It took eighty-three years to happen, but once again Omaha, Nebraska hosted the American Philatelic Society’s annual StampShow. Also known as The Big O, Omaha was the site of the 1936 annual APS convention but the APS had not had a return visit due to the fear that the area did not have enough collectors to support such a huge event. However, at the 2015 StampShow in Grand Rapids, the APS board, after much debate, agreed to take a chance and see if a “small market” area such as Omaha could, in fact, generate sufficient collector participation to result in a successful show. Although all of the numbers have not yet been crunched as I write this only two days after the show, the word is that Omaha came through with flying colors.
As in the past, the United States Stamp Society was present for the full four day run of the event. Located along Society Row, our booth was a busy place with a steady stream of members and potential members stopping by to say hello, purchase our publications or ask for information. As you can see from the list below, more than ninety members from Hawaii to New Jersey signed in during the show.
A feature introduced at last year’s show, Ye Olde Passport, was repeated this year. The Passport was a large card containing spaces for small stickers which had been provided to each of the participating groups and societies showing the logo of each. The Passports were given to each show attendee when they picked up a show program and generated a tremendous amount of foot traffic up and down Society Row. Both kids and adults alike were making the rounds to obtain each group’s sticker in an effort to complete their entire card. When they would stop for the sticker it provided a wonderful opportunity to speak with them about their collecting interests and explain what the Society had to offer them. These casual contacts actually resulted in selling a number of publications and signing up a few new members. I certainly hope this becomes a permanent feature of the annual show.
The opening day of the show featured the First Day Ceremony for the four stamp set of Military Working Dogs (all canines should be insulted by the design of these) and it was very well attended. The real surprise that day was that the postal service had brought more than 6,000 of the 2013 inverted Jenny souvenir sheets (Sc. 4806) to the show. It was reported that one dealer purchased 1,000 sheets as soon as the show opened and another dealer from the east coast gobbled up the 5,800 remaining at the end of the day. More sheets were brought in on the following days and by the time the show closed it was reported that almost 12,000 had been sold.
Another remarkable happening was the appearance of legendary investment guru and Omaha resident Warren Buffett at the show. “The Oracle of Omaha” spent a considerable amount of time at the show looking at exhibits, speaking with show-goers and graciously posing for pictures.
On Friday evening nineteen hearty souls gathered at the end of the show day and took a short shuttle ride to the Upstream Brewery Company restaurant for our traditional StampShow Dutch Treat Dinner. Although our seating area was a bit chilly, the food was good and the comradery was even better.
As you may know, StampShow hosts both the annual Champion of Champions exhibit competition as well as an open competition. Society members were prominent in both groups. Jon Krupnick, Charles O’Brien III, Nick Lombardi, Anthony Dewy, Robert Hohertz, Mike Ley and Charles (Chuck) Wooster were among the thirty candidates for the Champion of Champions Award. Unfortunately, all seven of our members tied for second place (along with everyone else) behind the winner, Yamil Kouri, Jr. and his exhibit, The First Postal Issues of the Spanish Antilles.
In the multi-frame open competition our member exhibitors did very well. Vicky Hadley, Jon Krupnick, Tim Lindemuth, Charles O’Brien, III, Wade Saadi and Gregory Scott Ward all received Large Gold medals. Paul Ammons, Anthony Dewey, Mike Ley, Wayne Schuetz and Gary Weiss were awarded Gold medals. Large Vermeil medals were earned by Tim Lindemuth, Ralph Nafziger, Stephen Suffet and Wayne Youngblood. The USSS Statue of Freedom Award was won by Wade Saadi for his Large Gold exhibit, Postal Rates and Usages of U.S. Parcel Post Postage Due Stamps on Domestic and International Mail – 1913 to 1928.
In the single frame open competition, Mick Hadley won a Large Gold medal and the Grand Award with his exhibit, Uses of the 1908 U.S. Coils. A single frame Gold medal went to Anthony Dewey and a single frame Large Vermeil was awarded to Wayne Schuetz.
I should also note that four of the nine Court of Honor exhibits were the work of our members. John Hotchner, Robert Hohertz, Robert Rufe and Jon Krupnick each had their material displayed in this area for all to enjoy.
Inasmuch as the APS and the American Topical Association (ATA) had decided to collaborate in the production of this show, the ATA held its National Topical Stamp Show competition here. Both Larry Nix and Anthony Wawrukiewicz received Large Gold medals for their topical exhibits while Joel Cohen earned a Silver Bronze medal for his work.
A Philatelic Literature competition in which published articles, catalogs, columns, handbooks and journals are judged was also held at the show. Tim Lindemuth, Joel Cohen, Dennis Sadowski, Wayne Youngblood, David Crotty, Louis Fiset and Alan Warren each received medals for their written works.
At the Celebration Banquet (formerly the Awards Dinner) on Saturday evening there was a very special surprise early on during the dinner when our own past president, Jay Stotts, was honored by the American Association of Philatelic Exhibitors (AAPE) by the presentation of the Bernard A. Hennig, Sr. Award for Excellence and Improvements in Philatelic Judging. Created in 2007, the award is the way the AAPE recognizes those judges who have done an outstanding job over a prolonged period showing sustained excellence in their judging skills (especially in helping exhibitors) and in innovating and improving the judging process. An accredited judge since 1989, no one meets this criteria better than Jay. Congratulations!
Another USSS member singled out for special recognition at the dinner was Jim Dempsey of A & D Stamps and Coins who received the Dealer of the Year Award. Together with his wife Sue, Jim has operated the business for sixty years and is a fixture at many national and regional shows. At age 88, Jim is still going strong and in accepting the award noted that he had just signed his dealer booth reservation for Boston 2026. Jim is certainly deserving of this honor and is a credit to the U.S. Stamp Society.
Although not presented at the banquet, the dinner program noted that the twelfth annual United States Stamp Society – Barbara R. Mueller Award for the best article appearing in the American Philatelist during 2018 was won by Kathleen Wunderly for her article “The Suicide Club’ and “Hell’s Strech” which had been published in the May 2018 issue.
As you had seen in the April Specialist, we have 57 members who qualified for the 15, 25 or 50 year Membership Anniversary pins during 2019. Therefore, one of my main goals at the show was to get these pins to as many receiving members as possible. Fortunately, a number of these folks attended the show and stopped by our booth. However, if you are one of these members and was unable to attend this show or WESTPEX back in April, your pin will be mailed to you before the end of the year.
Special thanks go out to Jay and Denise Stotts, Roger Brody, Larry Ballantyne, Jeff Shapiro, Bob Rufe, and K. David Steidley for helping man the booth at different times.