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1961 - Paris

After the 40th ILAB Congress in Switzerland in September 2012 the antiquarian booksellers will look forward to meeting each other again in Paris in 2014. The 41st ILAB Congress will be one of many occasions where ILAB affiliates come together in France on invitation of the Syndicat National de la Librairie Ancienne et Moderne (SLAM) which will celebrate its centennial in 2014. The 14th Congress, for example, was also held in Paris, another exciting event in the history of the League.
Published on 31 May 2012

"Our ILAB Congresses are an important part of the infrastructures and networking possibilities of all dealers, the place where friendships are made or renewed and where we have the possibility of visiting libraries and seeing books not always very easily accessible and where we can experience other cultures and other traditions while the fair offers the possibility to meet new customers in a country not all of us visit regularly. In a globalizing world, in a world that seems to become smaller and smaller we sometimes tend to forget that personal contacts, that meeting real people, is still of greatest importance: the ILAB Congress offers precisely that opportunity to meet people who are active in the same profession and with whom we can discuss topics of mutual interest, exchange ideas and explore new possibilities."

ILAB President Arnoud Gerits

After the 40th ILAB Congress in Switzerland in September 2012 the antiquarian booksellers will look forward to meeting each other again in Paris in 2014. The 41st ILAB Congress will be one of many occasions where ILAB affiliates come together in France on invitation of the Syndicat National de la Librairie Ancienne et Moderne (SLAM) which will celebrate its centennial in 2014. The 14th Congress, for example, was also held in Paris, another exciting event in the history of the League.


From The Clique, October 7, 1961

We have to thank Sol and Mary Ann Malkin for the following which with the goodness of their hearts they mailed to us from New Jersey days before it would appear in Antiquarian Bookman.

We felt we could not accept such generosity so have held up publication in THE CLIQUE until it had time to appear in AB. Readers of AB will find more than we have included, particularly a list of the wines and food provided at the farewell dinner (including Sol Malkin's comments). He points out that the cost to foreign delegates was only $ 12.25 for the entire week, evidently much below what the farewell dinner alone must have cost.

(Contributed by Mr. SOL M. MALKIN, Editor, Antiquarian Bookman)

New Officials

G. A. Deny (Belgium) was elected president for a three-year term at the 14th annual Congress of the International League of Antiquarian Book sellers, in Paris, September 3·8, 1961. F. de Nobele (France) was elected vice-president and Dudley Massey (Gt. Britain) treasurer. Elected to the I.L.A.B. Executive Committee were Geoffrey Steele (U.S .A.) and Max Elte (Holland). A posthumous award of President of Honor was made to WilIiam Kundig (Switzerland), the first I.L.A.B. President. Next year' s congress will be held in Basel, Switzerland, about the beginning of September, exact date to be announced.

Agenda 1961 Congress

President Richard S. Wormser (U.S.A .) formally opened the first assembly of the 14th Congress at 3 p.m., September 4, and asked for a standing moment of respect for those who had died since the last Congress. After explaining the method of voting (by delegation, 2 votes each for countries having 150 or more members - England, France, U.S.A. - others 1 vote each), he appointed two tellers : A. L. Larsen (Norway) and K. P. Jongbloed (Holland).

The report of t he I.L.A.B. Committee was unanimously accepted as printed in Letter No. 7. The treasurer's report was then read by Deny, an d brought up to July 31, 1961, showing a favourable balance. Subscriptions for 1962, same as last year, were then unanimously adopted by member countries. Although annual appeals for a capital fund to provide a permanent secretariat had been "fruitless" Wormser pointed to the pressing need for a permanent office staff and asked the delegations to study the matter and to decide the means, whether by donation or contribution, by the next congress.

Member Proposals

France proposed that the League support an International Exhibition of Rare Books in Paris in 1963. M. Blaizot went into detail as to the complexity of the problems involved duplicate titles, varying prices, customs duties , sales tax, foreign payments, exchange rates. conflicts in dates, exact place and time, showcases, number of exhibit s, etc. etc. Nevertheless he concluded that such an exposition would be a worthwhile advance for the antiquarian book trade. After considerable discussion from the floor, a working committee, headed by M. Blaizot, was formed including: M. Hertzberger (Holland), R. Simonson (Belgium), L. Rostenberg (U.S.A.), H. Marley (Gt. Britain), and a member to be named by Germany.

