Resource of the Month – Handbook and Manual for Exhibiting

For anyone, beginner or advanced collector, who has had the opportunity to attend either a local stamp show or one of the larger WSP shows, one of the experiences not to be missed at the show is visiting and viewing the philatelic exhibits on display. Whether competitive or non-competitive, exhibits provide an incredible insight into the hobby showing attendees what others collect and the possibilities available for their own collecting. Exhibits tell a story using stamps, covers and other philatelic material as the medium.

Page from “The Philatelic Exhibitors Handbook”

From internationally recognized award-winning exhibits to the local exhibits assembled  purely for fun, whether one frame or eight frames, exhibits provide not only a visual and textual  insight into the hobby but provide an incredible learning experience for the collector and philatelic researcher alike. The subject matter of exhibits can run the gamut of philately. In the General Class of competitive exhibiting alone the avenues for exhibits includes such subject matter as Aerophilately, Astrophilately, Cinderellas, First Day Covers, Picture Postcards, Postal History, Postal Stationery, Revenues, Thematic, and Topical. Other classes for exhibits include the One Frame Class, the Youth Class, Literature Class and the Non-Competitive Class.

This month’s highlighted resources are two indispensible books that assist both the exhibitor with their exhibit and provide insight and clarity into exhibit judging.  The first is The Philatelic Exhibitors Handbook by Randy Neil with updates by Ada Prill [HE6215 .N398pe 2006] and the second is the APS Manual of Philatelic Judging and Exhibiting [HE6215 .A513m 2016].  Both resources provide very detailed information regarding the fundamentals of exhibiting and exhibit judging. The former is a great starting point for the beginner or intermediate exhibitor describing the “how and why” of exhibiting while introducing the exhibitor to the various classes and divisions of competitive exhibiting as well as formats and guidelines for creating an exhibit. It also includes a brief overview of judges and judging.

Page from “Manual for Philatelic Judging & Exhibiting”

The latter resource, now in its seventh edition, provides many of the finer details of the aforementioned classes and divisions for exhibiting as well as the particulars of exhibit formatting and creation. In contrast to the overview of judging provided in the first resource, this manual includes chapters which delineate the specific details of philatelic judging and exhibit evaluation including judging forms and a description of points scoring and medal levels. Appendices provide further information about the responsibilities of the exhibitor, definitions and guidelines for exhibit development, and administrative elements for local, national and international judging.  

Both of this month’s highlighted resources provide a wealth of information regarding every facet of exhibiting and judging proving how beneficial and rewarding this philatelic story-telling can be for every level of collector. Both resources are available at the APRL for borrowing or research by contacting the library at The latter resource, APS Manual of Philatelic judging and Exhibiting, is freely available online for viewing, downloading or printing from the APS website at

4 thoughts on “Resource of the Month – Handbook and Manual for Exhibiting”

  1. Hi im researching different plates of Scott 231.I was hoping you have more insight to the stamp. I have found numerous plate differences and even a Fifth split hat type, And a maybe new broken F, and what i call a hole in the head type.Any info more would be a great help.

  2. A much needed resource! Exhibiting is a sience of its own, which I have never fully understood. And therefore refrained from exhibiting in official exhibitions, fearing he complicated rules and fearing to pursue the wrong strategy.

    1. Yes, exhibiting can be mystifying, but like many activities the more you try it the more comfortable you get. One of the best helps is the judges’ feedback sessions, which give you ideas of what to improve upon for next time, as well as seeing your exhibit from the judges’ perspective.

  3. I would also recommend “Path to Gold: 175 Proven Stamp Exhibiting Tips” by Steve Zwillinger. The book is full of useful advice, but the collecting community has shunned it because of the personal failings of the author. The advice is still valid.

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