Astrophilatelist - Germany, 2013 Report. 

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Report on the Astrophilatelic Activities in Germany 2013

Outreach to the public and social activities

More than 500 visitors were attracted by the Joint German-Russian Exhibition on space philately on 13 and 14 April 2013 in the German capital of Berlin. But not only in terms of quantity, also in terms of quality the event hosted by the Russian House of Science and Culture surpassed expectations. Thanks to the presence of high-ranking astrophilatelists from ten European countries, the exhibition also became a European Summit of space cover collectors. Highly awarded exhibits with dozens of space flown covers from space stations Salyut 6, 7, MIR and the ISS or envelopes carried to the Moon by Apollo 11, 13, 14 and 15 were shown alongside the first attempt to exhibiting by a 11 year old girl from Brandenburg.

The presence of two real-life cosmonauts was obviously a main attraction for the crowds. The first German in space, Sigmund Jähn, now 75 years old, presented an overview about his historic spaceflight to space station Salyut 6 in 1978. His station commander at the time was Vladimir Kovalyonok,  Both the 50th Anniversary of the first woman in space, Valentina Tereshkova, and the 35th anniversary of the first German in space were the anniversaries celebrated with the event.

Where standard stamp exhibitions encounter empty corridors between the rows of frames showing the collections, AstroPhil 2013 was altogether different. At all times, two, three or four collectors were assembling in front of a particularly interesting exhibit, to discuss the covers shown, to listen to explanations of the exhibitors or to ask for tips. Even while the exhibition had officially ended and the strong men from the Association of Russia/UdSSR Stamp Collectors Berlin were removing the frames, collectors were still gathering in front of the few remaining collections. The average age of the visitors was also considerably lower than the age bracket usually observed on stamp exhibitions. "Astrophilately is a young hobby”, Weltraum Philatelie President Florian Noller observed.

Those in the know were, however, not surprised by the keen interest in the exhibits shown. The President of a space stamp society from Western Europe confessed he was impressed by the large scope of the collections shown. It reached from Open Class through thematic exhibits up to collections in the documentary Astro class, he noted. Both from scale as from scope, this was the largest space stamp exhibition of all times, a club president from another European Union country concluded. Thus, an exhibit just awarded the "best exhibit in its class” at the Milano 2013 exhibition subsequently travelled to Berlin, including its author, Alec Bartos from Romania. Many of the German exhibits had been shown for the first time, or after a long period of inactivity.

Such enthusiasm calls for an encore: Participants at the informal meeting of the FIP Section on Astrophilately suggested a similar exhibition should take place every five years, at a different place and in a different country each time. It also should not only be a promotional exhibition like AstroPhil 2013, but a competitive one, judged by both national as international jurors. To see such a transnational exhibition recognized for future FIP Exhibitions, diplomatic talks with the appropriate European body FEPA were still required, some representatives cautioned.

Participants widely criticized the difficult career path to become a juror on the international level. One delegate reported he had been a national juror for Astro since 1998, but was still waiting for his promotion to FIP level. Another delegate recalled that when at his association they once discussed who should aim at becoming a juror on the international level, he had been warned that he was probably already too old for the challenge: at "already” 40 years of age, he might never reach the aim during his lifetime. "Let’s meet at the crematorium then”, one delegate quipped wryly.

The Federal Working Group on Space Philately (Bundesarbeitsgemeinschaft „Weltraum Philatelie" e. V.) in the Federation of German Philatelists (BDPh) hosted the exhibition jointly with the President of the FIP Section on Astrophilately, Igor Rodin from Moscow. The Federation of Berlin Stamp Clubs (Verband Berliner Philatelisten-Vereine), the Association of Russia/UdSSR Stamp Collectors Berlin (Verein der Briefmarkenfreunde Rußland/UdSSR Berlin) and the Russian House of Science and Culture were also partners of the ambitious endeavor taking place on the „Day of Cosmonautics", the annual celebration of the first manned space flight in history in 1961. 

Moreover, the annual assembly of Weltraum Philatelie took place at Garching near München, during the Garching Space Days, commemorating the 20th Anniversary of the German Spacelab D-2 mission in 1993. The local organizers had set up a promotional space stamp and cover exhibition; one of the astronauts of STS-55, German payload specialist Ulrich Walter, was been invited for a presentation.

Electronic media: new website fully operational

To ensure a more structured information on astrophilately, the Board released its fully operational revamped website of Weltraum Philatelie. It can be viewed at this URL: Vice President Hans Dittscheid had shouldered this major effort.

An arduous effort: catalogue of space stamps in Africa will complete series

2013 saw the publication of a 2nd volume on space stamps from Europe, and of a supplement updating the volume on Asia. A tireless effort by author Dieter Steinbrecher over many years is giving birth to a collecting tool that will serve astrophilatelists in many years to come.

This brings the number of catalogues edited and published by Dieter Steinbrecher to a total of seven. The series of catalogues will be culminating with three volumes of space stamps in Africa. Approximately 12.000 different stamps, souvenir sheets and sheetlets need to be described and illustrated. Publication of volume Africa 1 is planned for spring 2014.

Going strong for over 30 years: newsletter

Slightly more than 100 members continue to receive a newsletter called "Eil-Informationsdienst” with up to date information on current missions, cover opportunities, special postmarkers, astronaut address information and upcoming events. To cater for the needs of both the older as the younger generation, the newsletter is distributed both electronically as on paper. The computer literates received 25 electronic newsletters in 2013. Seven issues of the paper-based version were mailed to collectors in 2012.

joint membership magazine for Germany, Switzerland, Austria: Astrophilatelists split up again

The fusion of the magazines of three German speaking astrophilatelic organizations in Germany, Switzerland and Austria since 2009 has ended in 2013 and early 2014. In spring 2013, the Swiss association told Weltraum Philatelie they wish to continue on their own. In early 2014, Weltraum Philatelie ended the co-operation with the Austrian association, over conflicts on payment issues. Four annual issues had being published, usually more than 100 pages thick, providing members with solid background information on space flight and astrophilately.


Jürgen Peter ESDERS

Weltraum Philatelie e. V.

German delegate to the FIP Commission on Astrophilately

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