Erich Heermann: Radierung, für den ersten Präsidenten der Österreichischen Exlibris-Gesellschaft, 1910The first “publication” arrived at Christmas of 1903 and since that time, with almost no interruption, until today continued as the important and treasured “Yearbooks.” The first World War had hardly any effect on the Association’s activities; it was more the time of the World economic crisis with its inflation. But still, with a longvisioned leadership of the Society, these difficult times were overcome with quite good results. To provide information to the ever increasing number of members at home as well as in foreign countries, the periodical “Mitteilungen” became introduced in 1937, which is published 2-3 times each year, and to this present day still avail themselves.
The political changes during the year of 1938 have also not passed for the ÖEG without leaving any trace. The new rulers attacked the name of the Society and changed it to the “Viennese Exlibris Society.” The years of the war have crippled and paralyzed the Society, just like every other forms of cultural work. However, immediately after the collapse, the old true followers got together to activate the continued leadership of the Austrian Exlibris Society. This was successful, and with zest, initiatives and ideas, the Society was lead into a new era.
The Yearbooks, and the Mitteilungen periodical, with a new volume series, were again to be continued. Also lecture series were initiated, and special publications were to be published, and the Society opened itself internationally, and the number of its membership reached a record high number of 400 in the year 1951.
The collector-community is just one part of the Society; the artists are the rest of the organization with whom we cannot do without, who from the very beginning have shown some very prominent representatives. It is no coincidence that in the very first publication in 1903, the then still young Alfred Cossmann was introduced, who later educated and developed graphic artists who followed him, and who belonged to the legendary “Cossmann School” of copper engraving, or who held Cossmann and Hans Ranzoni Jr. as admired examples. To this lineage of artists the ending point one can still consider and recognize today in the well known postage-stamp engraver, Prof. Werner Pfeiler. Also in the field of xylography (wood engraving) the Austrian exlibris has reached a high point of accomplishment with the “Linzer” artists, Max Kislinger, Franz Lahner, and Toni Hofer. And one can say that today so many famous artists, like for example Arnulf Rainer, Hermann Härtel, or some less known artists all dedicate themselves to creating exlibris.