By Jesse Robitaille
The National Postage Stamp and Coin Show recently returned to Mississauga, where its location within the Greater Toronto Area connected dealers to a significant portion of Canada’s philatelic market.
The Sept. 8-9 show was held at the Hilton Mississauga, fewer than 40 kilometres from what was formerly known as “Toronto’s philatelic heart” – Victoria Street and Adelaide Street East – in the city’s Garden District.
“Centred around this corner has been some form of stamp activity for 125 years,” wrote dealer George Wegg in the January/February 1976 issue of The Canadian Philatelist. “During this period, many of Toronto’s most active stamp dealers were located within 100 yards of this corner.”
Fast forward four decades and many of Toronto’s stamp stores have closed shop or moved online, but a large cohort of collectors still remains.
“We’re gaining collectors much faster than we’re unfortunately losing them, and a large part of it is the Toronto market, and this show is a main part of that,” said dealer Les Garvey, owner of Garvey and Sons, who has been to all six shows since Trajan Publishing Corp. acquired the rights to the event from the Canadian Stamp Dealers’ Association in late 2015.
Citing the strength of the Toronto market, Garvey – an Edmonton resident – travels nearly 7,000 kilometres altogether each year to attend both the spring and fall editions of the biannual show.
“The crowds are awesome, and sales are excellent. These are the best two shows of the year,” he said. “We meet new people, and at each show we’ve added new people to our email lists. You have to have new collectors all the time.”
A dealer for 42 years, Garvey said his business’ recent success is partly owed to the popular show, which is a boon to collectors and dealers alike.
“There were some major sales this weekend that moved out a lot of significant items. If it wasn’t for shows like the two put on here, our business would not be doing as well as it is; it’s as simple as that.”
The strength of the Toronto market was echoed in comments by dealer Roy Houtby, owner of Roy’s Stamps and a member of the American Philatelic Society (APS) Dealer Advisory Council.
“It’s a strong show, and the Toronto market is very good. We like to be there a couple times a year, and we’ve done very well there over the years,” said Houtby, who attends upwards of 30 shows annually in both Canada and the U.S., and added the National Postage Stamp and Coin Show “is now one of our top events.”
“It’s well run, and we appreciate the support provided to the dealers. We’ll keep coming back.”
Dealer Nigel Mackey, owner of Mackey Philatelics, also returned to the show for the sixth time this spring.
“I haven’t missed one yet, and I’ve done well. There are big crowds, the people who come spend money, and I’m able to buy other stuff I need.”
In the stamp business for more than 30 years, during which time he has been a fixture on bourses and at flea markets across his home province of Ontario, Mackey highlighted the importance of diversifying “in today’s economy.”
“I’m always looking for different stuff, and this show is a very good opportunity for that. This show has actually gotten better than Unipex,” he said, of the recently defunct coin and stamp show held in Toronto each January from 1999-2018.
“I was able to buy a whole whack of early Canadian banknotes that I need for the Pickering flea market, and on the stamp side, I sold a lot of British Commonwealth.”
STRONG YOUTH PRESENCE
Another dealer who returned for the sixth time this fall is Stephan Bilodeau, owner of Canadian-Stamps.
“It was just like usual for this show – everything went well,” said Bilodeau, who has more than 15 years of experience as a dealer. “I love the place, I love the location, I love my table and I love the accommodations. You name it, this show has it.”
Bilodeau, of Quebec, said he was able to meet with regular customers as well as some new faces, including “more kids than ever this year.”
The strong youth presence was owed to the show’s “Young Collectors” booth and auction organized by Lisa McPherson, national youth co-ordinator of the Royal Canadian Numismatic Association.
With free admission on Sunday, no cost for the youth auction and discounted material at the Young Collectors booth, the show is an affordable avenue into collecting, said McPherson, who’s also the first vice-president of the Ontario Numismatic Association.
“It allows them to start in the hobby. It doesn’t have to be expensive. We have to get the youth because those are our future collectors and dealers; they’re the future of the hobby.”
NEXT YEAR’S SHOWS
The spring 2019 National Postage Stamp and Coin Show will be held on March 23-24 at the same location, the Hilton Mississauga, which is located directly off Highway 401 on Mississauga Road. As always, admission is $3 on Saturday and free on Sunday, and free on-site parking is available to show attendees.
Next year’s fall show will be held Sept. 7-8, 2019.
For more information about the biannual show, which is hosted by Trajan Publishing Corp., owner of Canadian Stamp News and Canadian Coin News, visit stampandcoinshow.com.