In a city like New York, a city of glamour, sophistication and coolness, we dorks rarely get a moment in the sun. This week, however, is our moment, for World Stamp Show NY 2016 is in progress.
This stamp show, being held at the Jacob Javits Convention Center, is the eleventh international philatelic exhibition to be held in the United States and the first one to be held in New York in sixty years. The last one, in 1956, was held at the then-new New York Coliseum, an exhibition hall on Columbus Circle that is long since gone. A lot has changed about the hobby since then, and not usually for the better, as interest in philately has declined (it's the Elvis Costello of hobbies; it's seen as being only for losers who don't have social lives), and the Internet has rendered first-class postal mail all but obsolete. But it's a hobby of practitioners devoted to keeping it alive and committed to help it prosper and grow in the future.
I went to the show on May 28 (it runs until June 4), and I was encouraged by the huge number of exhibits on display and the large number of people in attendance. The big draws at this show are the 1856 Penny Magenta stamp from British Guiana (now the independent republic of Guyana), which is the rarest stamp in the world (there's only one copy!), the "Inverted Jenny" of 1918, the 24-cent U.S. airmail stamp with the upside-down-printed Curtis JN "Jenny" airplane (only a hundred of them exist, and two are missing), and - wait for it! - John Lennon's stamp album, which his cousin gave him when the future Beatle was twelve. His collection includes a few U.S. stamps, but it mostly has stamps from New Zealand, from correspondence with his distant cousins.
Oh yeah, and there's a Curtis JN biplane on display in the Javits Center entrance hall.
Also, the U.S. Postal Service issued these stamps to commemorate the show. You don't have to go to the show to buy them; they're available at any post office or the Postal Service's philatelic sales division.
If you haven't been to the show yet and you're in the New York area, fellow stamp collectors, you have until this Saturday to go. Go to the show's official Web site for more information.