Welcome to the world of exhibiting!
great that you are thinking about exhibiting your revenue material
competitively – well done! The most important thing to bear in mind before
you start is that exhibiting competitively is not the same as giving
a society display. When you display, you can show whatever you want – there
is no judge but you; whereas when you exhibit competitively, you are
subjecting your work to being judged by others. Competing means aiming to
please the judges, and unfortunately a good display doesn’t necessarily make
for a good competitive exhibit.
Here are some guidelines to help you start creating an
exhibit, but you need to bear in mind that all judging is inevitably
subjective and there are no hard and fast rules to guarantee you a gold
First things first
Here are the
initial questions you will need to decide:
At what level
do you want to compete – national or international?
If you are
reading these guidelines, the answer is probably national. Most philatelic
exhibitions require exhibitors to achieve a certain result at national level
in order to qualify to compete at international.
frames do you wish to show?
level the choice is usually between 1, 3 or 4 frames of 16 sheets each.
Don’t simply work out how many sheets your material will fill, otherwise you
will be tempted to show your entire collection. It is important to be
selective, so the key is to choose the right number of sheets to tell
your story (see under Treatment below).
will you choose to exhibit?
Your ideal exhibit is something you are excited about,
something you can show well, something you have researched, something
competitive exhibits are judged by nationally accredited judges using the
same criteria. Here are the seven headings under which national revenue
exhibits are judged, together with some suggestions as to how to maximise
your score under each heading. The figures in brackets denote the maximum
number of points available for each heading.
Philatelic and related
knowledge (max 25 points) and Personal study and research (max 10 points)
If you are
going to exhibit revenues, you have to know what you are showing. You will
already know what the major catalogues say about your topic. Expand this
knowledge base by finding relevant monographs and journal articles. A
useful resource for finding published research is the Revenue Society’s
Librarian Clive Akerman (who can be telephoned on +44 (0)1594 861593 or
Clive Akerman ). Demonstrate the breadth and
depth of your reading by referring to relevant material in your write-up.
points for personal study, your write-up must contain information
beyond what can be found in major catalogues. If you have not published any
research, it is worth trying to get a piece into The Revenue Journal
in order to support your exhibit. An article need be only half a page long
and does not have to be world-class philatelic journalism. Pretty much
regardless of your field, fruitful areas for research would include (on the
stamp side) changes of watermark, perforation, paper and plate flaws; and
(on the usage side) rates, cancels, earliest and latest recorded dates.
Mention clearly on your title page the name of any article or book you have
published on the area covered by your exhibit. If your exhibit includes
stamps not listed in the catalogue, label them clearly as such since these
also are evidence of personal research.
Treatment (max 20 points)
essentially your ability to tell a story, and is judged on your selection of
material and the sequence in which you show it. Your title page plays a
major part in setting the scene, giving an outline of what you are showing
and why. The title page is submitted to the judges in advance of the
competition, so it needs to capture their interest in your subject and whet
their appetite for the philatelic material you show.
selecting material to include, remember that a revenue exhibit should show
both stamps and usage. Also, it is better to be representative than
comprehensive. For example, it is better to show the 5 key values of a long
set than a complete set of 100 denominations.
out a sequence for your exhibit, the most important consideration is to
allow the judges to see clearly what you have done. A sequence may be
strictly chronological or arranged in sections according to appropriation –
or you might choose to show mint stamps in the first half followed by
documents in the second.
Relative condition (max 10 points) and Rarity (max 15
much to say here – obviously, show rare stamps in excellent condition to win
full marks. It is normal for exhibitors to have to trade off rarity against
condition, and in such cases it is usually better to show a fine incomplete
set than a full set in which the key values are clearly defective. For
exceptional material (eg stamps of which fewer than 10 examples are known),
it can be acceptable to show damaged stamps, but preferably with an
explanation such as “the finest of the four recorded examples”.
