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ameis33
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[*] posted on 6/25/2008 at 15:00
Exhibiting...


My collection should be better described as an accumulation. It's missing that organical arrangement that will changes it in the former... I was following some discussion about exhibitions... Not that i want to exhibit my pieces, but i was thinking i could have found some idea which would have helped me to find a better organization... On the other end, i've found a lot of rules which have to be respected, which leave me a little bit astonished...

One of these discussion was about exhibiting postmarks. For what i could understand, two of the main categories are philately and postal history. Postmarks will then be in the middle of these two branches, not knowing exactly were to find home...
Also, each piece exposed should be accompanied by a clean picture of the postmark...

Another prescription was to avoid long description and in general written text: the judge should already know what you're going to exhibit...

Rules about colors, formats, frames, etc...

I don't have at the moment any specific question, but as the site hosts several exhibitions and exhibitors, i would be curious and interested in listening their opinion, suggestions, experience in general about "exhibiting"...
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[*] posted on 6/25/2008 at 17:30


This may scare the "fly speckers," but we are currently downloading Vladimir Tyukhov's International Gold exhibit on postmarks. It will appear in the Virtual Exhibit area. He has at least 4 Golds for this exhibit.

Now, can the stamp people produce a few exhibits for us as well?:devil
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[*] posted on 6/26/2008 at 01:14


Well,

I am not sure how Gold Medal postmark exhibit can scare stamp collectors... :). But let's leave alone this questionable statement ... :). Let me talk about something related to original topic...

I was always debating for myself what is better to spend time on - article in the journal or exhibit. Of cause - if somebody has an unlimited time on hands- it is obviously good to do both, but if time is limited - personally I was always in favor of publishing something in some journal rather than exhibiting the same material. My reason was very simple. When you publish something (article or book) - people can use information published for decades to come. As a Librarian - I can see this. We all enjoying articles written in 50-60-70s etc. in Rossica, BSRP, PostRider, Pochta, etc. and continue learning from the authors who passed away decades ago. We all have access to this information in one or other form.

Now, let me ask everybody - how a collector can get easy access to some Gold Medal Exhibit from 50s that may have had unique, gorgeous material. In majority of the cases it is gone forever after author's death. Sometimes you can get look at some bits and pieces if there was an auction sale...

There is another scary argument too. When an article is published - hundreds and (over time) - thousands of people all over the world can see it and benefit from it. At the same time every time I go to the stamp show I can definitely see that majority of people spending time at dealers tables rather than near the frames with exhibits. Usually these rows are almost empty with exception of authors and judges... That is about it. So, with all respect and admiration for people who can find time to put exhibit together and get Gold and other medals - I am in favor of publishing.... Yes, virtual exhibit is a step in a right direction, but this is such a tiny step forward... I am wondering what other Samovar visitors think about this issue.
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[*] posted on 6/26/2008 at 11:34


Quote:
Originally posted by GregMirsky
Well,

I am not sure how Gold Medal postmark exhibit can scare stamp collectors... :).


Greg, there are no stamps in the exhibit!




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[*] posted on 6/28/2008 at 08:28


everybody, who wants to exhibit a part of his collection, must be prepared to some surprises. especially' when the exposition falls between well known, traditional areas. i am talking, for example, about formula cards, military post deliveries, return post, prepayd by sender etc - items, where no stamps are applied, they are nothing to deal with rates and routes, post marks are not important. the jury, mostly, is not prepared to judge such collections; they spend 2-3 minutes to discusse about the collection - and the result of judging may be unexpected.
for example: my colleguae M.K. (i write it by his permission) got 77 points on the local exhibition and 88 points - for the same exposition - on s.petersburg exhibition. i personally got 20 points (from 35) for knoledge.
so, you have to know, that the way to gold is coated not only by roses...
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[*] posted on 6/28/2008 at 08:57


If there were no awards and the purpose of the exhibit was to spread knowledge only, would more people exhibit?
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[*] posted on 7/1/2008 at 08:02


Earlier I had thought to make some points about the problems facing exhibitors of Russian and related-areas material these days (and efforts underway to alleviate those problems), rather than engage in a polemic ABOUT exhibiting in general, but it looks like exhibiting and exhibitors are absorbing some artillery fire from here and there, so if the exchange is helpful to those who are considering a leap into this aspect of philately, then perhaps it will be time well spent. Here goes.

