Joe Esposito submitted this article about our sister hobby, philately. Thanks. -Editor
The World Stamp Show, held once every ten years in the United States, opened this weekend at the cavernous Jacob K. Javits Convention
Center in New York City. Enthusiasm is high as throngs are expected to purchase, exhibit and discuss stamps over eight days.
Two hundred fifty thousand attendees are anticipated for a convention with a $4.2 million budget. Each day has a theme and seven new
stamps are scheduled for release with ceremonies. In addition to the usual bourse and auctions, there are more than 60 philatelic groups
represented and hundreds of talks and meetings on a wide range of subjects are being given. One particularly popular activity is the
cancelling of “passports” by representatives of more than fifty postal agencies from around the world. Eleven philatelic societies are
holding dinners around New York City.
There are 700 exhibits and, as befitting a global event, these come from 76 countries. Of the many stamp rarities exhibited, the
highlight surely is the legendary British Guiana one-cent magenta, valued at $9.5 million. This stamp, the world's rarest and the only
remaining one of its type, is in private ownership. Although currently on loan to the Smithsonian Institution's National Postal Museum, it
was moved to the show for temporary display.
Another rarity is the most famous American stamp, the 1918 Inverted Jenny air mail, featuring an upside-down, twin-engine biplane. An
example of this popular 27-foot- long, Curtiss JN-4 is actually on display at the Javits Center as well.
The story of the Inverted Jenny is legendary. A pane-- a small sheet-- of one hundred of these error stamps was printed, and the current
value of each of these 24-cent stamps is at least $500,000 and may sell for one million dollars or more.
Colonel E. H. R. Green, the noted numismatist and philatelist, once owned the full sheet. He later divided the stamps, immediately
selling some. Green's agent penciled a number on the back of each stamp, so it has been possible to trace the pedigree of virtually every
one. That ability might appeal to many numismatists. The disposition of these stamps and their odyssey represent an interesting story
The Inverted Jenny exhibited at the show, a near-perfect specimen identified as “the finest example,” will be auctioned on May 31 as
part of the program. There even is a 62-page catalogue devoted solely to this stamp and its lore.
Philatelists, of course, collect stamps by country. But also popular are themes such as animals, ships, maps, historic figures, etc.
There is some interest, too, in collecting stamps with coin themes. This may resonate especially with Baby Boomers, who grew up when hobby
shops as well as Scouting stimulated appeal in both pursuits.
Since the early twentieth century, more than 180 countries have issued stamps featuring coins. There have been seven U.S. stamps with
coins, although one of those was a fantasy. Occasionally, foreign mints release coins with a stamp image. Pobjoy Mint, a private company in
England, has produced a series of coins commemorating the famous Penny Black, Penny Red and Penny Blue stamps of the mid- nineteenth
century; these coins have been released on behalf of the Isle of Man or Ascension Island. The Penny Black, introduced in 1840, is
identified as “the world's first adhesive postage stamp.”
The World Stamp Show, which ends June 4, has a huge New York area engagement. It is the first international stamp show held in Manhattan
since 1956. That event was known as FIPEX 1956 for Fifth International Philatelic Exhibition.
Preparations have already begun for the next World Stamp Show in the United States, scheduled for Boston in 2026. The last was held in
Washington, D.C., in 2006. For more on the current show, see: www.ny2016.org
Wayne Homren, Editor
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