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Basle 1962 | | Basle 1962

Basle 1962

Published on 18 April 2011




At 9.30 am and 2.30 pm



Present: Messrs. G. A. Deny, President; F. De Nobele, Vice-President; D. Massey, Treasurer; M. Elte and G. Steele, Committee Members.

Absent: A. Frauendorfer, Committee Member.


President Deny opened the meeting and conveyed to the assembly the apologies for absence and the good wishes of the absent Member of Honour, Presidents of Honour, as well as those of the Past-President Mr. R. S. Wormser.

Before passing on to the Agenda, the President recalled with emotion that the League had just lost, in the person of Stanley Sawyer, a former President, one of its most devoted champions, and he expressed the regrets of all present.

Furthermore, on behalf of the Committee he thanked the President of the Circolo dei Librai Antiquari, Mr. Piantanida, who had so successfully organised the meeting.


Finance and Subscriptions: Our new Treasurer, Mr. Dudley Massey, had prepared a statement of accounts up to 8th May 1962, which showed in general a very good state of our finances; but it would be desirable if member associations would pay their subscriptions on receipt of the Treasurer’s request. Reminders of subscriptions are purposely sent at the first quarter so as not to trouble treasurers by requests at the beginning of the year.

The Brazilian Association, now reduced to three members, had asked for a reduction of their subscription. As this question could only be settled at a General Assembly (Statutes, Article 34), it would be placed on the Agenda for the Congress at Basle.

Owing to the precarious situation of the Brazilian Association, which is no doubt due to the economic difficulties in that country, Madame S. Bach had written to say that Brazil had withdrawn the invitation to hold a Congress there in 1964.


Contacts Abroad: Contacts had been made with Spain. Although our Spanish colleagues had serious reasons for non-participation in the League, it was quite probable that we would soon have a favourable response from them.

Contacts had also been made with booksellers in eastern countries. La Zentral-Antiquariat des Deutscher Demokratische Republik; the Polish Association, as well as the Hungarian Society for trade in books, showed interest in our League. Talks were in progress.

Contacts had again been made with the “Mezhdunarodnaja Kniga” of Moscow.


Definitive text of the French proposal: Letter N°8 (Article 9,iiii)

It was decided to add to Article 3 of Customs and Usages the following sentence: Any article ordered may only be returned if it does not correspond with the seller’s descriptions. This description must be exact and must state deficiencies and faults of all kinds.


Bibliography Prize: The Dutch Proposal, Letter N°8, Article 9, ii

This matter was studied at length by the Committee. In fact the Dutch proposal had already been adapted in principle and it remained now to work out the details. Organisation, regulations, etc. were questions requiring particular study. Finally it was decided to put forward the following rule for approval by the General Assembly in Basle:

i. The League will award every three years a prize to the value of 750 dollars for the best work of learned bibliography unpublished or printed.

ii. There are to be no restrictions as to the author’s qualifications; anybody may compete.

iii. Printed work must have been published during the three years previous to the latest date for submitting entries. Entries must be submitted in quintuplicate eighteen months at the latest before the date fixed for the award (first award Congress of 1964), into the hands of the President until such time as there is a permanent secretariat. Entries must be written in a widely used language, preferably English, French or German. Concessions will be made for other languages, notably Italian and Spanish.

iv. The judges will be as follows:

A President of the League

A Member of the League Committee

At least three specialists chosen by the League from among qualified persons.

v. The judges reserve the right to withhold the award if the work submitted does not seem to be sufficiently interesting. In the event of a tie, an unpublished work will have the advantage over the one which had been published. In principle, works will not be considered which are part of a series, or which are commercially on sale at the time.

vi. In case of non-award the prize money will revert to the League funds. The League reserves the right to modify the value of the award in the light of its financial capacity. It is for the General Assembly to fix the amount.

vii. The League will not be obliged to publish the prize-winning work if it has not hitherto been published. Nevertheless, it does not discount the possibility of according its patronage to a work it is it published.


International Exhibition. French proposal: Letter N°8, article 8

A proposal to organise an international exhibition had already been put forward by France at the Vienna Congress in 1954. A dossier concerning it had been compiled at the time by Mr. G. Blaizot. This dossier could not be found among the League’s archives. Precious time had been wasted in unsuccessful searched for the missing dossier and consequently, the Exhibition had been delayed and would take place in 1964.