Greg makes this point:

“I was always debating for myself what is better to spend time on - article in the journal or exhibit. Of cause - if somebody has an unlimited time on hands- it is obviously good to do both, but if time is limited - personally I was always in favor of publishing something in somr journal rather than exhibiting the same material.”

The point about time is well taken, although I would propose that only the dead have unlimited time on their hands. If due to time constraints you are forced to make a choice as to whether to publish or exhibit, then of course it’s up to you. But the distinction between “publish” and “exhibit,” especially in the Age of Technology, is really not much of a distinction at all. Now, granted, if an exhibitor never shows except for 2-3 days at some event like NAPEX or WESTPEX and never in any other media, then yes, a journal article will most likely reach a broader audience, and for a lot longer. But as will become apparent further on, that doesn’t have to be the case, and it ain’t necessarily so.

My thesis is this: EXHIBITING IS MERELY ANOTHER FORM OF PUBLISHING. If you write a 16-page article for the journal with some illustrations, what is the difference between that and putting together a 16-page (single-frame) exhibit? Answer: not much. The exhibitor “publishes” for however many days the pages are up in the frames; the philatelic author publishes for however long the medium (paper, CD, stone tablets, etc.) on which the article is written survives. The exhibitor’s “publication” reaches only those who look at it in the frames. The writer’s – only those who choose to read the article/monograph/book.

There are other close similarities. Both the writer-for-publication and the exhibitor have to do some research; they have to write, either a little or a lot, and they may have to do some translation (to explain the postmarks, routing instructions, censor marks, etc.). Both individuals produce works that are peer-reviewed. Those peers are judges and viewers at an exhibition; they’re called readers and reviewers in the world of books and articles.

The text in an exhibit may be spare or it may be too much for some judges’ tastes, but either way, it’s writing and showing on a subject for the purposes of sharing information, instructing and eliciting feedback. And as sure as God created little tadpoles and has a comprehensive collection of Russian postal history, when you “finish” your exhibit (assuming that you haven’t hired someone to do it for you, which happens on rare occasion and it’s unfortunate – think the Baughman zemstvo collection), you will have fussed, worried, obsessed and agonized over it at considerable length, much the same as for a serious article or book.

But here the mechanics of these disciplines begin to diverge. In actual fact, the exhibitor is forced to operate under much more stringent guidelines than is the article writer in at least four instances:

1) When it comes to laying out and arranging the pages, the exhibitor has to be an editor; the article writer isn’t really too concerned about layout because the journal editor is going to do that. (This is assuming, of course, that the writer isn’t doing the whole thing as “samizdat.”)

Here’s something else along these lines to consider. When you write an article, the readers will see it at most two pages at a time (facing pages in an opened journal). As an exhibitor, you have to be concerned with what an entire frame will look like, all 16 pages in aggregate, because that frame is essentially one big page to the viewer at a show, and if that display looks cockeyed, off-kilter or lists badly to port or starboard, it’s a distraction. The concern for layout of a single page is transferred to 16 pages. Ever look at a painting or a photograph with poor composition, where things are crowded, or monotonous, or imbalanced? Same with an exhibit frame. This problem also transfers to more than one frame when you have the “railroading” phenomenon, the mounting of two sheets per page, at exactly the same points on every page, stretching on for frame after frame. Your “tracks” disappear into the distance, and so too does the attention of the judges and your viewers.

Oh, and you would be ill advised to start a new section of your exhibit on page 16 of a frame. For an article, there is no such worry.

2) The exhibitor has to count in multiples of 16, because that’s the number of pages a standard exhibit frame holds. That number can be fudged to 15 on the last frame of a multi-frame exhibit, but don’t try that in a single-framer! The article writer has no such constraints; 16 pages, 29, three and a half, it doesn’t matter. Into the Journal it goes, and it is guaranteed to fit perfectly between the front cover and the back, every time.

