HAMPEX - Hampshire Philatelic Federation Competitions - Competitive Exhibiting Hints and Tips

New Logo HPF Emblem - Click for HPF Principal Contacts
Junior Page
Philatelic Links
Junior Workshop
Main Competition
Entry Forms
Competitive Exhibiting
Philatelic Classes
Awards and Marking
Competition Rules


The following hints and tips may assist exhibitors when submitting competitive exhibits. The comments are mainly directed at exhibitors of Postal History, Open Philately and Aerophilately, however the majority of the comments and criterion can be interpreted for all aspects and classes of Exhibiting and Judging.
Exhibits are judged and displayed in frames of sixteen sheets arranged in four rows of four sheets each. The pages are arranged to flow from the top left along the top row and so on from left to right with the sixteenth sheet placed in the bottom right hand position on row four. When considering the overall impression of an exhibit this arrangement should be borne in mind, looking at the balance of objects on each page and how they appear together in the frame. A second frame is arranged in a similar manner for 32 sheet competitions.
Whether the exhibitor likes it or not, the judges have a limited amount of time to judge a whole competition. In the case of HAMPEX, the judging team starts at 10 am and aims to finish by about 5 pm with a break for lunch. In this period they view and mark about 50 frames of exhibits and review the winning entries for consistency. The competitor must therefore identify clearly the main points of their exhibit and create a winning impression that the judge can absorb quickly and easily.
A copy of the introductory page (also called the Title Page, and submitted with the entry form) is sent to the judges prior to judging day to give them a flavour for all the exhibits to be seen and an opportunity to check points with which they may be unfamiliar. The introductory sheet (aka introductory page) should therefore show the exhibitor's knowledge of the material they have chosen and help the judge (and the public) to appreciate the significance of key items on display. Bluntly, tell the judges what you are showing them, how you are going about it and point out anything that you think they should take particular note of. All classes of exhibit require an introductory page.

Philatelic Importance:

Philatelic Importance requires an evaluation of philatelic significance of the subject chosen by the exhibitor, in terms of scope, degree of difficulty of the subject and the philatelic interest of the exhibit. The following points should be considered when evaluating the Importance criterion:
  • Is this exhibit important? Why?
  • Is the subject significant for the overall development in its field?
  • Does the area covered contribute to the development of the infrastructure?
  • Is a wide enough area covered?
  • Does the exhibit cover a long enough period?
  • Is the area and period important?
  • Does the exhibit cover a small field of collecting?
  • Should the scope be enlarged or reduced?
  • Is this an exhibit difficult to build, material hard to find and difficult to improve?


The Treatment of the Exhibit requires an evaluation of completeness and correctness of the selected material made by the exhibitor to illustrate his chosen subject. As for any story, an exhibit should have a clear beginning, a central theme and a logical ending. The title and a clearly defined plan (or introductory page) are important parts of an exhibit which explain to the Judge and the viewer what the exhibitor is trying to show. The following should be considered when evaluating the Treatment criterion:
  • Does the exhibit conform to the plan and introduction page?
  • Is the exhibit balanced in relation to the plan, the introduction page and the scope?
  • Is the exhibit complete; are any important parts, or objects missing?
  • Is the exhibit space used properly for showing the material?
  • Is scarce or expensive material duplicated?
  • Is the material proper and relevant philatelic material for the subject matter?
  • Does the exhibitor show originality of approach?

Philatelic and Related Knowledge, Personal Study and Research

Philatelic and Related Knowledge, Personal Study and Research require the following evaluation: Knowledge is the degree of knowledge of the exhibitor as expressed by the items chosen for display and the related comments; Personal Study is the proper analysis of the items chosen for display; Research is the presentation of new facts relating to the chosen subjects. The following should be considered when evaluating the criterion of Philatelic and Related Knowledge, Personal Study and Research:
  • Are the correct items chosen for the display? Why? What don't you have?
  • Are the displayed items properly analysed?
  • Is there any information about the dates / postal rates / postal routes / markings etc. missing?
  • Is the provided information correct?
  • Does the exhibit show outstanding personal research?
  • Is new and original research documented?
  • Is available research used successfully?
  • Is the information given balanced against the introductory plan?

Condition and Rarity

Condition and rarity are obvious but can often be contradictory. The exhibitor will have to decide whether to display a scarce cover in poor condition or a not so scarce cover in a better condition. One must bear in mind the best quality available. Modern material should be in first class condition. Rarity is directly related to the philatelic items shown and the relative scarcity of material available. Rarity is not always equivalent with or proportional to value. As condition varies for various material and items, judges should consider the quality obtainable. In general, good condition, clear legible postal marking and cachets, and a good general appearance should be rewarded, while poor quality should be penalised. Stamps on covers and other items should be in good condition. Crash and postal damaged covers and items are an exception to the general rule on condition. However, the postal markings applied to salvage covers should be as clear as possible. Repaired items are to be mentioned in the description. The detection of obviously faked or repaired material, which is not described as such, will result in a penalty.

