27th February 2012

Roaring Success

Last week's Stampex exhibition at the Business Design Centre (BDC) in Islington was a busy demonstration of a market in good health.

Last week we commented on the mythical origins of the stamp exhibition. This week, with tongue removed from cheek, we should pay tribute to all the hard work that goes in to the stamp shows that do so much to sustain the hobby. Stampex and other events provide not only a forum for trading but also a visible symbol of the standing of philately to those within and outside our world.

The first London International Bourse was held in June 1928 and helped to inspire the creation of today's Philatelic Traders Society, although the first meeting of the P.T.S. Committee was not held until February 1945, just down the road from us at 112 Strand. 

The first post-war International Exhibition was held in London in 1950 at Grosvenor House and an unfortunate event occurred at the opening ceremony when Madame Magda Lupescu fell down the stairs whilst accompanying her husband, ex King Carol of Romania, a misfortune that helped to push the show into the national news. Sometimes we wonder how many people would have to be thrown down the steps at the BDC before today's national newspapers would show an interest. On slow days we think about this quite a lot.

After the War regular organised bourses were proving highly successful and in 1953 a National Stamp Exhibition was held in Central Hall, Westminster. 'Stampex' was first coined in 1956 and well over 50 years later we are still benefiting from the pulling power of that name.

Few people would once have named the BDC as their favourite venue but it is beginning to feel nowadays like the proverbial 'old shoe'. Graham Childs and his team must be congratulated for their success in providing a show that not only operates efficiently but does so in an atmosphere of warmth and good humour. For those attracted to the hobby, and who may be visiting such an event for the first time, first impressions are crucial and it was gratifying to see so many welcoming smiles as one walked among the stands.

We were particularly pleased with our new Grosvenor 'walk-in' stand that encouraged both existing clients and new contacts to stop in to chat. Due to the absence of a personal photo on file, my standholder's pass bore this year's default photo (see above) and I was concerned at first that this might confuse and perhaps frighten those passing by. On a previous occasion I recall that the photo had been of a friendly meerkat but the organisers had opted this time around for a leopard - presumably a snow leopard, but possibly a normal one suffering a little from feline dandruff.

In any event it proved an apt symbol for a hobby that is growing steadily, any decline in western European countries being more than balanced by increasing numbers of collectors in the countries of the East. 

Beware the tiger economy, embrace the leopard market !