Belgium proposed that booksellers communicate to the Congress any discoveries of interest to bibliophiles which they may have made during the year. This is done by other professions, stimulates meetings, and attracts publicity by the press. Passed unanimously.

The Netherlands proposed that a monetary award of $750 be give n every three years for an original history of the book, or typography, or bibliophily, that would be printed by the League to aid and raise standards in the antiquarian book world. A sum of $250 would be set aside each year from the League treasury to make up the $750 total which would be awarded by a committee of five (two from I.L.A.B.). There was a full discussion of the problems involved, and proposal was finally passed, with two abstentions.

A Japanese firm has asked permission to make a translation of the League's publication, International Dictionary for the Antiquarian Book Trade, and it was voted to sell the firm 300 copies to which they could add a Japanese translation.

In regard to the League letters, Wormser pointed out that they could be useful only to the degree in which information was received as to new officers, changes in membership and new addresses. W. R. Fletcher (Gt. Britain) expressed the regret of the British association that many of their German colleagues were not at the Congress and voiced the hope that the rift in the German book trade would soon be healed. He realised that many members of the other associations had also been concerned and asked that they continue their individual efforts. M. Penau (France) voiced full accord of his association with Britain and asked an expression of sentiment by vote of delegates present. Wormser said he knew he spoke not only for himself but for all present in voicing the hope that the rift would be healed. Passed unanimously.

At the 2nd general assembly, the following afternoon, France had a new proposal that had arrived too late for the printed agenda. France asked for a clarification of Article 3 (conditions of sale) and proposed that no returns were to be made unless agreed to in advance by both parties, excepting any case where the item did not correspond to the description by the seller. Passed unanimously.

Also unanimously passed was a proposal by the League Committee that Rule V, Article 29 be amended by adding the sentence : "Non-European members attending meetings shall be allowed the average of the amounts paid to European members for that meeting." [Sum involved is about $40 each member.]

In establishing a Committee of Honor or the League it had been hoped that those honoured would serve as "friends in court when unjust or burdensome government regulations were imposed. In practice, with the best of intentions, members of the Honorary Committee were so occupied with their regular onerous duties that they could find no time to interest themselves in our affairs. It was suggested at the meeting that we revise our ideas for the Committee and select younger members not so high-placed who would be more active in aiding I.L.A.B. as to removal of book restrictions, Import and export, etc.

After the election of Deny, Wormser gave thanks to all members who had aided him during his term of office , especially to his wife, Carola Paine Wormser, who had admitted LILA into the household for the past three years. Fletcher proposed a formal vote of thanks to Wormser for his excellent three years of work as president. Passed unanimously.

Deny, in accepting the appointment as new president for the next three years, thanked the members for the great honour paid him, and it was his first pleasure to pay tribute to Wormser and all the “old-timers”, especially Menno Hertzberger and the late William Kundig, for all their work on the League’s behalf. After he election and acceptance of other officials, the formal agenda was complete, with Switzerland as host country for the 1962 Congress, early in Spetember.

New Business

Under new business Warren Howell (USA) proposed that the Japanese antiquarian book trade be represented by observers at the next Congress. Seconded by Fletcher and passed unanimously. Pénau proposed that Spain also be represented. Deny pointed out that Spain had no national association but that some of the dealers did belong to the British group. De Nobele stated that, despite some recent efforts at organisation in Spain, the dealers were “apathetic because of exceptional fiscal conditions” in that country.

Howell also asked that working committees be set up to implement the Belgian and Dutch proposals, and was assured that committees would be formed as soon as possible. Blaizot was happy to report that his committee (French Exposition of the Book) had already met and made a good start.

Fl. Tulkens (Belgium) voiced thanks of members for the expected expert translation (French to English and English to French) of E. Franco (Gt. Britain), and Wromser asked for a standing vote of thanks to the French Association for their hospitality and to the Cercle de la Librairie for use of hall. Deny thereupon declared the formal business of the Congress closed.

Our thanks go to Mr. Laurence Oxley for the following:

About forty members of the British Antiquarian Association have recently retruned from the 14th Congress of the International League of Antiquarian Booksellers in Paris after a most interesting and enjoyable visit.