3) When it comes to multi-frame exhibits (let’s posit a 10-framer, the “legal limit” for exhibiting in an APS event), you the exhibitor have for all intents and purposes written an illustrated, 160-page monograph, and you cannot exceed the 10-frame limit. Shows won’t normally “sell” you any more than that. And because there is this limit, there is a corollary to it. It’s called “The Law of Great Agony.” You will undoubtedly have 12 frames’ worth of good material or more, but only 10 frames in which to show it, so you are forced to choose which of your babies to throw under the bus. Oh does it hurt. This Law applies in equal measure to exhibits of any other length: if you have five frames and seven pages’ worth of good material, those seven pages must wait for the acquisition of relevant material for nine more, otherwise they won’t see the light of a ballroom from the inside of a frame. For a publication, be it an article or a monograph, you aren’t normally faced with such a Hobbesian choice. You can blather on for 327 pages and counting if your Muse chooses to hover over your shoulder that long.

4) The exhibitor can only show personally-owned material, while a writer can always ask other collectors for permission to illustrate their material in an article.

Now back to Greg’s thesis: “My reason was very simple. When you publish something (article or book) - people can use information published for decades to come. As a Librarian - I can see this. We all enjoying articles written in 50-60-70s etc. in Rossica, BSRP, PostRider, Pochta, etc. and continue learning from the authors who passed away decades ago. We all have access to this information in one or other form. Now, let me ask everybody - how a collector can get easy access to some Gold Medal Exhibit from 50s that may have had unique, gorgeous material. In majority of the cases it is gone forever after author's death. Sometimes you can get look at some bits and pieces if there was an auction sale...”

It’s true: From the ‘50s and before, (and even into the ‘60s and ‘70s), auction catalogs are often the only answer. The reason? The technology wasn’t really there to record massive collections and reproduce them endlessly. If you wanted to record an exhibit in color, photography was just about the only option, and it was expensive and clumsy. With the advent of photocopiers, that changed.

When I was the Rossica Librarian back in the dim reaches of the Pleistocene, I made a special effort to go out and cajole, browbeat or blackmail exhibitors to send copies of their exhibits to the Library. A good number of them did. Greg, those exhibit copies are still there on the shelves, are they not? Is there a reason why articles by authors long dead should be accessible to today’s reader, but not the exhibit photocopies? They should all be on paper, which is a medium that the U.S. Postal Service will still agree to transport and deliver.

As for dead authors, well, Gordon Torrey is no longer with us, but his articles in the journal and his Russian Offices Abroad exhibit in the Library – publications all – live on. Mizuhara has shuffled off this mortal coil, but we have his Manchurian postal history display in the Library. Norman Epstein has gone to his reward, but his “Postal History of Mount Athos” display yet survives him. And then there are those who, in the immortal words of Monty Python, “[are] not dead yet,” but their exhibits are on file in the Society’s Library nonetheless. To name just some: Ackerman, Chastang, Renfro, Shaw, and the guy that I personally am most delighted to see still among the living – Skipton. By now there ought to be more exhibits on record in the Library, especially now that we have CDs and DVDs. And those will be in full living color, and just as extractable from the Library as any article or book.

Back to Greg: “There is another scary argument too. When an article is published - hundreds and (over time) - thousands of people all over the world can see it and benefit from it. At the same time every time I go to the stamp show I can definitely see that majority of people spending time at dealers tables rather than near the frames with exhibits. Usually these rows are almost empty with exception of authors and judges... That is about it. So, with all respect and admiration for people who can find time to put exhibit together and get Gold and other medals - I am in favor of publishing....”

Me too! But consider this: One can't (or at least ought not to) publish 160 pages of an exhibit in the Rossica Journal – the readership would revolt. Even putting one frame/16 pages in a journal and serializing the thing would take 10 issues, or five years. So you publish it as is or adapt it to a monograph.

