‘Overwhelming’ exhibitor interest in 24-day Virtual Canpex show

By Jesse Robitaille

Canada’s first virtual national-level one-frame exhibition opens April 7.

Beginning today, 65 single-frame exhibits will start competing in the National Virtual One-Frame Philatelic Exhibition, which is open through the rest of the month. The virtual exhibition is managed via canpex.ca by the organizers of Canpex, another national-level show held each October in London, Ont. Virtual exhibits achieving a vermeil medal or higher this April will be eligible to compete at CAPEX 22, the world’s first International One-Frame Stamp Championship, slated for June 2022 in Toronto.

“This is a fun challenge,” said dealer John Sheffield, who has served as one of the two Canpex co-chairs since the event launched in 2016. “We took this on primarily at the request of the organizers of CAPEX 22. With all national exhibitions in Canada cancelled during 2020 and more of the same in 2021, there were no opportunities for collectors to qualify their exhibits. And I can tell you there are some really interesting exhibits.”

Applications for this April’s exhibition were open to exhibitors around the globe, and after the prospectus and entry forms were published online in December, all the virtual “frames” sold out in a matter of weeks. The 65 competitive exhibits come from 16 countries and five continents, with 27 exhibits in the postal history class and another 15 in traditional philately. There are also five thematic exhibits; three each in revenue, picture postcards, display and aerophilately; and one youth entry.

Sheffield called it an “overwhelming, positive response.”

“I’m not sure if it is a result of the ‘ease’ of virtual exhibiting – a collector doesn’t have to worry about mailing their exhibit or having to drive it to an exhibition venue – or perhaps it was due to the opportunity to qualify their exhibit for CAPEX 22, or perhaps both. Whatever it is, it bodes well for the future of virtual exhibiting. It’s safe to say, virtual exhibiting is here to stay.”

This April’s National Virtual One-Frame Philatelic Exhibition features 65 competitive single-frame exhibits plus nearly two dozen non-competitive entries.

SUBMISSIONS CLOSED EARLY

As of Feb. 17, almost three weeks before the original March 8 submission deadline, organizers stopped accepting entries in the competitive categories.

Organizers received all 65 single-frame entries before March. All applications submitted after Feb. 17 were placed in a non-competitive category with no judging or entry fees.

“There should be 19 non-competitive exhibits, and they will be on display until the end of April,” said Sheffield. “It really is a shame we had to close entries early. There are disappointed collectors out there, but this is a learning experience for us. We had no idea what to expect going in.”

Unsure of the potential response, Sheffield and several other London-area stamp club members submitted exhibits early “just to be sure we received enough,” he said.

“They have now been moved to the non-competitive area.”

All exhibits will be displayed via canpex.ca from April 6-30, with judging beginning on April 7.

In teasing one of the competitive exhibits, Sheffield said, “If you think the only way to get a rocket into orbit is to blast off from earth, you will find an alternative method in an exhibit at ‘Virtual Canpex.’”

For the competitive exhibition, the five-person jury includes:

  • head judge Jane Sodero, of Halifax, N.S.;
  • Sam Chiu, of Toronto, Ont.;
  • Kathryn Johnson, of Chicago, Ill.;
  • Norma Nielson, of Eugene, Ore.;
  • David Piercey, of Edmonton, Alta.; and
  • Robert Pinet, also of Toronto.

    Dozens of dealers are listed on the Virtual One-Frame National Philatelic Exhibition website.

VIRTUAL DEALER BOURSE

Virtual Canpex visitors will also see participating dealers “in about the same order as if they were walking down the aisles at a conventional Canpex bourse,” Sheffield told CSN.

“Of course, the big difference is there will be no waiting for a chair to open at their favourite dealer booth.”

From canpex.ca, visitors can click the dealer bourse button to see a list of sellers along with their picture, a brief description of what they sell and contact links.

“They can make contact either by visiting the dealer website or through email,” said Sheffield, who added some dealers are providing visitors with special show offers.

CAPEX 22 COMING SOON

Last year, all five of Canada’s national-level exhibitions were cancelled due to COVID-19.

This year, those same annual exhibitions have mostly met the same fate except for one, Canpex, which is still on the docket for October.

Because the ongoing cancellations limit exhibitors’ opportunities to qualify for CAPEX 22, officials with the Royal Philatelic Society of Canada (RPSC) approved the upcoming Virtual Canpex late last year (“Canpex virtual exhibition to fill national show void,” CSN Vol. 45 #19).

CAPEX 22 will feature 400 competitive single-frame exhibits – more all Fédération Internationale de Philatélie (FIP) shows since 2016 combined – plus a philatelic literature class.

In October, the FIP began accepting exhibits awarded a vermeil or higher at national-level virtual exhibitions into its world exhibitions on an experimental basis for 2021-22.

This February, the American Philatelic Society’s Committee on Accreditation of National Exhibitions and Judges (CANEJ), which sanctions World Series of Philately (WSP) shows, also approved virtual exhibition standards for the first time.

The Grand Award winners at approved virtual exhibitions are ineligible for the annual Champion of Champions event. Instead, they will compete at the new Grand Championship Series, which was launched by CANEJ earlier this year for virtual Grand Award winners (separate from the long-running WSP).

While Canpex is a national-level exhibition belonging to the WSP, Virtual Canpex will not take part in the inaugural Grand Championship Series.

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