About the exhibition
The International Stamp Exhibition PRAGA 1938 took place from 26th June until 4th July in the year of the 20th anniversary of the independence of Czechoslovakia, under the auspices of the President of the Republic dr. E. Beneš and under the patronage of the Fédération Internationale de Philatélie (FIP).
The Honorary Presidium included the chairmen of the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate, the minister of posts and telegraphs, the minister of foreign affairs, the mayor of the capital city of Prague, eleven more Czechoslovak representatives and diplomatic representatives of forty countries. The international jury had 35 members, including still famous names such as L. Dubus, Anton Kumpf-Mikuli, A. Laszkiewicz, Hermann E. Sieger or prof. M. Wagner. However, only 25 jurors present participated in judging the exhibits (the others did not appear).
The exhibition was held in several locations in Prague. The main exhibition building was the National House of Vinohrady. In addition to the exhibits, there was a philatelic exchange, postal service and information offices there. In front of the building, there was the postal bus. Promotional philatelic films were screened in the Minuta Cinema. A smaller part of the exhibition and congresses took place in the Firemen’s House (Hasičský dům) (at the corner of the Blanická Street and the Římská Street). The 2nd International Philatelic Literature Exhibition was situated in a building then called Dům zemědělské osvěty (House of Agricultural Education). The exhibition miniature sheet was also printed and sold there.
The exhibition was officially opened in the Na Vinohradech Theatre. The international congress and the exchange of stamp dealers were organized in the Sladkovský Hall of the Municipal House. The banquet in honour of FIP and the official guests of the exhibition also took place there.
Altogether 513 exhibits, divided into 19 classes, were exhibited. 23 states were represented in the official exposition of postal administrations. 13 exhibits were exhibited out of competition in the Salon of Honour, and it must have been a real delicacy for all visitors as can be seen from the names of some exhibits: Ship Letters from Different Parts of the World from the 18th Century, Balloon Post from the Period of Franco-Prussian War of 1870-71, Mauritius (1847-59), Naval and Military Letters (from the pre-stamp period of British colonies) or classic issues of Great Britain, New Zealand, China, Argentina, Sudan. Théodore Champion from Paris, the legend of the world philately, exhibited “Rarities of the Whole World“ and their inventory sheet took six full pages of the catalogue.
In addition to the usual exhibition classes, nearly thirty exhibits in the aerophilatelic class could be examined. Under the unusually sounding designation Special Stamps, collections were exhibited that, from our point of view, belong primarily among motif-based and thematic collections (e.g. Red Cross, mourning stamps, sports, elephants, art history, philatelic exhibitions), but also exhibits of stamps of local and private postal services.
Four exhibits of postal stationery had their class; predecessors of today’s postal history exhibits can be found in the class called “Pre-Philatelic Letters and Cancellation Collections“. 16 exhibits were exhibited in the class for youth philately. The class for philatelic literature was also richly represented.
The highest award – the prize of the exhibition presented by the President of the Republic – was won by W. S. Alfieri from Alexandria for an exhibit of Greek stamps from the years 1861-86. Altogether, 45 prizes of honour, 12 large and 30 small gold medals, 53 large and 88 small silver medals were awarded. Czechoslovak exhibits won 4 small gold medals and 19 large silver medals.
Assessment of the exhibition
The philatelic press was generous both with praise and criticism. Praise was addressed to the organizers, leading foreign philatelists and the then Ministry of Posts and Telegraphs which financed the exhibition. Criticism was levelled particularly at inappropriate term (10th All-Sokols Rally was held in Prague) and venue. There were relatively few foreign exhibits in Prague as compared with other international philatelic exhibitions of that time, just over 60%.