Resource of the Month – Show Programs

Program for first Westpex Show (1960)

With the close of the most recent international show Stockholmia and with the APS StampShow in Omaha on the horizon, it brings to mind an often underused resource in our collection here at the American Philatelic Research Library. Stamp shows, whether local or national, domestic or foreign, provide a welcome resource documenting the hobby’s past through the shows presented by its clubs, societies and organizations. Often stamp shows are the first instance a beginner collector is introduced to the scope and grandeur of collecting, while even the most experienced philatelist waits with anticipation for all that that next philatelic show has to offer.

U.S. Show Programs Collection on First Floor

The stamp programs that are part of the research collection here at the APRL are housed in two locations in the library. The domestic show programs can be found on the first floor of the public space between our stamp album and exhibits collections, while the international show programs are housed in the second floor Archives area. As with the rest of our collection we endeavor to have two copies of each show program with many of the programs including palmares and show catalogs as well. Like most of the other items in the APRL collection, stamp programs can be viewed and used when visiting the library and they may also be borrowed by our members.

List of Events at 100th Chicagopex Show in 1986

Not necessarily considered a primary research resource at first glance, stamp programs provide information sometimes only found in a club or society’s newsletter.  These programs, particularly for small localized shows are sometimes the only resource where one can find a list of the exhibitors and their exhibits at the show, the philatelic judges that were present, the dealers that attended the show, other societies and clubs that were present, the awards presented and given (as found in the palmares), the actual facility where the show was held, speakers and sessions that took place at the show, and so on. Some of the more detailed show programs even include brief research articles pertinent to the show’s theme or the societies present.

100th Garfield-Perry Program (1990)

Included in the collection of show programs are many programs for shows that no longer exist providing a firsthand historical account of the show and its events. In answering library requests the show programs are often used to uncover information regarding the history of a particular stamp show, the history of lesser known or noted stamp dealers and the shows they attended, to trace where, when and at what shows an exhibitor competed with a particular exhibit and so much more. If you are interested in finding out more about the APRL’s stamp show programs collection, feel free to contact us at