Editor’s Note: For some time exhibitions have struggled to fill frames. What is a “PEX” without exhibits? Larry presents an intriguing idea, hopefully, beta tested at SOPEX in June.
Exhibits, which do not compete for the high ribbons but which emphasize the excitement and variety of stamp collecting, do not belong in competitive exhibitions where they are now placed. They are fun exhibits. These are the very exhibits which have the best chance of attracting new collectors. How do we get them in the view of the general public?
Currently, they are grouped with all exhibits and usually receive the lower level ribbons. In our bigger-is-better world, this means they are tolerated but to some extent looked down on.
Sometimes they might be entered as noncompetitive.
Yet, this may result in those who go by them to skip to the real stuff. The Apfelbaum company used to offer an award for the best exhibit on printed album pages. It is no more. Too bad because this is the way most of us started stamp collecting — with an album and by filling spaces. I’ll bet most of us still do that, maybe with pages and spaces that we ourselves have customized, with at least one country or topic we collect. These collections are also fun exhibits although we hardly see them shown anymore.
There needs to be a change because, I believe, these are what more closely reflect what the majority of collectors collect. Albums and space-filling were successful approaches. They formed the core of the hobby and gave rise to big stamp collecting businesses: Scott, Stanley Gibbons, Minkus and Apfelbaum to list just four. Three of these companies published catalogs to expand the coverage of their album pages. I suggest we recognize this historical approach and blend it with what happens on social media now to create a new approach to fun exhibits.
First, let each fun exhibit start with a preprinted page with a special ribbon (I suggest orange) and the name and year of the show. Most of the page would be blank. For uniformity, we could have those available at the show for those who want to adopt this idea. The quick impression would be that the exhibit has been awarded an orange ribbon. Competitive exhibits would not have this page. This would create a non-competitive category which would be 15 pages for a one-frame exhibit, 31 for a two, etc.
These exhibits would receive no other award except maybe the popular choice if the show has one. They would not be judged by the judges, but I’ll bet they would be looked at even
by the judges.
Then, let each show attendee be given two or three orange stick-on circles. They would be asked to use them, if they wanted, as “likes” placed on the orange first page. At the end of the show, this page with its “likes” would be given to the exhibitor.
This approach would be interactive. All could involve themselves with these exhibits. I predict that viewers, they and the exhibitors, would return to the exhibit later in the show to see how many more “likes” the exhibits have obtained.
Maybe, as I saw last year at the NORDIA stamp show in Iceland, there would be a set time when exhibitors would be at the frames and answer questions about their exhibit. It would be a show and tell. I enjoyed it in Iceland and spent a couple of hours enjoying the exhibits in a way I had not before.
This new approach would be for local/ regional shows such as the half a dozen within the Council area. It should, I hope, encourage more collectors to exhibit because it gives them positive feedback, “likes.” It could attract more people to the hobby. It would encourage communication between collectors and the general public as well as among collectors. It would set fun exhibits apart and get them in the view of the general public.
Let me end by naming exhibitors in the Council area who have fun preparing and showing fun exhibits. They are not the only ones but they are back year after year. Kudos to Nadiah
Beekum (Nevada Stamp Society), Dennis Hassler (Redwood Empire), Sherry Bradley (Sacramento), Miriam Thurston (Sequoia), Nancy Swan (Southern Oregon), and many others that support their nearby exhibitions with exhibits that inspire.
We hope that you will also participate if you have the opportunity! Perhaps SOPEX?