First Great American Stamp Show cancelled as APS resumes ‘modified operations’

Despite parts of the United States easing restrictions earlier this month, officials with the American Philatelic Society (APS) have announced the cancellation of the first Great American Stamp Show (GASS).

With three convening societies, including the APS, American Topical Association (ATA) and American First Day Cover Society (AFDCS), the GASS was originally scheduled for Aug. 20-23 in Hartford, Conn. It was slated to be the largest annual stamp show in the United States. Based on recent updates from the State of Connecticut, however, officials decided the show would “either be cancelled due to its size or require aggressive mitigation as an indoor activity,” the APS said in a statement on May 22.

“Thank you to the dealers and members committed to supporting our show. The strength of our hobby is the people in it and that’s not worth risking,” said APS Executive Director Scott English. “Though the pandemic is changing our community, it will never weaken it.”

The APS board of directors has approved the cancellation and designated Hartford as the host city for the 2024 GASS.

It’s only the second time the APS has cancelled its annual convention since 1886. The first cancellation – during the height of the Second World War – was in 1943.

“Some things are more important than philately, such as our community’s health and safety,” said AFDCS President Lloyd de Vries.

APS officials are also exploring virtual alternatives, including a virtual dealer bourse, for the planned show dates in August 2020. The ATA and AFDCS “support this plan and will work closely with the APS on planning and execution,” the APS said in its recent statement.

“I am proud of the APS team for how we’ve responded to this crisis,” English added. “We will rise to this challenge and be stronger for it.”

The APS will provide updates on the progress of the virtual GASS as the planning continues.

“Although we will miss seeing our stamp collecting friends, we know this is the best thing to do. There will be shows again in the future,” said ATA President Dawn Hamman.

Similar to what’s happening in Canadian provinces and territories, Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont is working with state officials to implement a four-phase plan to restart his state’s economy. His most recent order to lift the stay-at-home restrictions ended on May 20, when certain sectors, including outdoor dining, offices, retail and malls, museums and zoos, university research and outdoor recreation businesses, began reopening.

As of May 25, Connecticut has reported 40,468 cases of COVID-19.

‘MODIFIED OPERATIONS’

On May 11, the American Philatelic Center (APC) in Bellefonte, Pa. – home to the APS and American Philatelic Research Library – reopened for what the society is calling “modified operations.”

The APC closed on March 22, about a week after the World Health Organization declared the novel coronavirus outbreak a pandemic. Employees have been working remotely during the closure.

While some employees are now set to return to the APC, it will remain closed to members and visitors until at least June 1 (although that date could be extended).

For more information about the APS, visit stamps.org.

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