When critics argued that rocket travel to the moon wouldn’t be possible, Robert Goddard responded in The Scientific American, 1921, “Everything is impossible until it is done.” For more than a year, the hobby has navigated through the unthinkable. Though the global pandemic has closed most stamp shows since March 2020, stamp collectors have improvised, and the hobby has thrived. Now we see significant progress with vaccinations, and states are easing restrictions, encouraging signs of normalcy.
In late March, we announced that we were planning for the Great American Stamp Show 2021 at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont, Illinois, from August 12-15, 2021. This year, the APS will again be partnering with the American Topical Association and the American First Day Cover Society to organize the show.
Given the uncertainties of the pandemic, we established benchmarks toward building the show. The first benchmark is the health and safety of everyone participating in the show. In March, Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker announced a path to Phase 5, completely lifting restrictions. He modified group restrictions for group gatherings and restaurants and created a Bridge Phase to reopen convention centers. Illinois is using vaccination measures and caseload monitoring to ensure risks are as low as possible. Our plan will include all necessary steps to provide a safe environment for attendees to the show.
The second benchmark we established was to provide a financially viable show for our show dealers and the APS. To accomplish this, we need commitments from 75 dealers, 25 societies, and 500 exhibit frames by May 15, 2021. I believe we can meet and beat those expectations, and we should. The show in Chicago will be our first in two years and one of the few significant shows to happen since March 2020.
To make the show a success, we need you. While we’ve sheltered in place, our socializing has been limited, with many collectors buying online, reading and connecting electronically, and learning to use Zoom. While all of those tools are critical to the hobby’s future, we should maintain the hobby’s social aspect. My second column in The American Philatelist (October 2015) was dedicated to the family atmosphere of stamp shows in light of my first ever show in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Over the years, I’ve been able to visit stamp shows all over the country, and without exception, I’ve seen old friends and made new ones.
What Can You Do?
If you are able, make plans to join us for the show in Chicago. During the pandemic, exhibitors have been working on their exhibits, and you will have the opportunity to see some excellent material. Many dealers have been acquiring new material and getting organized. Though I have made some great acquisitions online, there is still a great pleasure in digging through boxes and chatting with others.
We have some great specialty societies planning to convene at the show. If you are not a member of the ATA and AFDCS, you will get a chance to learn more about them at their show booth or participate in the many events the organizations will sponsor during the show. Other societies will sponsor talks on great philatelic subjects, allowing you to meet and talk in person with some of the most knowledgeable people in the hobby.
Even better, you will, for the first time in a long time, visit with friends you’ve missed in the past year and more. Please visit our website for more information at stamps.org/GASS and get the latest information on dealers, societies, exhibits, and talks for the show. Please also be sure to pre-register. If you are planning to attend, please reach out at email@example.com and let me know.
I look forward to seeing you at the Great American Stamp Show and celebrating the hobby in person!