GASS 2023 got off to a rocking start yesterday here in Cleveland — and what a day for a stamp show! Attendees were greeted by blue skies, balmy temperatures, and a fresh breeze off of Lake Erie as they arrived at the Huntington Convention Center and headed to Hall C for the show. As dealers, societies, and APS staff put the finishing touches on their booths (and grabbed one more cup of coffee), a crowd the size of which has not been seen since before the pandemic grew outside the hall doors. Then, at 10 a.m. sharp, the doors were opened and the show began!
Show attendees rushed to peruse the wares of their favorite dealers, sorting through boxes upon boxes of covers and stamps to find new treasures to add to their collections. The American First Day Cover Society and the American Topical Association (both co-sponsors of the show) were hustling and bustling at their booths, while various postal associations, including the USPS and Posta Faroe, geared up for their respective first day ceremonies.
First Day Ceremonies
Life Magnified United States Postal Service
The Life Magnified series of Forever stamps was officially released at 11 a.m. on the main stage. The ceremony began with the national anthem (sung by Nicole Harrell, Supervisor of Distribution & Operations of Cleveland for USPS) and presentation of the colors by the USPS Honor Guard Troop. Ken Martin, APS Director of Expertizing, was the MC, and APS Executive Director Scott English (who coincidentally was celebrating his eighth anniversary with the APS) delivered the welcome. The ceremony's speakers included Luke Grossman (Senior Vice President, Finance and Strategy, USPS), Dr. Tagide deCarvalho (Director, Keith Porter Imaging Facility, University of Maryland), and Dr. Igor Siwanowicz (Research Scientist, Howard Hughes Medical Institute). Dr. deCarvalho contributed the photos of mold spores and moss leaves for the issue; Dr. Siwanowicz contributed a total of five photos, including the freshwater snail tongue.
Body, Mind, Soul United Nations Postal Authority
The United Nations Postal Authority issued the Body, Mind, Soul series at 1 p.m. on Thursday. The series, which includes three souvenir sheets, are inspired by three UNESCO intangible cultural heritage traditions from China: the practices of Taijiquan, Calligraphy and Guqin. Jay Bigalke of Linn's Stamp News served as MC, while Mark Gereb, President of the American Ceremony Program Society, opened the ceremony. APS Executive Director Scott English read a prepared statement from the UNPA about the design of the stamps and Greg Galetti, APS Board Member and representative of the United Nations Philatelists International, encouraged the audience to dig into the vast wealth of UN philately and ephemera. Following the official unveiling, Bigalke delivered special presentation folders to Gereb, English, and Galetti with on behalf of the UNPA.
Faroe Islands 1000th Stamp Posta Faroe Islands
At 2 p.m., GASS was host to a historic event — the issue of the 1000th stamp of the Faroe Islands. The stamp, which features a rock cairn against the Faroese landscape, was illustrated by renowned Faroese artist Edward Fuglø. Jay Bigalke of Lynn's Stamp News served as MC, and Ingun N. Olsen, Posta Faroe Islands Director of Philately, was the dedicating official. Olsen explained the choice of the cairn as the focus of the 1000th stamp, saying the feature is a both a navigational aid and a national symbol which represents this historic milestone. Following the official unveiling, Master Engraver Martin Mörck delivered remarks that touched on his history with the Faroe Islands and celebrated the career of Svanbjørg Manai, Posta Faroe Islands' former Director of Philately. Following the unveiling, he presented Manai (whom he dubbed "The Queen of Stamps" with a portrait of her he had engraved, while Olsen presented her with a limited-edition proof of a stamp based on the portrait.
100th Anniversary of the First Day Cover Marshall Islands/IGPC
For the final first day ceremony of the day, Jay Bigalke once again served as MC to present a set of stamps he himself had a hand in designing: a Marshall Islands issue celebrating the 100th Anniversary of the First Day Cover. Lloyd de Vries, AFDCS President and one of three recipients of this years' APS Luff Award, delivered the welcome, sharing that he has always loved that cachet design is "the only part of stamp collecting where you can make your own, and not get in trouble." Following the dedication and unveiling of the stamps honoring the FDC and its creator, George W. Linn, Dr. Jim Hering (expert on the U.S. 2c Warren G. Harding Memorial stamp issue of 1923 and retired thoracic surgeon) spoke on the history of the Harding stamp, which is also featured on one of the stamps of the Marshall Islands' issue. Bigalke also announced plans for a centennial celebration of the FDC, to take place in Marion, Ohio, on September 1, 2023. Find more details here.
The annual APS and APRL Stamp Soirée was held Thursday night at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on the Cleveland waterfront. Attendees were served green salads and had a choice of three entrees: salmon, chicken saltimbocca, or mushroom ravioli.
The author was seated with the 2020 and 2023 YPLF classes (Victor Livesay, Trevor Bills, Silas Ernst, and Bethany Hunter) and their parents. Great fun was had discussing post-YPLF plans, topical collecting, and philatelic rockband names (such as The Perferators and The Plate Blocks). The table was delighted to engage in dessert roulette, attempting to guess the flavor of various petit fours before (and sometimes after) tasting.
Following dinner, many attendees chose to explore the Hall of Fame, which remained open until 11 p.m. for guests. Visitors to the Hall of Fame are able to submit suggestions for future inductees on the third floor of the museum; later in the evening, Librarian and Director of Information Services Scott Tiffney was found voting repeatedly for Canadian bands and singer-songwriters, including The Tragically Hip and Gordon Lightfoot. Exhibits of interest included an art installation of Pink Floyd's The Wall, a vast collection of guitars and other memorabilia, and a celebration of the 50th Anniversary of Hip Hop.
Did you attend the first day of GASS 2023? Let us know what you got up to at [email protected].