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The APS Journal "Austria" has a team of roving reporters, Herren Rillen, Frosch and Mangai. They travelled to London and paid an extended visit to the APS display at Spring Stampex 2008 - despite London Transport’s best efforts. They spent many hours studying the exhibits and chatting to the stewards. Afterwards they met in "einem kleinen gemütlichen Vorstadtslokal", if one may so describe the Cat and Bagpipes in Islington, and compared notes.
Herr Mangai was most impressed by the "guest displays" from Philatelistenclub Merkur Innsbruck, with which the Austrian Philatelic Society has a formal Partnership. Coming as they do from a Land next to his, he found the "Alpine" aspects of their displays most congenial. The quirky humour of Herr Obmann Dautz particularly appealed, as did the wide range of material from youth displays to rare items from the early 1920s. He wondered why the largest display in this section was a Heimatsammlung written up in English, and was intrigued to be told that it was by one of the joint members of both societies wearing (in this row) his Innsbruck hat.
One of Herr Frosch’s interests is "useless facts and figures", so he made enquiries and discovered that the display contained 3200 sheets from 32 people arranged in 100 double-sided frames. While most sheets were "standard British size" – a rather variable standard, he noted – many were A4, several A3, half-a-dozen A2, and one A1! The observation in the excellent handout was true: "each member collects what they want and displays it as they choose; this is not a competition and no uniformity of style has been enforced". He was taken aback when told that the displays weighed about 120 kilogram in total; the books on sale about the same; and all had been brought by the "APS Team" who had 4 hours when the event closed to dismantle and remove it all – including all the frames. Having been shown the pictures taken during erection, he could appreciate the magnitude of that task – and the problems that would arise when those living elsewhere had departed leaving four tired pensioners to load 3˝ tons of frames into trolleys and push them across the car park into a lorry.
Herr Frosch was also impressed by the Austrian Post Office contributions (including the giant stamps on the balcony railings!) and by the sheer diversity of the material - a steward remarked that given space and time, the APS membership could have contributed material for a display twice as big. The celebratory Festschrift had so pleased him, both in content and in presentation, that he had purchased a copy and paid €60 for it in cash. His special interest in "things to do with newspapers" were amply catered for.
Herr Rillen’s interests tend to the classical, although he dabbles in thematics; and there were row upon row of both to delight him. Were 12 frames on Triest better than one on trams? Was "The Empire by moonlight" better than the concertos and sonatas of the musical displays? It wasn’t like that: this was a caucus race, not a competition, and everybody who had displayed, assisted, or both was an equal contributor to the success of the Austrian Philatelic Society’s endeavours.
All three were present to see the Director of the Austrian Cultural Forum in London, Herr Johannes Wimmer, tour the exhibits and be presented with a copy of "A Celebration of Austrian Philately" as the Festschrift is entitled. "Es war sehr nett" that the Austrian Philatelic Society’s efforts and achievements were thus recognised.
And so they set off to return to Austria, well content that their trip had been worthwhile, and happy that the Austrian Philatelic Society continued to represent, promote and advance the cause of Austrian Philately.
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