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STAMPEX - 29th September - 2nd October 2021 - in a time of Covid.

Run by the PTS (Philatelic Traders Society), Stampex claims to be the UK’s largest Stamp Fair. It hosts the National Stamp Exhibition displays of formal society philately and post history which  is organised by the ABPS (Association of British Philatelic Societies Limited). Held twice a year in the Business Design Centre, 52 Upper St, The Angel, London, N1 0QH, Stampex Autumn 2021 runs from 29th September - 2nd October 2021.

I have criticised Stampex before following visitor and dealer criticisms. I am not going to repeat them here. I will not be attending this year such is my disillusionment with the event, organised philately, public transport and the times we are living in. I know I am not the only postal historian staying away. I know of both dealers and collectors who see little point in going. Many believe that the York Stamp Fair is now the must-go-to event for stamping in the UK.

For the benefit of readers thinking of attending Stampex, once the unrivalled leading UK stamp fair, I enclose below the email sent by Graham Winters FRPSL, Chairman ABPS, which was forwarded to me by SACS (SA Collectors' Society).

Read this before you attend Stampex.
A number of things have changed - you will have to pay a £10 entry fee if you go on the first day (free thereafter but you will need to register, I understand). Of most concern are the organisers' ill-conceived precautions regarding Covid. 

Date: 22 September 2021 at 11:39
Subject: Important information about Stampex from the ABPS

Dear Colleague

A message from Graham Winters, Chairman of the ABPS. Please circulate to  all your members.

As Stampex approaches, it seems sensible for ABPS to explain the COVID procedures which will be in place during the show. For entry to the Business Design Centre, the PTS, who own and run Stampex require that all people show evidence of double vaccination or a negative lateral flow test within 48 hours. This is to ensure that the event itself is as safe as possible for all attending.

For the hand-in day on Tuesday the 28th September from 12 noon, the COVID procedures do not apply although there will be˜spot checks'. > Those handing in exhibits should ask at the door to be shown to the 'BIN Room'.

Just a reminder that on the first day, the 29th September, there is an admission charge of £10 which may be paid in advance by using the Stampex website or at the door on the day. Those paying at the door may have to queue.

Of course, both ABPS and PTS expect all those attending, including on the hand-in day, to be respectful of others…. Mask-wearing is opttional but keeping a sensible distance from each other, washing hands regularly, and using hand-sanitising stations is clearly good practice. We all hope that everyone will have an enjoyable Stampex experience.

Graham Winters FRPSL, Chairman ABPS.

Of course, the requirement "that all people show evidence of double vaccination or a negative lateral flow test within 48 hours" is a nonsense not supported by the government's own data. The fact is that having a double jab is no defence against catching Covid again and infecting other people with it. All the double jab does is, hopefully, ensure that if and when you contract Covid again you only get mildly ill with it rather than seriously so. A VACCINE PASSPORT IS NOT PROOF THAT THE BEARER DOES NOT SUFFER FROM COVID! This unpleasant reality means that double jabbed visitors to Stampex who show a vaccine passports could be bringing Covid into the stamp fair. Only if the double vaccinated were also required to show proof of negative lateral flow test, itself a highly unreliable test, would the Stampex organisers be able to weed out the positive carriers from among the double jabbed attendees.

The fact that "COVID procedures do not apply ... on Tuesday the 28th September from 12 noon" is another nonsense. If these rules are to mean anything during the duration of the show, why are they suspended for the Tuesday? It doesn't make sense or science, just like the government's response to the Covid pandemic. It's a lot like the wealthy at Davos or the politicians at a G7 meeting where they wear masks in front of the TV cameras but behind the scenes (as photos and TV footage show) theres' not a mask in sight. One rule for us.... another for them.

Regarding being "respectful of others….keeping a sensible distance from each other, washing hands regularly, and using hand-sanitising stations is clearly good practice" is good advice but social distancing is impossible when standing shoulder to shoulder with other collectors or sitting next to them on the smaller dealer's stands while examining covers touched by other visitors. The smaller dealers paying Stampex's exorbitant fees are not going to ask customers to come back later in order to implement social distancing. As for "washing hands regularly" how often will you be expected to sanitise your hands? Every time you visit a stall? How often can you sanitise your hands? As for wearing masks, which is optional, there is no data that shows they work. Expect to see loads of old boys wearing them. Masks just make you feel safer and that you are doing right by the rest of the herd!

Despite all this, I wish I was going. I have had some enjoyable times at Stampex and bought some wonderful material.