Concept of One Frame Exhibit originated several years ago to provide an introduction to exhibiting for novice exhibitors and hopefully a stepping-stone to further involvement.

When one-frame exhibits were first accepted at local then national philatelic exhibitions, there was a great outcry that the traditional exhibits were being undermined by inferior efforts. It took a while to convince the critics, but one-frame exhibits, which appeal to both novice and expert, are now part of most shows and One-frame exhibiting is growing in popularity.

FIP guidelines for the evaluation of One Frame exhibits were not been declared till 2002 but few years back FIP started allowing One Frame Class, on an experimental basis, at international shows. The first ever FIP One-Frame class competition was held at Bangkok 2003 in Thailand (4th – 13th October 2003) The One-Frame exhibit has now become an established and popular part of the National and International Philatelic Exhibitions.

There are two different thoughts about the concept of the One Frame Exhibit Class. The first one is the one-frame exhibit could be the starting point for a multi-frame exhibit on the same topic. Under this concept One Frame Exhibit will provide new collectors a platform to start exhibiting on a small scale at a Philatelic Exhibition. Collectors would be able to start modestly, get their feet wet, and then continue to develop their exhibit into a more complex and complete one. This was the concept under which one-frame exhibiting began in the United States.

Another concept is opposite to first one. One Frame Exhibit provides established collectors an opportunity to prepare exhibits on subjects or themes that cannot be treated well in more than one frame. A one-frame exhibit is an exhibit that is completely contained within the confines of one frame and not be able to be expanded into a multi-frame exhibit.

I personally think and feel that both of these concepts can be brought into the picture and can work hand-in-hand. The important point is that the one-frame exhibit must be self-contained, but, if the topic is selected wisely, it can be expanded into a multi-frame exhibit. It provides an opportunity to exhibitors who are developing a subject which is capable of expanding to more than One Frame in the near future.

The One Frame Exhibit may well be described the short story of philatelic exhibiting. When we speak of Promotion of Philately, One Frame Exhibit is the best tool to promote philately amongst beginners, budding philatelists and school children. By way creating awareness about One Frame Exhibit we can also create awareness about the hobby of philately and encourage new philatelists to participate in the philatelic exhibitions.

Another benefit of One Frame Exhibit is those who have already developed thematic exhibits can also re-think or rework on their collection and use the knowledge and the material already accumulated by them for “inventing” a different or new theme in the same area to make it suitable for the One Frame Exhibit.
Collections on any aspect of established competitive class like traditional philately, postal history, postal stationary, thematic, aerophilately, maximaphily, social philately or fiscal philately can be developed in One Frame. A One Frame Exhibit can be developed on subject that narrates a complete story of either an issue, stamp, country, era, geographic location, theme, or other distinctive concept. As for Thematics only a very narrow theme should be chosen. Though the One Frame Exhibits are narrow in scope, the depth of treatment and importance should be as complete as possible.

It is to be noted that One Frame Exhibits should not be simply one frame extracted from a multiple frame exhibit. In short One Frame exhibits should be based on a subject or theme that is best treated as One Frame.

The first and foremost thing to be kept in mind while developing the One Frame Exhibit that it should hold visitors' attention from the first to the last page and be informative, as well as educational.

The ‘One frame’ exhibit must have an introduction or plan page which lays out the concept, intention and scope of the exhibit. This page should also contain philatelic material. It is also very important that the title should describe the contents of the exhibit. The exhibit should be treated fairly and correctly and should consist solely of appropriate philatelic material fully consistent with the chosen subject or theme and supporting documentation. The selection of material should show the appreciation of the exhibitor as to what is available in the context of the chosen subject. The selection should also show the fullest range of relevant philatelic material and of the highest available quality.

Presentation and write up of the exhibit should be simple, tasteful, and well-balanced. The text should add information to that provided by the material and should demonstrate the level of understanding of the subject and the personal research of the exhibitor. Also remember that an exhibit is stamp exhibit not an article illustrated with stamps so make your philatelic items the focus of your exhibit and let each philatelic item have room to be noticed and not be lost in a sea of text and other philatelic material.

A photocopy of the title page and the plan page or a one page synopsis of the exhibit should accompany the exhibit. Synopsis of one frame exhibit helps the judges understand your exhibit better.