Three points here: One, with photocopies, CDs, DVDs and now especially the Rossica Virtual Gallery, the distinction between articles, books and exhibits (where accessibility is concerned) disappears. Rossica Journal #123, let’s say, on the University of Florida website or on a Rossica DVD for sale reaches no more of an audience than does an exhibit at the Rossica Virtual Gallery or on a DVD. An exhibitor who previously showed his material two or three times a year for a few days can now show it 24-7-365. That exhibit is every bit as much a publication as someone’s article in the Journal.

Two, the exhibitor cannot be held responsible if people at an exhibition choose to ignore his or her display and hit the dealers’ booths instead, any more than can an author of an article be held responsible for readers flipping right past those precious pages in the Journal. Either a publication/exhibit interests you or it does not. And this much I can state with the serene confidence born of long and bitter experience: more people will look at the frames at a major show over the course of three days than will request publications from the Rossica Library in any 365-day period.

Three, if you’re exhibiting solely to get gold medals, then you’re missing the point of exhibiting. Don’t get me wrong, medals are fine, and it’s nice to get golds, but they’re just things, and at the end of the day there has to be more than things if that day is to mean anything. Shelley had it right. Gold, vermeil, silver and bronze medals and special awards collect dust faster than you can collect the medals themselves. I call them my “Ozymandias Collection:” “Nothing else remains / Round the decay / Of that colossal wreck..,”

So think of a medal or a special award as being much like a positive review of your article in some other philatelic publication – it’s an acknowledgement by your peers that you amassed the material, did your homework and did it well enough to qualify for that shiny dust-catcher and perhaps four seconds of applause at an awards banquet. (Less if people don’t like you very much. And may I point out that this is 14 minutes and 56 seconds less than Andy Warhol said we were all due!)

The same holds true for any level of award. If you’re just starting out and feeling your way around the exhibiting world, it can be every bit as rewarding to get a silver when the last time out you got a bronze with the same exhibit, more or less. You have improved on something in which you’re very interested – that being the topic of your exhibit – and here’s a tangible indication of it. Keep trying, keep striving, keep tweaking.

So if it’s not gold medals and the siren song of winning the APS Creativity Award for the Most Innovative Use of Commas and Semicolons, what is it? Why exhibit at all? There are several reasons, presented below in no particular order of importance.

Informing, instructing, and eliciting more information. You exhibit for the same reasons you would write an article, a monograph or a book. Exhibiting has an aspect unavailable to the other kinds of publication, though. Looking at a picture of a cover is one thing – actually seeing it in the flesh is quite another.

The mental challenge, a.k.a. keeping Alzheimer’s at bay. Exhibiting is a challenging activity – an art form – that imposes a certain discipline on you, without which the exhibit fails. That discipline is both the structure and the rules of exhibiting and the stick-to-itiveness needed to finish the danged thing. I can’t speak for others and maybe I’m just slow, but it usually takes me approximately one year, sometimes two to put a 10-framer together from scratch, assuming that the material is already available in my collection. That's a lot of time and effort invested in one topic, and on this Greg and I are in agreement: exhibits, the end result of all that time and effort, need to be saved for posterity.

In order to show and instruct others, you must first master the topic yourself. In order to present an exhibit, you have to get your mind wrapped around the problem and solve it in your head before you ever commit it to paper, just as you would with an article. And you do that following the rules of exhibiting. This is really no different from any other art form, be it dancing, painting, sculpture or what have you. Take poetry. Whether it’s haiku or iambic pentameter, you have to force yourself to obey the rhyme, rhythm and structure demanded by that poetic form to convey your thoughts (in exhibiting, you’re also showing your material to go with the words). Same for music and words; the two ought to complement one another, otherwise you end up with a heavy metal band riveting the words of Inagadadavida to a Bach piece for harpsichord. A hip-hop routine in the midst of Swan Lake won’t cut it, either.

