Packet Secretary or from many philatelic suppliers. Some vendors prefer to make their own booklets (as in this example) but the layout must conform to a certain standard. The sale price of each stamp must be placed above the stamp. Additional information, such as the catalogue number or value, can be added if desired. Stamps are generally priced at between a tenth and a half catalogue price, but many bargains can be picked up. On the page shown, for example, a GB 1929 PUC 1/2d with sideways watermark is priced at 50p against a stated catalogue price of £44 (which in the latest catalogue has now risen to £50, ie at a hundredth catalogue), simply because it has a wavy line cancellation. It even has full perforations!