Talk about coincidences!!. Whilst a special postmark dedicated to Radio Algeciras was being released in Algeciras, (this was one of the events that was part of the 44th National Philatelic Exhibition - EXFILNA 2006), at the same time in 3 cities in Spain the police sealed the offices of Afinsa and Forum Filatelico (two large Spanish companies investing in stamps) and arrested their directors, because of an alleged philatelic swindle.
Over the next few days, the news about the police and judicial operation appeared in the Spanish media, pushing into the background the great annual celebration of philately in Spain. It is thought that this philatelic swindle could affect about 400.000 investors !
Although these companies are loosely connected with real philately, its certain that they used philately and all that is related to philatelic collecting to serve their own ends; they financed different philatelic and cultural activities, stamps, exhibitions catalogues, publications, etc and it was not uncommon for their managers to appear regularly in philatelic publications next to Presidents and other notables of philatelic Associations and Federations; even though the activities of these organizations were well known in the philatelic world to both the collectors and the trade. Without doubt the management of Afinsa and Forum were primarily interested in maintaining the current and unreal situation of philately in Spain, seen in most of the publications -their own publications- over recent years.
On the way to the hotel in Algeciras, by taxi, the speaker on Canal Sur (a radio station) talked with irony about philately. Also the taxi driver made some comments about the news, especially the 10-milion Euros found by the police at the home of one AFINSA manager.
At the Exhibition, the cafeteria, the elevator of the hotel ... everywhere and everyone talked about the headline news. At night the TV news led with an item about the 9 people arrested in the Audiencia Nacional (5 from Afinsa and 4 from Forum Filatelico) and their imprisonment. The President of Forum Filatelico admitted to the judge that they overvalued the stamps.
I was very surprised when I read that EXFILNA Algeciras would be celebrated on the third floor of the departmental store, Bahia de Algeciras - El Corte Ingles. I have never before visited a Philatelic Exhibition located in such a place ...
There, in a reduced space of about 500 m2 next to the cafeteria and one of the access stairwells, where the Promotions and Offers are normally located, the area had been taken over for use by the EXFILNA organizers. The organizers installed all the display cases of the Exhibition, and also the stands of the RCM - Real Casa de la Moneda, Correos and the organization.
It's very striking to see a very specialized philatelic collection next to the Bath Boy's Fashion, or to enjoy the collections, listening to the latest hits from the top 10 pop groups, with the usual and repetitive commercial announcements about the best deals from lady footwear, or the salesman who approached me in front of one of the collections and insisted on offering me the Corte Ingles store card, even though I assured him that I lived more than 1000 kilometers from Algeciras.
With some friends, who were also surprised, we agreed with the organization's idea that perhaps all this would help tempt some customers of the store to visit the Exhibition ("Take the stamps to the people, not the people to the stamps"), explained the organizer, Mr. Juan Panés), although it is asking a lot to think that some newcomer could demonstrate any type of real interest if the activities and displays were not clearly explained and promoted. Perhaps some leaflets, starter packs of stamps, hinges, tweezers etc to get a newcomer to the hobby, on his way, would have been useful.
On the other hand, the proximity of the cafeteria solved the habitual problems in many exhibitions of where to sit and chat with the friends.
In addition to the Exhibition, the Philatelic Group of Algeciras had organized different activities in other locations in the city, conferences, tourist visits and presentations.
In the last weekend ANFIL organized in the great Exhibition official hotel a small philatelic fair, not announced in the program of events, with the participation of a few philatelic dealers. I was pleasantly surprised to see that many of them already offered material related to ATMs ... until I asked, out of curiosity, the price of a recent mint label with commemorative text and the first day cover: 4,50 and 18,00 EUR, respectively. The salesman justified the high price telling me that it was a very special label with a very limited printing ... Unofficial issues, created by and for collectors only, a paradise for the speculators, an irregular situation denounced many times in these pages.
The different philatelic publications will give much information about the activities and collections displayed in EXFILNA 2006. It is not the objective of this article to do so. In my case, after a general view, I was attracted by 3 collections, none of them related directly to the ATMs. In one of them the author showed a philatelic cover posted in September 1937, from Huesca to a philatelic agency in Pamplona; Even in the days of Spanish Civil War and deprivations, some philatelists continued with their passion.
Friday evening, with the conference and the presentation of the stamp commemorating the 5th Centennial of the arrival of the Tassis family to Spain, and the arrival of the large delegation of Mallorca collectors coming to present the next edition of EXFILNA, the Exhibiton became much more crowded.
... and also a copy of a comic strip appeared in a Spanish newspaper related to a supposed issue of a set of commemorative stamps about the Afinsa and Forum Filatélico presumed philatelic swindle ... (not reproduced here because of their copyright). So it is the Andalusian sense of humour, that has infected the general tone of this article.
ATEEME. Read note in the Internal Bulletin