The Philatelist Guide to Stamp Shows
This guide will help you reap the best experience from your very first stamp show. A basic stamp show will contain a variety of vendors selling stamps, albums, covers, tongs/hinges, philatelic literature and so on and so forth. The flyers should mention each vendor type and brand that will be at the show. This is very helpful in planing out your route of action. Be sure to make a shopping wish list of all your philatelic needs.
At each stamp show the vendors and buyers also trade and purchase stamps from each other. If you have any stamps to sell then make sure to take them to the show. Each vendor will have a specific style or brand or tools they will sell. For example, if you are in need of a China stamp collection then you will need to make a list of necessities from the Chinese stamp vendor. You may also want to research the common prices of these said necessities to make sure you are receiving a fair price on your goods.
As soon as you arrive to your stamp show make sure to ask if the event has a brochure or program of the event times/vendors. There may be special lectures or seminar gatherings that spark your interest and this way you can solidify your days plans around these event time. Once these events have been decided on it will now be time to cruise the show. Be sure to wear your most comfortable walking shoes and smallest bag. You do not want anything to slow you down while shopping the show.
A lot of vendors have catalogs located within their booth that will layout the stamps/tools they have available. This is very helpful. You can use the catalog to compare and contrast what you would like from your wish list. You may also want to make an inventory list of stamps you currently own in order not to waste money double buying stamps. In order to save time for yourself and the vendor do try to use stamp verbiage or at the very least how the vendor has written his or her signage. They want to help you as best they can and its even better if you speak their language. For example, if the vendors sign says they only sell Chinese stamps - do not ask for European ones. Also know the collections you are looking for. For example, if you collect only stamps that have pictures of castles on them …know that they will be in the country collections. Be educated on the stamps of your interest.
If the booth reads - Topicals/Thematics - then know you can ask for pretty much anything under a topic or theme. Be honest with the vendors you do business with and let them know that you are a new stamp collector and they will guide you in the beginning. Keep in mind the more info that you have on the stamps of your interest the more helpful a vendor can be. Always keep in mind when looking through a vendors inventory to treat it as if it was your very own. Be aware that stamps are very fragile even when when carefully packaged.
There are many exhibits featured at stamp shows. The program or brochure of the show will let you know their locations. Sometimes the shows will categorize their exhibits into different interest groups or general interest if it attracts a larger audience. Keep in mind stamps are not always beautiful when valuable. Some of the most sought after rarest stamps world wide are tattered and browned. Do not judge a stamp by its cover!
Each vendor has a certain set of standards it must meet. You should be able to determined the vendors nature focus and stamp style with in the first few pages of its catalog. Even if you know nothing about that certain philatelic style it should be very clear to you after a few page flips. This is the standard for competitive philatelic booths. The catalog will not contain much text as the material usually speaks on its own. This is also a standard that is expected to be met. If you are a beginning stamp collector this will make things challenging but you will catch on with each new experience. If you have any concerns or questions you just can’t figure out make sure to jot them down and AskPhil later!
Once you find a booth that sells your stamp preference make sure to seize the opportunity. Look for what stamps you need to add to your collection but also talk to the vendor and see what you can learn from them. They could possibly have an album suggestion for your special interest stamps, you never know unless you speak to them!
Visiting a stamp show is an awesome way to expand and share your collection with like minded individuals. You can gather ideas front the different booths and improve upon your current stamp collection. You never know maybe one day you will be a winner at a show for peoples choice of stamp or possibly even the grand prize!