Wisconsin Federation of Stamp Clubs (WFSC)
1999 Across the Fence Post Newsletter
 Exhibiting and Judging

          This page includes Exhibiting and Judging columns from the 1999 issues of Across the Fence Post.

January issue

By Art Schmitz, Wauwatosa Philatelic Society

Art Schmitz is a certified WFSC judge. Throughout his 60 years of philatelic involvement, he has had a general collection and specialty collections of Ireland and education on stamps. He is a longtime member of the Wauwatosa Philatelic Society. He also holds membership in the Polish American Stamp Club. American Topical Society, and American Philatelic Society.

We welcome Art's expertise and very much appreciate his contribution to ATFP.


This is the first of a series of articles I've been asked to write for ATFP. I don't think I am any more qualified than a lot of other exhibitors and judges, but maybe more willing to stick my neck out. Anyway, we hope this will be helpful to both beginning and seasoned exhibitors. Your feedback, gripes, etc., are WANTED!

This isn't a "Which came first, the chicken or the egg" kind of thing. This story began in 1847 when a Belgian schoolteacher encouraged his students to collect stamps as a geography lesson.

My guess is that the students tried to outdo each other with their collections, and before long, class exhibits took place, adult stamp clubs formed, and members exhibited their philatelic pride and joys. It must have become necessary to put things in perspective by having exhibits judged. According to "Adventures in Topical Stamp Collecting," American Topical Association Handbook #133, the first world philatelic exhibition was held in Vienna in 1881.

I've been asked, "Why should I spend all that time and effort preparing an exhibit when I don't have anything very valuable or rare in my collection''" Most of us don't have rare classics or valuable stamps in our collections, but I've had awards ranging from a bronze for the same exhibit in Chicago and Wauwatosa, to Best of Foreign at WALCOPEX. No sweat.

Judging is more subjective than most judges care to admit.

"Aha," some have said, "You're on an ego trip!" It's true. There's nothing wrong with that; it's a fact of life that all of us do things to add to our sense of status in life.

There is a real difference between building self-esteem by preparing an exhibit as opposed to simply possessing items which one had no part in creating. Almost all exhibitors t know value the knowledge they've gained about the stamps they've shown, much of which they wouldn't have learned otherwise.

There's also the flip side of learning. If you haven't attended a stamp show, do so. Instead of just looking at an arrangement of stamps in a frame, take the time to read what the exhibitor has to say about the material.

If you come away with one piece of knowledge that you didn't have before, you'll be that much smarter than when you came into the building, or venue, as the sophisticates would say. That's another subject for discussion. •

February issue

By Art Schmitz, Wauwatosa Philatelic Society

I'm known in some quarters as a big mouth, but I have big ears and two eyes (one of which is good), all of which is irrelevant to the question: What's the difference between a stamp show and a philatelic exhibition'? My first impulse is to say, tile spelling.

A stamp show would mean that only stamps would be shown: mint, used, CTOs, plate blocks, etc. There would be no covers, FDCs or otherwise, no postal stationery, e.g., postal cards, aerograms and the like. Postal history might make it if the exhibitor relied strictly on canceled stamps to make the point.

Such a show could be a -philatelic exhibition" if the descriptive write-ups included philatelic knowledge pertaining «r the stamps on display. Which suggests another question:

What is philatelic knowledge? I'd like to know what you think about that one.

You've already come to realize that a philatelic exhibition can run the entire gamut of not only postal emissions of all kinds, but in many cases Christmas seals and other varied adhesives put out by a variety of agencies. These are sometimes called "poster" stamps.

As a judge, my gut feeling is that these are not, in the narrow sense of the word, "philatelic" items. My bias though, is that most such materials are printed to be used on postally delivered mail, and if the organization sponsoring a philatelic exhibition has approved them as an exhibit, it is my obligation to evaluate that exhibit as I would any other.

This, I think, is a vital aspect of being a good Judge. It's important to realize one's biases, understand their origins, and to recognize the right of collectors to collect what's of interest to them and to exhibit it.

So, it's not just the spelling, but also the kind of research and write-ups that lead the casual viewer of an exhibit to know, more than what is obvious from seeing the material displayed. This makes the difference between showing stamps and exhibiting material of a philatelic nature. •

March issue

By Art Schmitz, Wauwatosa Philatelic Society

If you have a kid who may be preparing an exhibit for a philatelic exhibition, here's an idea. Keep your ego out of it.