The following points should be considered when evaluating the Condition criterion:
  • Is the quality of the rare material of an acceptable condition?
  • Is the quality of more common material immaculate?
  • Are repaired objects mentioned in the description?
  • Are postmarks and manuscript markings legible?
  • Are stamps, vignettes and labels shown in good condition?
  • Does the exhibit contain many overpaid items?

The following points should be considered when evaluating the Rarity criterion:
  • Does the exhibit show all the objects of its field?
  • Does the exhibit display newly discovered items?
  • Are items of this field of exhibiting easy to acquire?
  • Is common material dominating the exhibit?


Presentation should complement the treatment of the exhibit by its general layout and clarity. Judges should evaluate how the presentation enhances the understanding and attractiveness of the exhibit. Illustrations of relevant postal markings are necessary only when the originals are not clear enough to the observer. When it is desirable to illustrate significant markings on the reverse side of a cover, they may either be drawn or illustrated with a reproduction (photograph, photocopy or scanned image), but a reproduction should be apparent as such to the observer. Colour copies or photographs should be reduced at least 25% in size from the original and clearly marked as a copy. Presentation may be worth up to 15% of the mark and some exhibitors do not give this enough attention. A nicely presented exhibit may assist the jurors in a better understanding of the Treatment, Knowledge and Rarity of the exhibit and therefore gain extra points under those sections.

The following points should be considered when evaluating the Presentation criterion:
  • Is there too little, or too much material on the sheets?
  • Is there a lack of balance between the sheets in the exhibit?
  • Are colour reproductions not reduced by at least 25% of the original?
  • Is the text visually un attractive?
  • Is the information easy to read?
  • Is the relevant spelling correct?
  • Does the information overwhelm the objects; is it too informative?
  • Are there too many non relevant illustrations/ photocopies?

Some Tips

  • The Title Page (Plan, Introductory Page) is intended to introduce the subject of the exhibit, give structure and set out its scope and content to the viewer / jury. It should also include something pictorial (e.g. a map, proof, or cover) for a one or two frame exhibit. An Introductory Page is required for all classes of exhibit and the jury will deduct marks for failure to include one. Indeed, since 2009 the rules for the ABPS National One Frame Exhibition require every exhibit to have one.
  • The title must agree with the contents of the exhibit.
  • In their report on the Sheffield 2011 exhibition the jury noted "we would draw exhibitors' attention to the need to have clear introductory pages that explain what they are showing rather than a list of key items, ..."
  • The exhibit should demonstrate a clear 'story line' throughout.
  • An exhibit should finish with strong material and a clean end to the subject of the display.
  • An exhibit should not span too great a period of time for the number of pages available.
These notes were prepared by Brian Presland and Julian Jones. The ABPS published Booklet No. 3: Competitive Exhibiting at Local and Federation Level, By Dr A Huggins, 2001. Tony R Findlayson wrote about the importance of the introductory sheet in the ABPS News of October 1997. The British Philatelic Trust published a booklet entitled Guidelines for Thematic Judges and Exhibitors at Local and Federation Level by Franceska Rapkin, FRPSL.

The Hampshire Federation competitions are run as a stepping stone towards ABPS National competitions. Details of the marking, rules and qualification criteria are found on the ABPS website under "ABPS Exhibiting->Downloads".

Here is a useful resource on the website of the American Association of Philatelic Exhibitors where you will find a large range of exhibits to study, including "How to Build a Philatelic Exhibit".

For someone who has been collecting postal history there comes a moment when you realise that you have lots and lots of items in your collection. If you then wish to exhibit your collection or enter into a competition the biggest problem is often 'where to start/ what to display'? The constraints are often (initially) fitting into 16 or 32 sheets and how to tell a story that makes your exhibit interesting and understandable to another collector - or the judges! If this is your dilemma then take a look at How to select items from a large collection for display or competition. and follow the links within it to see how someone else tackled the problem.

For Open Philately entries the following may prove useful: Handbook for Open collectors and exhibitors in Open Class, by Gunnar Dahlvig, RDP, published by the Swedish Association of Thematic Stamp Collectors (in English), available from the Swedish Philatelic Federation.

Guidance on how Picture Postcard exhibits are to be judged is included on this ABPS guidance page.

Exhibiting Postal History: this is a good, basic resource for all exhibitors - not just for FIP shows. Go to Fédération Internationale de Philatélie Postal History Commission. Then click on Seminars and Exhibits in the left column. Click on Streamlined Seminars in the middle column. You should now see How to Win a Gold Medal in the Postal History Class (SS3) with the download links in the right hand column. Select and download the appropriate file. Review that article for guidance on what one has to do to achieve Gold at international level. It will help to put your own efforts into perspective.

Click here to contact the HAMPEX Organising Committee members. For guidance on International Competition and Exhibiting review the General Regulations of the FIP for the Evaluation of Competitive Exhibits at FIP Exhibitions (GREV) on the FIP website below. A free copy of the General and Special Regulations and Guidelines for the Evaluation of Exhibits at FIP Competitions can also be obtained from ABPS.

Click for ABPS Exhibiting section      FIP - Fédération Internationale de Philatélie - Click for Website

July 2020


Click to Return to Top of Page