In other words, to do this unnatural thing we call exhibiting you must place certain restrictions on yourself within a defined framework. Why is it unnatural? Because exhibiting is an artificial construct. You MUST confine yourself to multiples of 16. You MUST support your story with philatelic material. You MUST adhere to the rules of your exhibition class (e.g. no modern topical stamps in a pre-philatelic postmark exhibit). You MUST complete your story in X number of frames. (In exhibiting, there are no “to be continueds…”) Worst and most onerous of all, you MUST pay the frame fees, usually $10 a frame at national shows. (I hasten to assure readers that the Journal doesn’t charge you to print your article…) If you don’t have the material to show, you can’t exhibit. If you can’t express yourself well enough to tell the viewer why this or that particular item is worth looking at, what it represents within this particular context, then until you can you ought not exhibit. And if you can’t come up with a logical construct in which to do both of these things, you will waste your time.

Learning (or practicing) concision and logical development. You have to state your problem, the task you have set for yourself, on page one – your introduction page – and tell folks how you propose to solve it. If you don’t, it will be painfully evident. (Something like wanting to show Russian postal history and you’ve got this incredible blockbuster item from the 1760s, say, and not a blessed thing more until 1841 is reached. Rats! Without relevant material and information sources, you won’t be able to bridge that gap of 80-odd years with just a blithe sentence or two.) And if the task you have set for yourself is too “flabby” – “I am going to show a bunch of bumf and stuff that I think is really neat!” – your exhibit is in trouble. You’re not dealing with a theoretically infinite amount of space to run off at the mouth; at most you have ten frames, and most people exhibit fewer than that. When you get to the last page of that last frame, you better have reached the logical end of your story line or lines, a story that is supported at every turn by philatelic material that is germane to the points you’re trying to make and that flows intelligently from one page to the next within a given section. There is no difference between this drill and that for a lengthy article or book: you need an outline, and you need to flesh it out and adhere to it. Consider this, though: A book or article writer can make all kinds of points, reference all sorts of other sources and go for pages at a time without showing a single cover, postcard or post horn. In an exhibit, you don’t have that luxury. Every point you make must be illustrated with at least one philatelic item or (in the Display Class) some sort of ephemera.

Exhibiting also has certain unspoken rules to which you should adhere, or you will turn people off. Rules such as you don’t mount your pages upside down or mount your material on garish-colored paper that’s hard on the eyes. You don’t rush out while the judges are looking at your exhibit, grab one of them by the lapels and start screaming in his face that he’s an idiot. You don’t stand by your exhibit for the whole show and act like a barker at a circus, trying to get people to look at it. Things like that…

The thrill of discovery. When you start bludgeoning your brain at the beginning stage of an exhibit, you may be surprised to learn that you don’t know everything you need to know, never mind would like to know, in order to meld material and story. And that lack of knowledge leads you off on a hunt in directions you would not have considered otherwise. It’s either that or change the parameters of your introduction page and start over.

Or you discover that an item that’s been sitting in your collection for decades is much HOO-BOY! better than you thought it was when you bought it, because the research you’ve been forced to do by the story line you chose has uncovered something you didn’t appreciate before.

Showing the flag, thumping the tub. By exhibiting you are increasing public awareness of Russian philately and postal history in general. Advertising it, as it were. At a more specific level, say like at a Rossica AGM, it’s understood that your exhibit is a Rossica exhibit, so you are supporting your Society thereby. No one without at least some interest in things Russian philatelic is going to pick up a Rossica Journal and read it. But I’ve had non-collecting folks come up to me at shows and say that page such-and-such in frame so-and-so really floated their boat because the cover or card was written by an ancestor of theirs, and they had never known that Great Grampa Dizel’ Traktorovich had been in the slammer, or came from that village. (And I’ve had people say they were thoroughly bummed out by “Zek,” too. Good. That was the whole point: just as with exhibits of Holocaust material, or George Werbizky’s Ostarbeiter mail, some things are too horrible to contemplate, and yet we must, because they’re so horrible they must never be forgotten.)

