Astrophilatelist - Bureau Member, Reuben Ramkissoon, 2011 Report. 


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The annual SU meeting was held at NAPEX, in the Washington DC area, as this is an attractive venue for astrophilatelists and their friends, since the proximity of the Air & Space Museum, National Postal Museum, etc is very inviting.
 
Steve Durst, SU Vice-President, John Macco, a former SU Vice-President, and Dennis Dillman were active in planning and in participating of the meetings, exhibitions and seminars at NAPEX.
Ray Cartier, who with an appointed SU Committee, did considerable work in updating locations, dates, and validity of events in the launch, landings and related history of the early years of US Space Exploration, clarifying the changes which came about in the Port Canaveral, Cape Canaveral and Kennnedy Space Center postal facilities. Ray prepared a CD which he made available to USA philatelic judges, and has offered this valuable reference to SU members and astrophilatelists everywhere.
 
A full range of awards were offered to participants at NAPEX, beside the critique at the exhibitors' meeting. The SU is also making available a CD of the History of the ASTP which was prepared by SU member Dr Victor Tam. Contact the SU Secretary, Carmine Torrisi (ctorrisi@nyc.rr.com) for information. Regional meetings were held ar BALPEX (BaltImore, Maryland); COMPEX and CHICAGOPEX (Chicago, Ilinois); and MID-CITIES STAMP CLUB EXPO 2011 (Arlington, Texas). The Mid-Cities Expo meeting held at the Grapevine Convention Center (November 12-13), was a new venue to the SU, and was spearheaded by Ray Cartier, a Past President of the Space Unit. Participants and awards won for space-related exhibits:
MULTI-FRAME DIVISION
Ray Cartier MCSC EXPO Silver & ATA Special Gift Offer "MARS! The Earthlings Are Coming."
Ray Cartier MCSC EXPO Silver & ATA Best Topical "Jules Verne-Fantastic Voyages"
SINGLE-FRAME DIVISION
Ray Cartier MCSC GRAND AWARD; Space Unit ATA / APS Gold Medal, and Book-themed exhibit "Cabin in the Sky (The Story of Skylab)"
 
SPACE UNIT ACTIVITIES IN 2011
1. Astrophile: Due to a long term poor health issue with the Editor of the Astrophile, the number of issues for 2011 was limited to just one double-length release. The next issue was in final review stages and is supposed to reach the printer in January 2012. Two of the officers of the club have requested articles from specific members and are planning to create an issue themselves to assist the editor in getting caught up.
 
2. Space Unit Meetings: The annual Space Unit Meeting was held at NAPEX in the State of Virgina on June 3 - 5, 2011. Ray Cartier sent CD copies of his book (See item 5) to each of the judges for NAPEX, in advance of the show as a means of improving the sporadic judging that Astrophilatelists face in the US. He then persuaded several Space Unit members to exhibit. Exhibitors were Dennis Dillman (1 exhibit); Steve Durst (2 exhibits); Ray Cartier (1 exhibit); David Ball (1 exhibit) and John Macco (1 exhibit). The four exhibits by Dillman, Durst and Cartier had previously garnered Gold awards at WSP shows. Ball's exhibit had been shown only once before, earlier at the APS show, and was awarded a Silver. Macco mailed in his exhibit and it's prior status is unknown. At NAPEX, where 22 Space Unit members met, the judges evidently did not view the CDs and did not call on other knowledgeable Space Collectors to assist them as is appropriate per Page 16 of the Manual of Philatelic Judging: "---the Jury Chariman is encouraged to use an available and impartial consultant well versed in the subject who can provide background information and answer questions the jury might have".
As a result, 3 of the prior gold medal exhibits were downgraded to silver and the fourth to Vermeil while the unchanged Silver winning exhibit was elevated to Gold even though the exhibitor stated that he had made no changes to it. The remaining exhibit also received a Silver. Four of the five exhibitors present disavowed exhibiting again and refused to attend the Critique. The fifth will only exhibit at Space Unit or local shows in the future. At NAPEX, the Guest Speaker was Joseph Gerrois, Commanding Officer of the USS Kiowa which recovered the Monkeys Able & Baker. He brought in a film of the actual recovery and subsequent activities. (See attached). Members met at one SU Member's home for a meal and a trading/buying/selling session. Space Unit gatherings were also held at CHICAGOPEX and COMPEX exhibitions. The Texas Chapter of the Space Unit held a meeting in February.
 
3) Astrophilatelic Book Releases: At NAPEX Steve Durst released and gave free copies to attendees, of another in his series of Astrophilatelic works in full color: Link-Up In Space - The Apollo-Soyuz Test Project (45 pages). David Ball released his work, "American Philately: The First 50 Years" (8" by 10" Softbound 344 pages with a DVD of 700 more pages of supplemental material). Mr. Ball had a Booksigning at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum in conjunction with the NAPEX Exhibition. Ray Cartier wrote and released his "US Space Cover Collecting Handbook: A guide to collecting, exhibiting, pricing and judging American Space Covers" (200 pages softbound, spiral bound, black and white). A CD of the handbook was also made available. (At NAPEX a judge informed him that US judges don't use the FIP rules but only the MOJ rules. A subsequent review of those found what may be one of the other culprits in the poor judging in the US and that is that that Astrophilately is included in THE POSTAL DIVISION, along with Traditional, Postal History, Postal Stationery, Aerophilately, Special Studies and First Day Covers. In this area, Treatment and Philatelic Significance (30%) reads in part: "Philatelic significance refers to the degree of impact the material being presented had upon the postal development of the subject country, area, or delivery method". This could present a biasing factor on US Judges and is being reviewed now by the upcoming authors of the next revision of the MOJ.
 
Thanks and best regards.
 
Dr Reuben A Ramkissoon

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