The following guidelines are reproduced with the kind permission of Birthe King (pictured).
A collection of stamps and other philatelic items that illustrate a theme. The term ‘theme’ has a dynamic meaning implying the personal elaboration by the collector, who develops a story around it. A collection consists of the widest possible range of philatelic material, from the widest possible range of postal authorities, without any time constraint.
Every item selected should be relevant to the theme and arranged in the most suitable order to tell a story. The outline of the story is presented as a Plan, showing the steps of the development of the theme. It is similar to the Contents Page of a book and is normally organised in chapters and sub-chapters, making visible a logical flow of the story along a clear and consistent thread.
A thematic collection is fascinating because it allows for continuous improvement. The more you get familiar with the subject the more you discover new details for supporting your story and acquiring the relevant philatelic items. The more you know about the material from using philatelic literature, by browsing through auction catalogues and visiting the dealers, and by studying other collections on display at stamp shows, the more you can improve your development when adding new items.
This has no FIP Commission, but the FIP has issued Guidelines on Judging Open Philately. It began as something new, different and fun and was first recognised as a discipline by the FIP in 2012.
Open Philately seeks to broaden the range of exhibiting and to allow philatelists to include objects from other collecting fields in support of, and in order to develop, an understanding of the philatelic material shown. It provides an opportunity to present the range of research undertaken by showing the philatelic material in its cultural, social, industrial, commercial, or other context and to show wider and deeper knowledge of the topic. By allowing an extended range of material Open Philately has the further objective of bringing new collectors to the skill and enjoyment of exhibiting and demonstrating its attractiveness as a hobby.
The Guidelines indicate that exhibits should show the dual aspects of philatelic and non-philatelic material. The exhibit must develop the chosen subject in an imaginative and creative manner. The philatelic material must be at least 50% of the exhibit, but may be more. The marking schedule covers Treatment and Importance, Knowledge and Research, Material and Presentation.
A wide variety of non-philatelic material is important as it will influence the judging of Treatment as well as Material. Treatment is the relationship between the title of the exhibit, the scope of the story, and the structure of the exhibit. Importance can be difficult; indicate to the judges what is important and say why. To get good marks for Knowledge and Research you must show a thorough knowledge of the subject through the choice of material and use of brief but sufficient text.
Under Material, all philatelic material must be original. All non-philatelic material should be original where at all possible. All material - philatelic and non-philatelic - should be in the best possible condition. Give an indication of the rarity of all material.
These are governed by FEPA Special Regulations. A Picture Postcard must have an illustration. Used Picture Postcards (circulated through the postal service or in any other manner treated postally) must show that they have been through a postal service. If a card is sent at the normal postal rate this only need to indicated once; but any unusual route or rate should be written up.
Unused (non-postally treated) Picture Postcards must have printed text or printed address lines, for example a postage area, to indicate that the card is meant to be posted without an envelope. Where possible include information about the production of a card: publisher, date, series etc. If you cannot find any information say so: it indicates that you have done the research.
Look analytically at a postcard to see what it illustrates; even a topical view can contain for instance buildings, people or methods of transport which may be relevant to your topic. Early postcards are preferred over more recent ones. Be careful if your exhibit covers a very long period: more modern cards use printing methods which produce loud colours and sharp images which do not always sit well with earlier cards.
The exhibit must be able to be displayed in exhibition frames of the standard international format of 16 A4 pages per frame or equivalent.