Originality and philatelic
importance (max 10 points)
originality points, show material which has not been seen in competitive
exhibits for ten years or more. If you have bought an exhibit from someone
else and added only a small amount of new material to it, you are unlikely
to score highly in this area.
importance can be a highly subjective question, but generally speaking
points are awarded according to how mainstream your subject is within
the world of philately. You will score more for major countries (such as
GB, British Colonies, Western Europe, USA, China, Japan) than for minor
(such as Eastern Europe, Latin America, Middle East, French Colonies), and
more for 19th century material than early 20th, with
the modern period (say post-1960) scoring lowest. Also, judges are likely
to ascribe greater importance to revenue stamps which are clearly official,
well-financed productions (with crafted designs, good-quality printing and
perforation etc) than to those which look like bus tickets.
Presentation, write-up and
arrangement (max 10 points)
that your exhibit is a communication, and as such it has to be
accurate, relevant and clear. Using as few words as possible, link the
elements of your story together, explain anything complicated (especially
relating to rates or usage), and point out rarities and other highlights.
When describing rarity, avoid relative terms such as “scarce” or “rare” –
rather state facts such as “unlisted in the Barefoot catalogue”, “one of 5
recorded [or issued] examples”, “earliest recorded usage”.
are a brilliant calligrapher, your write-up will be typed or
word-processed. The default options are black type on white pages, using a
standard font such as Arial or Times New Roman. These default options can
be varied, but bear in mind that major variations will seem to make a
statement so check that it’s a statement you want to make! For example, a
stylish modern font may be appropriate for an exhibit of modern stamps but
may look incongruous alongside 19th-century material. To keep
your presentation looking consistent, avoid mixing too many different
fonts. Also, it is vital to ensure that the philatelic material is not
overshadowed by the font, the paper, the colour palette or any illustrations
on the page. Finally on fonts, don’t make judges strain their eyes! For
legibility, you should use at least 12pt and preferably 14pt, perhaps
keeping larger type for headings or emphasis.
presenting your material, consider the look of a whole frame at a time. The
sheets in the middle of the frame are naturally the most prominent and need
to contain the best material, even if this means rearranging your sequence
slightly. The bottom row of each frame may be used for the less impressive
rules set a maximum sheet size (usually 29½ x 24½ cm, portrait format),
which is designed to allow four rows of four sheets to fit into the frame.
It is possible to make double-width sheets (29½ x 49 cm), which will allow
you to display very wide documents, but this should only be done if the
importance of the material merits it – otherwise fold your document or find
a smaller one. For a more flexible solution, consider making rows of three
sheets, each 33cm wide – but check first that the rules allow this.
mounting stamps on a page, you might want to consider 12-18 as a working
maximum per sheet. More than 18 will usually look crowded, and implies that
the stamps are rather common. Conversely, highlight the importance of
really rare material by putting just two or three stamps on a page. Think
about ways of setting off your key stamps and documents, such as by adding a
printed frame or by mounting them onto coloured card before affixing them to
guidelines given here are based on the standard terms for national revenue
exhibits at the time of going to press, but rules occasionally change.
There is no substitute for reading – and complying with! – the terms and
conditions of the competition you are entering.
material will need to be submitted up to a month in advance of the
competition, with the application form deadline a few months earlier.
Exhibitors must submit their non-refundable frame fees (application payment)
at the same time as the form.
once you have applied to exhibit, you need to give yourself enough time to
complete your mounting-up before the deadline for material. Organisers
usually do not return frame fees for exhibits which are submitted too late
Where to go for
your current exhibit:
have planned your outline, you may wish to send it for comments (details
Revenue Society members who are experienced exhibitors and judges
to develop as an exhibitor:
carefully the judges’ written comments on your exhibit
Go to the
judging critique to receive detailed comments on your exhibit
learn from others’ mistakes and successes by looking at all exhibits and
If you wish to
submit your outline or plans for comments…
any questions, an outline of your exhibit or a write-up sample to Andrew
McClellan, Secretary, The Revenue Society, 40 South Park, Sevenoaks TN13 1EJ
UK or E:
Andrew McClellan We will respond with comments at
the earliest opportunity, but please allow a month for a reply.