Stamp collecting show report: Europhilex - London 2015

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15 May 2015
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imports_CCGB_london2015viewofthe_10869.jpg London 2015 - view of the main hall
Stamp & Coin Mart Editor Matt Hill reports on the first two days of the major stamp collecting show Europhilex London 2015 ...
The sun shone on the Business Design Centre on the opening day of London 2015, welcoming a host of international collectors to the major event, and while the second day brought the kind of inclement weather overseas visitors may have been expecting, there was plenty to smile about inside the light, bright, airy venue, with busy stands, popular seminars and presentations, and a range of impressive displays on offer.

After months and even years of hard work, the London 2015 organisers will no doubt have been pleased to see the line of collectors stretching down Islington's Upper Street on the first day of the event, all happy to part with the £10 entry fee to sample the opening day.

With the doors open, another queue quickly formed (queuing is, after all, another much-loved British pastime), this time at the Royal Mail stand where a limited supply of individually numbered Penny Black Anniversary miniature sheets were on offer. Seen by dealers and canny collectors as a rarity in the making, the sheets were eagerly purchased for £4.95 each, with a limit of three sheets per customer, and dealers were soon offering up to £15 for a sheet.

Opening ceremony
A lunchtime opening ceremony saw London 2015 Chairman Bill Hedley explain his satisfaction at seeing the plans come together - thanks in part to a host of passionate collector-volunteers who diligently work behind the scenes. Jose Ramon Moreno (pictured), President of the Federation of European Philatelic Associations (FEPA), was also on hand to welcome the world's philatelists to the capital and to officially declare the show open.

A wealth of material on offer
Regular visitors to Stampex will know the layout of the venue, but this European exhibition offered collectors a range of extras, thanks to its international scale. Post offices from all corners of the world showcased their latest stamps and souvenirs; auction houses, big and small, encouraged visitors to browse their latest catalogues; and some of Britain's top dealers rubbed shoulders with the international trade, offering every country, period and theme you could think of.

Something for everyone? Absolutely, and this was just a small portion of the show. A Stamp & Coin Mart reader, punch-drunk on the amount of material on offer, asked us, with a rueful grin, if we could please stop informing him about these stamp shows. 'I've spent far too much, but there's so much to tempt you, I couldn't resist,' he explained before heading of to do a little more browsing.

Philatelic displays
Of course, the show was not just about buying and selling. Alongside the lively trading was a selection of informative displays, confirming London's status as a centre (the centre?) for philatelic research and learning.

Mark Copley, Curator of the Museum of the Royal Philatelic Society London, ably explained and demonstrated the small but effective printing press used by famous forger Jean de Sperati. Upstairs on the gallery bays, the British Postal Museum & Archive showed off an original cast of the iconic Machin head, while a high-tech, interactive display of artefacts hinted at what's to come when the Postal Museum opens in 2016.

Along the corridor the flags of the Club de Monte-Carlo signalled their hugely popular 'Philatelic Events that Changed the World' exhibit, a truly remarkable display that brought countless collectors into the hushed, darkened room to view items including King Charles I's Royal Proclamation of 1635 making the Royal Mail available to the public, and one of the world's most valuable stamps, the 3 Skilling Banco Yellow. Few museums can boast such rarity, here it was for stamp collectors to see for themselves.

Not to be outdone, auctioneers David Feldman presented the recently rediscovered printing plate for the famous Mauritius 'POST OFFICE' 1d and 2d stamps. Placed in a glass cabinet and elegantly lit, the rarity was accompanied by informative displays and a video describing the story of the stamps.

Exhibits from around the world
All this and we've yet to mention the hundreds of frames of exhibits awaiting judgement from a panel of experts, across all classes, from postal history to 'open'. Using the Gallery Hall adjacent to the main hall, the exhibits gave the show an added dimension and no doubt persuaded many collectors to return for a second, or third day, to ensure they made the most of such a good opportunity to celebrate and share such passion for the hobby.

Of course, the Stamp & Coin Mart team were rushed off their feet throughout the show, meeting and chatting to collectors, offering back issues and the chance to win big in a special prize draw, and making a long list of new contacts who will be featured in the magazine in the coming months.

It was a pleasure to be part of such a positive event, and the decision to hold a major international show five years after the last (rather than the traditional ten) was certainly justified.
 
Reflecting all aspects of stamp collecting, London 2015 was a triumph. We can't wait for 2020!

Read more about London 2015 and see more photos from the show in the July 2015 issue of Stamp & Coin Mart.
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