1949 LONDON CONFERENCE.
Letter from the ABA to its members:
3rd May 1949
You are probably aware that the third International Conference of Antiquarian Booksellers is going to be held in London in September. This Conference will be the first held by the International league of Antiquarian Booksellers which was instituted at Copenhagen at the second Conference last year. A great deal of organisation and help from all members will be needed to make the London Conference a success. The Committee feel sure that it will be the wish of our Association that we shall not fall below the remarkably high standard of hospitality set by the Dutch and the Danes at the first and second Conferences. A programme is being arranged and a diary of events, subject to some alteration, will be found on page 3. Owing to the obvious cost of such a Conference, your Committee feel that an appeal for funds should be made to pay for the entertainment of our guests, and it is anticipated that the cost to the Association will be in the neighbourhood of £600.
Members of your Committee have agreed to subscribe a minimum of £10 each, and it is hoped that all members will give as generously as possible.
The advantages that the Members of the Association derive from the League are a closer liaison between our members and booksellers in other countries and the increasing trade resulting there from. Furthermore, the relationship between the League and the national associations is similar to the relationship between the latter and their individual members. The ABA can and does perform for its members functions which they either could not do at all, or could do less well individually. Similarly, the League is undertaking international duties which transcend the powers of any national association. It is less than a year old, and yet already UNESCO has greeted its formation with enthusiasm and is well on the way to official recognition of it as the organisation to which all problems within its scope will be referred. The International Vocabulary which the League is preparing, for example, has already received a very practical response from UNESCO who have offered either to subsidise its publication or to take a large number of copies when it is ready.
Both the Vocabulary and the International Directory of Antiquarian Booksellers - in which only members of national associations will appear - are well in hand, and it is confidentially hoped to publish the Directory this year - if possible before the Conference.
Other League plans include the exchange of children for holidays and, if international complications can be overcome, of assistants and apprentices: a scheme whereby booksellers visiting foreign countries will have the facilities of the local Association placed at their disposal; the regular exchange of confidential information on the standing of booksellers in every country, and the offer of arbitration in international disputes; and, eventually, and possibly most important of all, a concerted approach to governments on restrictions on international trading, with a view to some simplification and relaxation. Every effort will be made to secure the support of UNESCO in this.
But it all takes time and money, and all the work has to be done in the limited spare time of the executive of the League. Meanwhile its support depends on the faith and co-operation of all the national associations and their individual members. Its foundation has arisen from two International Conferences, the expense of which was borne, in each case, by an Association with hardly more than one tenth of our membership. It was the unanimous desire of your Committee that the third International Conference - the first, we hope and believe, to receive official support from the United States - should be held in London; and we look for equally unanimous support, especially financially, from all British members.
It is proposed that a Ladies’ Committee should be set up under the chairmanship of the Vice-President, and it is the earnest hope of the Committee that as many members as possible, accompanied by their wives, will come to London from all parts of the British Isles to attend the functions in September. We are honoured in being the first country chosen by the International League for its first Conference. Let us accept this as a challenge and show the other countries what we can do, so that they can look back on this occasion with pleasure and with pride.
C. D. Massey (President).
DIARY OF EVENTS FOR LONDON CONFERENCE
September 4th to September 10th, 1949
- Sunday, September 4th
Visitors arrive in London, are met and taken to their hotels.
- Monday, September 5th
Conference in the morning
Lunch by ABA Committee to delegates and their wives
Afternoon tour of London
Dinner at the Guildhall
- Tuesday, September 6th
Conference in the morning
Visit to the British Museum in the afternoon
Cocktail party given by British Council in the evening
- Wednesday, September 7th
Afternoon visit to the Royal Library, Windsor, or Hampton Court. Tea
- Thursday, September 8th
Conference in the morning
Visit to the Covent Garden Royal Opera House
Friday, September 9th
Visit to Cambridge. Lunch. Cocktail party given by Mr. W. A. Foyle, at Beeleigh Abbey, near Maldon
Saturday, September 10th
Morning and afternoon free
Farewell Dinner given by the Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association.
N.B. Early application for all events is requested because accommodation for meals is limited.
