By Charles Snee
For mountain climbers, the ultimate thrill is the summit of Mt. Everest: There are no higher peaks to climb.
For stamp collectors in the United States and around the world, the equivalent of summiting Everest will be attending World Stamp Show-NY 2016 in New York City.
This monumental, once-a-decade philatelic extravaganza opens May 28 at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center and runs for eight days through June 4.
Perhaps you’re wondering what to expect from the show.
Here are some of the key numbers:
200 — More than 200 dealers are expected to attend the show. Many of them have been preparing for months, searching for new and exciting stock to entice collectors of all levels and budgets. It’s highly likely that you’ll be able to complete your want list at NY2016.
60 — Some 60 societies and specialty organizations will have displays on the show floor, conduct membership meetings, and present lectures and seminars on a broad spectrum of topics. Best of all, most of these meetings are open to the public, so bring a friend along.
4,500 — Competitive exhibits spanning just about any subject you can think of will be on display in 4,000 exhibit frames. There also will be around 500 frames housing noncompetitive exhibits. In addition to the exhibits, there will a court of honor displaying some of the hobby’s greatest and most recognizable rarities, including the unique 1856 1¢ Magenta of British Guiana.
50 — More than 50 postal administrations, including our own U.S. Postal Service, will be open for business at the show, offering their latest new issues and other specialty products.
200,000 — The show’s organizing committee expects more than 200,000 collectors and their families and friends will visit during the course of the eight-day show.
294,000 — A show this size needs an enormous amount of space: 294,000 square feet, to be exact. WSS-NY 2016 will be spread across the cavernous Level 3 of the Javits Center at 655 W. 34th St.
0 — And the best news? Admission to the show is free.
Believe it or not, planning for WSS-NY 2016 began before Washington 2006, the last international stamp exhibition held in the United States, opened its doors May 27, 2006, in the nation’s capital.
“It is very hard to believe that the organizing committee has been meeting continuously since 2005,” show vice president Steven Rod told Linn’s.
“Several of us were granted ‘All-Pass’ status at Washington 2006, so that we could go anywhere, and see anything as a way of learning about the show. I remember thinking how far off 2016 was at the time. And now here we are in 2016, with less than five months to go.”
Rod spoke with great admiration of the members of the organizing committee — all of whom are volunteers — who have put in countless hours for more than a decade to make WSS-NY 2016 the best it can be.
“The most wonderful part of World Stamp Show-NY 2016 from behind the scenes is that our organizing committee is comprised of members from 13 states in different geographic areas,” remarked Rod.
“It's not a New York-planned or -anchored show — it is truly an international show being planned by a group of United States (not just New York City) volunteers. That is fantastic.”
Veteran collector and exhibitor Wade Saadi, who sits at the helm of the show as president, is equally effusive about those who serve on the organizing committee.
The committee’s more than 30 members “are completely dedicated to accomplish their responsibilities on time and within budget,” stated Saadi.
“We are fortunate to have the very best people in the hobby, each spending countless hours as volunteers. None look for accolades, but are excited to be contributing to a great team.”
During the next four months, hundreds of additional volunteers will be required to prepare the show space for the participating dealers, auction houses, postal administrations, societies, and the thousands of visitors expected to attend.
These volunteers also will be needed after the show closes June 4, to assist with the lengthy dismantling process.
You might not be aware that World Stamp Show-NY 2016 will be the 11th international philatelic exhibition to be staged in the United States.
The first five — in 1913, 1926, 1936, 1947 and 1956 — were held in New York City.
“Starting in 1966, due to a very complicated set of circumstances, the international exhibition started to float around the country every 10 years,” explained Rod.
“So World Stamp Show-NY 2016 is a very big deal, because it is the first time in six decades the show is back where it all began.
“The 1956 show was held at the New York Coliseum, which closed in 1986, when the Javits Center opened to replace it.”
If all the forgoing seems a bit daunting, don’t worry: You can still have a fantastic time at a show of this size — even if you can only come for one day.
Linn’s asked Steven Rod how he would prioritize his time if he had just one day to attend WSS-NY 2016.
“Wow! That is a very difficult question,” he began. “Just to be perfectly clear, it would not be possible to see everything there will be at this show, even if you could possibly be there for all of that time!”
He first suggests that you spend at least three hours preparing for your eight-hour day at the show.
“You need to spend time determining what appeals to you the most before leaving your home” to attend the show, he said.
To start, you will want to be there when the show opens at 10 a.m.
Your first stop should be the court of honor, where Rod recommends spending one hour to see some of the “more than 100 frames of the world’s rarest stamps and covers” that will be on display.
Next up, for one hour, is a browse through the postal administrations, which will be close to the court of honor. “You can literally walk from country to country and buy postage stamps at their face value using American dollars,” Rod said.
Of course, you will want to spend some time shopping at the dealer booths. To maximize this 90-minute block of time, Rod suggests that you make a list of the dealers you want to visit.
“Now is the time to write to them — send them e-mails and tell them that you’ll be at WSS-NY 2016 and what you want them to bring for you,” advises Rod.
Next, give yourself a quick 30 minutes for a restroom stop and some lunch. It’s hard to stay focused when you are hungry.
It’s now 2 p.m., and you should take in a seminar on a subject that you find appealing.
Rod said that the show has “assembled the most knowledgeable and interesting presenters from around the globe. Please be sure to choose one hour and attend a presentation that is of special interest to you. You will remember it and benefit from it for a long time to come.”
Your next stop should be the exhibits, starting at 3 p.m. Rod emphasizes the need to decide ahead of time which exhibits to see. “Hopefully you have marked down those exhibits you ‘must see’ in frame number order. And you will spend the next 75 minutes viewing these great collections.”
From 4:15 p.m. to 5 p.m., get back on the bourse floor to shop some more, Rod suggests.
Then, at 5 p.m., head over to the large U.S. Postal Service booth for 15 minutes.
“The lines should be pretty short by this time of day, and you can stop by to purchase from the huge inventory of U.S. postage stamps they will be stocking,” Rod said.
Rod advises taking 15 minutes to visit the society area: “Be sure to stop off at booths where you are already a member, and join a stamp society while you are at the show.”
It’s now 5:30 p.m., and the show will close in 30 minutes.
“End your whirlwind day by visiting the reading room,” Rod recommended, “where all of the award-winning books and journals will be on display.”
Of course, what schedule you ultimately can keep when you visit World Stamp Show-NY 2016 is entirely up to you. For more information, visit the Linn's World Stamp Show-NY 2016 homepage.
We hope to see you there.