Interview: Displaying stamps in the Open Class


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28 March 2012
imports_CCGB_royaldanishofficialmai_00809.jpg Royal Danish official mail, uncensored, from Amtmanden over Færøerne, dated 21.05.1940 to the Danish Ambassador in Washington, Henrik Kauffmann
We spoke to award-winning exhibitor and judge Birthe King about the Open Class in an exclusive online interview ...

Birthe King, whose display 'Denmark: Conscience, Conflict, and Camps 1932-1949' was recently shown at Stampex in London, spoke to Stamp & Coin Mart about displaying stamps in the 'Open Class', which allows 50% non-philatelic material to be included.

When did you first display your collection competitively and how did you do?
I first displayed my collection as a five frame exhibit ten years ago at the NORDIA 02 exhibition in Kristiansand in Norway and I was awarded a vermeil medal with 82 points.

What is your display about?
The title of my display is: Denmark: Conscience, Conflict, and Camps 1932-1949, and it tells the story of Denmark during WWII, starting with political extremism in the 1930s, followed by life in Denmark during the German occupation from 1940-1945, and finishing with the aftermath of the war – refugee camps.

What prompted you to display your stamps in this way? My interest arose by translating nineteenth-century letters from Danish and German for my collector husband. The social content together with my interest in history, particularly in WWII in Denmark and ephemera from that period, lead me straight to the Open Class or its variant Social Class in the UK.

What does your chosen class offer the collector in terms of telling a story?
These days exhibits in all classes must tell a story, but that had begun in Thematic Philately and in the Open Class, now renamed Open Philately. This makes exhibits more friendly to the public, whichever class you choose to exhibit in. Open Philately allows the use of non-philatelic material, for example maps, illustrations, documents, photographs, medals, coins, etc.

What would you say to traditionalists who prefer country or one-stamp exhibits?
We all choose a class and a subject we like, but many collectors and exhibitors have boxes with ephemera and postcards relating to their interest, which they can include in an Open Philately exhibit, combining the dual aspect of philatelic and non-philatelic material. So philately provides the possibility for a very wide range of people to collect and show what is interesting to them.

The 'Open' class in philately is becoming more popular, why do you think this is?
Open Philately appeals to the collector, who might be a potential exhibitor, but who is concerned about the Regulations in other classes. There is also the question of cost. Classic philately is expensive, while Open Philately offers opportunities to a much more modest pocket, although admittedly some of my later acquisitions have been a bit pricy.

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Open Philately only has two rules: 1. The philatelic material must be at least 50% of the exhibit and 2. The non-philatelic material must be no more than 5 mm in thickness, so that it can be mounted in standard exhibition frames.

What advice would you give to collectors thinking of displaying their stamps?
Look closely at your material and think of a story line. Then read the guidelines for the different classes on the ABPS website:

Many collectors and exhibitors are already displaying their material in a non-competitive environment and in their clubs, so the jump to making an exhibit for entering at federation or national level might not be as great as they think.

Open Philately seeks to broaden the range of exhibiting and to allow philatelists to include objects from other collecting fields in support of, and in order to develop, an understanding of the philatelic material shown, but the most important aim is to encourage collecting.

Read more about the Open Class in a special report in the May 2012 issue of Stamp & Coin Mart.

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