PROGRAMME OF EVENTS
During the third
The first held under the auspices of the
INTERNATIONAL LEAGUE OF
Arranged by the Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association
Sunday September 4th
Visitors arrive in London
Monday September 5th
10.30 am Informal reception at the Mayfair Hotel to meet foreign visitors
11.15 Formal welcome by Mr. C.D. Massey, President of the ABA
1.30 pm Lunch by the ABA Committee to Foreign delegates and their wives, at the Mayfair Hotel.
3.00 Sightseeing tour of London by coach, starting from the Mayfair Hotel
7.15 for Dinner in the Guildhall Library. The President of the International League,
7.45 Monsieur W. S. Kundig, will preside.
Tuesday September 6th
10.30 am Conference, Mayfair Hotel
2.30 Visit to the British Museum Library - arranged for visitors. Meet at the main entrance of the British Museum.
5.30 to 7.00 Reception and cocktail party for overseas visitors given by invitation of the British Council at 56 Portland Place, W1.
Wednesday September 7th
9.30 am Visit to Cambridge by coach, starting from the Mayfair Hotel. Lunch at Cambridge. Cocktail party by kind invitation of Mr. William A. Foyle at Beeleigh Abbey, Maldon, Essex.
Thursday September 8th
10.30 am Conference - Mayfair Hotel
7.30 pm Henry Wood Promenade Concert at the Albert Hall, Kensington. The London Philharmonic Orchestra - Conductor Sir Adrian Boult. Mozart - Schubert concert.
Friday September 9th
10.30 am Conference if required.
1.30 pm Visit to Windsor by coach. Tea at the Castle Hotel. Overseas visitors are invited by H. M. the King’s Librarian, Sir Owen Morshead, K.C.V.O., to inspect the Royal Library. N.B. The State Apartments will be closed.
Saturday September 10th
7.00 pm Farewell dinner at the Mayfair Hotel. (which it is hoped all who can will attend)
N.B. Evening dress will not be warn at any function.
ANTIQUARIAN BOOKSELLERS’ CONFERENCE
From a Special Correspondent
In 1906 Frank Karslake, a second- hand bookseller, called a few colleagues together and founded the Secondhand Booksellers' Association. It was the first organization of its kind in the world; but its ambitions and scope were modest. The annual subscription was one shilling, and beyond the obligation to exchange information on bad debtors and book thieves no one seemed at all clear what its purpose was to be.
Tardily other countries followed the British example and, by the time the Second World War ended, there were associations in France, Holland, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Belgium, Switzerland, Italy and Finland. Many of the countries concerned endured the rigours of enemy occupation; all had after-war problems, not the least of which was the treatment of members who had collaborated with the enemy. But there were also problems of exchange control and the regulation of imports and exports, which were new to most European countries. In 1947, therefore. the Dutch association took the initiative by approaching the British, as the senior body, with the suggestion that an international conference should be called, that invitations should be extended to all those countries in which an Association of Antiquarian Booksellers existed, and that delegates should submit the many problems that beset them to a general discussion. The Dutch offered the conference a home in Amsterdam and, in September, 1947, the representatives of nine countries gathered, under the chairmanship of the British president, for the first international conference ever held by the antiquarian book trade. The delegates were unanimous in their desire for the formation of an international body and the British association - the Antiquarian Booksellers' Association (International) - was entrusted with the task of calling together the presidents of the respective associations to draft a constitution.
The discussions in Amsterdam had been searching and had revealed a divergence of viewpoint on some fundamental issues. These, combined with the difficulty of making mutually convenient arrangements for meeting, and of drafting agenda on the basis of the well-meaning but not fully considered resolutions of the Amsterdam meeting, conspired to prevent the fore-shadowed meeting of the presidents. When the second conference was held at Copenhagen a year later, again under British chairmanship. the divergence of views that had been evident at Amsterdam emerged more clearly and for a time it seemed almost as if the International League would be wrecked before it could set sail. The common sense of the delegates, however, and the intense desire of all of them for some form of international association prevailed in the end. And so, before the Copenhagen conference ended, the International League of Antiquarian Booksellers had not only been formed but had worked out a constitution and elected an executive committee to take in hand various urgent tasks that could be dealt with only on an international basis.
