How many is ‘too many’ when it comes to shows?

By Jesse Robitaille

A new philatelic year is underway, and among the many topics of discussion are shows—how many, how often and to what end?

Our latest Canadian Coin & Stamp Show Planner – a 56-page standalone reference – was published recently in CSN Vol. 44 #17. Each year, we compile all of the local, national and major international shows in Canada and abroad, and this year, there’s plenty to be excited about.

At least that’s how it looks judging the numbers, but some hobby organizers are taking a more cautious approach.

In Canada in 2020, there will be at least one stamp show every month of the year. The slowest months – owing to collectors’ summer vacations – are June and July, but winter, spring and fall are exceptionally busy (perhaps too busy for dealers, but more on that later).

The first show of 2020, in fact, came only four days into the year thanks to the Scarborough Stamp Club.

About two months later, Canada’s first national-level show of 2020 comes to Edmonton, where that city’s local club will host its long-running Edmonton Spring National Stamp Show.

It’s one of five Canadian national shows slated for 2020, with others coming to Ottawa in May (Orapex); Fredericton in June (Royal*2020*Royale); Hamilton in July (Postal History Society of Canada Symposium); and London in October (Canpex).

One notable absence from the national scene in 2020 is Novapex, an annual show in Nova Scotia that rotates between regional and national status each year. While Novapex 2020 was slated to be a national show, the local club is instead hosting this year’s BNAPEX, which includes a specialized exhibition (although not at the national level) focusing on British North America.

But this handful of national shows is less of a concern to organizers – and dealers – than the glut of shows held at certain points of the year.

Of the nearly 90 Canadian stamp shows in 2020, for example, 16 will be held in April, the busiest month. While six provinces are covered among those 16 shows, the following month will see another 10 shows, bringing the total to nearly 30 over only eight weeks.

There are another dozen shows in September, too, meaning nearly half of all Canadian shows are held in only three months of the year.

Show organizers are rightly concerned about a potentially oversaturated market that boasts more shows than ever; with the Internet offering collectors an opportunity to grow their collections from home, fewer collectors are required to attend shows.

Dealers, too, are worried about having less time to restock their inventory with the necessary material to do business effectively. While finding fresh material for collectors is always an issue, some dealers are also burdened by the increasing costs of doing business – especially when attending so many shows within a short time.

It’s something to consider as organizing committees return to their post for another year of planning: how does the hobby continue to expand and thrive while balancing the needs of its various stakeholders?

Whether you’re a dealer, collector, exhibitor or show organizer, we’d love to hear your opinion on the matter.

Letters to the editor are gratefully accepted by mailing 459 Prince Charles Dr. S. (Unit 2), Welland, ON L3B 5X1 or visiting

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