12 - 14/9/2008


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Importance and Mission of the PRAGA 2008 Exhibition

(Prepared from an article by Mr. Lumír Brendl, chairman of the Union of Czech Philatelists and director of the International Federation of Philately, published in issue no. 1/2007 of the Newsletter of the Union of Czech Philatelists (Informace SČF).

Without any doubt, of course, the main task is responsible preparation for the World Stamp Exhibition PRAGA 2008. After the twenty years that have passed since the last world stamp exhibition in 1988, thanks to the support of the general headquarters of Česká pošta, s.p. (Czech Post), this will be the very first world stamp exhibition held in the Czech Republic as an independent country. For the organizing committee of the PRAGA 2008 exhibition under the leadership of Vít Vaníček, this is not only a  great challenge, but also a  great task. PRAGA, after all, is not only a  NAME, but also a  TRADITION. Unlike its predecessors, however, our exhibition will be a  short one, lasting just three days. Shorter philatelic exhibitions are becoming more frequent around the world recently, mainly for economic and financial reasons. For this reason, their organization must be as efficient as possible.


For 55 years, I  have been a  member of first the Union of Czechoslovak Philatelists and now the Union of Czech Philatelists. I  remember the very first world stamp exhibition PRAGA 1962. I  also remember the following ones through 1988. I  also often heard bitter criticism from among club members and the commission during the days when the PRAGA world stamp exhibitions were gradually being turned into a  big business. Back then, for two or three years before each world stamp exhibition, leadership of the Union of Czechoslovak Philatelists (SČSF) paid more attention to the PRAGA exhibitions than to the interests of club members, clubs of young philatelists or the problems of the expert committees. World stamp exhibitions and their preparation were at the focal point of the attention of the Communist Party, the government of the National Front coalition and the President of the Republic. What would for us today be an unimaginable amount of money and a  small army of personnel were set aside for their organization. Nonetheless, those were the world stamp exhibitions that made a  name for the PRAGA exhibitions and established their tradition. Today, the Union of Czech Philatelists no longer forgets about its mission and about activities for the whole union because of a  world stamp exhibition, although that is far from easy, and the available financial and human resources are modest.

Regarding the importance and mission of the PRAGA world stamp exhibition, I  would like to add the following. I  hear, albeit only occasionally, people asking why we hold philatelic exhibitions at all, let alone world exhibitions, when the resources and effort put into them could be expended differently, supposedly to the benefit of all members of the Union of Czech Philatelists. Therefore, as a  member of the executive committee, I  would like to give at least a  brief explanation in connection with the World Stamp Exhibition PRAGA 2008.

Why do countries with advanced cultural and philatelic traditions hold world stamp exhibitions culturally and aspire to receive the patronage of the International Federation of Philately (FIP) for their exhibitions? Why are rulers, presidents, governments, relevant government ministries and postal administrations interested in the holding of world stamp exhibitions? And what does the patronage of the FIP really mean? It represents the highest status that can be granted to a  philatelic exhibition by a  public vote of delegates to FIP congresses held once every two years. Thereafter, such an exhibition enjoys, among other things, the following privileges:

The prestigious first bulletin of the PRAGA exhibition has arrived. It will be appearing in our clubs and abroad. The first press conference for the exhibition was held in January 2007 at the Postal Museum in Prague. It was exceptionally well attended by representatives of the print media and radio and television broadcasting. We were all pleased about that. And perhaps this was a  proper response to the few people who were claiming that “philately is of marginal interest to society in this country.”
1) The most important philatelists/exhibitors from around the world want to participate.
2) It may present an FIP Championship Class and/or Court of Honor of the highest order, with the
    participation of regal, princely or world-famous collections for the edification of philatelists and non-
    philatelists alike.
3) Medals of the highest order (large gold, gold and large vermeil) are awarded at those exhibitions,
    helping to increase greatly the value of those owners’ exhibits.
4) All exhibits at exhibitions with FIP Patronage or under the auspices of the FIP Auspices, not those
    only having FIP Recognition, as was the case at the European Stamp Exhibition BRNO 2005, are then
    entered into the central FIP computer registry, listed by country and the names of exhibitors, and
    that registry records the success of individual countries and exhibitors as well as whether the winning
    of a  vermeil FIP medal will help with the classification of an exhibitor, for example as a  juryman,
    expert etc.
5) Such a  world exhibition attracts the participation of foreign postal administrations and philatelic
6) A world exhibition makes a  major contribution to the development of philately in the host
    country, helping to spread general knowledge about philately, about the mission of the postal
    authority and about stamp creating as an important artistic activity. The possibility of exhibiting at
    such an exposition is the crowning achievement of many years of effort by any collector, and is also an
    important motivation for further continuation.
7) Last but not least, during the holding of a  world stamp exposition, the host country and city (in
    our case, the Czech Republic and its capital city, Prague) become the destination of an increased
    number of visitors from all over the world, including from countries that otherwise seldom visit
    that city or country, and this opportunity is further multiplied by Prague’s proximity to Vienna, where
    the WIPA 2008 will be held immediately following our exhibition.

As we all know from experience, every past PRAGA exhibition under the auspices of the FIP has attained this supremacy. And thanks to the responsible work, the skill and the creativity of the presenters, PRAGA 2008 will certainly also prove itself, thereby directly and indirectly helping attract the interest of the public in postage stamps, their collection and exhibiting, thus also helping the Union of Czech Philatelists, the only organization recognized by the FIP as the representative of the interests of Czech philatelists and collectors in their own country and abroad.

February 2007

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