Exhibiting for Beginners


To help young collectors know more about youth exhibiting and to assist them to prepare for their first exhibit.


Why Exhibit?

Exhibiting is competing, where the majority of exhibitors participate, hoping to improve their level and their collection. The reasons to move from collecting to exhibiting are many and may include the following:

  • The desire to show other people your collection.
  • Wanting to be part of what many other collectors are doing.
  • Gaining an award.
  • Increasing your level of attainment.
  • Having the opportunity for a judge to provide assistance on methods to further improve your exhibit.
  • Advancement from the National Levels to International and World levels.
  • Imposing the discipline on yourself to organize your collection.

Class of Youth Philately

The Youth category is defined as exhibits entered by young philatelists aged up to 21. There are four age classes:

Age class A up to 15 years old

Age class B 16 and 17 years old

Age class C 18 and 19 years old

Age class D 20 and 21 years old

The age attained on January 1st of the year in which the exhibition takes place, decides the relevant class as above.


Choice of Exhibit

An early decision will need to be made as to what to exhibit and what is the underlying story to be featured. From this decision will flow the exhibit’s title page, the selection of materials and words, and the sequence of the exhibit sheets. Having selected the subject area it will be necessary to assess whether there is sufficient quantity and range of material to assemble into the multiples of 16 sheets to comply with the frame size used in competitive exhibiting. At the national level, the minimum requirement is one frame, and the maximum can be five. At the international level, the minimum is two frames for Class A & B and maximum is four. For Class C & D, the minimum is three the maximum can be up to five frames. Furthermore, only exhibits which have obtained at least a Silver-bronze medal in National Exhibition can be shown internationally.


Collecting Disciplines

The major classes are:

  • Traditional: The collection of postage stamps, proofs, essays, colour trials and the specific study of stamps mint and used and including postage.
  • Aerophilately: The study of stamps, stickers, envelopes and covers relating to any form of airmail transmission of mail.
  • Postal History: The study of postal services, routes, rates, postal markings of any form relating to the carriage of mails.
  • Postal Stationary: The study of all items of stationery issued by postal authorities.
  • Thematics: A collection presented under a common theme. Sometimes referred to as ‘Topical collecting’. The range of themes is limited only by the imagination and inventiveness of the collector and exhibitor.
  • Open Class: This is essentially an experimental class with no rules and a free-form type of exhibiting. Such exhibitions permit the inclusion of a certain amount of non-philatelic material, but the main portion of the exhibits must still show philatelic materials.

There are also smaller, uncommon areas such as: (a) Maximaphily (the exhibition of maximum cards), (b) Astrophilately, (c) the Revenue Class, (d) Cinderellas , and (e) Literature.


Guidelines and Regulations

When entering exhibits to be judged, there are guidelines and rules to be followed. The guidelines provide for uniformity in presentation of the exhibits and for rules by which they be judged. Understanding the guidelines will help identify what exhibitors can and cannot do, or in many cases should and should not do. Thus it makes sense to prepare an exhibit according to the rules, in order to gain maximum points from the jurors. Copies of such guidelines and regulations can always be obtained from the event organizers.



Judging is based on a ‘points’ system, whereby points (totaling 100) are allocated to specific criteria which are then assessed in respect of the exhibit. The allocation of points for the various criteria corresponds to the philatelic degree of advancement of the young collector.

For the evaluation of youth exhibits concerning traditional philately, postal history, postal stationery, aerophilately, astrophilately, revenue and maximaphily, the following points will be allocated for the criteria mentioned in the various age classes:

CriteriaAge Class AAge Class BAge Class CAge Class D

For the evaluation of youth exhibits concerning thematic philately, the following points will be allocated for the criteria mentioned in the various age classes:
CriteriaAge Class AAge Class BAge Class CAge Class D

Medals, diplomas and certificates of participation are awarded based on the points achieved:

59 points – certification of participation

60 points – bronze medal

65 points – silver-bronze medal

70 points – silver medal

75 points – large silver medal

80 points – vermeil medal

85 points – large vermeil medal

A large vermeil medal is the highest medal awarded to young philatelist and special prizes may additionally be awarded to exhibits of large silver and above.


Key Features of a good Thematic Exhibit

Young collectors might like to start by exhibiting in the thematic class since a wider range of philatelic materials from a worldwide source could be utilized. For thematic exhibits to score well, the following six criteria are important:

  • Choice of the theme and its title – The choice of the title is important. It tells the viewer, and the judge, what he can expect to see. It should have general appeal, be an original presentation, or on an unusual topic.
  • The intent and scope of the plan - The plan represents the detail breakdown from the title. It represents a concise outline of your storyline in a clear, logical and precise order. This is the most important page of your exhibit as it accounts for 20% of the marks. This determines the ‘completeness’ of the exhibit, since all aspects of the title needs to be covered by the exhibit’s development.
  • Development – This should be in depth, with a story having a beginning, middle and conclusion.
    Knowledge of subject area – This should embrace a wide spectrum of both thematic and philatelic knowledge, highlighted with brief text, and illustrated through the use of a wide selection of philatelic material types.
  • Choice of material – The material selected must be in harmony with the exhibit’s theme and development (say what you show, and show what you say!)
  • Rarity – The material should suggest some degree of originality, difficulty in acquisition and serious philatelic research (but this need not mean value or cost)

Developing a Theme

A good and effective storyline depends on a well conceived and precise title, combined with a detailed thought out and fluent plan. Scope, depth and balance are the principal requirements. A useful aid is to remember the "Seven ‘Cs" of development:

  • Correct – Materials used must have been issued by a postal authority for the transmission of mail.
  • Connected – Materials be directly related to the theme.
  • Creative – Development will be rewarded for innovation,, or lateral thinking, or for a novel approach taken.
  • Concise – Be brief and precise. Avoid lengthy explanations to dominate.
  • Chronological – Each sheet’s write-up and order of material should be presented in correct sequence according to date order or actual event occurrence.
  • Complete – Depicts every aspect related to the full progression of the theme and story.
  • Continuous – The storyline flows from sheet to sheet.

Making A Start

The best way to know more about exhibiting is to prepare an actual exhibit. One will learn first hand from undertaking such a task. Joining a philatelic organization will also be beneficial since the assistance of experience exhibitors can be sought. The Hong Kong Philatelic Society is keen to help novice or first time exhibitors. To join the Society, please write to the Secretary, at G.P.O. Box 446, Hong Kong, or follow the joining instructions shown on the Society’s homepage at: hkpsociety.com