M. Pénau, President of le Syndicat Français au Cercle de la Librairie, with his committee, left no stone unturned in order to make his guests from thirteen countries welcome. From the first day, on arriving at their respective hotels, the ladies found beautiful posies of red, white and blue flowers awaiting them, to the Diner d’Adieu et Soirée Dansante held on the last evening when un petit cadeau (perfume, of course!) was found at each lady’s place. This last event was held on the Premier Etage of the Tour Eiffel and seemed a trifle symbolic as the chatter inside sounded like that around the Tower of Babel! There was much flowing (and haltings) French and English, mixed with German, Italian, Dutch and American conversation all going at full blast, it seemed everyone was attempting to overcome the barriers of language in order to get to know their counterparts in the World of Antiquarian books.

During the week of the Congress, there were General Assemblies and Committee Meetings where officials and delegates met to discuss the affairs of the League. Much hard work was put into discussing the seventeen items en t he agenda and Mr. Franco was kept busy translating.

The opening reception was given by the Cercle de la Librairie at 117 Boulevard Saint Germain in Paris on the Sunday evening, this was shown later on the French Television News. A highlight on the programme was a visit to the Chateau de Versailles to see a ballet performed by Les Etoiles de l'Opera and L'Opera Comique in the Galerie Basse. The Son et Lumiere that followed in the park was exceptionally beautiful, enhanced by a backcloth of starlit sky, fully appreciated by the two hundred guests. Afterwards a reception was held in the Chateau. This was also shown on the French Television News. A Scots member and his family were almost prevented from enjoying this entertainment as their hotel was on fire just prior to their leaving that evening!

On another afternoon the Bibliotheque Nationale was visited to view the collection of Guy de Boisrouvray which consisted of a number of early Books of Hours. A whole day was allocated for the Congress members to be taken to the Chateau at Chantilly where they were met by the Director and conducted around the famous Conde Museum. The Chateau itself is considered to be one of the finest specimens of the Renaissance architecture in France. In the galleries could be seen a wonderful collection of paintings, not hung in any order but by such fine a rtists as Fromentin, Nicholas Poussin, Raphael, Mignard, Ingres, Botticelli, etc. There were many other treasures including Le Cabinet Des Livres which contains over 13,000 books and manuscripts, and a gallery of beautiful miniatures and rare Chantilly porcelain, etc . After a magnificent luncheon at the Forest Restaurant Mongresin a visit was made to the castle stables where members were allowed to enter the boxes and make friends with the horses. On the return journey a stop was made to view the Abbey Royaumont.

Outside of official engagements there was time for the delegates to enjoy the glories of Paris, the weather being ideal for trips on the Seine and sightseeing in general.

Social Side of Paris Congress

Upon registering, Sunday afternoon , the delegates received portfolios with a wealth of material: books on and maps of Paris, a special issue of Le Bouqiniste Français, Letter No. 7, list of delegates, list of French dealers, and a detailed map listing the bookshops in central Paris.

The high note of French hospitality began with the opening reception, Sunday evening, at the Cercle de la Librairie. In a cordial and witty opening address, M. Penau, president of SLAM (Syndicat de la Librairie Ancienne et Moderne), the French antiquarian group, gave

"Welcome to Paris . . . Make yourself at home. Our Congress is based on friendship with common ideal of all dealers: the Book."

Maurice Bourdel , executive director of the Cercle, gave similar hospitable greetings and assured complete co-operation of entire book industry. Richard S. Wormser, I.L.A.B. president, voiced happiness of all members to be in Paris again. "The French trade has always been helpful and gracious in its hospitality. This will be a week to be remembered A plentiful supply of champagne and hors d'oeuvres kept over 200 persons (delegates, families, friends) in cordial spirits all evening.

Monday was a high note for many of the ladies who were entertained at special afternoon showings of Chanel, Dior and Lanvin* . [*This was, of course, a tremendous thrill, to be really inside a famous fashion house and to see the whole collection for two hours, but before anyone eats her heart out, go right now and thank God for Seventh Avenue!]