If your pride and joy is playing Little League, catching her first fish, or has the lead in the school play, what do you do? Your prides at stake! You yell from the bleachers, tell her how to reel in that big four-inch perch, and force him to learn his lines so he'll really star on opening night. Why do parents who wouldn't dream of trying to pitch for their little leaguer, take the fishing rod from the kid's hand, or walk on the stage in place of their budding thespian, do most of the work for their child's entry in a stamp show? It's cruel to the kid because you're stealing from him an important lesson of life: the ability to risk failure as well as success without a sense of the world caving in.

As a judge, I felt cheated when I learned that an exhibit typical of a very mature junior was the work of a much younger child whose daddy had done it for him. In junior exhibits, the true age and grade level of the exhibitor should be shown for the fairest possible judgment.

Running a stamp club for kids 9 through 14, I took my protégés to a convention of the Wisconsin Federation of Stamp Clubs. The result was a desire on the part of the kids to mount a club exhibit, the winners to exhibit in the WFSC show the following year.

One boy brought in his exhibit for mounting. I took one look and asked him "Why did you do it this way?" He answered, "I didn't, my dad did."

I said, "OK, buddy, show me what you can do with it." Leaving his "dad's" exhibit intact for the time being, he used other stamps to lay out another way he thought it could be done, penciling in the captions he wanted to use.

"That's more like it," I told him. "That's your work, how about doing it that way:'" "OK" he said, "but my dad's going to be mad".

It wasn't the neatest layout ever shown, the printing wasn't perfect, but the judges from the local stamp club realized the exhibits were the first ever by these kids, and guess who was one of the winners going to the next WFSC convention.

In a future column, look for some constructive ideas on what you can do for your junior exhibitor, and still allow him, win or lose, to have an honest kid's exhibit. I've never agreed with Vince Lotnbardi's dictum: "Winning is everything." If that was true, where would most of us be'!

April issue

By Art Schmitz, Wauwatosa Philatelic Society

I promised suggestions that would assist adults helping kids prepare an exhibit for a stamp show, with the kids doing what has to be done and knowing the satisfaction of having done it themselves.

Take a junior to a stamp show. Listen to questions the kid has about adult and junior exhibits and talk about them. Ask about his likes and dislikes, and accept them. Let the budding philatelist tell you where he's coming from. Your understanding and interest can be contagious.

Discuss the interesting features of the stamps themselves, the information shown in the captions, the simple aesthetics of an uncrowded arrangement and the evenly spaced areas between stamps on a page.

If the kid doesn't seem interested, move on; maybe to the dealers if it means the junior wants to buy more stamps for his collection. The kid will have picked up more than you think that may show up later The best time to start preparing an exhibit is when you get home from the one you've just seen.

Being a computer freak myself, my suggestion is don't! Do not make, or let the kid make exhibit pages on a computer. Sure, it's easy, fun, and time saving, so why not.

It's a matter of keeping the playing field level; as in fairness or today's buzz word "justice." It isn't fair to the competing kids who don't have access to the technology. Good sportsmanship isn't limited to the athletic fields.

Don't use the commercial decorative album pages. They detract from the stamps in an exhibit and show no preparatory effort on the part of the exhibitor.

A common gripe about education today is "They're not teaching the basics." Here's where mom, dad, or whoever can help.

Show juvenile exhibitors how to use a ruler on blank paper to arrange a balanced array of spaces for the placement of stamps intended for an exhibit. The ruler should be clearly divided into sixteenths between each inch mark. For older junior exhibitors, a ruler with inches on one side and metric on the other can provide even greater accuracy. Incidentally, 1 barely passed arithmetic as a kid, but I learned to use a ruler.

The involved grownup(s) can let the junior watch and share in the creation of a sample page, canceling it with a bright Magic Marker to make sure it remains a sample. Turn the kid loose with the stamps to be displayed, a few light-lead pencils, an Art Gum eraser, the ruler, and paper.

One page at a sitting, depending on the age and attention span of the junior, is probably a realistic goal as far as arranging spacing for stamps is concerned. There will be mistakes. So what. That can even be part of the fun. Paper's cheap and there shouldn't be a time squeeze. I've seen a lot of kids have fun preparing winning exhibits. •

May/June issue No column this issue

July/August issue No column this issue

September issue  No column this issue

October issue No column this issue

November issue No column this issue

December issue No column this issue

Latest update: June 12, 2005 

URL:   http://www.WFSCstamps.org/wfsc_atfp_exhibiting_1999.shtml