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World Stamp Show Highlights Stamps
as Cultural Icons
by Bob Brooke
lot of people collect stamps, including some celebrities like Queen
Elizabeth II of England, Warren Buffet, and Franklin D. Roosevelt.
But surely none of them thought of stamps as collectibles. In fact,
stamp collecting is a category all by itself.
But stamps and all sorts of postage memorabilia are in fact
ephemera—paper goods—in the broadest sense. The wide range of items
available is astonishing, in some cases numbering into the
thousands. And just like collectors of antique ephemera such as
stock certificates, stamp collectors seek out the rarest of the
rare. And what better place to show off the rarest examples and the
most unique collections than at one of the largest stamp shows on
10 years, the United States hosts this historic event in which
people from around the world come together to honor the postage
stamp. This year’s eight-day celebration, World Stamp Show-NY 2016,
runs from May 28th to June 4th, 2016, at the Javits Center located
at 655 West 34th Street in New York City. In addition to hundreds of
thousands stamps from around the world, this year’s exhibition will
include the world’s most valuable postage stamp, John Lennon’s
childhood stamp album, vintage postal vehicles, and much more.
Unlike antiques shows where the focus is on selling, stamp
exhibitions enable stamp collectors to help educate the public and
other collectors about stamps in general and their special areas of
interest in particular. Exhibitions also give collectors a chance to
mingle and share ideas, unlike antiques shows at which collectors
seldom get together to share ideas and news of their particular
category. Stamp exhibitions also appeal to those who are competitive
and want to achieve bragging rights. At a world-class event like
this, those bragging rights become very important.
Visitors from all 50 states and more than 100 countries are expected
to attend the free exhibition and retail event at which they can buy
from more than 200 of the world’s most notable and respected stamp
dealers, bid on rarities through revered auction houses, view nearly
60,000 pages of stamp exhibits, attend seminars, or visit over 60
post offices of nations from around the world that are participating
in the exhibition.
What to See
display will be very valuable and rare stamps, including the British
Guiana One-Cent Black on Magenta stamp, produced in 1856, sold in
2014 for $9.5 million, and considered to be the world’s most
valuable object by weight. Those new to stamp collecting will
receive complimentary stamps and guidance from “stamp buddies” on
how to begin collecting in the “Beginner’s Area,” with planned
activities for those attendees from 6 to 96 years of age.
For more than 150 years, postage stamps have connected people from
all over the world. Just as Passport stamps show where people have
traveled to in the world, postage stamps are a unique way of
learning about history, geography and even pop culture. Through
their exhibitions, called frames, collectors tell stories of the
as who was the president of the US in any given year, what cars were
popular when, or when the world was at war, all through the stamps
they exhibit. Many exhibit groupings assembled around a theme, such
as art, inventions, presidents, and national parks.
For generations, people have used stamps on letters that have
delivered news of events, both happy and sad occasions, business,
politics, discoveries, and family history. By the same token,
postage stamps reflect the times and teach everyone about people,
places, and events. And like antiques and collectibles, stamp
collecting is a great way to connect with the past.
got its start in the great art salons and world’s fairs of the 19th
century. History has recorded the great art competitions in the
1860s when the Impressionist movement became the center of
attention, or the Armory show in New York in 1913 where Modern art
occupied public attention and controversy. Just as these events had
medals and awards, so do stamp exhibitions.
Awards for world class philatelic exhibitions follow generally the
framework established by the International Federation of Philately (FIP)
headquartered in Switzerland. There will be a Grand Prix d’Honneur,
a Grand Prix International, and a Grand Prix National. The first is
awarded to the most outstanding exhibit in the championship class,
those exhibits that have previously won a large gold award in
international competition. The second will recognize the most
exhibit from all of stamp collecting. And the third will recognize
the most outstanding exhibit of the host nation, in this case the
U.S. At past exhibitions, these awards have included classical
bronze sculptures, Native American sculptures, and other remarkable
The exhibition jury will award medals of various levels to deserving
exhibits in the various classes other than the championship class.
These start at the bottom of the ladder with bronze medals and top
out with large golds. The jury uses a point system, established by
the FIP by mutual agreement, to determine which award goes to which
This exhibit will be so large that a couple of hours won’t do it.
Visitors should plan on staying for at least two days if not four or
five. What antiques show is so large to require a similar investment
of time and is free to boot?
To learn more about the show, visit the
World Stamp Show-NY 2016 Web site.
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