Toronto’s Sam Chiu wins Pipex Grand

Half a dozen Canadians compete at virtual U.S. show

By Jesse Robitaille

Long-time Toronto exhibitor Sam Chiu took home the Grand Award at Pipex 2021, a U.S. World Series of Philately (WSP) show held virtually this year due to COVID-19.

Chiu’s 10-frame postal history exhibit, “Hankow, China, 1891-1919,” earned 94 points – a large gold – as the exhibition’s best-judged entry. In it, he highlights the postal history of the central Chinese city Hankow, which Chiu called the “second most important city” on the Yangtze River, behind only Shanghai. The material dates as far back as 1891 – considered the city’s postal history beginnings, before which time “close to no items had been recorded,” Chiu said – through the end of the First World War.

“The jury found it to be an outstanding exhibit,” said chief judge Liz Hisey, of Florida, who’s also the chair of the U.S.-based Committee on Accreditation of National Exhibitions and Judges (CANEJ), an America Philatelic Society (APS) affiliate. “There were several candidates for the Grand, but the jury voted for ‘Hankow.’”

Chiu’s Hankow exhibit is the first Grand Award handed out to a WSP-accredited virtual exhibition. Despite being a virtual exhibit, it’s is now invited to compete at the traditional WSP wrap-up event, known as the Champion of Champions competition.

“It was decided that a virtual Grand could compete in a physical Grand championship as long as the exhibit was physically in the frames,” said Hisey, contrasting an earlier CANEJ announcement launching the Grand Championship Series (GCS), a WSP counterpart for Grand Award winners at virtual exhibitions.

While Pipex was originally approved for the GCS, no other virtual exhibitions have yet been added to the series “as most shows are opening up physically, but this could change,” Hisey added.

‘PUSHING OUT THE BOUNDARIES’

Chiu’s recent exhibiting success marks his sixth Grand Award for a multi-frame exhibit and the fourth time one of his new multi-frames won a competitive exhibition’s top honour in its first showing.

“It is a brand new exhibit – I’ve never exhibited this city before,” said Chiu, who nearly missed the March 31 submission deadline – pushed up, unbeknownst to him, from late April.

“Thank God that I am a retired person. I was working like a zombie, spending every day writing up the exhibit from when I got up until I went to bed again.”

While Chiu’s recent multi-frame Grand is just one of half a dozen he’s won since his first in 2001, some special circumstances make it a memorable occasion for him.

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