The Calgary Association of Philatelic Exhibitors (CAPE) is a very active committee of the parent Calgary Philatelic Society (CPS) Chapter 66 of the Royal Philatelic Society of Canada (RPSC). The CAPE Group is celebrating the 13th anniversary of its founding in 2016. The idea for CAPE was first put forward in 2003 by Penny Borrowman, a past-President of the CPS. The make-up of the CAPE Group has varied over its life-span. One positive has been about a 50-50 split between the genders. Several of our most enthusiastic exhibitors are our lady members. CAPE meetings are held, separate from the CPS Chapter meetings, the fourth Wednesday of the months of January through May and September through November. The meeting room, a second floor downtown Calgary board room is provided courtesy of Dwayne Miner and Stampede City Stamps. Free evening parking is also available to members close by.
Meetings typically convene at 7:00 pm and last 2-2.5 hours. There are no dues or fees to attend CAPE meetings and the location is on city transit bus routes. PowerPoint presentations on the various aspects of exhibiting are presented at most meetings. They are usually prepared by experienced exhibitor members or invited special guests. Topics such as title page, synopsis, page arrangement, mounting of oversize items, computer aided page layout, "unwritten" exhibit rules, judging, internet stamp buying, merits of auction houses, single-frame, multi-frame, exhibit prospectuses, application forms, going "international" and rare stamp certification are discussed and enthusiastically debated.
The best meetings involve a member laying out on a table, or in an actual exhibit frame, his or hers latest exhibit in progress for comments from others. Often we go around the board room table with each member updating the group on progress of new exhibits or advice on exhibiting challenges. The group has developed a camaraderie where information is freely given and exchanged. Recently held exhibitions are reviewed and analysed for exhibiting tips and judging comments. It is important to incorporate a friendly social element into groups such as CAPE. Philately is very amenable to this approach because of the non-competitive nature of exhibiting where medal judging is to a standard rather than between individual exhibits.
Keeping it fun, simple and with manageable objectives worked for CAPE. One thing that was done with the CAPE group was to restrict our activity to strictly exhibiting, organizing actual stamp shows falls outside the CAPE mandate and for good reason. Organizing stamp shows is a huge undertaking and better left to a separate committee, even if many CAPE members are also involved with the show committee.
Calgary, in the western province of Alberta, is surrounded by vast areas of prairie farm lands dotted with oil and gas fields and to the west the majestic, rugged Rocky Mountains. The nearest city of any size is Edmonton the provincial capital, a 300km 3.5 hour drive, due-north on the Queen Elizabeth II Highway #2. While the local CPS does sponsor two small local stamp shows-dealer bourses a year and a RPSC Royal National or BNAPEX convention every 4-5 years, our nearest RPSC sanctioned National show is the annual Edmonton Stamp Club (ESC) end-of-March Spring National.
Happily our good friends at the ESC welcome CAPE Calgary exhibitors and the CAPE group substantially populates the Edmonton exhibit frames, banquet tables, bourse chairs and the award podiums to the delight of both groups. In recent ESC shows Calgary exhibit entries have filled as many as 30% of the frames. It should be noted that the CAPE organization is the envy of our friendly rivals the Edmonton Stamp Club. Also George Pepall, President of the RPSC, acknowledges CAPE as the only exhibiting club in the country. I am hoping that the rest of Canada challenges that distinction!
The scope of CAPE member exhibits has expanded beyond Edmonton, across Canada and to other countries. Over 10 years the membership has won dozens of regional, national and international prizes and medals. Several of our members have RPSC National Gold or Vermeil medals on their philatelic resumes. These awards entitle them to compete internationally at the prestigious Fédération Internationale de Philatélie (FIP) exhibitions. One of the road blocks to FIP exhibiting for many has been the associated costs of high frame fees ($100+per frame), courier charges ($100+ one-way Calgary to Toronto), stamp insurance premiums, overweight baggage and commissioners' fees. While these fees are not a deterrent to a few, they are a major roadblock to the many CAPE members of modest means.
Looking for a solution to this financial impediment, I proposed to the Calgary Philatelic Society Board of Directors that they sponsor an annual "philatelic scholarship" in the amount of $2,000 to help defer the costs of international exhibiting for a chosen individual CAPE member under a set of strict guidelines. The subsequent motion with an amendment was passed at the January 7, 2013 CPS Board meeting.
While exhibiting is not for everyone, it is perhaps the pinnacle of philatelic achievement. Why not start up a CAPE-like organization in your area. Start small and grow. If you are in an isolated city or community, like many places in Canada, several of your charter members may be beginning exhibitors. It is helpful to have one or two experienced people available to lead the group but it is not necessary. These days there is plenty of help on-line, in publications such as The Philatelic Exhibitor or by e-mail. The websites of the RPSC and philatelic society websites in the United States and Australia are also good places to start. Many medal winning full exhibits can be viewed at www.japhila.cz/hof/index02_.htm and www.aape.org/exhibits.asp. Once you get the "exhibiting" bug it becomes, like collecting, an obsession. Quoting Charles Verge, "Exhibiting is a passion, is in the blood, opens new horizons and interests, keeps you on your toes, creates new travel experiences and exhibiting keeps you young and healthy." May the exhibiting "force" be with you!