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Free Holiday Checklist - Ghosts

Here’s a Spook-tacular Halloween treat from the American Topical Association: a free topical checklist to download from the ATA website. Again this year the ATA is offering the gift of a checklist to members and nonmembers alike. The 2017 topic is Ghosts.

This has become a popular tradition, according to Vera Felts, ATA executive director. Past years’ lists have included the characters of Charles Schulz, candy, gingerbread, turkeys and Halloween. Like all ATA checklists, this one includes country, date of issue, denomination and description of stamps and other philatelic items picturing or related to ghosts—everything needed to find them for a mini-topical collection.

The ATA dATAbase of 1200+ checklist topics was developed by Karen Cartier, and is maintained by Dominic Sgro and Beth Scully. This year’s free holiday list was augmented by past ATA president, Jack André Denys and Halloween Spook-tacular Study Unit members Denise Lazaroff and Jean Stout.

It’s easy to get the free checklist: Go to the ATA website at

Click on the “enter” tab, and you will see the link to the checklist with images of spooks on stamps. Or mail an addressed, stamped envelope to ATA Office, PO Box 8, Carterville, IL 62918-0008 for a printed copy. Have a frightfully good time!

Call for Nominations:
2018 Distinguished Topical Philatelist

The American Topical Association is now accepting nominations for its highest award, Distinguished Topical Philatelist. This honor is given to a person who has made significant contributions to topical philately and the ATA in particular.

The award will be presented at the joint APS StampShow/National Topical Stamp Show in Columbus, Ohio, August 9-12. Individuals, as well as ATA study units and chapters, may send nominations.The letter of nomination should describe the person’s contribution to topical philately and the ATA.

The award was established by ATA founder Jerry Husak in 1952. Since then, 119 people have received the honor. All past recipients are listed at:

Send nominations to Jean Stout, PO Box 98174, Jackson, MS 39298-8174.. Deadline for nominations is December 31, 2017. Read more about the DTP

APS and ATA Will Join Forces at 2018 StampShow
The Societies will Co-Host the National Exhibition in Columbus, Ohio

The American Philatelic Society and the American Topical Association will co-host next summer’s large national philatelic show scheduled for Columbus, Ohio.

Leaders of the APS and ATA made that announcement Friday, June 23, at the ATA National Topical Stamp Show in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

“The 2018 show in Columbus just got even more exciting,” said Scott English, Executive Director of the American Philatelic Society, “The partnership between the APS and the ATA gets stronger every day and together we’re going to have a ‘can’t miss’ stamp show.”

“This highly anticipated event is a real sign that philatelic organizations have begun a new era of cooperation for great benefit to our hobby,” said ATA President Dale Smith about the joint show. “This is a wonderful project to combine resources to create one of the best shows to attract a great number of collectors.”
This will be the first time the APS, founded in 1886, and the ATA, founded in 1949, have combined their large annual national shows. The ATA four times has held its national meeting during a U.S.-based international, most recently in 2016 at World Stamp Show-NY 2016.

“This should be a sign of things to come for the hobby,” added English, “The only way we're going to grow is by working together. I'd like to thank the Board of the ATA for being first to join us in this new vision.”
Next year will be the 132nd show and convention for the APS and the 68th annual National Topical Stamp Show. Both shows usually change locations from year to year.

The APS – the world’s largest association devoted to philately with about 30,000 members worldwide – every summer hosts StampShow, the country’s largest annual philatelic show, which includes world-class philatelic exhibits, scores of dealers and postal agencies, society and study group meetings, special presentations and guest speakers, youth areas, and a banquet. The ATA, devoted to topical stamp collecting, often presents a similar lineup, though often over three days rather than the four presented by StampShow.

This year’s ATA show, held June 23-25 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, featured an all-thematic philatelic exhibition, a dealer bourse, and attendance by several cachetmakers, along with meetings, seminars, and activities. Topical exhibits must be thematically treated; that is, they tell a story. They tend to be creative exhibits that make for enjoyable reading.
The American Topical Association, with members in 60 countries, has compiled more than 1,200 checklists (from the common – horses and roses on stamps - to the more unusual, such as hairstyles, banjos, and yellow fever) containing more than 650,000 stamps.

“We find that traditional philatelists often collect a topic or two, and topical collectors often collect a country or other specialty area,” Smith said. “This show will enable them to pursue their full range of philatelic interests.”
The American Philatelic Society will handle all management and logistics for the combined 2018 show. A certain number of exhibit frames will be set aside for topical/thematic philatelic exhibits.

More information about the organizations and their shows are available on the APS and ATA websites.

