About the exhibition
The PRAGA 1978 exhibition was held from 8th until 17th September 1978. The motto was extended as compared with the previous exhibition: “Postage stamp and philately – the world of knowledge and peace“. Each day of the exhibition had its own name and character. In addition to the already traditional venues – the Exhibition Grounds (the Industrial Palace and the Brussels Pavilion) and the exhibition palace U Hybernů –, a special part of the exhibition with the designation “Art and Postage Stamp“ was situated in the Prague Castle Riding School. Visitors were able to compare original works of art with their transcription to postage stamps there until October. Exhibits of postal administrations were exhibited again in the U Hybernů Palace. The Brussels Pavilion housed, in addition to post office counters and the POFIS shop, also discussions with postage stamp designers and autograph signing; films were shown there as well.
Compared with less than one thousand exhibits shown at the previous PRAGA 1968 exhibition, 1405 exhibits were shown at the PRAGA 1978 exhibition (including 250 literature exhibits). However, the organizers focused on the record-braking extent from the very beginning. If we add 143 official exhibits of postal administrations, we get the total of more than one and a half thousand exhibits.
The highest prize for a competitive exhibit – the FIP grand prize of honour presented by the President of the Republic – was awarded to the exhibit of Hawaiian stamps exhibited by the Japanese philatelist R. Ishikawa, which included numerous unique items. The international grand prize was awarded to G. Barcella from Italy for the study exhibit of stamps of the old Italian state of Romagna. The national grand prize was awarded to Max Mahr from the Federal Republic of Germany for the exhibit of Czechoslovak stamps. Altogether 40 exhibitors were awarded large gold medals which was, until then, the highest number in the history of international and world exhibitions.
Among Czechoslovak exhibitors, the most successful was V. Kovář (a study exhibit of Czechoslovak stamps, particularly the overprint Pošta československá 1919) who won the large gold medal and a material prize. 11 more Czechoslovak collectors were awarded the gold medal. 137 exhibits of Czechoslovak philatelists included in the competitive classes got successfully through the demanding qualification selection. However, none of the Czechoslovak exhibits was awarded a bronze medal which also testifies to the demanding nature of the selection.
In addition, fifty Czechoslovak exhibits were exhibited out of competition. The non-competitive collective exhibit containing philatelic materials from the territory of Czechoslovakia and Czechoslovak postage stamps was unusual and rightfully drawing attention. Its extent was respectable 170 frames. 18 philatelists contributed to this exhibit by providing samples from their collections. The exhibit included rarities that cannot be seen together elsewhere.
Some foreign philatelists sent more exhibits to the exhibition. In this sense, participation of two philatelists was record-breaking: Jean Poulie exhibited 14 exhibits with the total extent of 230 frames in various exhibition classes and E. Martin de Bustamente had the same number of exhibits in 85 frames.
Given the number of judged exhibits, the number of jurors was also record-breaking. 75 members of the international jury from 29 countries included 5 honorary jurors and 10 apprentice jurors. The jury had six days for evaluating the exhibits. The jury was again headed by the President of the Exhibition Presidium ing. Ladislav Dvořáček.
For the first time, a special jury evaluated exhibits of postal administrations. the grand official prize presented by the Prime Minister of the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic was awarded to the Federal Ministry of Communications of the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic. Prizes were won by the postal services from Bulgaria, France, Japan, East Germany, Finland, Austria, Greece and Sweden.
However, many visitors from the ranks of non-philatelists were particularly attracted by the possibility to see with their own eyes the legendary world unique item – the British Guiana one-cent stamp. All visitors took its reproduction home with them; it was printed on the exhibition entrance ticket.
The legendary Mauritius stamps were not missing, of course. In the Court of Honour, Czechoslovak stamps in the exhibits by Zdeněk Kvasnička or James Matejka could be admired. “Crowned“ exhibitors were not missing either, the samples from the collections of the British Queen and the Prince of Monaco were exhibited.
Assessment of the exhibition
The exhibition again included numerous accompanying events. Mail was delivered by helicopters and balloons. Many foreign philatelists lectured during expert seminars for the individual exhibition days.
Both philatelists and laymen surely stopped at the unusual exhibit of space post. One letter was sent by the first Czechoslovak cosmonaut Vladimír Remek directly to the PRAGA 1978 exhibition. Together with his Soviet partner Gubarev, they belonged among the most prominent visitors of the exhibition.
Prior to the opening of the exhibition, the 47th FIP Congress was held, which confirmed in the office the new President Jacques Stibbe from Belgium.
The number of visitors was again high – 335,800 people, out of which 50,000 people who arrived from abroad.