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55th Annual ATA National Topical Stamp Show 2004
June 11 - 13
Memphis, TN

NTSS 2004 Director Wrap-up
ATA Executive Director Ray Cartier's post-convention review and a look at future conventions.
The horns have quit sounding; the confetti has blown away; the wine corks are rolling lazily on the tables and the NTSS '04 is over. Aside from low attendance, there were many successes at the show. We had more dealers than we had planned to have. There was a three-member Cachet Member bourse that set up a temporary base outside of the main ballroom. The First Day Ceremony for the Liberian Teddy Bear Stamps was well attended and with all of the press coverage of the debate about the legitimacy of stamps from Liberia, we ended up hearing that the country does indeed have a valid postal agency and that the stamps were legitimate issues despite Scott's not listing them. (Stanley Gibbons did, and perhaps Scott's will now do so.)

Dalene Thomas brought in an assortment of Teddy Bears to add to the atmosphere and the First Day programs created by Dave Kent proved to be popular souvenirs. We sold more of the souvenir sheets, which bore the ATA logo, than expected, and still have some left for those who forgot to order. These items with prices are listed at the end of this article.

Following the First Day ceremony, six of our Handbook authors lined up to sign some of the many books that they had written in the past for the ATA and its membership. Author Nancy H. Phillips, EdD gave a short presentation on bears and was the first in line at the author's tables. Also signing were George Griffenhagen, Mel Morris, Karen Cartier, Dave Kent and Larry Dodson.

We had a great novice display in the hotel lobby, created especially for our show by Tennessee resident, E. Clark Buchli. This gave us a philatelic history of Tennessee with an emphasis on Memphis. On the other side of that A-frame of stamps, we had a Gubernatorial Proclamation of Stamp Collecting Week in Tennessee signed by Governor Phil Bredesen and Riley Darnell, the Secretary of State.

Inside, a Court of Honor display by Michael Schreiber of LINN's added to the Tennessee aspect of the show. The oldest known topical exhibit was on loan to us from the Cardinal Spellman Museum as well.

Management at the Holiday Inn told us that the hotel staff, the caterers and the security people all commented to them that the attendees at the National Topical Stamp Show were the nicest and friendliest group that they had ever had the pleasure to serve. The hotel set up a small sandwich shop right outside the hall with reasonably priced items for the attendees on all three days.

As usual at the all-topical shows, the exhibits were varied and interesting. There were no repetitive series of stamps showing microscopic changes. These types of collections are very interesting to many collectors, but to topicalists, the displays are story books, not theses, and there were many people who wandered through the exhibits to see the wide range of interests portrayed. Award winners are posted elsewhere on this site.

Several people availed themselves of the opportunity to take a paddle wheeled riverboat ride before the show opened, and several more enjoyed the tour of Memphis on the Monday following the show, highlighted by a long visit to the shrine of Graceland, home of the "King of Rock and Roll."

Plans are now underway for the next show in Milwaukee in June 2005, and the earliest information is already online under NTSS '05. There will not be an NTSS '06 as the ATA will participate with all of the other major philatelic institutions in the U.S. at Washington 2006. But hotels are already being solicited for bids for NTSS '07. It's a good time to mark your calendar for NTSS '05 in Milwaukee. Our new President, Bob Mather will be putting together a very special event for all of us and by penciling us in now, you won't miss out on this great philatelic opportunity.

Ray Cartier
ATA Executive Director