Once upon a time, in a Council long ago, there were stamp shows galore, and everyone was happy. Collectors had many choices and many opportunities to fulfill their dreams. Eleven local Council stamp shows spread throughout the year, plus the big APS accredited show WESTPEX in April. CNCPS was the envy of collectors all over the country. We drew exhibits from out of state, and in two instances, we attracted international exhibitors.
Council shows SOPEX, NOVAPEX and FRESPEX kicked off the year with WESTPEX wrapping up the spring with a show in April. WESTPEX has been independent of the Council for quite some time; they are mentioned here for completeness. The summer brought us COALPEX and the Reno Stamp and Cover Show. The San Jose club’s Filatelic Fiesta was held sometimes in summer, sometimes in fall.
In the fall, WINEPEX officially started the season, followed closely by three weekends featuring East Bay Collectors Club Show, SUNPEX and SACAPEX.
PENPEX wrapped up the philatelic year for the Council — always with a bang-up show.
From these eleven, now we have six — so what happened?
The Tally of Our Losses
SUNPEX died suddenly when it was difficult to find willing hands to carry it on. Filatelic Fiesta faded in and out during that time, and it is currently “on hold” officially. They, too, have found it difficult to assemble a team to manage the show.
Likewise, COALPEX was hard to carry on without the leadership of Leonard Holmsten. It died for lack of leadership until briefly revived by the support of Jim Dempsey. Along the way, FRESPEX decided to eliminate the exhibition and go with a “bourse only” show.
The latest show to close is NOVAPEX, held in Redding by the Redding Stamp Club. The cause is a lack of dealer support and low attendance to attract dealers. This is very sad because Redding is some distance from Medford (SOPEX) as well as Sacramento (SACAPEX).
COALPEX, SUNPEX, and NOVAPEX remove the entire stamp show experience for collectors in their immediate area. No opportunities to see dealers in person, no opportunities to show off our collections, no live auction (a part of some shows), no gathering of old friends, no souvenirs to collect, no awards, no banquet (some shows) . . .
The show that closed their exhibition but remains on the dealer circuit (FRESPEX) at least provides some opportunities for collectors and dealers to learn from each other and to add to their stock or collections. Filatelic Fiesta is on hold in limbo while they sort out the leadership issues. So from a high of eleven shows, we are down to only 6 — nearly half of the total. It is a tragedy.
No one is to blame. The causes are a combination of factors that are not within our control.
Demographics and the economy have both contributed to the declining numbers of collectors and club members, and the advancing ages of those who are left are just facts of life. The demands of putting on a show take many hands to keep the burden within reason, and most of those who joined clubs in the heyday of collecting during the 1970s and 1980s are now in their 70s (or older). It is physical work to put on an exhibition!
Competing distractions and the demands of work have suppressed the numbers of new collectors, so we cannot replenish our leadership. The other significant force reducing our opportunities is the high cost of venues — or in some cases, the opportunity to find any suitable venue. If the size is right, the cost is enormous.
If the cost is within reason, the size is too small.
We can only charge so much for dealer tables, and the economics just do not add up. Have a look at the President’s Column for more on the subject.
What can We do?
Patronize the shows that are left. Volunteer if the show is in your area. Volunteer for the Council leadership. Participate!!