Next week the third conference assembles in London - the first held under the auspices of the League itself. The president, Monsieur W. S. Kundig, of Geneva, in his opening address will be able to present a gratifying report of the first year's work. Considering that the executive committee is comprised of representatives from Denmark, France, Great Britain, Holland and Switzerland, that all of them are the principals of important bookselling firms with extensive businesses of their own, that more than one of them is the president of his own national association, and that intervals had to be carved in their already fully occupied lives, the record of work undertaken or completed is impressive. Among other things, an international Directory of Antiquarian Booksellers,' with their specialities, is almost ready for the printer, and a vocabulary, in seven languages, of more than 1,000 terms in general trade use is in an advanced stage of preparation.
It has been said that one of the main preoccupations of the founders of the first association of second-hand booksellers was with “bad hats”. The delegates to the international conferences therefore ran true to form in their urgent desire for the preparation of a black list of offending collectors and dealers. The president of the league can report that in almost every instance of financial shortcoming brought to his notice the threat of inclusion in the black list has been sufficient to obtain redress. But it is the hope and intention of the league's executive that its offices in this connexion should not be limited to those of a mere debt-collecting agency. One basic assumption in the formation or the league was that the antiquarian book trade is becoming increasingly conscious of the dignity and high standing of its calling and of the existence of a code of ethics whose efficacy and general applicability lose none of their force by being founded on tradition rather than on the printed word. The broad principles of what constitutes an honest standard of trading have come to be generally accepted by the leading dealers in all countries; and it is significant of the jealous regard for the preservation and even the improvement of the high standard observed by most members of the trade, that the league's executive has been entrusted with powers of arbitration in international disputes. These powers will be invoked rarely, but it is greatly to be hoped that where the occasion for them does arise decisions will be fearlessly and impartially taken, with regard entirely to principle and not at all to the comparative importance of the persons concerned. For in this respect the league transcends the limits of purely trade concern and offers a service to bibliophiles on both sides of the counter. Indeed, by encouraging the observance of high ethical standards by the trade it will help to further that community of interest between booksellers and collectors which has become almost demonstrably the best hope for the future of the trade itself.
The executive committee of the league is presided over by Monsieur W. S. Kundig, the president of the Swiss association, himself an antiquarian bookseller of world-wide reputation and the son of a bookseller. He was educated in England, which accounts for his remarkable linguistic feat in delivering a long presidential address largely concerned with technical matters in English, which has been the official language of all three conferences. The vice-president is Mr. P. H. Muir, of the British firm of Elkin Mathews, Limited, immediate past-president of the A.B.A., and president of the conferences in Amsterdam and Copenhagen. The league's treasurer is Mr. Menno Hertzberger, of the International Antiquaraat in Amsterdam, a past- president of the Dutch association. The two remaining committee members are M. Andre Poursin, past- president of the French association and an antiquarian bookseller in Paris, and Mr. E. Gronholt Pedersen, the popular and apparently permanent president of the Danish association.
These gentlemen are, of course, officers of the league, elected by the general assembly and not representing their national associations. The discussions of the conference are in the hands of delegates appointed by the various associations. The countries represented at the conference, excluding the British hosts, are Belgium (president, M. Florimond Tulkens of Brussels); Denmark (president, Mr. E. Grenholt Pedersen); Finland (president, Mr. Ilmari Jorrna of Helsinki); France (president, M. F. de Nobele of Paris) ; Italy (president, Mr. Aeschlimann of the firm of Ulrich Hoepli in Florence); Norway (president, Mr. J. T. Cappellen of Oslo); Holland (president, Mr. M. Hertzberger); Sweden (president, Mr. Borjesson) ; and Switzerland (president, Monsieur W. S. Kundig of Geneva).
The conference, however, is by no means only, and perhaps no longer even principally, a business meeting. The A.B.A., under the presidency of Mr. Dudley Massey, of the firm of Pickering and Chatto, Ltd., has arranged a programme of social events worthy, it is hoped, of its guests and of the occasion. Beginning, very properly, with a short sight-seeing tour of London which concludes, equally properly, with a banquet at Guildhall, the programme includes a reception by the British Council, visits to the British Museum and the Royal Library at Windsor, a day in Cambridge, and a Promenade Concert. On Saturday, September 10, the A.B.A. takes leave of its guests at a farewell dinner and dance at the Mayfair Hotel.
