27 October 2009

International Show Will Highlight Birds Shown on Stamps

The sixth annual show presenting the international diversity of stamps depicting birds will be held in April 2010 at Antwerp, Belgium. [Birdpex 2010 graphic]

Birdpex 6 is an exhibition for postage stamps with a bird theme. The event is held every four years, always in a different country.

"This exhibition is open for every bird stamp exhibitor, beginner or advanced collector. Not only exhibits of thematic philately are invited, but also maximaphily, postal history, traditional philately, open class and one frame," according to information at the website for the event.

There will be other competitive exhibitions held concurrently with Birdpex 6 on 9-12 April, according to Koenraad Bracke, a planner for the event, whom resides in Antwerp.

  • The international FEPA (European) exhibition ANTVERPA 2010 (1600 frames)
  • National Belgian exhibition (600 frames)
  • Birdpex, the international thematic world exhibition for bird stamps, which is a competition for all philatelic exhibits with birds as topic, taking place every four years, always in another country.

This Birdpex coincides with an anniversary of Belgian bird stamp series of André Buzin, started in 1985, so there have been 100 bird species shown on 100 different stamps in 25 years, said Bracke in an email. This "must be a world record in bird philately. There are many stamp collectors of this bird issue and even a study group of the 'Birds of André Buzin,'" he said. [Belgian bird stamps set by Andre Buzin]

Buzin is a Belgian bird stamp designer, and regularly cooperates with nature conservation organization where a percentage of his stamp souvenirs are fund-raising for certain nature projects, Bracke said.

"Bird stamps are amongst the most popular topics in philately, and certainly so in Belgium," he indicated. "The highest rewarded thematic exhibit ever is also about 'birds' and this one will be in the honour class."

On 4 January 2010, the Belgian postal department will issue a vending machine stamp of BIRDPEX showing a Barn Owl (after a painting of Buzin) and logo of Birdpex. The Belgium postal department will also celebrate the event with a special sheetlet to be issued on the 12th of April 2010.

"This kind of thematic exhibition is very interesting for non philatelists too," Bracke said. "In these competitive exhibits you tell a story and you illustrate this with all kind of philatelic material."

Bird-stamp enthusiasts organized this type of birds only exhibition in 1999 and this was in cooperation with the local nature conservation group, Bracke said. "Many bird philatelists are also active in nature conservation," noting that in his free time he is also a also a nature guide and responsible for the local owl working group.

Birdpex 6 will continue the cooperation with national nature conservation organizations, Bracke said, and they will be represented at booths at the stamp show.

Bracke is looking forward to Birdpex 6, with its opportunity for "most of the visitors being interested in the smallest but the finest to observe the three exhibitions."

"Because birds are so popular we hope to attract many non philatelists too," he noted.

Bird stamps have changed during the years, with current modern stamps markedly different from past issues.

Historically there were the "very nice traditional engraved stamps which you may not find any more these days," Bracke said. "Nevertheless, you still have nice engraved stamps these days, but in another style." Some "countries are very inventive now with modern printing techniques and curiosa (i.e., next year in Belgium a sheetlet with flowers where you will find the seed of this flower in the edge of this sheet, so you can plant this stamp). [Set of bird stamps issued by Brazil in conjunction with Birdpex 2010]

"Countries with many engraved stamps are still popular collecting areas," Bracke noted, citing Sweden as an example. There are also "nice photographic stamps" from the United Kingdom, presenting a series of the Barn Owl and Kestrel, "where you can see the flight from one picture to another.

"On the other hand you have countries now who want to make fast money with stamps and are issuing birds that even are not typical for their country," he noted, mentioning a stamp from Tanzania which shows a Snowy Owl.

In association with Birdpex, the first series of 100 bird stamps from Belgium in 25 years which will be issued are "all are typical for this region and even some of the most common birds rarely seen on a stamp of any other country, are shown because they are so normal," Bracke noted.

The site for the Birdpex exhibition is decided at the previous event.

"It was decided last time in Denmark (Birdpex 5 in 2006) that it was time for Belgium to organize this exhibition, because we have a strong group of thematic (bird) collectors here," Bracke said. The five people on the planning committee for Birdpex 6, were all exhibitors of philatelic bird exhibits at Denmark.

The first Birdpex was held in New Zealand in 1990, with the second event in Germany in 1994, in association with the meeting of the International Ornithological Congress, Bracke said. "To organize this kind of event you should not only be active in ornithology, but most of all be a philatelist and know how these kind of exhibitions are arranged. The most active group of bird philatelists in Germany is the 'Motivgruppe Ornithologie,' and they had an international meeting at almost every Birdpex and build biggest group of exhibitors."

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