Topical Show Headed to Milwaukee

This year’s National Topical Stamp Show, a WSP show sponsored by the American Topical Association, will be June 23-25 at the Crowne Plaza Milwaukee Airport. Show hours are 10-6 Friday and Saturday, and 10-3 Sunday. The hotel has free parking and airport shuttle; admission of $5 covers all three days.

The ATA show has attracted dealers from throughout the U.S., with topicals, as well as countries, covers, revenues, cinderellas, ephemera, etc. The show is unique, in that all exhibits must be thematically treated; that is, they tell a story. They tend to be creative exhibits that make for enjoyable reading.

A highlight of this year’s show will be keynote speakers.  Barry Stagg, chair of the British Thematic Association, will speak on topical/thematic collecting and exhibiting in the U.K., and will also show images of creative collections/exhibits, including his own large gold award winner on parachuting. Accomplished exhibitor Jack Congrove will give a much-requested program on making album and exhibit pages on the computer. Genealogist Norma Nielson will speak on “Using Genealogical Resources for Philatelic Research.” There will be a reception and program on thematic exhibiting pioneer, Mary Ann Owens, by ATA past president Jack André Denys.

Other features of the show include meetings of ATA-affiliated study units,  a Disney-themed beginner/youth area, What’s in Your Attic evaluations, and the ATA annual meeting.  Igor Grigorian of California, and Kim Kellermann of Illinois will be installed as board members. ATA executive director, Vera Felts, will receive the organization’s highest award, Distinguished Topical Philatelist, at the Saturday evening awards banquet.

In addition, the United Nations Postal Administration will have a booth and exhibit, and the ATA will introduce its new Amphibians handbook. Silent auctions of a wide variety of philatelic materials will be held each day.

The ATA was founded in Milwaukee in 1949 by Jerry Husak, who now lives in Arizona. ATA shows in Milwaukee are always a special “homecoming” for the organization.

The theme of the 2017 ATA show is “Brewing Up Topicals.”  The daily show themes are Nature, Culture and Technology, ATA’s major checklist categories.  Three cachets will highlight the daily themes.  The show events will also include numerous social activities and area tours.  For a complete show schedule, visit the ATA website at Phone ATA at 618-985-5100.

ATA 2017 Distinguished Topical Philatelist Selected

For her wide-ranging contributions to philately, Vera Felts has been selected to receive the American Topical Association’s highest award at the National Topical Stamp Show awards banquet June 24 in Milwaukee.

As ATA executive director since 2009, Felts has brought innovation and a positive attitude to the office and many of the organization’s programs. She spearheaded the highly successful ambassador program which has resulted in hundreds of new members, and managed the transition to a new topical checklist database, which has made ATA’s signature checklists better than ever.

For the past 18 years she has served as registration chair and managed the show cachets for the St. Louis Stamp Expo. She edited the APS gold award-winning newsletter of the Southern Illinois Stamp Club for 15 years, and co-founded its SIRPEX local show.

A life member of APS, she served eight years as coordinator of its newsletter exchange. At the Science Center in Carbondale, Illinois, in 1999 she founded a long-running youth stamp group.

Felts is revered throughout philately for her devotion to helping people advance and enjoy topical collecting.

The Distinguished Topical Philatelist (DTP) award has been presented each year since 1952, by the ATA, the largest affiliate of the American Philatelic Society. Don Smith served as chair of the selection committee. The scrolls signed by all of ATA’s 119 DTPs can be viewed here.

Prospectus for National Topical Stamp Show 2017
pdf version
The American Topical Association is accepting exhibit entries for the National Topical Stamp Show (NTSS), to be held June 23-25, 2017, at Crowne Plaza Milwaukee Airport. The prospectus, entry form, and list of judges are posted on the ATA website at

This World Series of Philately show is unique in the exhibiting world, as all exhibits must develop a theme or story line based on the image or wording of the material shown. Exhibits are not limited to traditional thematic treatment, and include conventional categories or other exhibits treated thematically. In other words, they tell a story.

New this year is the topical exhibits category included in the revised APS Manual of Judging and Exhibiting (available for download at Topical exhibits are composed of a variety of philatelic items to illustrate a topic or subject. More information is included in the manual. The new category was developed to encourage topical collectors to exhibit.

Exhibits and judging chair is Rob Henak, a collector, exhibitor, and APS judge from the Milwaukee area.

Deadline for exhibit entries is April 22, 2017, or until all frames have been subscribed.

The show will feature dealers with stamps for topical and country collectors, as well as covers, ephemera and postcards.  Speakers, study unit meetings, silent auction, ATA annual meeting and many other events are on the schedule.

Updates on the show will be posted on line as plans progress.