World one-frame exhibiting marks 20 years in 2023

By Jesse Robitaille

This is the first story in a two-part series on the recent advancements in philatelic exhibiting.

After gaining prominence over the past two decades, one-frame exhibiting has enjoyed its brightest year in the limelight thanks in large part to an unprecedented international competition held in Toronto this June.

At CAPEX 22, as well as at other international, national, regional and local shows worldwide, exhibitors took the one-frame format to new heights in 2022. Marks its 20th competition anniversary in 2023, the format reached a high point in Toronto with the world’s first international one-frame exhibition, which drew 400 single frames across 14 classes and from more than 30 countries.

Growing from its roots in the United States, one-frame exhibiting earned an “early adopter” in Canada, according to David McLaughlin, the chair of the Royal Philatelic Society of Canada (RPSC) international liaison committee. Organizers in both countries hosted the first local and then national one-frame competitions before advocating for the format’s approval from the Fédération Internationale de Philatélie (FIP), which sponsors international exhibitions as the hobby’s global governing body.

The FIP approved one-frame exhibits as an experimental class in 2001. A year later, officials unveiled the first guidelines for one-frame exhibits – since updated several times, most recently in August – and the inaugural FIP-approved one-frame competition took place at Bangkok 2003 in Thailand.

Even in those early days, it was clear “the times have changed,” long-time philatelic author, exhibitor and international judge Charles Verge wrote in 2008. In its first half a decade of active participation, the one-frame format had already “proven itself not as a weak feature of the hobby but an innovative one that is here to stay,” added Verge, who became Canada’s eighth Roll of Distinguished Philatelists (RDP) signatory in February.

The adoption of the one-frame format had two main purposes, according to then FIP Vice-President Jussi Tuori, another RDP signatory from Finland. Officials hoped to provide an opportunity for exhibits on “narrow” themes while encouraging new exhibitors with an “easy way to start their exhibiting career” at the local, regional or national levels.


In regards to CAPEX 22’s role in boosting one-frame exhibiting in Canada, “time will tell,” McLaughlin said.

CAPEX 22 drew 101 one-frame entries from Canadian exhibitors, topping organizers’ target of 100 by one exhibit.

“Canpex stepped up in the spring of 2021 and ran a national-level one-frame virtual show, through which Canadian exhibitors and foreign exhibitors were able to qualify,” said McLaughlin, who became involved in international exhibiting in 2015. “In the fall of 2021, the RPSC held the ‘Virtual Royal’ – again with Canpex as partners – which provided an opportunity for additional one-frame exhibits to qualify.”

In the last three FIP exhibitions of 2022, Canadian exhibitors sent 19 one-frame exhibits, more than triple the amount entered at the three FIP exhibitions held in 2018-19, before the COVID-19 pandemic put a pause on international shows.

“I am also pleased to see more Canadian exhibitors participating in international exhibitions for the first time in 2022 than we have had in years past,” said McLaughlin.

Overall, the 400 single frames at CAPEX 22 exceeded the number of one-frame exhibits shown at all FIP shows since 2016.

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