World of philately awakens as harbinger ‘National Show’ draws 1,100-plus to Mississauga

By Jesse Robitaille

A sure sign of spring’s arrival, the hobby season began to bloom this March as the biannual National Postage Stamp and Coin Show opened its doors in Mississauga.

On March 23-24, more than 1,100 show-goers, about 50 dealers and dozens of competing exhibitors returned to Hilton Mississauga’s 9,000-square-foot Graydon Hall for what was the largest gathering since the show began in 2016.

“It’s always one of the best spring shows, and it’s a great way to start the season,” said dealer Stephan Bilodeau, owner of Canadian-Stamps, who has attended all seven shows since the first in May 2016, about six months after Trajan Publishing acquired the rights to the former “National Postage Stamp Show” from the Canadian Stamp Dealers’ Association.

“What I noticed this year is there are many, many more people coming out to the show. It’s getting more and more popular, and that’s why so many dealers are coming back year after year.”

Also returning to the two-day show this spring was Kathy Hartley, a librarian with the Harry Sutherland Philatelic Library, which belongs to the Toronto-based Vincent Graves Greene Philatelic Research Foundation.

“It’s nice to have our first big Toronto-area show because we missed Unipex,” said Hartley, of the now-defunct Unipex Coin and Stamp Show, held in Toronto every January from 1999-2018.

“It’s nice to be back with all the dealers in the spring; it’s like spring has sprung in the world of philately.”

The show also served as a way for Hartley and others in “Organized Philately” to rendezvous with collectors.

“Shows like this draw people from all over the place, and over the six years I’ve been at the Greene Foundation, I’ve made these connections with people,” said Hartley, who added shows are a helpful outlet for informing collectors about the library’s acclaimed collection, which holds nearly 7,000 books, 600 journals and thousands of other items.

“A lot of them know I’ll be at these shows, so it’s a great chance to catch up on stuff – and to get overdue library books back from certain people – but also to share information with the judges,” she said, adding accredited exhibit judges often use the library, which has a “really good worldwide collection” in addition to its comprehensive Canadian and British North American material.

“It’s also a great opportunity for the library to get the word out that we are open to the philatelic community and we do have material they can use.”

Erling van Dam, owner of Bridgenorth, Ont.’s E.S.J. van Dam, was one of 50 dealers on the bourse of the two-day show held in Mississauga. Specializing in revenue stamps and related documents, van Dam is displaying a 1931 Supreme Court of Canada ruling affixed with two 1897-dated $5 law stamps.


One of the hundreds of collectors probing the bourse at the show this March was award-winning exhibitor Leon Matthys, who’s also an active member and webmaster of the North Toronto Stamp Club (NTSC).

“I have too many pots on the stove, and I can never develop anything too fast,” said Matthys, who didn’t submit an exhibit for this year’s 76th Annual NTSC Exhibition, which was held in conjunction with the two-day show.

At last spring’s NTSC Exhibition, Matthys earned a Silver medal for an exhibit on the pictorial cancels of Christmas Island, N.S.

In 2017, he took home two Vermeil medals for a pair of exhibits on the local stamps of Kaulbach Island, N.S., and the mail of Port Hastings, N.S.

That year at Canpex, another one of Matthys’ exhibits, this on the 1917 Halifax Explosion, earned a Gold medal as well as the British North America Philatelic Society’s Best Researched BNA Exhibit Award.

“I’ve found a few things for next year or the year after,” said Matthys, about his luck on the bourse this spring. “I have a lot of pots on the go, but they’re never ready unless I focus on one and bring it up to exhibit-worthiness.”

One of the highlights of his time on the bourse was finding Canada Post’s 2013 Rush stamps featuring the iconic Canadian rock band.

“I like Geddy Lee, and I bought a bunch of Rush postcards, but I was on a hunt to find Rush postage stamps, which I’ve now found,” said Matthys, who has attended each of the seven shows hosted by Trajan since 2016.

“I probably need one or two more, but I cleaned out one of the vendors here yesterday. That was one of my projects – to finish getting the stamps to send off the postcards to friends of mine – and it’s a maximaphily project or a music project, depending on how you see it. It was great to get that project off the ground.”


The show also boasted a free ‘Young Collectors’ auction that brought out nearly 40 budding collectors.

As mentioned, the NTSC held its 76th annual exhibition during the show with nearly 60 frames of exhibits, including nearly 40 competitive frames.

“As one of the organizers, we were very pleased by the range of exhibits this year in terms of the classes as well as the interesting approaches to more traditional subjects,” said NTSC Exhibition co-chair John Wilson, who added no exhibitors earned less than a Silver medal.

“We have discovered good quality in new exhibitors, and we were very pleased with the quality of the exhibits.”

More than a third of the 23 competitive exhibits – a total of nine entries – earned a Large Vermeil medal or higher.

The next National Postage Stamp and Coin Show will be held Sept. 7-8.


Two well-attended philatelic seminars were also held on March 24, when various members of the NTSC explored different aspects of collecting and exhibiting.

Led by Wilson and fellow NTSC member and award-winning exhibitor Derwin Mak, the first seminar highlighted single-page exhibiting with a focus on telling a story using three philatelic elements.

Later that day, Mak also discussed thematic collecting and exhibiting with the U.S. Postal Service’s Batman and Wonder Woman stamps.

One of two exhibits submitted by Mak, a two-frame thematic entry entitled “Wonder Woman” earned a Large Vermeil as well as the Stu Sheppard Award for Most Creative Exhibit.

A full review of these seminars will be published in a future issue of CSN.


For more information about the biannual show, visit

As part of the show’s family-friendly mandate, organizers once again hosted a free “Young Collectors” auction with 35 lots of philatelic and numismatic material for children aged 17 and under.

A total of $1,000 in play money was provided to all bidders, so there was no cost to the nearly 40 young participants. Most importantly, they were all able to take home some material for their budding collections thanks to donations from dealers and supporting organizations.

“Our next auction is in Kingston in three weeks,” said auctioneer Robb McPherson, who’s also the treasurer and past president of the Ontario Numismatic Association (ONA), about the 2019 ONA Convention on April 12-14.

A full review of the “Young Collectors” auction will be published in a future issue of CSN.


The Fall 2019 National Postage Stamp and Coin Show will be held Sept. 7-8 at the same location, the Hilton Mississauga, which is located directly off Highway 401 on Mississauga Road.

As always, admission is $3 on Saturday and free on Sunday, and free on-site parking is available to show attendees.

For more information about the biannual show, hosted by Trajan Publishing Corp., publisher of Canadian Stamp News and Canadian Coin News, visit

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