Although the quality of stamp collections around the world has increased considerably, partly due to improved communications over the Internet, the size of the gold and silver medals awarded for the best collections has shrunk due to the rising cost of the precious metals, Israel Philatelic Association president Eli Weber said on Sunday.“We would go bankrupt if we gave medals the size they used to be,” he said.Weber, along with Communications Minister Moshe Kahlon and Mayor Nir Barkat, opened on Sunday the Jerusalem 2010 Multinational Stamp Exhibition being held in the Jerusalem International Convention Center from noon to 8 p.m. through Wednesday and from noon to 6 p.m. on Thursday. Entrance is free.About 40 percent of the collections exhibited and delegations are from abroad, including from China, Britain, the US, France, South Africa and Turkey. A family from Turkey, including a 13-year-old daughter who is a philatelist, was present at the opening.The collections were presented by subject but without the names and countries of the owners so that the international judging team could be objective. A total of 7,000 collection pages with descriptions in English were on display.Outgoing Israel Postal Company director-general Avi Hochman said the event was the first of its kind to be held in Jerusalem in five years. Barkat added that he collected stamps as a child and that “they connect people. A stamp – a picture – is worth a thousand words,” he said.Among the collections expected to do well in the competition was that of Laurence Fisher, an immigrant from South Africa, who has been amassing for 30 years stamps on the theme of the Holocaust, the struggle of the Jewish state for survival and the Arab-Israeli conflict. It included anti-Israel stamps issued by a variety of Arab states. Nearly the same image of Muhammad al-Dura, the Gazan boy killed in a Gaza crossfire at the beginning of the Second Intifada – but who was presented by Palestinians as having been murdered by Israeli troops – has been issued by countries ranging from Iraq to Iran.Octogenarian Arye Lindenbaum presented his collection of stamps on anti-Semitism and the Holocaust such as an envelope from the “registration department” at the Auschwitz death camp and a rare postcard mailed from the Sobibor camp.Dr. Hedi Feivel, a cardiologist and internal medicine specialist at Kupat Holim Meuhedet, presented a collection on medicine as well as the history of the postal service of Romania.Other unusual items are stamped envelopes that survived plane crashes and terrorist attacks and stamps about chocolate and movie stars.There are also stamps printed on silk, wood and iron; three-dimensional stamps; and philatelic items with hidden messages and those printed with embarrassing errors, making them rare. Some of the individual collections are worth as much as several million dollars.