Virtual show opens new doors for hobby

By Jesse Robitaille

Despite the necessary cancellation of our spring National Postage Stamp & Coin Show on April 4-5, Trajan Media hosted its first-ever virtual show that weekend as a preliminary effort to keep people connected.

While the decision to cancel was tough yet unavoidable, admittedly, I’m thankful we did (and for several reasons, not the least of which are health-related). But aside from doing our part to stem the tide of a rising pandemic, I’m glad we – the Trajan team, our show dealers and the collecting public at large – were all pushed to play a part in something new and exciting.

Sometimes you need a push, and although I wish it could’ve been under better circumstances, I’m pleased as punch with the results of our virtual show—something that can only be described as the future of philately.

We cancelled our show in mid-March before tossing around the idea of a virtual show; however, it wasn’t until the final week of that month that we began laying down the digital infrastructure of what would become a two-day bourse through Facebook Groups.

Partly an experiment to explore what’s possible, this first virtual show was mainly an effort to quickly connect dealers, who are taking a big financial hit because of the widespread show cancellations, and collectors, who are suffering socially like everyone else at this time.

We put a call out to our 50 spring show dealers to participate, and nearly 20 signed up (with about a dozen actively posting material for sale throughout the weekend). Altogether, about 300 stamps, covers, coins, banknotes and more were posted – complete with high-resolution images and descriptions – for sale or discussion.

Collectors came in even larger numbers, with more than 300 registering to join the group at facebook.com/groups/virtualNPSCS.

While nothing can replace the face-to-face camaraderie of a physical show, platforms like Facebook can help us get through these trying times together – until we can all get back to a real bourse floor someday soon.

But even when the crisis recedes, we shouldn’t let these digital shows – and exhibitions, seminars and meetings – fall by the wayside. We’re sitting at the crest of a technological tsunami, which we, as champions of philately, must embrace if we want to see our hobby thrive into the future.

As I said in my previous column, now’s the time to embrace the Internet, which is the most crucial tool to help us carry on as best we can over the following weeks and months. Let’s not waste this opportunity to learn, adapt and innovate.

We at CSN, while continuing to publish our biweekly print edition, are hard at work finding new ways for everyone to share their hobbies—including bringing more aspects of physical shows into the virtual realm.

If you have any suggestions for our next virtual event, please contact me at reporter@trajan.ca.

Lastly, thank you once again for your continued support and efforts as we all transition into a vastly different world. The entire team here at CSN is grateful to be able to continue sharing philately with like-minded people from across this great country and abroad.

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