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There will, we hope, be an International Philatelic Exhibition (IPEX aka 'Cape Town 2022') between 8 - 12 November. This comes as welcome news the day before I depart for London 2022 where I hope to meet senior South African philatelists. So, put this in your diary and be there in November. (Or as 'ou Tafelberg's' van Hunks did, put it in your pipe and smoke it!) I plan to attend and hope to meet old friends and make new pals there. Cape Town is 'home' - I am a Pinelands Boy - and it is every bit as wonderful as the organisers claim in their cunningly crafted publicity promo!

You can see their Newsletter here.

Don't be put off by their opening statement about Omicron. It's a storm in a teacup brewed by a bunch of South African aunties (Afr. tannies).  According to Bill Gates, the ex-Microsoft billionaire, Omicron has done the vaccine's job better than the vaccine itself. It is so mild and so pervasive that most people have had it and in doing so they have acquired natural immunity better than what you get from vaccination. So, don't be sad about this fact, as Bill Gates professes to be. Be happy. Get down to Cape Town in November and let the sun shine in. If you go a bit earlier during October there is a good chance you can enjoy a spot of whale watching along the Cape coast.

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Some Suggestion for Improving Stamp Exhibitions

It is easier to spot problems with philately than offer solutions to halt the decline of our hobby. I hope Cape Town 2022 will provide some proof that our hobby is in good shape. However, I think that what we will see in Cape Town is something much like London 2022, only smaller. We will see a lot of rather self-satisfied old folk. What we will get are a lot of top quality displays to look at. What we won't see are young philatelists and Black collectors looking at them.

Displays are over-rated. Do they pull in the crowds? I don't think so. What does the research show?

I realise that these displays are the fundamental reason for Cape Town 2022's existence. It's the glue that binds South African  philatelic societies to the internationally accredited organisers.  It's jolly good for back-slapping with award-winners and elevates their prestige but does anyone ever take note of the numbers of people who view them? I think you will be surprised to discover that displays are not as popular with philatelists or the public as you think.

I fear that Cape Town 2022 will be like Capex 2015, only older. See images below. I viewed some displays at Capex 2015 and several were great but really .... viewing all of them is impossible. And tiresome! So, please consider putting in a bar or a coffee shop within the display area so we can have a sit down, catch our breath, have a cuppa or a coffee and a laugh with fellow enthusiasts. Then, once refreshed we can attack the display marathon again! Make the display hall a lively place. Stop thinking its hallowed ground, that it needs to be as silent as a library or a church, that people must not talk above a whisper for fear of displeasing the Great God Philately.

My photos below show the display hall as quiet as the grave. I stress that these photos were taken in the middle of the afternoon when Capex 2015 should have been buzzing. Sadly stamp exhibitions seldom buzz. In the display halls hushed reverence is demanded. It may be what serious philatelists want but if you are going to save your hobby by creating a new generation of enthusiasts you will need to do some work and put some life and joy into the event!

The best thing about Capex 2015 was meeting the South African dealer Paul van Zeyl. He's a cheerful, philosophic chap with many interesting and thought-provoking things to say. (We have our differences!) Overall Capex 2015 was deathly dull and quiet but there was a buzz around Paul's booth. I spotted the bees around his honeypot and immediately made my way towards the laughter and his bonhomie. If the PFSA wants to save philately they would do well to tap whatever magic Paul brings to the show and spread it around ten times over.

1]. Capex 2015, City Hall. The Mausoleum of Philately - all dressed up and too few to view it!
2]. Capex 2015, City Hall. The Mausoleum Of Philately - again, the same time, mid-afternoon on a weekday
3]. Cape Town City Hall Postcard 1905. City Hall at the same time over 110 years earlier. A poor PC but 2 x good PMKs.
4]. Milnerton Car Boot Sale - one of my favourite places to visit in Cape Town on a Saturday or Sunday. Visitors to Cape Town 2022 should check it out! But remember, that special find is reserved for me!

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Despite his long, best efforts, Paul van Zeyl's magic - he is a collector and a dealer with varied stock and RDPSA knowledge that he freely and enthusiastically shares with good humour - will not be enough to save our hobby.

What we need are more new and younger collectors, not more fossilised committee men happy with the status quo and the dying of our hobby's light. Unsurprisingly, there are many older collectors who do not belong to an affiliated philatelic society. Their reasons for not joining you are many and varied. How we draw more youngsters into the hobby is another matter - you can start by offering high school and university History students the chance to see the display for free. And throw in visitors pack containg some stamps. Does SAPO have a budget to assist?