Collecting friends. Once you become an exhibitor, you join a subset of the philatelic fraternity, much like the subset we call “Rossica.” Just as with becoming a member of a society to associate with individuals who have the same interests as do you (more or less) – exhibiting opens up to you a whole new world. I count myself very fortunate to have met and befriended a considerable number of people whose viewpoints, writings, and company have enriched my (otherwise miserable and sordid) existence. On infrequent but glorious occasion, exhibiting pays off handsomely when an individual who collects somewhat the same thing you do sees something in your display and makes a beeline for your coordinates. That happened to me when Steve Volis saw "A Look Through the Judas Hole" at Philadelphia in 2000. It's been a great friendship ever since, and one that I value highly. Just that single event made every dollar I’ve ever paid in frame fees, postage, insurance and travel worth it. Better yet, I can now hound and badger him to exhibit his Odessa material and share it with the rest of the world, because I have his phone number. And I know where he lives…

The sheer challenge of it all. There is a great difference between spending gazillions of dollars for a sheet of inverted Jennies and all of Richard Zarins' Romanov essays, throwing them onto exhibit pages, and saying "see how expensive my collection is?" and painstakingly amassing far-less-expensive material over a decade or more and turning the whole into something greater than the sum of its parts. That added value comes from lots of research, telling the story and packaging the product. The absolute most money I've ever spent for any censorship item has been well south of $1,000, and there haven't been terribly many of those (thank God!). For the big boys in the international arena, that's chump change. There is not a single rare stamp to be found in any of the exhibits I’ve ever shown, and just a few postal stationery items that happened to land in my lap for an off-key song. You don’t have to be rich to exhibit! It doesn’t hurt, of course, but knowledge is power. Just pick a topic or two that are within the reaches of your wallet and then pursue them with single-minded determination. Go get the information first. Once you know your stuff, finding the material then becomes somewhat easier because you will be able to recognize it for what it is.

As Roger Quinby (author, editor, society officer, exhibitor and judge) points out, exhibiting is done by volunteers participating in a hobby; it contributes to the body of philatelic knowledge for other collectors and serves as an inheritance for future collectors. It’s one more aspect of our hobby – just like writing, publishing, judging and maintaining the daily operations of a philatelic society – that enriches everyone.

I’ll say it one more time: Exhibiting and writing for publication are two sides of the same coin. Period.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

For those of you who are thinking about exhibiting, I strongly encourage you to start. If you need some pointers, we'll find someone to help, or steer you to useful literature on the subject. Be prepared for advice that sometimes conflicts, though, because opinion among exhibitors is far from monolithic. It's up to you to pick and choose.

Dave Skipton
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[*] posted on 7/1/2008 at 08:08


"If there were no awards and the purpose of the exhibit was to spread knowledge only, would more people exhibit?"

That's what we're going to find out, because the Rossica Virtual Gallery has no judges, no medals and no rubber-chicken awards banquets. It's strictly for research purposes, the enjoyment and the edification of those who wish to view them.
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[*] posted on 7/1/2008 at 10:35


Dave,

Thank you very much for great analysis. I am absolutely with you when it gets to removing borders between publishing article in a Journal or book and publishing an exhibit. It is all possible in the current stage of technology. In my oroginal posting I was more referring to traditional exhibit at the stamp show when only few people could see it during show days and after that it is gone.
That is why (as you know) I am pushing for publishing of available exhibits on CD/DVD, etc. BECAUSE it erases this difference and makes material available not only to show attendees. The fact that somebody showed great material at ISRAEL 2008 is interesting, but does not give us a chance to see what was there… At the same time – if those exhibits were available on CD – I would definitely buy it (I am speaking only for myself).
Now, regarding Library…We do have number of old exhibits in the library, but I don’t know what rights we have to publish them and if author is dead – it may be a “dead end”. We need to explore this path a little bit more…
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[*] posted on 7/1/2008 at 10:53


Greg, once the copyright question is answered let's discuss how we can transform the exhibits in the library to a digital format available on our website.



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[*] posted on 7/2/2008 at 17:29


Now that we have the soap box out of the way, how do we entice people to use this capability to show material and ask questions as proposed? This is a golden opportunity for all of us. We can do "live" exhibits, monographs, you name it. What do the stamp collectors say and what are they willing to post? Surely, the "fly specker" in the journal is not the only thing worth publishing.
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