Directory - New Edition. The President had received a proposal from the German Association. This proposal would be examined at the Congress at Basle. A very low estimate by a Belgian printer for the cost of the Directory opened up new possibilities. Various proposals about details and numerous suggestions about the presentation of the new edition had been received from many associations. We were very grateful for all these recommendations and they would be carried out as far as possible.


Confidential List. Vice President De Nobele, who for many years had undertaken the compilation and organisation of our international information service, made his report. It was remarkable that this report became more and more brief at each meeting. This encouraging sign should indicate that the international book market was ridding itself of certain unscrupulous elements, and besides, the use of our information prevented much litigation.

We could congratulate ourselves, and give credit to Mr. De Nobele, whose zeal had brought about this important state of affairs.



1. Proposal of the League Committee. Organisation of a permanent general file. Kept up to date, this would give immediately the names, correct addresses, telephone numbers, banks, etc., as well as the specialities of all the booksellers who are members of associations. It would simplify considerably the compiling of future editions of the directory, on condition, needless to say, that Associations send in regularly to the League modifications of all kinds for the file, failing which, out of date information would unfortunately be reprinted.

Elections. Our Vice-President, Mr. De Nobele, having been elected to this post before the end of his term as a Committee Member (which term ends this year) there would be a new election for the post of Vice-President.

A Committee Member likewise having come to the third year of his term, there would be an election for this post.


Mr. A. Frauendorfer, retiring and re-eligible

Mr. Claes Nyegaard, President of the Norwegian Association.

There might eventually be a third candidate.



BASLE 2nd - 7th September 1962.


1. Appointment of Scrutineers.

2. President’s Report on the League’s Activities 1961-62

3. Treasurer’s Report

4. Subscriptions for 1963. To consider request from Brazil.

5. Rules and regulations for the triennial prize for Bibliography to be awarded by the League.

6. International Exhibition

7. New Edition of the Directory. To consider German proposal.

8. Confidential list

9. Proposals.

10. Committee of Honour of the League

11. End of term of Vice-President, and end of term of Member of Committee.

12. Election of Vice-President, and election of Member of Committee.

13. Proposals as to Honorary Membership

14. Date and venue of next Congress

15. Any other business.


We again draw the attention of all members to the Belgian proposal made at the Paris Congress 1961 (Letter N°8, article IX) and we hope that many will come to present heir interesting discoveries in bibliography and bibliophily. In fact they cannot more highly honour their colleagues attending the General Assemblies than by sharing with them, to their advantage, their special knowledge, which is the aim of every man who desires enlightenment. We thank them in advance for the interest they will in this way bring to our future assemblies, which will thereby be enhanced.




SEPTEMBER 2nd - 7th 1962.


The General Assembly of the Fifteenth Congress of the International League of Antiquarian Booksellers opened at three o'clock, Monday, September 2nd., Mr. G. Deny presiding.

After thanking members for attending in good numbers, and our hosts (the Swiss) for their hospitality, the President asked for a minute's silence in memory of Stanley Sawyer, former President of the League, who died earlier in the year.

Attention was then turned to the Agenda.

I. Choice of Scrutineers. Mr. Fletcher and Mr. Schaefer were chosen. The Swiss President said that he had been empowered to vote for Brazil.


II. League Activities. These had been widely publicised in News letter N° 9. The President added a few relevant remarks :

a) Three hundred copies of the Japanese edition of the Directory were to be issued. The translation had been made by Mr. Keitaro Arnono, Librarian, of the University of Kansai. This edition would not be on sale commercially but would be given away by a Japanese bookshop on the occasion of its jubilee. This house was to pay a royalty of 300 U.S. dollars to Mr. Hertzberger who expressed his intention of turning this amount over to the League funds.

b) The President recalled that certain Spanish booksellers had been approached with a view to their joining the League. There had been no positive result to date.

c) Similar contacts had been made with Eastern countries in order to stimulate business relations. On being asked whether they considered such contacts expedient, the Assembly expressed willingness to continue such relations in a purely commercial sense. (A vote was taken - 9 in favour, 6 abstained ).

d) Mr. Deny then read a letter from some Japanese booksellers which showed a keen interest in the League and asking to know conditions of membership. Mr. Dawson (USA) who had been to Japan, was an able intermediary, and it was proposed that a Japanese observer be invited to attend the next Congress.


