Stamp Exhibitions are an opportunity for a collector to show people what they collect. Most collectors have their stamp collections in albums which they enjoy going through themselves or with a few friends. The next step is to give a talk at your local club which forces you to put your material on pages for display.

We collect stamps because we enjoy the hobby. If we can help others enjoy the hobby by showing them our collections then we have achieved something else. This is one of the reasons we put an entry into exhibitions. Another is it allows us to compare our collections to those of others to see what we are missing in our collection or how we might improve it.

The following is a guide on how to go about completing an exhibit.

Decide which exhibition you want to enter

  • Obtain the prospectus and entry form
  • Study the regulations and rules that will apply.
  • Check the various important dates for the exhibitions (i.e. entry form due date, date exhibit is due, and exhibition dates).

Decide your subject:

  • Look at what you collect and work out what your exhibit subject will be.

Prepare a timetable:

  • Start with the latest date for dispatching your entry and work backwards to today.
  • Be realistic about how much you can achieve each day, week, month.
  • Build flexibility into the dates in case you miss a target date.
  • Make a copy of the timetable and put it on the wall.

Gather your resources:

  • Stamps and other philatelic material – put them in one place so you don’t lose any.
  • Catalogues and reference books
  • A file for your notes and any other information you obtain.
  • Hobby tools – tweezers, pencils, clean rubber, ruler, hinges, mounts, photo corners, perforation gauge, scrap paper, exhibition pages, etc.
  • A box or place to store everything.

Begin planning

  • Sort out your philatelic material and re-think your subject – you may decide to change it
  • Check the exhibition dates and rules and your timetable.
  • Write out your main title and brief explanation and put it in a prominent location.

Place your material on individual pages:

  • Physically do this just laying it on each page.
  • Remember to leave some space for your write up.
  • Don’t worry if you have too much material – worry if you have too little.
  • Try to get a range of material on each page (ie stamps, covers, miniature sheets, booklets, etc).

Look at the individual strength of each page:

  • Does each page have an individual item of interest?
  • Is the important item in the “Golden third” (the central horizontal third) of the page?
  • Does the material fit well into your chosen subject?
  • Will there be too little or too much write up?

Plan the individual frame content:

  • From the individual pages lay out the pages as they will appear in a display frame.
  • Check what the format is for each exhibition you may enter.
  • Be honest – how does it look? Is there a weak page or two. Are some pages overcrowded.
  • Re-think the whole layout of the exhibit – does it flow?
  • Put the material away. Leave it together in groups.

Start work on the individual pages:

  • Work out what you are going to write on your pages.
  • Do a rough plan on draft paper
  • Take note how long it took for you to complete each page. Review your timetable.
  • Check your spelling, grammar and information to ensure they are correct.
  • Now do the final page write up in pencil. Again check your page for mistakes.
  • Put subheadings on each page.
  • Get someone else to check your pages
  • Does it make sense?
  • Write your page up in black pen once all the mistakes are corrected.

Lay out the complete exhibit:

  • Do an honest appraisal – often the first pages you did may need re-doing.
  • Look at the overall frame balance and exhibition balance.
  • Be aware of the “philatelic droop” of a padded out exhibit.
  • Re-do and replace pages as required.
  • Lay it out until you are satisfied.

Do your title/ introduction page:

  • Read through your exhibit and write an introduction.
  • Check back to the explanation you wrote and put in a prominent location. Does it look similar?
  • Check your title. Does it still suit your completed entry?
  • If it doesn’t, change it until you are satisfied.

Get your exhibit checked by another person.

  • Check that the exhibit fulfils the rules of the exhibition.
  • Have someone else check your entry again.
  • Be proud of your work – it took a lot of time and dedication to complete.

Prepare your entry for dispatch:

  • Put your name, address and page number on the back of every page.
  • Contact the exhibition commissioner for your area. They may have more information of assistance.
  • Arrange delivery and collection of your exhibit.
  • Perhaps arrange to attend the exhibition. It will be a great experience.
  • Enjoy your rewards.