Wisconsin Federation of Stamp Clubs (WFSC)
2001 Across the Fence Post Newsletter
 Exhibiting and Judging



          This page includes Exhibiting and Judging columns from the 2001 issues of Across the Fence Post.



January issue

By Art Schmitz. Wauwatosa Philatelic Society

Exhibiting & judging

I know, I know, all kids likely to be entering exhibits at stamp shows big and small have access to computers able to make pages taste-fully done with not a line out of place. I recently spoke, however, with a lady who was bitter about how her computerless protégés got burned as they tried to compete with the kids referred to above.

I believe the problem is not that some kids have computers and others don't, but that it isn't easy to find judges who know both stamps and kids. In the early '50s, while a member of the Eau Claire Stamp Club and running a stamp club at the local YMCA, I encouraged the boys in my group to put on an exhibition. We were extraordinarily fortunate in getting at least one man who was a teacher and Eau Claire club member to assist in the judging. The boys were the rankest amateurs, but they were treated like philatelic royalty and with a genuine respect for the efforts they'd put forth.

What I'm trying to say, I guess, is that exhibiting should be an experience that enhances the interest of the exhibitor (child or adult) in showing what he or she has to offer from the collection that has been assembled. Even little kids know early on that there are going to be winners and losers, and they can accept that if there's an obvious element of respect for the effort that's been made. Many don't like to admit it, but it's true for adults as well.

I'm beginning to wonder if it wouldn't be possible for our clubs to enlist the aid of people who know, love, and respect kids to assist in the judging of youth exhibitors. We old timers could help in the orientation of such people to at least the more important aspects of philately that would have to be in the picture. Teachers are already working with kids during the school day in many places. Church people and those involved in various social services in a community might also be considered as judging resource people.

As a result, there could very well be the beginning of the end of the declining member-ships plaguing many of the clubs in our state and elsewhere as more people in more places come to realize the incredible values inherent in the seemingly foolish pastime of "collecting little pieces of paper" that we call stamp collecting.

Incidentally, I'd like to know what pro-grams you are using to produce pages for exhibiting purposes. I'm getting the itch to try something like that myself one of these days. My e-mail address is: piscine@execpc.com should you care to make any suggestions.


February issue

By Art Schmitz. Wauwatosa Philatelic Society

On a recent visit to a stamp club in my district, the conversation turned to philatelic exhibiting and judging. As the only one there who had judging experience, I was on the spot as the expert who wasn't 500 miles from home. Some of those asking the questions had faced unfortunate results after entering exhibits at their local club show.

One collector, and I know where he's coming from, felt that some judges put too much emphasis on old, and as he put it, often drab material. From personal experience, I have to agree to a point on the competitive advantage some old material gives the exhibitor.

After spending many hours preparing an extensive exhibit of fairly modern British colonies material, I knew when I looked at the rest of the show that I was destined to a lesser award, or none. There were a couple of exhibits that screamed CLASSIC, like the very early issues of Belgium, including Belgium

No. 1. This was at a local show, not an APS-sanctioned national or international event. To my mind, there was nothing drab about the material in those exhibits, even though the colors and designs were more subdued com-pared to the knock-your-eye-out pictorial elements we see today. There was a tremendous combination of extraordinary design, engraving, and printing art, and historical significance in the material shown.

This, I believe, is what often separates the thinking of exhibitors and judges. An exhibitor is usually primarily concerned with the elements of his or her philatelic interest, be that national, colonial, postal history, or thematic. A judge, if he or she is going to be able to do the job, has to be able to take the broader view of all aspects of philately, involving at least a cursory acquaintance with worldwide issues and those predating the adhesive postage stamp. Even then, there are bound to be differences of opinion between exhibitors and judges, and between judges making evaluations at the same show.

There were other interesting questions and comments that have since come up at other clubs I've visited, and they will be mentioned in future writings. Let me know what you think, your questions, or what you want to know. 


