Opening of TIPEX

US #778 was issued on the opening day of TIPEX.

On May 9, 1936, the Third International Philatelic Exhibition (TIPEX) opened at Grand Central Palace in New York City.

The show opened its doors to the public at 9:30 am that Saturday morning to thousands of excited collectors. The official opening ceremonies went underway at 1 pm when the US Army released a flock of carrier pigeons from Rockefeller Plaza. Those pigeons carried invitations to President Franklin Roosevelt, Vice President John Nance Garner, the governors of all the states, and other US officials.

US #778 – Classic First Day Cover.

Shortly after that, President Roosevelt pressed a button in Washington, DC, that turned on the lights in the court of honor to signal the opening of the exhibition. He also sent a telegram to be read that said, “I am deeply sorry that I cannot get to New York to see the great stamp show before it closes. My congratulations on its success and on the interest it has aroused among the army of stamp collectors throughout the country.”

US #778a – TIPEX Connecticut Tercentenary First Day Cover.

Controversial Postmaster General James A. Farley (of Farley’s Follies fame) spoke at the opening ceremonies, stating, “The decade that has elapsed since the last meeting of the International Philatelic Exhibition in this city has been a most important period for the advancement of stamp collecting.” Farley then went to the US Post Office booth to sell the first TIPEX souvenir sheet to the show’s chairman, Alfred F. Lichtenstein.

The Post Office booth had 12 windows that serviced long lines of collectors awaiting their TIPEX souvenir sheets, which were issued on the first day of the show. The souvenir sheet reproduced four previous US stamps commemorating the Connecticut Tercentenary (#772), the California Pacific Exposition (#773), the Michigan Centennial (#775), and the Texas Centennial (#776). These stamps were chosen to represent the four corners of the United States. In all, 1,121,056 sheets were sold over the course of the show.

US #778c – TIPEX Michigan Centennial First Day Cover.

Visitors to the show were treated to 3,000 frames from 900 exhibitors spanning three floors, for a total of 125,000 square feet of exhibition space. There were 101 dealers present, with Scott Stamp and Coin Company holding the largest booth ever constructed up to that time.

One of the show’s major highlights was the arrival Hugo Eckener and his airship Hindenburg on May 10. Eckener gave a speech and expressed his thanks to collectors, who had made his flight, especially his “Around the World Flight,” possible. That flight was largely financed by the sale of special covers to collectors.

US #778d – TIPEX Texas Centennial First Day Cover.

As they had done before, the Bureau of Engraving and Printing brought a portable printing press for their popular booth. Throughout the show, they printed TIPEX souvenir sheets as visitors watched. But they made sure to destroy all of these prints.

The show concluded on May 17 and was considered a great success. Collectors would have to wait 11 years for the next show, CIPEX, which was delayed a year to celebrate the 100th anniversary of America’s first stamps.

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  1. Just for information, International Stamp Exhibitions can only be held every ten years. The U.S. is assigned the year 6, Canada the year 7 and great Britain 0. The U.S. exchanged years with Canada for the 1947 and 1997 exhibitions for the 100 and 150 anniv. for the first U.S. stamps. The first U.S. International Exhibition was held in 1913. No stamps were issued, however there were poster stamps produced.

  2. Why don’t the 1936 Philatelic Exhibition Poster Stamps (M1059) have a place in my American Heritage Collection binder?

    1. Those are not U.S. postage stamps. They are stamp-like souvenirs printed by the American Bank Note Company. The Poster stamps are beautifully engraved and look a lot like the U.S. postage stamps of the time.

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