By Jesse Robitaille
Falling only a week after another major philatelic event, the Fall 2019 National Postage Stamp and Coin Show returned to the Greater Toronto Area this September, offering a glimpse into the strength of the national market.
The Sept. 7-8 “National Show” kicked off only six days after this year’s British North America Philatelic Society (BNAPS) convention closed in Canada’s capital region. Despite the tight schedule – and with less than a five-hour drive separating the two regions – both shows were well-attended.
“I had a lot of customers coming in, and I still had a good show even though I had the big BNAPS show last weekend,” said dealer Bill Coates, owner of William Coates Philatelist, who has attended each National Show since it began in 2015.
Formerly organized by the Canadian Stamp Dealers’ Association (CSDA) as the National Postage Stamp Show, it was sold to Trajan Media, rebranded to add numismatics – or the study of currency – and moved to a new venue.
“I love it here: the venue at the Hilton in Mississauga – as opposed to what they called ‘the horse barn’ at the CNE (Canadian National Exhibition) – is just great,” Coates said, of the hotel’s 9,000-square-foot Graydon Hall.
“There’s nothing like this.”
In the stamp business full time since 1997, Coates began attending shows as a dealer in 1984. By the late ’80s, he was a regular on the bourse of the CSDA’s National Postage Stamp Show, which he also had a hand in organizing as a member of that association’s board of directors.
“The difference between those shows and today is everybody is saying, ‘Where are the young collectors?’ They’re out there, but the difference is they don’t come to the shows as much as they used to – they’re going online and buying there.”
Even so, at shows like the one this September, Coates regularly sees collectors who “generally buy online” but still decide to visit a bourse to physically see what the dealers have in stock.
“To me – maybe I’m old-school – I still love coming in, looking at a stamp and actually handling it,” said Coates, who is a long-time member of several philatelic societies, including the Philatelic Specialists Society of Canada, and is a member of the Vincent Graves Greene Philatelic Research Foundation expert committee.
“The problem with being online is there are so many items – especially on eBay – where you go, ‘That’s a forgery.’ But for a lot of people who don’t know stamps all that well, they look at a forgery and it looks good to them – it looks like the picture in the book.”
Although he doesn’t sell any coins, Coates said he enjoys the pairing of philately and numismatics on the bourse of the National Show.
“I love it as a coin and stamp show. I’ve got coins – my dad collected coins – so I know a little bit, and I just love having them here. I always find this show very successful.”
‘CROSS-MARKETING’ COINS & STAMPS
The combination of kindred collectibles offers “a lot of cross-marketing,” said Chris Carmichael, of Smithville, Ont.’s Vance Auctions, which also had a booth on the bourse this September.
“I actually like it,” said Carmichael, of the combined bourse. “It’s better because it brings out a lot of people, and there’s a lot of cross-marketing between people who collect stamps and coins.”
With Vance Auctions hosting seven sales a year, Carmichael and his father Vance typically attend shows to buy material and source consignments for upcoming auctions.
“I use the show as a meeting point,” said the younger Carmichael, who added he met consignors from both Orillia and Whitby – north and east of Toronto, respectively – at the show this fall.
“When they heard I was coming to Mississauga, they decided to meet me there and save the drive down to the Niagara Peninsula, and we were able to pick up some consignments.”
Vance Auctions’ next sale – #340 – will be held Oct. 9.
For some dealers – like Peterborough, Ont.’s Nigel Mackey – the show “caused a lot of work, in terms of restocking my entire inventory.”
“You couldn’t ask for a better show,” said Mackey, who’s also a champion of the combined bourse.
“You get families where one person collects stamps and one person collects coins. The coin collector doesn’t want to go to the stamp show, so the family doesn’t go, and the stamp collector doesn’t want to go to a coin show, so the family doesn’t go. You put the two together, and it increases the draw – more people come, and everybody’s happy. Ultimately, it gives more exposure to both hobbies.”
ON THE HUNT
Collectors, too, enjoyed the bourse this September, when a glut of philatelic material – from single stamps to full sheets, postal history and more – was available for the taking.
Ten-year-old collector Jack Nixon and his grandfather Ted were two such collectors.
The younger Nixon’s exhibit on Canada’s 1950s “Wildlife” stamps won the 2017 Youth Grand Champion of Champions at the American Philatelic Society StampShow, and he’s had more recent success with the 1988-91 medium-value “Mammals” definitives.
“He actually found two full sheets for his medium-value mammals exhibit, and we hadn’t found full sheets up until now,” said Ted Nixon, who’s also the chair and treasurer of the Vincent Graves Greene Philatelic Research Foundation.
“We’re having a great time.”