1. The ATA defines a Thematic exhibit as one that develops a nonphilatelic subject by illustrating it with a wide variety of appropriate philatelic elements, to tell a story, accompanied by thematic and philatelic text.
2. The ATA defines a thematically-organized exhibit as one that develops a nonphilatelic subject into a theme to tell a story, accompanied by thematic and philatelic text. When an application is received, the Exhibits Chair examines the exhibit’s plan and determines whether or not the exhibit meets these criteria.
3. Thematically-organized Display exhibits (which may contain non-philatelic items) are eligible for all ATA awards.
4. Thematically-organized Picture Postcard, Cinderella, First Day Cover, Advertising, Patriotic and Event Covers, Maximaphilly and Topical exhibits are welcome at NTSS, and are eligible for all ATA awards.
5. Exhibits that have won the NTSS Multi-frame or Single Frame Grand Award in the last three years are not eligible for the current Grand Award unless they have been extensively revised and rewritten. Exhibits that have won an International Grand Prix or three international Large Gold awards are not eligible for the Grand Award.
*New* President's Cup:
The ATA President's Cup is an award for the exhibit at National Topical Stamp Show (NTSS) that best exemplifies the spirit of ATA. The Cup is awarded solely at the discretion of the President of ATA.
- The Cup may be awarded to an exhibit, selected by the President of ATA, that exemplifies the joy and spirit of adventure inherent in collecting, researching, and displaying by topic. The Cup does not have to be awarded every year.
- Eligible exhibits: Any exhibit in the National Topical Stamp Show (the ATA part of the Great American Stamp Show “GASS”) allowed by the current edition of the Manual of Judging and Exhibiting, e.g., topical, thematic, postcard, or display.
- Not eligible: Youth exhibits.
- Minimum medal level = None - any medal level is eligible
Most Popular Exhibit: voted on by show attendees.
ATA Study Unit and Chapter Awards: The donating group establishes the criteria.
National Society Awards: The donating societies establish their criteria.
Mary Ann Aspinwall Owens (1928-2005) was called the Queen of Thematic Philately in the US. She was the first American to earn both Gold and Large Gold in international competition with her exhibit’ The Elephant.” She then won three international Large Golds with “The Beautiful Blue Danube.” Her other award-winning exhibits were on Umbrellas, Ladybugs and Badgers. In her gold-winning display exhibit, “The Aspinwall Connection,” she merged her passions in philately and genealogy.
An ATA, APS and FIP thematic judge, Mary Ann judged international shows on three continents. She received the ATA’s Distinguished Topical Philatelist award and the Luff award, was inducted into the APS Hall of Fame, and signed the British Royal Roll of Distinguished Philatelists. She represented the US on the International Thematic Commission for 20 years.
Mary Ann was a member of the Citizens’ Stamp Advisory Committee for 18 years. During her tenure, she was instrumental in recommending many topical issues. The American Philatelic Library includes the “Mary Ann Owens Thematic Reference Collection.”
A mentor of many, Mary Ann is remembered for her kindness, ready smile, thoroughness, and hard work.
Jack R. Congrove, a dedicated ATA volunteer for 35 years, was a gifted philatelic writer and editor. At the time of his death in 2020, he served as ATA second vice president and was co-editing ATA handbook #168, Topical Adventures – A Guide to Topical and Thematic Stamp Collecting. Jack received the ATA’s highest award, Distinguished Topical Philatelist, in 2020.
He edited Biophilately, the gold medal winning journal of the Biology Unit, and the Federated Philatelist, the journal of the Northwest Federation of Stamp Clubs. The federation named him Northwest Distinguished Philatelist in 2016. He also was president of the board of the Seattle Philatelic Exhibition (SEAPEX).
Alexander Hamilton: Soldier, Financier, Statesman, Founder, Jack’s acclaimed exhibit, won the Grand Award at the National Topical Stamp Show in 2018.