Canpex Grand winner offers ‘very aesthetic experience’

By Jesse Robitaille

Ontario philatelist Stuart Reddington took home the Grand Award at Canpex for his eight-frame exhibit on Canada’s Small Queen stamps, the country’s longest-running series, which spanned more than 25 years in the late 1800s.

The exhibit, entitled “Canada Small Queens, 1870-1897,” earned 97 points to top the field of 30 competitive exhibits at the Oct. 15-16 national-level show in London, Ont. It also earned the Royal Philatelic Society of Canada (RPSC) Excellence Award for material – one of five aspects recognized by the national society – plus the Best BNA (British North America) Exhibit honour from the British North America Philatelic Society (BNAPS).

“What was striking about his exhibit was the intelligence of its construction,” said jury chair John Wilson, a Toronto-based national-level judge. “It has a lot of very good pieces, it shows usages after every value, which is an interesting way to do this … and it was very well shaped and very pleasantly mounted. It was a very aesthetic experience to look at that exhibit.”

Exhibitors must balance their exhibit’s philatelic elements with negative space (sometimes called white space), which, when properly used, adds to the overall design.

“There is a tension between having your material set off well within the page and making sure you’re not wasting space,” said Wilson, who served on the jury of four other national- and international-level exhibitions this year. “This exhibit achieves an airiness while it’s still concentrated, and it’s very nicely done. You have to avoid duplication, and on the whole, Stuart did so very well with every piece chosen to exemplify a particular facet of the issue.”

Reddington, a senior lawyer from Mississauga, also saw his Small Queen exhibit earn a large vermeil with 87 points at the international exhibition Helvetia this spring in Switzerland.

The Reserve Grand Award went to Toronto exhibitor Sam Chiu, whose 10-frame postal history exhibit, “Hankow, China 1891-1919,” earned 96 points. The exhibit also won the American Philatelic Society’s Research Award Medal plus its Postal History Medal.

“This is very much the research exhibit on a field that he has pioneered,” Wilson said of Chiu’s Hankow exhibit.

Chiu first showed this exhibit at Pipex 2021 – a U.S. World Series of Philately (WSP) show held in a virtual format last year due to COVID-19 – where it won the Grand Award. It explores the postal history of the central Chinese city Hankow, which he called the “second most important city,” behind only Shanghai, on the Yangtze River. The material dates back to 1891, considered the city’s postal history beginnings, before which time “close to no items had been recorded,” Chiu added.

“This is a very, very important exhibit of a main centre for Chinese mails, and he takes it up to a few years after the republican revolution in China. It’s complete and quantified to a very high degree,” said Wilson. “He has exceptional information with quantified usages and their rarity, earliest dates, number of known covers – he’s microscopic in his coverage, especially in the early years. It’s very dense so a little harder to read, but boy is it highly educational.”

Rounding out the top honours, the Single-Frame Grand Award went to  …

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