By Mike Walsh
Impressive, amazing and wow!
These are just a few of the words that hit me during my first few hours of being among the thousands of collectors and dealers gathered for the World Stamp Show at the Javits Center, located near New York City’s Times Square.
Attending my first World Stamp Show, I was quickly drawn to the massive layout of exhibits. I have never seen such a large number of exhibits and frames under one roof.
In fact, Thomas Fortunato, chairman of marketing and public relations, shared with me that the World Stamp Show hosted 706 competitive exhibits, representing 4,146 frames. The most common theme was postal history, representing 29.2 per cent of the exhibits; followed by traditional with 22.4 per cent; and – a distant third – one-frame exhibits with 11.9 per cent of the total competitive exhibits.
Now, that’s an exhibition of worldly proportions.
Just as impressive was the Canadian presence.
Within minutes of arriving at the convention centre, my wife Karen and I ran into fellow Canadian Ingo Nessel, who is very active in our Canadian philatelic community, including serving as the president of the Philatelic Specialists Society of Canada (PSSC). He told us how impressed he was with the turnout of collectors and the extraordinary array of exhibits.
In fact, he quipped jokingly, his wallet was “lighter,” but his briefcase was “heavier.”
Nessel was among a very strong Canadian presence at this year’s World Stamp Show.
Several Canadian philatelists gave presentations throughout the week; there were five Canadian dealers with booths at the show; and an army of volunteers was manning a booth on the convention floor, representing The Royal Philatelic Society of Canada (RPSC), the British North America Philatelic Society and the Postal History Society of Canada.
The Canadian dealers who set up shop at the eight-day show included Vance and Chris Carmichael, of Vance Auctions in Smithville, Ont.; Roy and Linda Houtby, of Roy’s Stamps in St. Catharines, Ont.; Maxime Herold, of Brampton-based Canada Stamp Finder; Gary Lyon and his team from Gary L. Lyon (Philatelist) Ltd. in Bathurst, N.B.; and Robert Graham of Edmonton-based Royal William Stamps Ltd. I even came across John Jamieson, of Saskatoon Stamp Centre, Chris Green, of Chris Green Stamps in Ottawa, and Montreal dealers Robert Cooperman of City Stamp Montreal, Angelo and Helen Komatsoulis of H.P.K. Stamps and Isidore Baum of Judaica Sales scouting the dealer bourse.
Of course, Canada Post also had a strong presence, located near the massive display by the United States Postal Service. The Canada Post booth was impressive, with the display focused on its recently released, and popular, Star Trek series.
In speaking with the Canadian dealers, sales at the show were robust.
“It’s been tremendous for us,” said Vance Carmichael. “We have seen collectors and dealers here from all over the world. It will help rejuvenate the hobby.
“The first two days is the busiest I have seen at any stamp show ever,” Carmichael added, recalling the “mob” of collectors entering the large convention centre when the show’s entry gates first opened on Saturday, May 28.
Gary Lyon, a veteran of world stamp shows, said New York is an ideal location for such an event.
“The fact it is in New York gives the show a bit of a different personality than the last few shows I have done in Washington, Chicago and San Francisco and so on over the years,” he said. “I think it’s important to have a show in New York once in a while. I believe New York is the centre of the stamp period of the USA. There have always been major auction houses here.”
Lyon also commented on the strong Canadian presence at the New York show.
“There are many people here from all over the U.S., but as well there are many, many Canadians,” Lyon said. “There have been literally dozens of serious Canadian collectors here.”
While Herold is no stranger to world stamp shows, New York was the first for representing her own company, Canada Stamp Finder.
“I have been to a few other world stamp shows with other dealers, but this is my first one on my own. It’s been delightful,” Herold said, adding sales were “excellent” as the show attracts “serious buyers” and “serious material.”
While Maxime Herold had a lot of Canadians stop by her booth, she also pointed out she heard from other dealers of numerous collectors “asking for Canada” materials.
John Wilson, president of the North Toronto Stamp Club, had been at the show since opening day.
“It’s a fantastic show,” he said. “The competitive exhibits are absolutely overwhelming. The Court of Honor is not bad either, and the dealers are packed with customers.”
Wilson was also ecstatic with the Canadian presence.
“There is quite a crowd,” he said. “Canada is well represented.”
In fact, on the afternoon of May 31, the Vincent Graves Greene Philatelic Research Foundation and the PSSC hosted a two-hour “meet-and-greet” in one of the meeting rooms, which drew a near-capacity crowd of Canadian collectors.
“This show is the granddaddy of stamp shows,” said George Pepall, president of the RPSC. He said the feedback he received from other Canadians attending the show was “positive” and “impressed.”
“Everybody, of course, in the back of their mind is also aware of the costs for them to get here, and to be staying in a half-decent hotel, and for food and drink,” he added. “It’s more expensive here than anywhere else on this side of the Atlantic, so they come with some reservation but people are coming here finding new interests. They are picking up new approaches to old exhibits in the way they look at exhibits that are successful.
“Another interesting thing is coming within a few blocks to this centre you can sense if the people behind you or beside you are stamp collectors. Each day I have come in, I have come in talking with a brand new acquaintance. I met a gentleman from Minnesota today and as soon as he heard I was from Canada he started to make great comments about Canada,” Pepall added.
“There is a real camaraderie at this show.”
For more coverage on the World Stamp Show, check out pages 10-11.