Stamp collecting blog: Thematics and the 'Open Class' exhibit

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04 June 2014
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imports_CCGB_yourhistoricalstampsco_75180.gif Your historical stamps collection could be improved with other historical items
Keep your options open, says Matt Hill in his regular guide to collecting stamps by theme, as the Open class grows in popularity ...

While most thematic collectors will limit themselves to stamps, there is plenty of scope for collecting other material, be it postal or otherwise.

Collecting cachets and postmarks on postal history items is common and can be most enjoyable – there are exciting occasions when a search through a dealers’ general material reveals a relevant item for your theme – but there is nothing stopping you going further and adding other non-postal material to compliment the stamps.

One of the appeals of any sort of collecting is being in control and making your collection exactly how you want it.

There are no rules and so nothing to stop you adding non-stamp items.

Indeed, there is now an Open class at national level, which allows exhibitors to include fifty percent non-philatelic material. The guidelines issued by the Association of British Philatelic Societies (ABPS) state: ‘This class gives an exhibitor complete freedom to present an exhibit on any subject using up to 50% of non-philatelic items. The non-philatelic material must not be thicker than 5mm so as to be able to fit into standard exhibition frames.’

The idea of an ‘Open’ collection can inspire the collector who may feel that the stamp side of their display is almost complete.

So what non-philatelic material can be added?
‘Anything you can think of,’ explains Birthe King, an exhibitor who has championed the Open class for many years. Whatever helps tell the story can be included, Birthe says, be it fabric, ID cards, newspaper clippings, greetings cards or in one unusual display ‘a dog biscuit!’

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With this added freedom, thematic displays can describe any story in however much detail the collector desires, and, stamp collectors will be pleased to hear, with half of the official displays still dedicated to stamps, the philatelic aspect remains the main focus.