APS Manual of Philatelic Judging and Exhibiting - 7th Edition
(Published: September, 2016, Volume 16, Number 3, Issue #42) (Table Of Contents)
(Author: Larry Fillion)


2017 will bring about the 7th Edition of the "APS Manual of Philatelic Judging and Exhibiting". In March of 2016, the "Draft of the 7th Edition" was created and added to the American Philatelic Society's (APS) web site for exhibitors and judges to review and comment on. The commenting period ended May 1st and it is now published as the Approved 7th Edition Judging Manual.

One of the exciting changes for this edition of the rules will be the return of "Topical Exhibits". Decades ago, exhibitors could create an exhibit of a "topic" like "The World United Against Malaria" and show just the stamps, proofs, essays, errors, covers of just the stamps in the philatelic campaign. A "Thematic" exhibit must show a thematic "story". For instance, for the title of "Malaria", which would include the history of malaria, causes of malaria, how wars are effected by malaria, remedies of malaria, ... An example of this "class" of thematic exhibit is the Malaria Thematic Exhibit by Francoise Reviglio.

Personally, I plan to create one of these "Topical Exhibits" next year for the AmeriStamp Expo - APS Winter Convention which will be held in Reno, Nevada from March 3-5, 2017.

Below are the two sections from the manual which describe this new type of exhibiting type:

(Page 14) 3.5.14 Topical Exhibits (see also Appendix 2.1.14)

Topical exhibits are comprised of a variety of philatelic items, the design of which illustrates a specific topic or subject. If you choose to present a topical exhibit, it would show as many philatelic items as possible with the image of the particular subject or group of subjects that is the focus of your exhibit.

The key success factor with a topical exhibit is to have a well-defined purpose, scope and organization of the subject matter as illustrated by your material. As the exhibitor, you have the flexibility of using whatever subject you wish, as well as any logical organizational structure.

(Page 48) Appendix 2.1.14. Topical Exhibits

Topical exhibits are not the same as thematic exhibits, which use a variety of philatelic items exclusively to tell a story. Topical exhibits are composed of a wide variety of philatelic items, and the design of these items illustrate a specific topic or subject. For example, if the focus of your exhibit is to discuss birds, a thematic treatment would detail the taxonomy, origin, anatomy, physiology, reproduction, habitat, food sources, predatory nature, life, etc., of the particular bird or group of birds. A topical exhibit would show as many philatelic items as possible that show the image of the particular bird or group of birds

The key to topical exhibits is that they should have a defined title, purpose, scope, and plan of organization, all of which can be adequately assessed using the UEEF. As the exhibitor, you have the flexibility of using whatever focus you wish, as well as any logical organizational structure of your choosing.

One of the following structures is generally used for topical types:
  • Scientific, taxonomic, or systematic structure such as different types of minerals, gems or animals.
  • Institutional or organizational structure such as fraternal, national or humanitarian.
  • Event-related structure such as repetitive sporting events (World Cup, Olympics, etc.).
  • Time-related structure such as a chronological sequence of related historical events.
  • Other logically structured subjects.
Additional Considerations

For topical exhibits, and unlike the limitations of thematic exhibits, any philatelic item can be included (Cinderella, illustrated mail, etc.).
  • The exhibit will be assessed on the ability to present a cohesive representation of exclusively philatelic material which adequately fulfills the stated purpose and scope of the exhibit.
  • The degree of concordance and relationship of the items will also be an important consideration.
  • Demonstration of philatelic knowledge is shown by the choice of items, their condition and the descriptions of items, where appropriate.
  • The selection of more difficult and rare items would be desirable and rare material should be identified for the viewer.
  • The text should be brief yet sufficient to carry the organizational structure of the exhibit forward.
  • Presentation, as with any exhibit, should be neat and not distracting.


*If any reader is thinking of creating a malaria related topical exhibit (or any malaria related exhibit), please contact me at malariastamps@yahoo.com