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The Eleventh World Science Fiction Convention
Philcon 2 Program Book cover. The abstract design is not credited.
The Eleventh World Science Fiction Convention committee. James Williams was originally convention chairman. Milt Rothman, who had chaired the first Philcon (1947), stepped in after Williams' untimely death.
The Eleventh World Science Fiction Convention, held in Philadelphia over Labor Day weekend in 1953, had no official nickname, though the Program Book notes that, "if you look hard you'll find 'Philcon 2' creeping into one or two of the ads. The Program Book suggested that nicknames were a tradition that had been "tattered if not broken [the 1952 Worldcon in Chicago was called "The Tenth Anniversary Science Fiction Convention"]. . . . Who knows, perhaps it will reappear next year?" It did, and the Eleventh Worldcon retrospectively became Philcon 2.
Whatever its monicker, the 1953 World Science Fiction Convention is best remembered for having introduced the Hugo Awards to fandom. It also had at least two other distinctions. First, it published the first Worldcon Program Book with more than utilitarian aims. The half-letter-size booklet, 36 pages plus covers, was, in its own words -
You hold the 1953 Program Booklet in your hands – examine it closely, because there’s something different here. Each past convention has had an official booklet, with its program and ads, which became in time a nostalgic souvenir, crammed with autographs and memories. But that was all, and, indeed, that was enough. Times change, though, and with the change come new needs and new ways to fill those needs. That’s where the “something different” fits in – a new function of the booklet. Inside these pages will be found some brief articles and notes, all of interest to those who are convention members now – as well as those who will be in the future. Never before has an attempt been made to set down in some official way the records or customs of the conventions of the past. Once everyone knew them. But as we say, times change, and today many of us attending conventions know nothing of the heritage we have nor realize that we are actually shaping events for the future. Your program editor has tried to set down a few of the things which should be made a permanent part of our “conventions” with the hope that future convention booklets will expand those notes into regular departments. So look closely. Inside this book you’ll find “Traditions of Conventions Past” and the important “National Sponsoring Body” resolution of last year. We have begun to prepare the records and we hope you’ll find them interesting.
The article on traditions was fairly short, as there had not yet been time for too many traditions to develop:
The site of the conventions has traveled around the country in a more or less orderly pattern, so that no single region of the country has had the convention two years in a row, and so that the east and west coasts have each gotten a convention once every four years.
Conventions have been operated on a non-profit basis. The income has gone toward the payment of convention expenses, and any amount in excess has been donated to the next convention and/or divided among various fan organizations. Members of the convention committees have worked without personal remuneration.
One of the high points of each convention since 1940 has been a costume party based on science fictional ideas. By an interesting coincidence, the chairman of the present convention was master of ceremonies of the first such costume party in Chicago 1940; the editor of this program booklet won the first prize at that party; the costume designer is also present at this year’s affair.
The auction has been traditional since the earliest conventions. It has two purposes: it gives the fans an opportunity to acquire original manuscript illustrations and manuscripts, and it makes up a large part of the convention’s cash income.
The other matter to which the introduction drew attention was the enactment that laid the foundation for the World Science Fiction Society, though hardly in the clearest of terms:
Resolution passed at the business meeting of the Tenth World Science Fiction Convention in Chicago on September 1, 1952:
WHEREAS: science fiction conventions have grown in scope beyond the capacity of any local group to manage without excessive financial risk and administrative strain, and
WHEREAS: the experience of the Tenth Anniversary World Science Fiction Convention points to the advantages of an all-inclusive national sponsoring body with respect to public relations, records, and administration.
THEREFORE: Be It Resolved: that this convention hereby create a national sponsoring organization to become effective with the Eleventh World Science Fiction Convention in the following manner:
ONE: that the local science fiction group receiving the responsibility for said convention shall be recognized as the all-inclusive national sponsoring body, pro tem;
TWO: and further, that there shall be a continuing process of organization toward the realization of a permanent national science fiction organization through the vehicle of each successive science fiction convention; and
THREE: Be It Further Resolved: that the Tenth Anniversary World Science Fiction Convention Committee shall bear no obligation nor responsibility toward the formation of such a national pro tem body.
Second, this was the first Worldcon (and thus probably the first SF convention) to publish a daily newszine. Three issues of the Philcon Reporter appeared, on Saturday, Sunday and Monday. Ishes were mimeographed on legal-size paper. The copies in my possession are too faint to produce a readable scan, so I have transcribed them, correcting occasional typographical errors but trying not to remove the flavor imparted by tight deadlines and trying circumstances.
Philcon Reporter, Saturday Issue (one side, 3 columns)
Philcon Reporter, Sunday Issue (two sides, 2 columns)
Philcon Reporter, Monday Issue (one side, 2 columns)
One tradition that no one had yet thought to call into question was that of printing the program in the Program Book (never done today, because the book goes to press a month or two before the start of the convention). The program was, of course, much simpler then. The annotations on the copy reproduced here are from the pencil of Bob Tucker.
Saturday, September 5, 1953
Sunday, September 6, 1953
Monday, September 7, 1953
Other Program Book articles included brief bios of Guest of Honor Willy Ley and deceased chairman James Williams, a list of past Worldcons, announcement of the Achievement Awards and the daily newszine, and a plug for "Interplanetary Stamps", a fund raising gimmick.
Also present were ads, then as now the economic soul of con publications. Advertisers fell into three broad categories: SF publishers (Ballantine, Doubleday, Gnome Press, Fantasy Press Twayne Publishers and Abelard Science Fiction), magazines (all of the major prozines and a few fan publications), and clubs and individual fans who sent felicitations to the convention. Curiously, there were no advertisements from Worldcon bidders. Within a few years, that would become a major advertising market.
Selected advertisements (New York Science Fiction Circle, Galaxy, Nova Press, Seventh Fandom, Science Fantasy Bulletin, Doubleday & Co., Fan Warp, greetings and oddities)
After the convention, the chairman sent thanks and a financial report to members. Total convention membership was 1,150, of whom 633 actually registered. The chairman estimated that at least 650 were in attendance. (The traditional "warm body count", appearing in later Worldcon program books, is 750.) "Our expense account should open the eyes of those people who think that putting on a convention is a simple affair, and should be educational to those idiots who spread the rumor that the convention committee was lining its pockets with the proceeds."
From Chicago
Membership dollars
342 Banquet tickets
Exhibit tables (to date)
Interplanetary stamps (to date)
Program advertisements (to date)
 Received to date
Printing: Progress Reports & Stamps
Printing: Stationery, membership cards & publicity
Printing: Program booklet
Badges (1500)
Registration material
Public Address System
Miscellaneous hotel expenses (Room for Tetsu Yanu, expenses for Willy Ley, floodlights for Mel Hunter, phone calls, etc.)

Miscellaneous expenses (Postage, fares, phone calls, office equipment and supplies, telegrams, etc.)

Postage for Progress Reports and publicity
Total expenses
Income to date
Money owed us for exhibit tables, sale of stamps and program ads
Possible profit
The biggest financial setback was the Banquet, for which the hotel demanded a minimum of 400 place settings. When only 342 members were willing to pay the exorbitant price of $5.75 per head, the con had to make up the deficit, resulting in a net loss of over $250.00 on the event.
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