III. Treasurer’s Report (see financial statement in attachment).


IV. Subscriptions. The delegates from each nation agreed to maintain the same contribution for the forthcoming year. The special case of Brazil was sympathetically examined and it was left to this country's association to decide on the amount of its contribution.


V. Bibliographical Prize awarded by the League. After an exchange of views on major and minor points the Assembly gave an unanimous vote of 'confidence in the Committee for deciding the conditions of the award (750 U.S. dollars). The Committee's final text of these conditions would be found at the end of these minutes.


VI. International Exhibition. Mr. Penau, President of S.L.A.M., having explained the reasons for the delay in realising the projected international book exhibition, announced that this would take place in 1963 or 1964 and would most probably be held at the Bibliothèque Nationale. It would be not only a prestige exhibition but the books would also be for sale. Altering the order of the Agenda, the President then turned to Number 9.


IX. Propositions. The German dispute. Replying to the request of the Swiss Association, the President stated that at the end of the Presidents' meeting held that morning, Mr. Slatkine had left it to him to state his (Mr. Slatkine's) views. It was essential to know how the matter stood.

He recalled first of all the text of Article 2, paragraph 7 of the Rules : « Each Association is independent in its internal organisation " . Then he told the Committee that unofficial approaches had been made a long time ago to the two Associations without providing a solution. But on the 14th June 1962 there was held at Cologne a meeting of the delegates of the two groups, under the Chairmanship of Messrs. Poursin and Muir, who had been acting in a strictly private capacity. This meeting lasted six hours and it was finally decided that a small committee composed of representatives from each association be set up to study the question and to bring to a successful conclusion these preliminary negotiations and reach the agreement so ardently desired by all members of the League. No result was achieved. The German problem was a constant anxiety and all those who were spectators looked on helplessly desiring a reconciliation at all costs.

Certain questions were asked. A long debate ensued, principally between Mr. N. Israel (Holland), Mr. Auguste Laube (Switzerland), Mr. W. Shatzki (US ) and the President of the German Association Mr. F. Weigel.

As the discussion threatened to become acrimonious, the President asked for a vote of confidence in the Committee. This was unanimously given and the President then closed the debate.

Returning to question 7 of the Agenda:

VII. Directory. “We would like all booksellers to appear in our next Directory” said Mr. Deny, so there was another good reason why the Vereinigung and the Verband should smooth out their difficulties. He then gave some particulars about this next edition.

Due note would be taken of all those suggestions and observations, which had been made. It was proposed to insert maps of towns costing on an overage 4000 Belgian, francs per map.

The estimate for a work similar to the previous edition had gone up to 94,500 Belgian francs for 1500 copies, plus 16,000 Belgian francs for 500 supplementary copies. If any more advantageous propositions were forthcoming they would be considered immediately. Although the previous issue on thin paper had been a complete failure another issue on thin paper would be made at the request of several booksellers. But anyone wanting a thin paper copy would be required to subscribe for it in advance. The German Association had offered to do the preliminary work of assembling the information of the new edition. The President reiterated that it was urgent for the two German groups to come to an agreement quickly. We wish to have all German booksellers in the Directory which should be issued as soon as possible as the old one was out of date.

It was proposed to restrict the use of the specialities as much as possible, at the most five would be allowed with a recommendation to reduce this number, the chief speciality to be printed in heavy type.


VIII. The Confidential list. This list functions less and less for lack of fresh information.


X. Members of Honour. Presidents were asked to submit names for new Presidents of Honour to replace those deceased. Certain recommendations were made in regard to this. It was thought that persons who took an interest in the international book trade, would be preferable to merely important public figures.


XI and XII. Elections. Mr. De Nobele, who had decided to continue as Vice-President, which post he had accepted for one year only, was re-elected enthusiastically (for two years). Mr Frauendorfer, whose term as a Committee member had come to an end, was enthusiastically re- elected for three years. Mr. Nyegaard (Norway) whose name had been proposed, stood down in Mr. Frauendorfer's favour.