While evaluating the One Frame Exhibits, the emphasis is placed upon treatment, development, knowledge, research and presentation of the exhibits. Following are the basic criteria used for judging One Frame Exhibits:

Treatment & Significance (Maximum Marks: 30)
- Scope and Limits
- Coverage and Development
- Relevance

Philatelic & Related Knowledge and Personal Study & Research ((Maximum Marks: 35)
- Philatelic Knowledge
- Related Knowledge
- Personal Study
- Research

Condition and Rarity (Maximum Marks: 30)
- Condition
- Rarity/Difficulty of Acquisition

Presentation (Maximum Marks: 5)


In general, an exhibit starts with 100 points. Points are then deducted for non-compliance with or shortcomings in the evaluation criteria

It is rightly said by Charles Verge (A stamp columnist and past President of Royal Philatelic Society of Canada) that "times have changed," and the One Frame Exhibit "has proven itself." It is not a "weak feature of the hobby," but rather "an innovative one that is here to stay."

In my opinion, it will be a boon for collectors to develop One Frame Exhibit because one can participate in any International Philatelic Exhibition, without any pre qualifications. Thus, new participants will spring up in the International arena. Therefore I appeal to fellow philatelists to get themselves prepared for the “One Frame Exhibits”.

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It is advisable to submit a one page synopsis of the exhibit with the exhibit.

Title of Exhibit

Title of the Exhibit should be self explanatory, it is the tool used by jury, to find your exhibit, short and to the point.

Purpose of Exhibit

Define the purpose of what you are exhibiting. Explain what you are going to show and why and what type of Exhibit it is. (Postal History, Traditional Philately etc.)

Exhibit Plan

Explain how the exhibit flows or the sequence of the exhibit. Explain difficulties of acquisition (condition and rarity factors), challenges of collecting or exhibiting subject and research done on the subject. Highlight most important material and points. Show bibliography or suggested reading in Plan Page. Be brief and concise in your points.


Is there something in the collection that is hard to find and is shown in your exhibit, if yes, define it! If new research findings or observations are in the exhibit indicate what they are and where they are presented.

If a postal history exhibit, were there events of significance? War? Revolution? etc. how did that significant event affect the mail, or if a stamps exhibit, how are the stamps different due to that event.

Items of impact in the Exhibit

List by frame - Express rarity in some definable manner (e.g. 1 of 10 known) - How are the scarce or difficult to acquire items identified? (eg. red dot etc.)

Philatelic References

Make a list reference material for jury who review your exhibits. List only most important sources. If material is original research, make a note of that. Note sources of your research. If research is from your own study and observations mention that.

- Prashant Pandya

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Though the Social Philately was introduced by Australia in 1980s, officially it was first introduced in the Melbourne International Philatelic Exhibition ‘Australia 99’as an experimental competitive class and it proved immensely popular. In November 2000 it was included in a British exhibition for the first time and has since spread like wildfire.

Social philately is one of the fastest growing form of exhibiting and more and more collectors are turning to it, since it offers scope and imagination to the collector whilst preserving the basic philatelic disciplines.

But what is it exactly? If we want to define Social Philately in single sentence we can say that Social Philately is the Social History told by way of mail and ephemera (pamphlets, notices, hand bills, tickets etc.). In other words Social Philately is a collection of postal articles including philatelic and non-philatelic but related material. It represents a study of the development of social systems and products derived from the operation of postal systems. It is the exhibiting of materials and artifacts that illustrate either the social reaction to the presence of a universal and rapidly developing postal system, or the development and diversification of a social activity or enterprise.

Social Philately exhibit consists of a wide range of material directly related to the operations and products of the postal system either as post office equipment or as material developed by commerce to use or reflect postal services and products. Non philatelic material must have an intimate connection with the operation or the objective of postal system or if not directly related to the postal system then it should have an integral part of social system (for example medals awarded to trade fair participants where the medal was often posted but where the connection is more with the social story).

In Social Philately Exhibit one can include examples of (1) Telegram Services, (2) Greeting Cards, (3) Pictorial or Illustrated Commercial Covers (including Patriotic Covers), (4) Stationery used by Post Offices (without imprinted stamp), (5) Philatelic History other than literature (including albums hinges, perforation gauges etc), (6) Officially issued documents bearing illustrations of postage stamps, (7) Pictorial View Cards and objects associated with postage stamps and their use, (8) Aspects of the affect of the postal system on commerce or industry, (9) Locality studies based on postal and social history using the materials of Social Philately, (10) Objects associated with postage stamps and their use (weighing balances for letters, stamp boxes, maps, prints, model post office, model letter boxes etc.) (11) Post Office equipments (mailbags, uniforms, postal tools, medals etc). This material should be arranged so as to illustrate a balanced plan as a whole or to develop any aspect of Social Philately.

