By Michael Baadke
The opening ceremony for World Stamp Show-NY 2016 began at 9:15 a.m. on Saturday, May 28, with a patriotic flourish in honor of the 28th Fleet Week New York, the celebration of United States sea services taking place in New York City the same week as the stamp show.
The Special Events Hall at the Javits Center where the show is being held was filled with visitors from all over the world anticipating the opening of this fabulous once-every-10-years show.
Master of ceremonies Jamie Gough described the presentation of colors and the singing of the Star Spangled Banner for the benefit of the many overseas visitors present in the hall. The national anthem was sung by MFC Dan Smith of the U.S. Navy, with the presentation of colors by the U.S. Navy Color Guard.
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Remarks in honor of Fleet Week were made by Vice Admiral Joseph P. Mulloy, and Admiral Thomas B. Fargo, who told the assembled crowd he was a collector: “a shoebox collector,” he said, whose interests included not only stamps, but baseball cards as well. He described having a plate block collection and a collection of first-day covers.
“Collecting has been an immensely enjoyable and satisfying part of my life,” Fargo said.
Fargo is from Hawaii, and he also noted that he’s a friend of Thurston Twigg-Smith, the legendary collector of Hawaii Missionaries and the Persis collection, also known as the Honolulu Advertisercollection.
Wade Saadi, the president of World Stamp Show-NY 2016, was next to take the stage.
“In the many years that I’ve been in the hobby, I’ve never seen so many people come together to make this event what it is today,” Saadi said, commending hundreds of volunteers from all over the United States who put the show together, assembled exhibits, manned the registration booth and took care of all the other necessary details to create a successful show.
He also acknowledged the hard work contributed by volunteers and staff of the American Philatelic Society, the American Stamp Dealers Association, the United States Postal Service, and the contributions of dedicated collectors and 60 philatelic jurors examining more than 700 international exhibits. His final thanks were reserved for the show’s dedicated vice president, Steven J. Rod, and Saadi’s wife Gail.
“We are delighted to have you join us on this momentous occasion, as 10 years of planning and hard work come to fruition in an eight-day celebration of stamp collecting,” Saadi said in the program for the opening ceremony provided to those in attendance.
U.S. Postal Service Executive Vice President James P. Cochrane is the agency’s chief marketing and sales officer, which puts him in charge of the Stamp Services organizations.
“Ever since my first day on the job, I’ve been fascinated with postage stamps,” Cochrane said. He described stamp collecting as a form of expression. “I love the fact that part of my job is to promote stamps, and stamp collecting.”
Cochrane noted that the Postal Service also employs 113,000 veterans from all branches of the military, and pointed out that the Postal Service will issue its Service Cross Medals-Honoring Extraordinary Heroism set of four stamps on Monday, May 30, which is celebrated as Armed Forces Day by the WSS-NY 2016 stamp show.
He described all of the U.S. stamps that will be issued during the show, and spoke passionately about the future of stamps and the stamp hobby.
As Cochrane concluded his talk, American founding father Alexander Hamilton strode out from the wings to address the crowd with stories of his life and accomplishments, and his 1804 duel with Aaron Burr, which did not turn out well for Hamilton. He also showed the crowd the $5 definitive stamp honoring him that was issued in 1956 (Scott 1053).
Hamilton’s appearance was followed by a brief video presentation from collector Stuart Weitzman in Spain, who was unable to attend the show. Weitzman is the owner of the famed British Guiana 1¢ Magenta stamp, the rarest and most valuable stamp in the world, which is on display in the World Stamp Show-NY 2016 Court of Honor.
The guests on stage gathered near the podium to conclude the event with a ceremonial ribbon cutting by Saadi, and the enthusiastic crowd headed upstairs to join what promises to be one of the greatest stamp shows in history.