XIII. The President proposed that the posthumous title of President of Honour should be bestowed upon Mr. Stanley Sawyer. He said “You were all acquainted with Stanley Sawyer, but in fact, such was his modesty, that very little was known about him. He was born in 1904. He graduated from Cambridge and then joined his father's bookshop. On the latter's death in 1929 he became Managing Director. During the war he was an officer in the Royal Artillery. In 1952-53 he was President of the ABA. From 1955 to 1958 he was President of ILAB in which he firmly believed. He was esteemed by everyone, even by those who did not always share his opinions. His generosity was boundless, his loyalty unyielding, and there is no doubt that by his death the 'league has lost a true champion. I ask you to vote for this distinction for Stanley Sawyer”. The President's proposal was carried unanimously.


XIV. Other Business. Mr. Dawson (U.S.A.) gave some very interesting information about auctions in Japan. He said : “In the course of a journey to Japan I had the rare opportunity to be present at a book auction. I say rare opportunity because in fact private persons or visitors are not admitted to these sales. They are organised by an association of rare book dealers, and books, whatever their provenance, can only be submitted for sale under the auspices of booksellers. Similarly, purchases can only be made by booksellers. There is no catalogue, each person examining the book during the sale. There did not appear to be any Government tax. But the organisation of the sale itself seemed to be very interesting because it was quite different from our own.

Following the custom of the country everyone sits upon the floor. The auctioneer stands in a corner with his assistant and his clerk, the buyers sitting in a circle around him, Each person has in front of him a wooden or china bowl bearing his name, a brush, ink and a piece of cloth. The auctioneer places the lot for sale on a tray which is circulated among the bidders, who slide it along the floor. When everyone has examined the lot the bidders jot down their bids inside the bowls and slide them upturned along the floor towards the auctioneer who, when he has received them all, awards the lot to the highest bidder. The tray is immediately pushed towards the purchaser who takes possession of the lot and either pays at once or at the end of the sale, but always in cash. As soon as the transaction is finished the bowls are pushed back to their owners who wipe them and pass on to the next lot.

As these auctions are carried out strictly on a cash basis, those selling the goods come to collect the proceeds due to them as early as the day after the sale. Many small dealers continually sell at auction because this enables them to realise money quickly on their purchases. Moreover reserves are allowed”.

The President thanked Mr. Dawson warmly for his interesting account and expressed the hope that next year there would be many more speakers on the platform.


XV. Date and place of next Congress. Mr. Tulkens proposed that the next Congress be held in Brussels from September 1st - 7th 1963. Mr. Aeschlimann confirmed in the name of the Circolo Italiano Dei Librai Antiquari, the invitation of Italy for 1964, but the place had not yet been decided upon. Both proposals were enthusiastically received by the Assembly after which the President closed the 15th Congress of L.I.L.A., thanking Mr. Slatkine and all the members of the Swiss Syndicate for their cordial and generous hospitality.


Triennial Prize for Bibliography

awarded by the International League of Antiquarian Booksellers (I.LA.B.)



Article 1. The International League of Antiquarian Booksellers, an international association grouping together the National Associations of Antiquarian Booksellers, awards every three years a prize worth, as a rule, US-$ 750.- to the author of the best work unpublished or printed, of learned bibliography or of research into the history of the book or of typography.

Art. 2. The competition is open, without restrictions.

Art. 3. Entries must be submitted in a language which is universally used.

Art. 4. A work already published is eligible only if its publication occurred within the three years immediately preceding the closing date for submission.

Art. 5. Entries in the form of a specialised catalogue of one or more books destined for sale are not eligible.

Art. 6. The Judges.

A. The judges wi ll be composed of : 1) the President of the International league of Antiquarian Booksellers; 2) A member of the committee of the same ; 3) Three persons whose bibliographical knowledge is generally recognised. These last three, chosen from countries speaking different languages, will be helped by specialists, designated as necessary.

B. The judges reserve the right to withhold the award if they consider that the entries do not reach a sufficiently high standard.

C. The Judges’ decision is final.

D. In the case of a tie an unpublished work will have the advantage over a published one.

Art. 7. Three copies of each work whether published or unpublished must be deposited at the office of the President of the International League of Antiquarian Booksellers (Monsieur G.A. Deny, 5, rue du Chêne, Brussels 1, Belgium) at the very latest eighteen months before date of award. First award : September 1964. Last date for submitting entries: 1st of April, 1963.

