All affiliates who have attended ILAB Congresses and ILAB Book Fairs in Europe, Australia, Asia and America have experienced the friendship, the warmth and cordiality among rare book dealers that create good business relations worldwide. “Amor librorum nos unit - The love of books unites us” is the motto of the League. And this was exactly what ILAB’s founding fathers intended.
In 1947 representatives from Great Britain, France, Denmark, Sweden and The Netherlands met in Amsterdam for a Preliminary Conference. They discussed the idea of forming an organization that counteracted the animosity and suspicion engendered by the Second World War. The new International League of Antiquarian Booksellers should foster the understanding between the nations as the mutual basis for a fair and professional trade in the future.
A year later the “enthusiasts for internationalism in principle” (Percy H. Muir) met again in Copenhagen where the ILAB was formally incorporated during the first ILAB Congress from 1st to 5th September 1948. The congress was hosted by the Danish Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association (ABF) and its President Einar Grønholt-Pedersen who said in his opening speech:
„The commodity we handle - the book - is, I daresay, about the most international thing on the world market. It is the support of the research worker and the scientist, the indispensable tool of the intellectual worker thirsting for knowledge. It satisfies the desires of all thinking and sensitive individuals. It is the inspiration behind new ideas, new deeds - and last, but not least, it fulfils a great mission in enlightening the masses. Our mission is to find the right book, preserve and finally convey it to wherever it is needed and can bring benefit or pleasure. A mission which, by its very nature, imposes upon us a responsibility which we must not neglect.“
Einar Grønholt-Pedersen became a member of the first ILAB Committee ever. He served for more than ten years, and when he retired during the 12th ILAB Congress in New York in 1959, he wrote a whole-hearted letter to his colleagues who had become his friends.
To the “Farewell Dinner”
Dear Mr. President, dear friends!
At this moment I have my “Farewell-Breakfast” – (a little too early, because in Copenhagen we are 6 hours before New York) – in Restaurant Nimb (open to 5 in the morning), where we in 1948 had the “Farewell Dinner” under the League’s auspices.
I am quite alone. But I feel myself together with all of you, because my thoughts and dreams are with you.
I am now drinking your “SKAAL” – and bring all of you my warmest thanks for these years I have being engaged in your Executive Committee.Too long, perhaps – but I was fall in love with the beautiful girl LILA, born in my own country.
Form a circle – (I beg your pardon for that word) – round her, and fulfill your engagements, so LILA can grow up, and be a glorious mid-point for Antiquarian Booksellers all over the world.
It is up to all of us to give LILA the greatest influence, - not alone for us, but in the highest degree also for this objects, cultural and enlightenment of the people, there are put up to the Antiquarian Book trade.
Friends! - three cheers for LILA. Good morning, and all the best for all of you.
Always your friend,
The letter was discovered by Alena Lavrenova, who writes the first thesis on the history of ILAB. Her researches led her to the ILAB Archives at the University of Amsterdam, where she found the letter. It is presented here by permission of Alena Lavrenova and the University of Amsterdam. Thank you very much.