Versailles Visit

Tuesday was a full formal** evening at the Chateau de Versailles, with a ballet performance from the Opera, and the Opera-Comique in the Galerie Basse, followed by the Spectacle Son et Lumiere (sound-and-light and fountains display) in the park, with a buffet supper and champagne to round out an extraordinary performance. (Although normally closed on Tuesdays, as are most French "monuments", the Chateau, etc., had been specially opened by the French government for the entertainment of the antiquarian booksellers.). [We appreciated the gallantry of the French booksellers, who provided their personal cars to drive the ladies up the inclined cobblestone approach to the main entrance to the Chateau. Because the American fashion editors had complained so bitterly about their difficulties in manoeuvring this distance in narrow high heels, we were doubly grateful for the thoughtfulness of the French dealers.]

Wednesday afternoon was the special exhibit of books and manuscripts at the Bibliotheque Nationale (58 rue de Richelieu) with both Mazarin galleries open for us. Julien Cain,  Administrateur General, welcomed the members . (In a previous "Message to the 14th Congress" he had said : "The essential role played by the antiquarian book trade in maintaining the highest possible cultural values and in their diffusion throughout the world, beyond national frontiers, can never be too highly valued. The trade thus performs a truly intellectual function and those who reap the benefit of it - bibliophiles or scholars - are numerous . . . It is to the advantage of the spread of culture that everything should be done to facilitate for booksellers the exercise of their lofty and arduous profession in the way they would wish. Many of them have given repeated proof of their devotion to the Bibliothèque Nationale. Our National Library will be happy to welcome them with their foreign colleagues and to show them, beside the great Mazarin exhibition which fills two galleries, some manuscripts and precious items specially chosen with them in mind.

Following the meeting, many of the dealers attended the reception given to the League members by Hachette, the great French publishing bookselling organisation, in their main salon at 24 blvd Saint-Michel. (Previously, Hachette had sent to all delegates a large portfolio containing a complete guide book to all France, a picture book of Paris in colour, maps, history of firm, catalogues, etc.). Again, champagne and hors d'oeuvres served to make good book talk all evening.

Thursday was the all-day trip to Chantilly, a visit to its Chateau, the Musee Condé, the library, lunch at Montgresin in the Restaurant de la Foret, a visit to the famed Castle Stables - you should live so good as the horses - The Abbey of Royaumont, and return to Paris from the lovely countryside of the Oise Valley and Saint-Germain-en-Laye.

[Unfortunately, we came down with fatigue touriste and spent the entire day in bed catching up on our reading and writing. From all accounts it was an excitingly full if tiring day, and it would have been a bit too much for us . . . SMM.]

Farewell Paris Dinner

Friday evening and as all good things must come to a close and we can think of no better conclusion than the farewell dinner and dance at the famed Eiffel Tower Restaurant "En plein ciel", (This time however, it was not evening dress "obligatoire", but “tenue de soiree de preference"). The view of Paris was of course unexcelled, and so was the Dinner d'Adieu. The menu, handsomely printed, with an original woodcut by Albert Flocon. After food and drink, everyone (maitre d' says 276) was so relaxed that the talks were mercifully short. Wormser thanked the French SLAM for a wonderful week; Deny wittily noted his pleasure; Mme Penau graciously expressed the delight of the French antiquarian book trade for the presence of so many happy book people; each of the presidents of the national association (13, Finland was only one absent) then gave their thanks, and a "wonderful week" and "a memorable occasion" were the expressions unanimously used.

(AB Quotes : "Happy to have East and West Coasts of U.S. meet so many good bookmen, to be in a great city with great books and to help further the cause of books . .." - Howell . . . "I attended the last Paris Congress in 1950 and we have again had a whale of a time . . . On behalf of the British association 1 would like to thank the League for its existence, and the French association for the magnificent way in this their second congress strengthen the friendships which are the life blood of the League."-Fletcher.)

[Sissys that we are, we quit at 1 a.m. ; the Wormsers retired at 5 a.m., and reported that the party and dance were still going strong when they left! ... From the tricolour bouquet of flowers to the ladies at the opening of the Paris Congress to the gift of Balenciaga perfume at the farewell dinner-dance, the French book trade set an example of gracious and thoughtful hospitality that may perhaps be equalled in some future I.L.A.B. Congress - but certainly will never be surpassed! - mam and S.M.M .]

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