By Jesse Robitaille
While the April 4-5 National Postage Stamp & Coin Show was cancelled, organizers with Trajan Media – publisher of CSN and Canadian Coin News – decided to bring the bourse online that weekend.
It would’ve been the ninth National Postage Stamp & Coin Show since Trajan acquired the rights to the National Postage Stamp Show from the Canadian Stamp Dealers Association five years ago.
Instead, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Trajan hosted a virtual show for the first time ever using Facebook, which has nearly 1.7 billion active users. Using Facebook’s Groups feature, Trajan managed a virtual bourse for its spring show dealers, who were invited to post material for sale starting in early April. Only the spring show dealers, about 20 of which participated, were allowed to post material for sale (although the public was encouraged to post wanted requests).
On April 4 at 9 a.m., the bourse “opened” as Trajan allowed the collecting public to enter the group, which is located at facebook.com/groups/virtualNPSCS.
The more than 350 people who joined the group “are future contacts to promote the show and hobby,” said dealer Bill Longley, owner of Waterdown, Ont.’s Longley Auctions.
“Over 300 people joined the group and were able to browse several hundred items posted by dealers. This was all accomplished quickly and from nothing. Very impressive.”
At a time of government-mandated social distancing, the virtual show “allowed collectors to browse inventory in the safety of their home,” said Longley, who added, “Trajan is to be commended for taking this industry initiative during the COVID-19 lockdown.”
“It allowed collectors and dealers to connect and provided a diversion during these quiet times. It ran quite smoothly and I think the largest benefit of these online shows will be to attract collectors outside of established show attendees. It will definitely serve as an important tool in building the future of philately.”
Stamp collectors’ widespread use of the Internet “just goes to show how big a philatelic community is out there that’s not what we would call ‘organized,’” according to David McLaughlin, a director with the Royal Philatelic Society of Canada.
“They’re on the Internet. They’re buying material on eBay and Delcampe and those types of things. There are lots of discussion groups and other groups on the Internet that will only grow as time goes by.”
McLaughlin believes the trend towards digital approaches to philately – like virtual shows and exhibitions – will continue beyond the COVID-19 pandemic.
“That’s not to say that ‘Organized Philately’ as we know it is going to go away, but there’s another aspect to it as well.”