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Washington 2006
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PISG at Washington 2006

Wide-Angle View of Exhibition Floor Wide-Angle View of Exhibition Floor

Washington 2006 World Philatelic Exhibition is now history. The big show, held at the Washington Convention Center in downtown Washington D.C., opened on Saturday, May 27 and closed the following Saturday on June 3. This was the tenth international exhibition held in the United States since the first show held in 1913. Organizers estimated that 85,000 individuals attended the exhibition.

Pitcairn Postal History Exhibit Pitcairn Postal History Exhibit by Mark Butterline

At the show, there were more than 200 dealers and 3,500 frames of competitive exhibits, in addition to a 500 frame Court of Honor. There was one Pitcairn related submission in the competitive class of exhibits. In the single frame sub-class, Mark Butterline presented his exhibit Pitcairn Islands First Definitive Series Postal History. PISG also had a non-competitive single frame exhibit using material from the collection of Brad Brunsell.

PISG Society Frame
PISG Society Frame

Philatelic societies were also well represented, with over 70 groups participating, including PISG. In addition to manning a large community of society booths, these groups also staged hundreds of events, meetings and lectures during the course of the show.

Booth staffers from PISG included Steve Pendleton, Ted Cookson, Ed Morgan, Cliff Sayre, Ray Stone, Ken Stewart, Ed Madison, Virginia Madison, Tim O'Shea, and Mark Butterline. PISG Director Jimmy Brill was also at the show, as was Pitcairn dealer Steve Zirinsky and new PISG Life Member Carl Faulkner. Sean McMahon, the managing director of Southern Colour Print of Dunedin, New Zealand (the printer of many Pitcairn stamp issues) also stopped by to pass out some free samples. Indeed, the booth proved to be popular as many members and friends used it as a place to meet and talk, as well as just "hang out" (i.e., rest their feet, check their e-mail, recharge their cell phones, and store their bags).

Sean Mc Mahon and Bonnie Lawlor Sean Mc Mahon (Managing Director of Southern Colour Print) and new PISG member Bonnie Lawlor

Mike Mueller, Mark Butterline and Ted Cookson Mike Mueller, Mark Butterline and Ted Cookson

PISG combined forces with the Falkland Islands Philatelic Study Group (FIPSG) and the St. Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cuhna Philatelic Society (SHATPS) to man a double booth that was essentially dedicated to remote overseas British islands. Seventeen folks from the three societies took turns to staff the booth. Duties included answering questions about the islands and societies, recruiting new members, selling society publications, as well as supporting the Pitcairn Lectures and the PISG Luncheon.

Joint Booth Joint Booth with FIPSG and SHATPS - In order (l to r) are:
Ken Stewart, Virginia Madison, Mark Butterline, Ed Madison, Steve Pendleton, Carl Faulkner and Mike Mueller

Shopping was on most people's minds and the dealers did not disappoint. A good number of them had significant Pitcairn offerings. Rob Schneider (Philagallery) had a number of exciting agency and pre-agency offerings, including several Bliss covers; France International had some Pitcairn stamp design material from the 1986 turtle issue by Jane Thatcher; and Deaton had offerings from the collection of the late Gale Raymond (a specialist in British islands). A brief survey of dealer's reactions to the show was uniformly positive, with comments such as "best show in 20 years" and "best show ever."

Over 50 postal administrations and agents were also present, covering most of the world's countries, including Pitcairn, which was represented by the Crown Agents. However, many Pitcairn collectors did note that CA did not have the new Pitcairn Old Glory souvenir sheet that also commemorated the Washington 2006 show, despite being issued in April and featured on the Washington 2006 website. This was the cause of many complaints. Another problem were the prices being charged. For example, the 2005 Royal Wedding issue, which has a face value of NZ$5, was being sold for US$4.80, instead of its real face value US$3.25 (NZ$1 = US$0.65). The stock of issues also seemed to be insufficient. Obviously, much better bargains and selection can be found at the Pitcairn Islands Philatelic Bureau website.

Among the most interesting Pitcairn-related items to turn up at the show was one of the original "No Stamps Available" handstamps used on Pitcairn during the pre-agency period. Reynold Warren had recently discovered the Kitching type 1.18 handstamp on the island and sent it to Steve Pendleton. Steve showed the item to a number of PISG members, before selling it to unidentified collector for an undisclosed amount. Steve announced that the proceeds would be forwarded to back to Reynold.

Steve Pendleton holds the Kitching 1.18 Handstamp
Steve Pendleton holds the Kitching 1.18 Handstamp

The Pitcairn Lectures were held during the morning of Friday, June 2 and were attended by about 30 people. Mark Butterline (PISG Representative to Washington 2006) opened the proceedings with some welcoming remarks, followed by Steve Pendleton, the noted philatelic journalist, who gave a very interesting talk on 19th century Pitcairn mail. Part of his presentation drew extensively from the recently discovered Nobb 's Correspondence, much of which is now in the collection of Dave Flaat, who was also at the show. Attendees were given free copies of Steve's monograph on the subject (released at the show), as well as high-resolution color photocopies of some of the Nobb's material (complements of Dave).

PISG Lectures PISG Lectures - Mark Butterline, Dea Birkett and Steve Pendleton

The second lecture was given by Guardian journalist and BBC commentator, Dea Birkett, who flew in from London for the event. Many members will know Dea from her book Serpent in Paradise. Dea presented a talk entitled "Troubled Paradise: Pitcairn Island and the Pressure to be Perfect", the main premise being that outsiders tend to unfairly impose their own romantic ideas on the island and its residents, in contrast with the stark reality that the Pitcainers are very much prisoners of their island's remote geography. While there definitely were some skeptics in the audience at the beginning of the talk, I think most, if not all the attendees agreed with what she was saying by the end.

PISG Lectures Ted Cookson, Steve Pendleton, Virginia Madison, Cliff Sayre and Ed Madison

PISG Lectures Ted Cookson and Fred Becker

At the conclusion of the program, Mark presented gifts in the spirit of the subject matter. Dea was presented a copy of the Classics Illustrated comic book Pitcairn's Island (1953) by Nordhoff and Hall. While Steve received a movie poster from the not-so-classic film The Women of Pitcairn Island (1956).

Immediately after the program, the PISG Luncheon was held at the Finn & Porter Restaurant (1.5 blocks from the exhibition) and attended by 14 folks. Fortunately, no speeches were made with the diners free to chat with the speakers and each other, mostly about various Pitcairn related subjects of course.

PISG Luncheon PISG Luncheon

Overall, PISG's participation at the show was considered by many to be a great success. Not only did it give many members a rare chance to assemble in a large group, they had an even rarer opportunity to meet and speak with Steve and Dea. From a recruiting point of view, eight people joined PISG and nearly all of the PISG publications sent for sale at the show were sold. Vern Kisling's new book The Pitcairn Islands Specialized Stamp Catalog was particularly well received and sold out half way through the show.

Steve Pendleton

Photos by Ted Cookson, Ed Madison, Tom Fortunado, and Mark Butterline and used with permission