March issue

BV Art Schmitz Wauwatosa Philatelic Society

Some years ago, my ego took a hit when a judge critiquing my exhibit of education on stamps pointed out that while I had an attractive exhibit, there was nothing of value or rarity in it. He was half right. The most valuable stamp in the display was Greece, Scott 370, issued in the early 1930s. But, a stamp from Afghanistan, Scott Q10, in that exhibit is almost as rare as the famed British Guiana, Scott 13, although it catalogs at less the $10.

Between that show and the next time I exhibited those stamps, I did some homework. Consulting the American Philatelic Research Library at the American Philatelic Society's headquarters, I learned that the Afghan stamp was printed in 1921 on a demand-only basis; hence its rarity. And, it's almost as ugly as British Guiana. Scott 13. There are fewer of them in existence than the U.S. inverted airmail, Scott C3a.

While it's something of a faux pas to mention the value of a stamp or cover in the write-up of an exhibit, there's nothing wrong with a reference to one's research to explain why an item may be a rarity. Then the judge has something to stash away for the future in evaluating an exhibit.

Too often we construe value and rarity as identical entities. Value essentially is the price others are willing to pay for something - regardless of how many there are available. The condition of a stamp or cover can have an important role in determining value. Rarity is literally how few copies of an issue there actually are, regardless of the value placed on it.

The great philatelic learning experience is eyeballing Scott's or some other catalog to find out if a stamp not pictured in one's album is more valuable than those shown. Perhaps you've learned that most of your collection lists at minimum catalog value. That's not an exercise in futility; it's part of learning to accept the realities of the hobby. It means exhibiting one's stamps for the pleasure of knowing and understanding that although the stamps are of ordinary value, they have an extraordinary place in one's philatelic heart.

As much as I've enjoyed viewing exhibits at international venues, it's the local- and state-level shows that interest me the most. Although it's true that they can be stepping-stones to exhibiting at world-class events, it's like the difference between most professional sports participants and the high school or collegiate players. The lower level events are where participation occurs for the sheer fun of it, rather than for -big bucks or high international prestige.


April issue     

Exhibiting and Judging

BV Art Schmitz Wauwatosa Philatelic Society

Some years ago, my ego took a hit when a judge critiquing my exhibit of education on stamps pointed out that while I had an attractive exhibit, there was nothing of value or rarity in it. He was half right. The most valuable stamp in the display was Greece, Scott 370, issued in the early 1930s. But, a stamp from Afghanistan, Scott Q10, in that exhibit is almost as rare as the famed British Guiana, Scott 13, although it catalogs at less the $10.

Between that show and the next time I exhibited those stamps, I did some homework. Consulting the American Philatelic Research Library at the American Philatelic Society's headquarters, I learned that the Afghan stamp was printed in 1921 on a demand-only basis; hence its rarity. And, it's almost as ugly as British Guiana. Scott 13. There are fewer of them in existence than the U.S. inverted airmail, Scott C3a.

While it's something of a faux pas to mention the value of a stamp or cover in the write-up of an exhibit, there's nothing wrong with a reference to one's research to explain why an item may be a rarity. Then the judge has something to stash away for the future in evaluating an exhibit.

Too often we construe value and rarity as identical entities. Value essentially is the price others are willing to pay for something - regardless of how many there are available. The condition of a stamp or cover can have an important role in determining value. Rarity is literally how few copies of an issue there actually are, regardless of the value placed on it.

The great philatelic learning experience is eyeballing Scott's or some other catalog to find out if a stamp not pictured in one's album is more valuable than those shown. Perhaps you've learned that most of your collection lists at minimum catalog value. That's not an exercise in futility; it's part of learning to accept the realities of the hobby. It means exhibiting one's stamps for the pleasure of knowing and understanding that although the stamps are of ordinary value, they have an extraordinary place in one's philatelic heart.

As much as I've enjoyed viewing exhibits at international venues, it's the local- and state-level shows that interest me the most. Although it's true that they can be stepping-stones to exhibiting at world-class events, it's like the difference between most professional sports participants and the high school or collegiate players. The lower level events are where participation occurs for the sheer fun of it, rather than for -big bucks or high international prestige.


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_2001.shtml