LIST OF PARTICIPANTS IN LONDON CONFERENCE
W. S. KUNDIG, President
P. H. MUIR, Vice president
M. HERTZBERGER, Treasurer
E. GRONHOLT PEDERSEN
Louis W. BONDY
B. H. BRESLAUER
Ralph A. BROWN
Mark COHEN D'ABERRY
W. C. ELLY
F. S. FERFUSON
Ifan Kyrle FLETCHER
Jan R. GRANT
C. E. HARRIS
J. J. HOPKINS
E. V. MAGGS
C. D. MASSEY
R. A. MURRAY
Winifred A. MYERS
R. C. PEARSON
Harry W. PRATLEY
G. P. ROMER
C. K. SWANN
G. A. DENY
F. DE NOBELE
C. E. BOURLOT
Jorgen W. CAPPELEN
S. VAN MAARSEN
H.D. PFANN. Jr.
G. H. THOMMEN
Laurence GOMME, Observer
1. President’s Address and Report of the Committee
2. Treasurer’s Report
3. The League’s budget and the subscription for 1950.
4. Other possible ways of raising funds for the League
5. Discussion of the application of the Austrian Association for admission to the League.
6. Year Book
7. International Vocabulary
8. Exchange of apprentices and assistants (Proposal from Holland)
9. The Emblem of the League
10. Distinctive mark for names of booksellers affiliated to the League in all advertisements in trade journals (Proposal of Holland)
11. Laws and regulations in use in every affiliated country concerning the purchase of books (Proposal of France)
12. Credit problems with various countries, notably Argentine.
13. The Black List
14. Report by the Norwegian delegation on the reunion of the Scandinavian booksellers.
15. Revision of paragraph 6 of the statutes, and possibly, of other paragraphs.
17. Division of labour
18. Other business, including the date and venue of the next Conference.
INTERNATIONAL CONGRESS OF ANTIQUARIAN BOOKSELLERS
REPORT of the Third Conference of The International League of Antiquarian Booksellers, the first held under the auspices of the INTERNATIONAL LEAGUE OF ANTIQUARIAN BOOKSELLERS, held at the Mayfair Hotel, London, from Monday, September 5th to Thursday, September 8th, 1949.
FIRST DAY (Monday, September 5th, 1949)
The President of the International League, M. W. S. Kundig, occupied the Chair at 11.30 a.m.
All the delegations being present, the President rose and announced : - We will begin by reading the Report of the Committee on its activities since the formation of the League - for the past year up to day. I shall read this Report to you in French and our Vice-President, Mr. Muir, will read it afterwards in English.
The Presidential Address was delivered in French.
THE PRESIDENT: I will now call upon Mr. Muir to read the address in English.
Mr. P. H. MUIR : Before I actually read the Committee's report in English I should like to say that it is in many ways an unduly modest document. If, throughout most of the course of the Report, instead of the word «Committee» you read «President» you will get a more complete idea of what the Report means.
Report of the Committee and President's Discourse
Ladies and Gentlemen, my dear colleagues,
It gives me great pleasure to declare open the third Congress of Antiquarian booksellers, which is the first to which you have been summoned by virtue of your membership of LILA and I am grateful that you have attended in such force.
We have present the delegations of BELGIUM, DENMARK, FINLAND, FRANCE, GREAT BRITAIN, HOLLAND, ITALY, NORWAY, SWEDEN, SWITZERLAND, Each of these (or the greater part of them) represented by several members of their national associations so that (number) booksellers are present here in this hall. I extend to each and every one of them a cordial welcome.
It is my first duty and great pleasure to thank with all my heart and on behalf of us all, the A.B.A. for their great efforts in organising the present Congress and for having provided such an amiable and attractive background to our deliberations. Their open-handedness and ability are equally evident whether in the utilitarian or the social side of the Congress; and their generous, not to say lavish provision of festivities and receptions that they have made for our diversion will not have escaped your notice. We shall, each and everyone of us, treasure a permanent and unforgettable memory of this great occasion.
