by Dave Moorshead
[This article originally appeared in the November 16, 1998, issue of Stamp Collector, and is reprinted here by permission of both Krause Publications and Mr. Moorshead.]
The American First Day Cover Society (AFDCS) hurriedly formed an ad hoc committee, charged with revising the annual cachetmaking awards process, after the awards debacle at their national convention in Somerset, N.J. in August.
Headed by Monte Eiserman, who initiated the Planty Awards in 1992, the committee is about to make its recommendations to the AFDCS board of directors.
Since I was critical of this year's awards in my August 24 Stamp Collector column, I feel compelled to offer recommendations as well:
Follow the Rules
This year, covers by Blossom Brower and Florence Villasensor were selected as co-grand prize winners, but they weren't chosen as best in any category. The committee should have awarded the grand prize to one of the 11 qualifying category winners. (The 12th category winner, who won the grand prize last year, was as such ineligible to win it again this year.)
Contests Should Choose the Best
I'd like to suggest a compromise: any cachetmaker who wins a category or grand prize four years in a row should receive a Lifetime Achievement Award and, effectively, retire from future competition.
Establish Judging Criteria
While AFDCS president Tom Foust's Jan. 15 letter lists the same five criteria as Eiserman did in 1992, the application of this criteria has come into question. Eiserman's openness is gone.
Judges Should be From the Hobby
Foust's letter further stated, "In case of ties, there will be more than one winner and each will receive an award." Except for the grand prize, however, there weren't any ties, but there were seven "honorable mentions."
Where did these come from? I agree that the AFDCS should make multiple winners possible within a category, as Eiserman used to do, particularly when the judging points are so close that true distinctions aren't possible. But get rid of honorable mentions.
Geography Shouldn't Matter
Delegate and Manage the Process
Entry fee checks were made payable to the AFDCS, not to the committee. It's the first rule of management that "you can delegate authority but not responsibility." In addition to selecting a new committee and modifying the rules, AFDCS officers need to establish a monitoring procedure.
Give the Winners Their Due
I think Eiserman's idea was excellent. As a collector, she realized that by recognizing cachetmaking excellence the quality of what the hobby produces will improve, thereby strengthening FDC collecting as a branch of philately.
The entrants seemingly take the awards process more seriously than the AFDCS. I like the Planty Awards. I just don't like what they've become.