About the exhibition
The first World Stamp Exhibition – PRAGA 1962 – was held on the occasion of the 75th anniversary of organized philately in Czechoslovakia under the motto “For friendship between peoples and for the consolidation of peace in the world“ from 18th August until 2nd September 1962 at the Exhibition Grounds (then called Julius Fučík Culture and Leisure Park), in the Industrial Palace (then called Congress Palace) and in the then nearly new Brussels Pavilion.
The exhibition was organized with FIP authorization, again under the auspices of the President of the Republic Antonín Novotný who opened the exhibition heading the official delegation. At the moment of the festive opening, five thousand pigeons flew up carrying a peace message on a special postal stationery (pigeongram). The exhibition was very carefully prepared, e.g. the exhibition committee itself had 120 members and the architectural preparation was arranged by the creators of the successful Czechoslovak exposition at the World EXPO 1958 in Brussels.
There were official expositions of 64 postal administrations at the exhibition and philatelists from 85 countries around the world participated in the exhibition. The total extent of the exhibition was 6,500 frames. In order to better show the result of philatelic activity in the individual countries, the traditional division of exhibits into classes was not observed at the PRAGA 1962 exhibition. The exhibits were organized according to the countries of the exhibitors regardless of the content of the exhibits. As a result, the individual states actually created their own “separate expositions“ within the framework of the world exhibition. The concept of “national pavilions“ was abandoned for the subsequent exhibitions.
The prize of honour presented by the President of the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic was awarded to the official exposition of the USSR. The jury awarded the international grand prize and the gold medal to P. J. Pannetier from France, the national grand prize and the gold medal to P. Zajíček for his exhibit Postal Service in Our Territory 1780-1910. The special prize for the best exhibit of Czechoslovak stamps exhibited by a foreign collector was awarded, together with the silver medal, to the well-known US collector J. J. Verner. In total, 933 medals, plaques and certificates were awarded. Out of 14 gold medals, four were awarded to Czechoslovak exhibitors (P. Zajíček, dr. S. Zrubec, Ing. J. Karásek and Z. Kvasnička).
The exhibits were judged by a jury consisting of 36 members, again headed by Lucien Berthelot. The jury secretary was Ing. Ladislav Dvořáček. 24 members of the jury were from abroad (one member failed to appear as compared with the original composition of the jury). The jury worked for ten days. In addition to shown exhibits, it had to examine also material stored in safes.
Assessment of the exhibition
Also the PRAGA 1962 exhibition had a very rich accompanying programme. Many attractions and entertainment programmes were prepared for visitors – non-philatelists at the Exhibition Grounds. Among philatelic attractions, stagecoach and helicopter postal service deserved attention. The development of postal services from the 16th century was documented in the exposition of post offices, postal uniforms, tools and equipment from the Postal Museum.
The World Stamp Exhibition PRAGA 1962 was promoted not only in the Filatelie magazine, newsletters and print, but also in radio broadcasting in ten languages. The radio promotion included a competition for foreign listeners with valuable prizes. Thanks to securing many attractive exhibits, including the popular Mauritius stamps or attractive new stamps with Soviet cosmonauts, the exhibition was also in the centre of attention of general non-philatelic public. On weekdays, the number of visitors exceeded ten thousand; on Saturdays and Sundays, the entrances had to be closed due to overcrowding of the halls. A total of approx. 283,000 people visited the exhibition.
On 19th and 20th August, a conference of editors of the philatelic press was held with the participation of 53 editors from 15 countries from Europe and overseas in addition to Czechoslovak journalists. At the end, the statutes of the International Association of Philatelic Journalists (AIJP) were approved. P. Seguy from the Federal Republic of Germany was elected as its President.
30th August was the Youth Day and a meeting of philatelists delegated by local clubs from the whole Republic with the leading officials of the then Headquarters took place on the last day of the exhibition. A competition was organized for young philatelists; in another competition, photos with philatelic themes were used.
At the end of the exhibition (from 30th August until 1st September), the FIP congress was held. On 1st September, the FIP Day was celebrated.