ATA offering two virtual courses next month

The American Topical Association (ATA) will host two virtual courses, one featuring an award-winning thematic exhibitor from Canada, next month.

A three-part course in early May exploring how to make your own album pages will be followed by a six-part course on thematic exhibiting, with one of the later sessions hosted by Toronto’s Jean Wang. Both courses will be held via Zoom.

In 2019, Wang became the first person to win a Grand Award with a thematic exhibit at a national-level exhibition. She continues to update what was a five-frame exhibit, entitled “Blood: A Modern Medicine,” two years ago. It comes after about a decade of thematic collecting, which she began after joining the online Stampboards forum in 2011 and advanced upon joining her local North Toronto Stamp Club (NTSC) in 2013.

This May, she’ll offer her expertise to the ATA alongside four other notable thematic exhibitors, including:

  • ATA President Dawn Hamman, of Venice, Fla.;
  • Philatelic Press owner Martin Kent Miller, of Greer, S.C.;
  • Grand Award-winning exhibitor Phil Stager, of St. Petersburg, Fla.; and
  • American Association of Philatelic Exhibitors (AAPE) past president Pat Walker, also of Florida.

Wang’s five-frame exhibit, ‘Blood: A Modern Medicine’ (earlier iteration shown) was the first thematic exhibit to win a Grand Award at a Canadian national-level show.


Both practical courses are offered as in-depth, skills-focused workshops—a step beyond the many free virtual presentations hosted by clubs around the world since the pandemic began.

The six-part thematic exhibiting course will see speakers giving practical advice on starting an exhibit, writing a story, choosing elements, designing a page, choosing paper and more. Registrants will receive all necessary class materials before the course plus a summary after the course, which is available on May 15 (4 p.m. ET), May 18, May 20 (6 p.m. ET), May 22 and 29 (4 p.m. ET). The cost is $35 for ATA members and $50 for non-members.

Hamman will open the course by offering an “overview of the decisions you need to make in planning, writing your thematic story and acquiring and describing your material,” she said.

Miller, who will lead the second session on designing exhibit pages, owns the Philatelic Press, a creative design and content agency. He will discuss choosing the right paper, page design, “matting” (framing an exhibit element) plus typefaces and sizes.

Stager will lead the third session with a case study using his Grand Award-winning exhibit, “The Wonderful World of Bamboo,” which took home the top honour at the 2017 National Topical Stamp Show, the ATA’s annual convention. A retired philatelic judge and an exhibitor since high school, Stager will show attendees how he planned and completed his bamboo exhibit.

Wang will then lead the fourth session, exploring how to choose a range of philatelic elements for a thematic exhibit. Her session will focus on choosing elements to tell a thematic story through the lens of her blood exhibit and its six-year evolution. She especially enjoys finding “unusual, less common” elements, she told CSN.

Walker will lead the fifth session, looking at how to develop an exhibit synopsis to highlight what an exhibitor has accomplished in their exhibit.

The sixth and final session, scheduled two weeks after the course, will allow registrants to ask questions and share their exhibit-building experiences.


Earlier in May, the ATA will also host a three-part course, “Wondering How to Mount and Display Your Collection? Make Your Own Album Pages!”

The course is available on May 4, May 6 and May 11 (6 p.m. ET) and will focus on digitally designing pages to either print at home or at a printer.

Miller will be joined by ATA First Vice-President Jeff Hayward, a long-time associate director of client support services at New York’s Rockefeller University.

The cost for this course is $25 for ATA members and $40 for non-members.

Registration is now open via

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