Art. 8. Works which are unpublished but are not awarded the prize will be returned to their authors during the two months following the announcement of the award. Works which have been published but not awarded the prize will remain the property of the I.L.A.B., except by special arrangement made between the competitor and the President of the League, before the final date for submitting entries.

Art. 9. The I.LAB. is not committed to publish unpublished prize works. Nevertheless it does not dismiss the possibility of such publications.

Art. 10. The prize winner will retain all rights of publication.

Any further information relating to the Prize for Bibliography awarded by the I.L.A.B. can be obtained From the National Associations of Antiquarian Booksellers which are members of the I.L A.B., or direct from the President of the League.




Dear Friends,

After the last general assembly of the League in Basle of which you have just received the minutes, we parted with the definite hope of seeing very shortly a satisfactory conclusion to the differences between the German booksellers.

This hope had almost become a certainty; in fact, when the two German Associations met at Cologne before the Congress, under the friendly direction of Mr. Muir and M. Poursin, Presidents of Honour of the League, they showed a grasp of the situation and certain constructive ideas were put forward.

Our hopes were raised by the expressions of good will by the Vereinigung so that the proposed new edition of the directory took shape, encouraged by the generous offers of help of members of the German Association. Alas, just when we thought we had reached our goal, we were dumb- founded to learn that nothing had been achieved : on the contrary a certain stiffening of attitude' had put the whole situation back to where it had been three years previously, before the rift occurred. However, though from the strictly domestic point of view, the matter was back to its initial stage it was no longer so in the international sense.

During these three years foreign members had clearly shown where their sympathies lay and during the last Congress these definite points of view tended to disrupt any discussion of the “German affair” to the detriment of article 2 of the rules : “The League has as its object the co-ordination of all efforts and ideas for the development and the good of the trade of antiquarian bookselling thereby creating friendly relations between antiquarian booksellers throughout the world.”

Furthermore, as we have already said, no effort had been made among the Germans themselves to find a solution to the dispute in spite of what had been recommended in Basle.

We had hoped to be able to publish news letter N° 10 containing the minutes of the Basle Congress with a large heading announcing the reunion of the German booksellers. But we were very wide of the mark, and owing to numerous delays we are obliged to publish newsletter N ° 10 without this good news.

As things stood there seemed no prospect of an agreement between the Germans; the dispute, having become an international matter, was the cause of friction among the booksellers and could only deteriorate until it threatened the League's very existence. Accordingly on February 1st the Committee met in Paris and invited delegates from the two German Associations to attend .

Those present at this meeting were Messrs. De Nobe!e, Vice-President, Massey, Treasurer, Fraunendorfer and Elte, Committee members, and myself. Presidents of Honour Poursin and Tulkens kindly helped us with their advice. Mr. E. Weigel and Madame Lotte Wolfle represented the Vereinigung, and Dr. Hauswedell, the Verband.

Two proposals were made to the Vereinigung and the Verband :

1. Dissolution of existing associations and immediate regrouping of all German booksellers in one new association.

2. The immediate setting up of a “Working Committee” (Arbeitsgemein-schaft) representing all the German booksellers of both the associations to work out means of speedily reuniting the two associations. Pending such reunification this Committee would be the only one recognised by the League.

The first proposal was accepted by the Vereinigung delegate but rejected by the Verband, on the ground that as personal quarrels were still continuing, arguments would ensue from the moment the general assemblies foregathered and as each side had its supporters there would inevitably be a fresh rift.

The Committee thought this a reasonable argument and agreed to the second proposal. The Verband were agreeable to this, but the Vereinigung, after at first refusing, finally decided to consider it at a general meeting of their association to be called in 21 days.

This was agreed and The Paris meeting which had lasted five hours closed at 7.50 p.m.

After consultation with their members, the Vereinigung submitted counter proposals on March 1st.

This is how the matter stands at present; in accordance with the wishes of the last assembly, all is being done, and will continue to be done, to put an end to the disagreement. So it is in the hope of being able to welcome all the German boksellers to our next Congress in Brussels that I wish success to you all.

G. A. DENY, President.

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