Biennale 2020 – The Establishment of a Tradition


In November 2019 a Prestige Philately Club Prague presentation took place in Monte Carlo as a part of Monacophil 2019 on the subject of “How to raise awareness of philately among the general public and how to make it more comprehensible”.

A new trend in philatelic exhibitions has been presented – contextual exhibits with the individual stamps/letters being accompanied by texts regarding their history and origins: their provenance, circumstances of their creation etc. Club de Monte-Carlo itself holds a biennial exhibition of super-rarities, but the exhibits are paired only with brief descriptions, thus making the exhibits comprehensible almost only to experts in the given field and rarely to someone outside of the Club itself. The informational value of these exhibits therefore stays far behind its potential, even though it is through the rarest items of world philately that it is possible to easily and comprehensibly present the highest qualities, traditions, cultural contributions, and educational capabilities of philately as well as inspire for philately etc. It is in this spirit that we prepared the 2020 PPCP Biennale in the National Museum.

The exhibition (16.12.-26.12.) had three parts. The first was composed of over 50 contextual exhibits with individual rarities from the collections of PPCP, CMC, and Vindobona members complemented with extraordinary loans, such as the exceptional Red POST OFFICE Mauritius. The second was made from about 60 meters of large showcases with arrays of the finest Czech and Slovakian competition exhibits and other collections, none of which were exhibited ever before. The third part comprised of 150 large scale panes presenting the “Fathers of Philately”, significant personalities from philately’s history, their portraits, lives, quotes etc. An excursion into the history of philately itself such as this and especially contextual presentations of individual rarities connecting the world of philately to the outside world is in the history of Czech and probably also World expositions a complete novelty.

It is a new trend, which is forthcoming towards non-philatelists and has shown a great capability of generating interest, with the added bonus of unique rarities, which could have been seen in the Czech Republic for the very first and also probably last time. This concerns primarily exhibits from the members of CMC and Vindobona (seen for the first time outside of Austria), but also most PPCP rarities, which will not be presented again as per the statutes of the club. Mainly the non-philatelic public attended the exhibition. The great interest of the media was very important as well as the outstanding coverage of the event (over 80 media outputs in TV, magazines, newspapers and internet news outlets.) This means a success in publicizing philatelic subjects, which is the main and standing goal of PPCP. Our project was also supported from the start by foreign philatelic authorities. Among others, Mr. Patrick Maselis, the president of Club de Monte Carlo, has exhibited his super-block of Belgian “Medaillons”.

The Biennale was preceded by half a year of intensive every-day work on preparing exhibits and the catalogue, both with enormous costs. Purchase of frames, insurance, transport of rarities from abroad, publishing of the catalogue, graphic and constructions works, PR, etc. The value of the exhibited stamps and letters was 250 million CZK. Despite all the complications related to the COVID pandemic, such as the limited foreign attendance, we have managed to realize an international philatelic projects (the only one in the world this year), present philately for the first time in the National Museum, publish the best catalogue in the history of Czech philatelic exhibitions etc.

The ministerial exception given to the exhibition (gaining a “state interest” status along with the Rembrandt (Nat. Gallery) and Kings of the Sun (Nat. Museum) exhibitions), which enabled it to take place even though a lockdown was in effect, serves as proof of both the exhibition’s significance and the dignified position of philately in Czech culture. It was 10 days long, making it probably the longest philatelic exhibition of all times. Despite all the public life restrictions, limits in attendance numbers, closed ticket offices, a strict separation of the exhibition from the rest of the National Museum, and a collapsing reservation system almost 3000 visitors arrived, most of the catalogues had been sold out and we keep receiving positive and excited feedback. During the exhibition we have also sent out our catalogues to eminent philatelic personalities from abroad and were very pleased with the responding congratulations and positive reception. We have also received a number of e-mails and sms messages from excited visitors congratulating us and enquiring on our other activities. Our goal is to establish a long-standing tradition of PPCP Biennales. The recently finished exhibition was a wonderful beginning and its positive reception is encouraging and motivates us. We will soon begin with preparations for the 2022 Biennale.