Notes on U.S. Stamps by John M. Hotchner
As of this writing, I am in Indonesia serving on the 47-person jury judging nearly 400 competitive exhibits at the 2022 Indonesia World Stamp Championship, that country’s once-every-10-year international stamp exhibition. .
As the logo text in Figure 1 shows, the expo was held from August 4 to 9 in Jakarta. Despite being halfway around the world (11 hours jet lag) from my home, a day off before work started was enough to overcome the jet lag.
To give you an idea of the proportions, this exhibition is on the same scale as the most recent international exhibition in the United States, World Stamp Show-NY 2016 and the upcoming Boston World’s Fair 2026.
Figure 2 shows all the members of the Indonesia 2022 jury. My mission for this show was to be part of the panel of experts. It was led by Dila Eaton from Paraguay as team leader and consisted of myself, Ari Muhonen from Finland and Sansern Nilrat from Thailand.
Normally, I would judge executives as part of a team of Postal History, Traditional Class or Income judges, or as a Literature judge. But for some mysterious reason, I was assigned to the expert group here – a first for me.
This being a continuing column on expertise, I thought you would like to know how such a mission unfolds internationally.
First, let me say that there is no parallel to exhibiting nationally in the United States. Our national judges can certainly question the elements contained in an exhibition, but there is no formal process for dealing with such question marks from one exhibition to another.
This is not the only difference between our national system and the international system. In the United States, five judges (sometimes with an apprentice) are generally expected to judge each competing show, normally a total of 30–50 shows at one of approximately 30 national shows each year.
The international system is managed and regulated by the Fédération Internationale de Philatélie (FIP is the acronym reflecting the French version of the name, Fédération Internationale de Philatélie). The FIP was founded in 1926. Today it is made up of more than 90 national federations and three continental federations (Europe, Americas and Asia).
The FIP is the central authority of the international philatelic fair system, establishing the rules and guidelines which must be adhered to by national organizing committees in order for their fairs to be recognised.
The rules cover, among other things, the responsibilities of National Organizing Committees and how FIP will work with them, the accreditation of international jurors and the progression of the judging process, and the basic qualifications that a show must meet. to be presented at an FIF Exhibition.
The FIP also specifies judging criteria, how judges are selected for each show, and the establishment of central FIP records. A major goal is to promote show excellence and consistency of judging from show to show.
Like any central authority, the FIP has its detractors. I would go so far as to say that it is not perfect, but the system is practical, it is above all efficient and it works. In addition, its management is aware of the need to constantly review its rules and operations to keep them relevant.
Expert panels are one of the outcomes of these reviews. They were tested and found useful in the 1990s. Such a team is now an integral part of every FIP show. Its goal is to have a team of judges on each show who can — for lack of a better description — assess themselves on the fly.
Since international shows have hundreds of exhibitors and thousands of executives, juries are made up of category specialists with specific FIP accreditation and, often, established geographic expertise. I was first accredited in 1979 to judge the traditional and postal history exhibits of the Americas. I have since added income and literature and functioned as a judging team leader in those categories.
I was surprised to be chosen for the panel, but was curious to see how it would work. Let me walk you through the process from the day the show opens to the point where all the judging work is done, normally on day three.
On the first day, we received documents on 40 articles in 14 of the exhibitions of Indonesia 2022. The juries of the previous fairs had questioned these articles, …
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