The evolution of FIP
International Exhibitions Regulations
Our participation in various national or
international exhibitions cannot avoid discussions on regulations,
medals or exhibition classes. But, when did they actually first appear,
how did they evolve, how did we arrive to Astrophilately or One Frame
The International Philatelic Federation (FIP) was founded in 1926. A
primary ordeal was to prepare regulations concerning international
exhibitions. The need for staging exhibitions of the sort originated of
course much earlier. We read elsewhere in this website that the first
international philatelic exhibition was staged in 1881, in Vienna,
forty-five years earlier!
FIP is committed to follow closely the development of the collecting and
the corresponding commercial interests, and update the regulations for
international exhibitions. Every ten years or so, in some specific annual
Congress, FIP comes up with new regulations. Let us have a look at
those FIP Congresses, which have ratified new regulations, taking down
the most important changes, mainly the ones that concern us, the
Brussels (August 1928)
"Philotelia" was born a little earlier
than FIP. We get the dusty 1928 numbers off the shelf and browse
through their pages. Just five years old at that time, "Philotelia" has
an extended report on the first draft of the international exhibition
regulations (no. 43/1928, p. 108), following the Vienna Congress of 1928.
Two years later, in the Brussels Congress of 1930, the first FIP regulations
- FIP assumes that the number of international exhibitions must be limited. FIP
considers that the exhibits must enter Competition, divided in Classes
and uniformly competitive country groups.
- FIP shall recognize and support exhibitions, which abide by the current
regulations and exhibits classification.
- FIP shall recognize one international exhibition in Europe per annum.
Under certain conditions, FIP may recognize one exhibition per annum
outside Europe as well.
- In international exhibitions under FIP patronage, the following are
accepted: postage stamps, telegraph stamps, telephone stamps, airmail
stamps, used revenue stamps and postal stationery.
- A provision is made for a Class, under the name "Championnat", with
the participation of collections of the host country.
- A provision is also made for a Class, under the name "Classe d'
Honneur”, with the participation of collections already awarded two Gold
medals or two Grand Prix during the preceding five years. In this Class,
the participations compete for the "Grand Prix International".
- The regulations do not mention medal grades. In general, medals
awarded are Gold, Vermeil, Silver and Bronze.
- Special Prizes are introduced, which are awarded as complementary
awards to certain exhibits.
- The exhibits are classified in 14 different Classes.
Class 1: Collections of the host country and its colonies.
Class 2: Europe, more or less geographically divided in 9 groups, where
Greece, with Italy, Italian States and Romania is contained in Group 7,
whereas the other Balkan States comprise Group 8.
Class 3: Other Continents
Class 4: Colonies and Dominions
Class 5: Rarities
Class 6: Stamps on covers
Class 7: Collections of postal markings
Class 8: Philatelic research (study of a single or a number of stamps,
Class 9: Special stamps (airmail, telegraph-telephone stamps etc.)
Class 10: Proofs and essays
Class 11: Postal stationery
Class 12: Collections of novices (two age groups: to 15 years and 15-20
Class 13: Philatelic literature
Class 14: Philatelic accessories
- Regulations take effect on 1 December 1930.
Basel (25 August 1948)
- FIP considers that the term “International philatelic exhibitions” has
been abused, and that rules must be set forth for the protection of the
interests of philatelists. In the future, FIP patronage will be granted
only to exhibitions which will abide by the regulations.
- FIP grants its patronage to one exhibition per calendar year.
- For an exhibit to participate in “Classe d’ Honneur”, it must have
been awarded two Gold medals or one Grand Prix and one Gold medal,
during the five preceding exhibitions. If an exhibit receives the “Grand
Prix International”, it may still show in “Classe d’ Honneur” but cannot
compete for the grand award during the next five exhibitions.
- Similarly to 1930, these regulations do not make reference to medal
grades as well. In general, the four grades of the pre-war period remain
unaltered: Gold, Vermeil. Silver, Bronze.
- Regulations take effect fifteen days after they are sent by mail
to the national federations.
