The award has always been administered in true fannish fashion: that is, without any specific organization, each winner taking the responsibility for getting the award to the next year’s recipient. In 1967 Archie Mercer, the award’s recipient in 1964, circulated the memo below to past winners and other interested parties in an attempt to formalize the administration. It’s interesting to note that in the early days the winners did not have to arrange their own engraving!
Thanks to Greg Pickersgill for supplying the text of the memo, which is reproduced here for its historical interest and for the details of the early days of the award.
THE DOC WEIR AWARD originally came into being in the following fashion. When Doc
Weir died, there was a project to raise sufficient money to buy his SF library
from his widow at a fair valuation, on behalf of the B.S.F.A. For various reasons
this project fell through, leaving the money that had been collected high and
dry. The position was resolved by a general vote taken at the 1962 (Harrogate)
Convention, which decided in favour of setting up the annual Award, to be given
to the person whom, more or less, “the voters thought most deserving of it”. I
was at the time in possession of the money concerned, a hangover from my former
position of B.S.F.A. Treasurer. Accordingly I paid it over to Jill Adams, who
then held that office, and Jill used it to buy the goblet and plinth which form
the actual Award. The Award was first presented the following year, 1963.
Since that time, the administration of the Award has been handled by a sort of
ad-hoc arrangement between the B.S.F.A. Committee and the appropriate Convention
Committee, and (E&OE) all expenses have been borne by the funds of one or the
other of those bodies. Jill Adams and Phil Rogers have at various times arranged
for the engraving of the winners’ names to be kept up to date. On two of the
five occasions (1964 - when I myself won it - and 1967) I have handled the bulk
of the paperwork arrangements, and in other years have helped to ensure that the
Con Committee of the year got the details right and stuck to the
generally-agreed formulae all along the line.
So far, this system has worked. It is, nevertheless, basically something of a
hit-or-miss arrangement, and there is in fact nothing (so far as I’m aware) to
ensure (a) that the Award is in fact awarded each year, and (b) that the
traditions concerning such matters as voter-eligibility, ballot-secrecy etc.,
are maintained. At the 1967 Convention I made a few tentative enquiries as to
the Award’s actual status. At the B.S.F.A. Annual General Meeting, Ken Slater
(B.S.F.A. Vice Chairman and. at the time the Award’s incumbent holder) ruled
that the Award was not a B.S.F.A. responsibility. If this is so, then possibly
it’s a Convention responsibility. But this has not been definitely established,
either. Voting rights are by policy confined to Convention members, therefore
voting forms are for convenience distributed with Con-literature, and the Award
is presented at the Con: on the other hand, the winner’s Certificate is signed
by the senior B.S.F.A. officer or officers available, in his or their B.S.F.A.
capacities, and the Award itself is (as mentioned above) a substitute for a
once-hoped-for increment to the B.S.F.A. library.
Thus the question of precisely who has the power to decide on any changes of
policy, new precedents etc., is therefore obscure. Likewise with the question of
precisely who will do the paperwork etc. each year. Usually, as I’ve said, I
seem to have something to do with the latter matter; nevertheless the
possibility exists that some year or other things might simply go by default.
It has been suggested (thank you, Ken Bulmer) that following the T.A.F.F system,
the latest holder should administer the passing of the Award to his or her
successor, and that present and past holders as a body should take full
responsibility for any questions of policy etc. that may arise. Regarding the
first suggestion; some possible holders, obviously, will be more administration-minded than others. The current holder is known to be adequately
administration-minded, but is also known to have more than enough on her
administrative plate as it is. Regarding the second suggestion; this seems to me
to be an excellent idea.
Reversing the order of the points, I would therefore like to make two proposals;
or perhaps it’s rather a case of one proposal and one offer.
PROPOSED- that the past and present holders of the Doc Weir Award accept
collective responsibility for the future administration of the Award,
accountable to nobody else whatsoever.
Irrespective of whether or not the above proposal goes through, I HEREBY OFFER to
become the regular paperwork administrator of the Award for an indefinite
period. (Though in the event of the proposal not going through, I would like the
question resolved as to whom I would then be answerable.)
Your comments are requested. If the winners are favourable to the idea, and
provided that none of the other interested parties has any objections, I intend
to go ahead as outlined above.
One further question remains - that of expenses, and by whom they are to be met.
To the best of my knowledge, all expenses so far have been met either by the
B.S.F.A Treasury or the appropriate Convention funds. Expenses are, of course,
never large. Apart from the engraving (of which I know nothing), each year all
that is normal1y involved is one stencil and maybe half a ream of paper for the
voting forms, plus a few postage stamps on miscellaneous correspondence etc..
The opinions of the various recipients of this circular concerning this are
solicited. In any case, I am not seeking reimbursement for this circular itself
or for its immediate following-up,
Over to you lot, please!
Archie Mercer 11 June 1967