This page includes Exhibiting and Judging columns from the 2005 issues of Across the Fence Post.
January issue No column this issue
February issue No column this issue
March issue No column this issue
April issue No column this issue
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
EXHIBITING AND JUDGING
By: Art Schmitz
Too often exhibitors and judges of stamp shows are in an adversarial position. It doesnít have to be that way. Having been on both sides of that philatelic fence, I feel it can be harmlessly straddled.
The key ingredient for both exhibitors and judges is an in-depth knowledge of philately. There are, besides the time required to attain it, several ways of getting that knowledge.
The first one is building a general stamp collection. As a kid, my focus was to get at least one stamp from each country listed in my thin paper album. Intrigued by the need to puzzle out where some stamps, printed in the language of the issuing entity came from, I got a great foundation of postage stamp identification, and a broad exposure to many facets of the hobby.
The second and downright basic tool is to study the catalogs; Scott, Minkus, etc. That doesnít mean learning each and every detail for every stamp listed.
It means getting to know the general differences between the low and high values of a country, something of its history, a basic knowledge of the money values assigned to perf, paper, watermarks, colors, and other varieties of the stamps issued.
Catalog study is also an effective means of learning what, and often why, rarities exist. This is important knowledge for a judge to possess.
The third tool is exhibiting, and this is why our Wisconsin Federation of Stamp Clubs, the American Philatelic Society, and other philatelic organizations require judges to have exhibited and won awards at stamp shows before being certified as judges. The problem here is that a judge can become certified on the basis of a narrow specialty precluding the wide range needed for optimum evaluation of exhibits far beyond that area of specialization. This is also why there is usually more than one judge involved in the jury of a stamp exhibition.
The fourth, and too often neglected experience, is attending stamp shows and spending as much or more time viewing the exhibits as picking up desired material from the dealers. When and wherever possible, check out not only the local stamp show in your area, but go to some of the larger national and international events within the constraints of time and money.
For exhibitors, thereís no more effective way of learning how award winning exhibits have been created to receive the ribbons of their class. Besides that, there are times when seeing unfamiliar stamps and other postal material offers a mind boggling sense of wonderment.
Conversely, some judges would do well to do the same with regional and local shows to increase their awareness of the distinctions that needs must exist between a devoted collector/exhibitor in Podunk Junction and a well heeled exhibitor from Silicon City.
Weíre extremely fortunate in Wisconsin to have events like Milcopex and WISCOPEX and for many, close enough to benefit from attending Compex and similar exhibits in the Chicago area.
A journey without an end is almost impossible to imagine. Itís the end result to which both exhibitors and judges look.
That result isnít as much in the awards given at the Award Dinner as it is in a meaningful critique between the judges and the exhibitors; preferably as soon after the judging is completed as possible. Itís an event to which Iíve always looked forward, from both ends of the line.
This is often where the exhibitor who may have won nothing at all, gets a dynamic insight into what frequently becomes an award winning item at the next show. Itís not always easy for a judge, who with the rest of the jury has struggled in conscientious pain, to come up with a fair appraisal of the material displayed.
So, it isnít too surprising that the comments of a sore loser often leave something to be desired for the ears of the judges. What is not always realized, is the amount of time and energy, to the neglect of possibly more important home issues that the ego wounded exhibitor has endured just to create an exhibit.
This is where an empathetic judge can provide a huge asset to the hobby by responding with a non-critical or non-defensive reaction to the exhibitor who may or may not be justified in feeling wronged.
While the decisions of the Jury must remain final, an open minded reception of exhibitor opinions can be helpful in easing the non-winners feelings, and understanding the exhibitors situation for future events.
December issue No column this issue
Latest update: November 29, 2005