Canada makes history on philately’s world stage

By Jesse Robitaille

While making philatelic history as the world’s first One-Frame International Stamp Championship, CAPEX 22 reunited collectors from around the world after several years of sometimes-isolating pandemic shutdowns.

Camaraderie remained high throughout the four-day show, which ran from June 9-12 at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre in downtown Toronto. Interests were particularly piqued by the show’s first-of-its-kind format, approved and supported by the international governing body for exhibiting plus its continental counterpart for the Americas. Exhibitors and show-goers came from across Canada – “from Victoria to Yellowknife to St. John’s and many points between,” according to CAPEX 22 chair David McLaughlin – plus from the United States, Mexico, Peru, Brazil, Chile, Argentina, Europe, Asia and Australia.

“First, I hope that members of the philatelic communities in Canada and our international guests take away fond memories of the exhibition and their visit to Toronto,” said McLaughlin, of Pickering, Ont., who led the show’s 15-person organizing committee through more than three years of planning and pandemic uncertainty. “Our challenge was to create an exhibition that was smaller in scope than previous CAPEX exhibitions yet as memorable for both local attendees and for international visitors.”

A relatively new class, one-frame exhibiting has roots in the United States, but Canada was an “early adopter,” McLaughlin said. After collectors in both countries began hosting local and then national one-frame competitions, Canadian and U.S. officials advocated for the class’s approval from the Fédération Internationale de Philatélie (FIP), the Swiss-based organization overseeing international exhibiting.

Approved on an experimental basis in 2001 with the first evaluation guidelines declared a year later, the one-frame class saw its first international competition at the Bangkok 2003 World Philatelic Exhibition in Thailand.

“Now, CAPEX 22 has made international philatelic history being the world’s first One-Frame International Stamp Championship exhibition,” said McLaughlin, who added the competition’s more than 400 one-frame exhibits comprised the largest showing of single frames at any exhibition in philatelic history.

The exhibits, which came from more than 30 countries, competed in 14 different classes and for five Grand Prix awards, including two top literature honours, plus many other special awards from various societies and organizations. For a full exhibition review, see pg. 12, “Two Canadians take home CAPEX Grand Prix awards”).

While only 27 Canadian exhibitors had exhibits qualified for international competition before CAPEX 22, the country’s exhibitors sent more than 100 entries to the show this June – something McLaughlin hopes will bolster exhibiting in Canada.

“I hope that participating in CAPEX 22 or viewing so many varied and excellent exhibits encourages more collectors of all interests and ages to take up exhibiting,” said McLaughlin, who also chairs the international liaison committee of the Royal Philatelic Society of Canada (RPSC), which hosted CAPEX 22.

ONE-FRAME EXHIBITING

“Exhibitors must tell the complete story in 16 pages,” CAPEX 22 jury chair Charles Verge, of Toronto, said at the show’s opening ceremony.

A one-frame exhibit can cover a specific stamp, series, country, era, geographic location, theme or one of many other concepts, but it must narrate its topic’s complete philatelic story.

According to the current FIP judging guidelines, one-frame exhibits must also tell a story that’s appropriate for 16 pages.

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