Hamburg (July 1959)
- FIP grants its patronage per calendar year to one exhibition in the
zone of Europe, North Africa and Near East, and to one exhibition in the
zone of Africa, America, Asia and Oceania.
- Same rules apply to "Classe d' Honneur", with the addition that same
year awards will count as one. The grand award is renamed to "Grand Prix
d' Honneur". It is noted for the first time that exhibits in this Class
are allocated five frames minimum.
- The Class of exhibits of the host country is renamed from "Championnat"
to "Classe Nationale" and the grand award is called "Grand Prix
- The grand award of the remaining Competition Classes is
correspondingly called "Grand Prix International".
- Medal grades are six: Gold, Silver-gold (Silver with gold centre),
Vermeil, Silver, Silver-Bronze, Bronze.
- Competition Classes include: General collections, Specialized, of
Scientific research, Cancellations, Postal obliterations or
Pre-adhesive, Postal stationary, Essays, Rarities, Airmail, of Local
posts, and Thematic.
- The participations in Competition are divided in four groups: A. "Anciens",
to 1900, B. "Modernes", after 1900, C. Collections covering both
periods, D. Literature.
- It is noted that in Literature commercial stamp catalogues cannot
- Eligibility for participation is introduced for the first time. All
exhibits must have been awarded at least a Silver medal in a national
- Regulations take effect on 1 January 1960.
Amsterdam (25 May 1967)
- New criteria (typically) for participation in "Classe d' Honneur"
after the Gold medal was renamed to Large Gold: two Large Gold, one
Large Gold and one Grand Prix, or two Grand Prix during the preceding
five years, in different years. If in the next five years the exhibit
does not receive the Grand Prix, it returns to Competition.
- It is quoted for the first time that frame allocation is decided by
the members of the Organizing Committee, who take into consideration the general interest
each exhibit provides.
- In medal grades, Large Gold replaces Gold and Small Gold replaces
Silver-Gold (Silver with golden centre).
- Maximum medal in Literature is Small Gold.
- In Competition Classes Youth collections are added and the four groups
of 1960 remain.
- Regulations take effect on 1 January 1968.
Madrid (14 April 1975)
- It is clarified that regulations take care only adult exhibits, noting
that youth exhibits are covered by the "Regulations for International
Exhibitions of Young Exhibitors under FIP patronage".
- "Classe d' Honneur" is renamed to "Classe d' Honneur FIP". Eligibility
in "Classe d' Honneur FIP" becomes narrower: participation requires now
three Large Gold medals (one Grand Prix is equivalent to one Large
Gold), in different years. 10-15 frames are allocated in each exhibit in
- In competition, reference is made for the first time to Classes, as we
understand them today. The exhibits are classified in Traditional
Philately, Postal History, Thematic Philately, Aerophilately and
Literature. Under certain conditions, exhibitions may include youth
exhibits in separate section.
- The four groups of 1960 are no longer mentioned.
- For the first time a distinction is made between General (minimum 3000
competition frames) and Specialized exhibitions. In General exhibitions
all five Classes participate, while Specialized exhibitions include one
Class only of either Traditional Philately (minimum 1500 competition
frames), Postal History (1000), Thematic Philately (1500) or Aerophilately (1000). Specialized exhibitions may include Literature
Class as well.
- In General exhibitions the major awards are: "Grand Prix d' Honneur",
"Grand Prix International" and "Grand Prix National". No exhibit can be
awarded the same Grand Prix more than once.
- In specialized exhibitions the major award is the "Grand Prix de l'
- In medal grades the Small Gold is renamed Gold.
- In competitive classes, exhibits are allotted at least five frames.
- Regulations take effect on 1 January 1976.
Paris (21 June 1982)
- German replaces French as the official language of the regulations.
- The requirement of maximum and minimum competition frames change:
General exhibitions 2500-4500 frames and Specialized exhibitions
1000-2000. Specialized exhibitions now on may include one or more Classes.
- The Classes of Postal Stationery and Maximaphily are added.
- Youth exhibits comprise Youth Division.
