International Exlibris Congress 2020


1.COVID-19 - Like so many other events, the FISAE Ex Libris Congress planned for 12-15 August 2020 has been wrecked by the ever-worsening worldwide pandemic. Many people who planned to come have been, or remain, in social isolation in order to avoid exposure to this highly infectious (and for older people especially deadly and debilitating) disease. Large gatherings of people are at present not permitted in the UK, international travel is severely reduced or unavailable, and visitors from some countries are required to spend 14 days in quarantine after arrival. Many tourist attractions, restaurants and pubs, theatres, museums and libraries either remain closed or are operating with substantial restrictions. London has been hit badly and it is therefore no surprise that the FISAE meeting has been cancelled.

2.CAN THE CONGRESS BE RUN IN 2021 ? - We have considered the possibility of rolling forward all the bookings to August 2021. However:
(a) there is no guarantee that effective, long-lasting vaccines against Covid-19 will become globally available nor that we may be free from further transmission of the disease and that things will be entirely back to normal by mid-2021, so it is likely that many elderly participants would consider themselves still greatly at risk and will not wish to travel;
(b) the Royal National Hotel is offering unchanged prices for group booking of bedrooms BUT the terms for cancellation are seriously unfavourable;
(c) from all of Europe and Russia the numbers of people booking for the 2020 congress were too low, and you have not given us reason to believe that 2021 would be any better;
(d) a fundamental conflict exists between the organisers having to take on financial commitments well in advance and participants not being willing to pay until much later;
(e) your two main organisers cannot devote more time and effort to this event, nor are they willing to suffer any more personal stress and frustration.
Thus the next congress will take place at San Francisco in 2022, run by James Keenan.

3.COMPETITION - The deadline for submissions was extended to 31 May 2020 and the members of the Jury have now completed their work. The original plan was for winners to be announced at a reception on the evening of 12 August 2020, and for the exhibition then to be open throughout the congress in a room adjoining the main meeting hall. Instead, there is now an online slideshow of more than a hundred ex-libris which the Jury consider worthy of exhibition. For the report of the Jury and link to the slideshow click on the tab (above left on this page) to go to the Competition webpage. There will not be a printed catalogue.

4.MEETING OF FISAE DELEGATES - A meeting of FISAE delegates had been planned to take place on Saturday, 15 August 2020. Member societies will be contacted by Olli Ylonen, FISAE Executive Secretary, detailing the Agenda and explaining arrangements for holding in September 2020 an online discussion, to which delegates may contribute statements. In the meantime James Keenan becomes FISAE's president-designate.

5.MAILING TO PARTICIPANTS - As a memorial of this Congress we are still going ahead with issue of the book entitled Famous in their Time. It illustrates, with short biographies, the bookplates of over 400 celebrated British persons during past centuries. It will be mailed to every full participant, together with other gifts received for distribution. However, since February the lockdown of individuals and the shutting of libraries has prevented some images being obtained for this book. We do not yet know when these institutions will reopen, so it seems unlikely that this book will be printed and mailed before 2021.

6.AUCTION - The intention was to hold on 14 August 2021 an international auction of high quality ex-libris. Discussions are in hand about running this as a fully online auction in 2021. More news when available.

7.REFUNDS - The very good news is that the hotel has refunded all monies, including the so-called "non-refundable" deposit of £4,500 paid out of congress fees to reserve the meeting hall. All accommodation charges will be refunded to participants in full (but of course subject to costs of remittance). The bad news is that, in the absence of any other congress income, all expenses of preparing the congress and competition, together with the cost of the book, must be paid as a deduction from congress fees. The £10 contribution to FISAE will also be deducted, as previously intended.
Click on this link to go to REFUNDS PAGE.

In a week of wonderful weather, when London ought to be offering visitors a richly enjoyable time, it is grievously disappointing that ex-libris collectors and artists were prevented from meeting, and that we have lost this opportunity of bringing ex-libris to public attention and to encouraging new enthusiasts. Our wish had also been to run this 2020 congress at a modest surplus and for the proceeds to be paid 50/50 to Cancer Research UK and to funding an online bookplate database, but sadly all our hopes, and yours, have been dashed.

Anthony Pincott
4 September 2020

There are still many people who have not yet supplied their bank details. There can be no repayment until this information is provided.
Everyone in the Eurozone has now been refunded, also a number of others, but Turkey and China will come at the end. Transfers using a money broker are working well, more cheaply and with better exchange rates than through a bank, but sending repayments, one by one, is VERY time-consuming and frustrating, often only happening after several exchanges of emails and maybe also telephone calls.
Anthony Pincott
Last updated on 17 October 2020.

© The Bookplate Society 2020