When I previously went to local society meetings it was out of a sense of resigned philatelic duty. I went prepared to be bored and to sit through it all. Sometimes I even fell asleep. Despite the ABPS's and the PFSA's attempts to co-opt us into deifying Philately through elitist international exhibitions, regional stamp fairs and SACS (South African Collectors' Society) meetings remain for me the more uplifting place of worship, a common chapel compared to organised philately's big cathedral where stamp lickers must kiss the Bishop's ring.

If you can encourage young History students to come, do not invite them to a Mausoleum! Given that the bar and food counter is often more packed out at a stamp exhibitions than anywhere else, (it was at London 2022), place the refreshment area in the display hall. This will hopefully create a more vibrant social venue around the rows of displays and give philately a more cheerful uplifting presence. Please do not perpetuate boredom!

I see Tom Droege's Stamp Auction Network is a Capex 22 Partner Sponsor.

Tom's site notifies collectors about and provides links to upcoming auctions. It is useful way to learn about philatelic auctions. Previously the service was free but as of 1st April (more fool you!) it will be your last chance to get the "Basic Extended features at $49.95/year forever". Wow! There really does appear to be money in on-line philately!

Given the cost, I guess this sort of service is aimed at monied nobs who can afford to pay inflated auction house prices for top-quality items, then jet off to international philatelic exhibitions, like Capex 2022 in November in Cape Town, SA, to show them to their peers. It's a lot to pay for a previously free service when essentially all it does is notify you of what's on sale from whom. The alternative is to subscribe at no cost to the email notifications of individual auction house and wait to receive their advice about upcoming stamp and postal history sales.

Sorry! The links in the image below no longer work. They were disabled when I took the screen grab. To email Tom Droege and Stamp Auction Network, try: <>

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This is probably not entirely appropriate here but as I started it Tom Droege of Stamp Auction Network would like to qualify the benefits of paying for his new service just in case there is some misunderstanding about it. He says:

"First, we would like to say thank you to the thousands of you who value the service we provide and have signed up for membership plans. The access to the data, previous prices realized and auction descriptions will add to your knowledge base and help you bid better. You can see the membership plan, pricing and renewal date you picked at the top of the StampAuctionNetwork page.

We have had a number of people ask us why should they pay for something they feel should be free. It is hard for me to imagine that access to prices realized and prior auction descriptions would not be extremely valuable, especially when integrated into the auction catalogs. However, many say they are bidding to buy because they want it and prior prices mean nothing to them. But things change. You may be collecting something new next year, or find a unique item you want to research. So lock in now at the $49.95 / year rate to join those that are using extended features to be a smarter bidder. You will not regret it. 

To clarify a repeated misunderstanding -- we have said from the beginning that there are free membership plans available, that they provide all the features to bid and participate in auctions that you have now, and that they are renewable. So, if there are any rumors out there that you must pay to be a member, that is simply not true.

The membership process is going to be phased in carefully to not disrupt or inconvenience anyone. With the touch of a button, you can extend your decision for 45 days to evaluate which plan you want. For the first month, we are not going to turn on the membership requirement when there are live auctions going on. We don't want you to rush to decide while you are trying to log onto a live auction.

Lastly, StampAuctionNetwork is not going away. We are advancing. Our membership continues to grow at a healthy 10% growth rate. We are also committed to advancing the legacy of stamp collecting by intentionally investing in educating and attracting the next generations into this exciting and meaningful pastime. We are grateful to the stamp collecting community for joining StampAuctionNetwork over the last 32 years and look forward to serving you in the years to come."

With regards to "investing in educating and attracting the next generations into this exciting and meaningful pastime" this sound great but if you do not have a disposable income new collectors will not join the rariefied upper strata of philatelists buying from top auction sales any time soon. Hopefully Tom can tell the PFSA and ABPS how to better promote stamp collecting to the next generation. He spins a rosey future in bright sunlit uplands it very well!

For anyone interested in Cape Town 2022, here are some images from previous philatelic events. The posters were supplied as postcards at Cape Town 2015 and given away in a visitor's pack. IMO, it was probably the best 'freebie' I've ever received at a stamp show. Thanks. I will be pleased to come away with more of the same from Cape Town 2022. The May 1971 International Stamp Show item is mystery. It looks like part of a large machine cancelled label.

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