- "Classe d' Honneur FIP" becomes "FIP Championship Class". The name of
the major award remains as "Grand Prix d' Honneur". In the eligibility
criterion of the three Gold medals the clause "during the ten preceding years" is added. Exhibits
that participate in this Class for five years cannot return to
competition. A remark is made on frame allocation: exhibits in "FIP
Championship Class" are allotted the same number of frames they had on
their promotion to this Class, though maximum frames allotted is ten.
- Medal grades become eight, with the addition of Large Vermeil and
- 5-10 frames are allotted to each competition exhibit.
- 20% of the frames should be reserved to
new exhibits and 5% to Youth exhibits, as long as there are adequate
applications for participation.
- Maximum award for a Youth exhibit is a Vermeil medal.
- Apart from the Special Prizes which are awarded by the Jury,
Congratulations are for the first time officially introduced.
- Eligibility criteria are changed: a national exhibition Silver for
Literature, Silver-Bronze for Youth, Vermeil for the remaining Classes.
- Regulations take effect immediately.
Granada (4 May 1992)
- English replaces German as the official language of the regulations.
- Introduction of the terms GREX, GREV, SREV and IREX.
- The Classes of Revenues and Astrophilately are added.
- Youth is no longer a Division, it is a Class.
- In "FIP Championship Class" the exhibitor has the right to chose which
five-year span he will compete during the ten years of his eligibility.
- There are three groups in Competition Classes: 1st period, to 1900,
2nd period, intermediate period, 3rd period, starting around the
beginning of World War II.
- Upper limit in Specialized exhibitions changes to 2500.
- Frames allotted should be uniform in competitive exhibits, divided
though in two groups: (a) 5-7 frames to all exhibits with maximum award
at a previous FIP exhibition a Vermeil medal and to first time exhibits and
(b) 8-10 frames to all exhibits with at least a Large Vermeil medal at a
previous FIP exhibition.
- Maximum award for a Youth exhibit changes to Large Vermeil medal.
- For Literature exhibits a previous national award is no longer
- Regulations take effect immediately.
Madrid (14 October 2000)
- Points are for the first time introduced as criteria for
participation, classification or promotion of the exhibits.
- The eligibility for participation in "FIP Championship Class" does not
change. It is now rephrased to "95 or more points in any three separate
years during the previous ten years".
- Frame allocation is finalized: (a) 5 frames to first time exhibits and
to the ones awarded up to a Vermeil medal in a previous FIP exhibition
and (b) 8 frames to the rest. It is added though that the awards of a
qualifying Continental Federation exhibition are equivalent (exhibitions
with FIP recognition and where all team leaders plus 80% of the Jury
are FIP accredited).
- The four exhibit groups of 1992 are no longer mentioned.
- New age groups in Youth Class: "Α", 13-15 years, minimum 70 points in
a national exhibition, "Β", 16-18 years, also 70 points and "C", 19-21
years, 75 points. Also noted that if a Youth exhibit competes with 5
frames and gets at least 85 points, it cannot compete in Youth Class in
- Eligibility of participation in the remaining Classes is 75 points in
a national exhibition, during the last preceding years.
- Regulations take effect immediately.
Bucharest (28 June 2008)
- One Frame exhibits are added as part of every competitive Class except
Literature. There are four medal grades in One Frame exhibits: Gold,
Vermeil, Silver and Bronze.
- Eligibility for Youth Class age group "B" is increased to 75 points in
a national exhibition.
- Regulations take effect immediately.
At this point, the line of changes in the regulations is concluded. The
reader should take into account that usually until new regulations are
ratified and published, changes and innovations might have been
much earlier. Newer examples are the One Frame exhibits, which were
introduced in 2001 in an
independent experimental Class, and were
finally incorporated in
the 2008 regulations, or the Open Class, which is expected to be
incorporated in the future.
The full texts of the regulations, except
the ones of 1930 (L. Putz, "Origin and evolution of the International
Federation of Philately", FIP publication, 1984), are found in various
exhibitions publications in the HPS library. The most
recent regulations of 2008 are found in the
web site as well.