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Let's Discuss Frugal Exhibiting

2022 Stampex Show Guide Article by Ian McMahon

First published September, 2022.

Many people over the years have complained about the high cost of forming an exhibit. While there is no doubt that a top exhibit in many fields, especially of the classical era, will cost a considerable amount of money, there is considerable scope for developing interesting exhibits of less expensive material making use of a collector’s knowledge and their ability to ferret out scare and unusual material.

Remember that the judging criteria for an exhibit include points for presentation, treatment, knowledge and research, all of which relate to the exhibitor’s exhibiting skill and not directly to the value of the material. In addition, rarity doesn’t always equate with high value especially in less popular collecting areas.

In order to encourage collectors to exhibit such material, the Australian Philatelic Federation has established a Frugal Philately Class for National Exhibitions with the aim of providing an opportunity for collectors to display an exhibit comprised of interesting philatelic material which is of low cost, and in doing so enhance their philatelic skills. The class name derives from the low wholesale value of the entire exhibit. Should the wholesale value of the exhibit exceed a set limit then penalties apply resulting in a loss of points and possibly a lower award. The judging is carried out in two stages. Firstly, entries are judged using the normal criteria except that Rarity is judged as ‘difficulty of acquisition; with the marks for this category being reduced by 10 points, and the points for knowledge and research being increased by 10 points. Secondly the exhibit is assessed as to its wholesale value by judges drawn from the philatelic trade with penalties applied if the value is higher than the specified limit (currently AUD$200 per frame).

Even if a Frugal Philately Class isn’t available at a National Exhibition, the development of a frugal exhibit will enable you to use your philatelic knowledge, your skills at preparing an exhibit and your ability to track down those elusive items to provide an outstanding display. Suitable frugal philately topics can include detailed studies of modern definitive issues, for example, the architecture definitives of Fiji, modern postal stationery (for example, modern express post postal stationery) and modern postal markings and postal history. Many Frugal exhibits of modern postal history and postal stationery have been formed from office mail at almost no cost to the exhibitor.

Even if the result isn’t a Large Gold medal, the exhibitor will have improved their philatelic and exhibiting skills and enjoyed themselves creating a worthwhile exhibit.


Have you exhibited in a frugal manner before? What do you think about this idea? Share your thoughts on Frugal Exhibiting in the comments below.

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Mar 12

I exhibited on international level a one frame frugal exhibit costing less than USD50. The paper and printing cost more than the philatelic items. The exhibit received 75 points.

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