In Social Philately exhibit one can tell the story of the development of a town or country by using appropriate material, same way the background to some historical event can be brought to life in this manner. Of course the history of a region or country will be more important than a similar exhibit for a small town or village. Also the development of commerce and trade through the usage of postal history and postal material can be narrated.

Social Philately Exhibit must contain and introductory plan showing the scope and development of the exhibit. The title of the exhibit should correspond to the introductory plan. The plan should give general information on the subject and must indicate areas of personal investigation. It should also contain a short list of the important documentary sources (social and philatelic) used. It will help the judges to evaluate the material shown in relation to the aims set forth by the exhibitor.

The plan or introductory page and the development of exhibit are the two aspects of an interlinked process, based on the personal study and research by the collector on both the social theme and the material. The exhibit must elaborate the theme in depth, and should comply with the introductory page. Creativity, the personal development of new themes and originality, the introduction of new aspects or approaches are key elements of Social Philately exhibits. A thorough knowledge of both the theme and the appropriate material is a prerequisite for the best possible social philatelic development.
The social information should provide the main thread of the story. It is necessary to include philatelic information where required so that philatelic knowledge and personal study can be demonstrated. It is advisable to keep the social and philatelic information separated or at least easily distinguishable one from another.

A general rule should be that a Social Philately exhibit should show philatelically and socially related interesting material to the best advantage, and not appear to be a manuscript for a monograph or a loose collection of social interesting items.

While preparing Social Philately exhibit one must also keep in mind that non philatelic material in the Exhibit should not comprise more than 40 to 50% of the exhibit. Also care should be taken that if non philatelic material which is not linked to the postal system is necessary in the exhibit then it should have importance to the social aspects of the exhibit and such material should not comprise more than 10% of the material. Exhibits should be planned chronologically, geographically, by type of artifact, or by social custom. Large scale duplication of similar items, large chronological gaps and the inclusion of expensive items not directly relevant to the subject shown must be avoided.

Here are few examples of Social Philately Exhibits - ‘Wartime Postal Forgeries’, ‘Promotional Postal Orders’, ‘Mulready Caricatures’, ‘The Post Office Savings Bank’, ‘Images of Industry’, ‘The Sociology of Reading’, ‘Hand-illustrated Letters’, ‘Airmail in India’, ‘The Post Office Story’ ‘Patriotic Mails’, ‘Money Order Services’, ‘The Road towards Indian Independence’, ‘Red Cross – Support the World’, ‘Kolkata - Social Philately’ (One can develope exhibit on any city or town). This may help readers to think about titles and theme of Social Philately Exhibits. One Frame or Multiple frames Exhibit on Social Philately can be developed on any subject or class. It depends on collector’s own imagination, ideas and skill. Research is essential for developing Social Philately Exhibits.

An Exhibit ‘The Sydney Harbour Bridge’ of Maurice Williams of Sydney, a former Chairman of Australia Post is a five-frame exhibit which coincided with the 75th Anniversary of the Opening of the Bridge on 19th March 1932. This is a beautifully presented exhibit combining stamps, postcards, photographs and ephemeral items to tell the story of the construction and impact of Sydney's iconic bridge.

‘Art through the post’ is an exhibit of Hand-Painted envelopes which talented Victorian artists sent through the post to friends and relatives. They were probably inspired to use postal correspondence in this way by William Mulready who designed Britain's first postal stationery and thus pioneered the idea of illustrated envelopes.

Because of the nature of the material which falls within the scope of Social Philately an exhibit may be presented without using frames. In such cases the exhibitor must decide on the appropriate method of display and provide such display systems provided there is agreement on the method chose with the organising committee of the relevant exhibition. Due to practical limitations, organizers also impose certain restrictions for exhibiting Social Philately Exhibits. Either they only allow the entries that can be mounted and displayed on standard display frames or specifically they mention that like non-philatelic material should not be thicker than 5 mm to fit into the standard exhibition frames.

Internationally, Social Philately is judged using the following criteria:

Treatment (20) and Importance (5 for philatelic and 5 for social): 30
Philatelic and related Social Knowledge, Personal Study and Research: 35
Condition (10) and Rarity (20): 30
Presentation: 5
Total: 100

Social Philately presents a wonderful challenge for anyone wishing to expand the scope of their collection but of course research and imagination is required to develop social philately exhibit. In India there is little development about Social Philately and I appeal to my all philatelist friends to explore this category of philately as a challenge and develop wonderful exhibit on Social Philately.

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