At Copenhagen last year, at about this time, we had the great privilege and pleasure to be present at the inauguration of the International League of Antiquarian Booksellers : for the occasion of which we owe a debt of gratitude primarily to the booksellers of Holland, who provided at the Congress in Amsterdam, called by the ABA a first exchange of views, secondly to our Danish colleagues who organised, in the face of a somewhat discouraging perspective, the Congress of Copenhagen. That Congress, as you all know, was an unqualified success. Thanks to the truly international spirit displayed by the delegates taking part in the discussions, all discords were resolved and the decisions promulgated were unanimous. These discussions culminated in the formation of the LILA and its preliminary statutes. It was no small achievement to have succeeded in reconciling the ideas and susceptibilities of countries so divergent as Denmark and Italy, or France and Britain, countries whose languages are no less different than their points of view. And the fact that we succeeded is, I repeat, due to that international spirit by which the delegates were animated, that spirit which we hope to see expressing itself ever more widely and deeply throughout our trade all over the world. We do not pretend that our labours at Copenhagen were crowned by perfection; far from it. But we do believe that their sequel, the international association of the various national bodies each retaining sovereignty over all matters of internal concern, has been the foundation of a vital and viable body, even though modification may be advisable, or even inevitable in some of
its details. During this first year of its existence our League has given proof not merely of its necessity, but still more of its great vitality and its future seems assured.
I turn now, my friends, to a resume of the activities of your Committee, activities which have been great, greater even than I can express to you; for we had to start from scratch; we began our labours, so to speak, in a vacuum. We were almost without organisation, without money -which is the sinews of war - but what we did have was an infinite spirit of goodwill, which was equalled by the confidence you showed in electing us to our honourable positions. It is of prime importance to me that you should all know of the supreme disinterestedness shown by every member of the Committee, and particularly by MM. Muir, Hertzberger, Poursin and Pedersen, who have not only devoted a great deal of their time to the various tasks with which they have been encumbered and to the Meetings of the Committee, but have also borne a large proportion of their personal expenses, which would otherwise have had to have been paid from the slender resources of the League, You will agree, when you hear the Treasurer's report, that these costs, have been reduced to a minimum.
During this first period of our existence we have held four plenary sessions. The first at the conclusion of the Copenhagen Congress, in the course of which we drafted a budget for the immediate future and a plan of campaign; the second, beginning on November 7, 1948 and the third, beginning on March 26, 1949 - both at Geneva - and the latest on the eve of the present Congress. During these meetings and in the intervals between them we have achieved some results and have had many discussions, the most important of which I will now lay before you.
Our first task was the editing, revising, translating and printing of the minutes of the Copenhagen congress. We ask your indulgence for the delay in distributing the printed report until only a short time before this meeting. The reason for this is that the discussions were lengthy and occasionally confused, that the text was typed in English and that some of the speeches in French, being inadequately noted, called for revision, which was sometimes extensive. Thereafter the English text had to be translated into French and some part of the French text had subsequently to be translated into English. A certain delay was also entailed by the need to discover the least costly method of printing and distribution. Finally, the report in proof form had to be circulated to all separate associations taking part in the Congress. None of these operations can be conducted, so to speak, by return of port; but above all I would like to impress upon you the degree in which delay is inevitable, not only in the publication of all our minutes, but also in all the work we undertake, by the bi-lingual nature of our discussions and the continual necessity of translation, whether into English or French. This is the only certain way to prevent misunderstanding - an essential requirement of all our international relations; but it is inevitable, despite all our goodwill, that this should be fruitful cause of delay.
You will recall that, at the Copenhagen assembly, two desiderata were regarded as of paramount importance. First: that a Directory of the members of the national associations affiliated to the International League of Antiquarian Booksellers, with their specialities, should be prepared and printed. This Directory is almost completed and its publication is in active preparation. Under the supervision of MM. Muir and Poursin a questionnaire was addressed to each member and - with a very few exceptions - has been completed and returned to them with all the necessary details. The two editors will contribute to our discussion the latest news on this subject.
The second project was an International Vocabulary of trade terms, we have planned the preparation of this in seven languages: French, English, German, Dutch, Scandinavian, Italian and Spanish. The typescript of the main body of the work is virtually complete in four of these languages, thanks to the labours in English of Mr. Muir; in German by MM. Frauendorfer and Nebehay; and in Italian by M. Armani, of Hoopli. The French text has been under my own care. There is little doubt that we shall receive in a short time the Dutch and Scandinavian texts on which MM. Hertzberger and Gronholt Pedersen are hard at work. For the Spanish text we are fortunate in the co-operation of UNESCO, who have shown a lively interest in this Vocabulary, and have offered their collaboration also in the editing and distributing of it. One copy of the typescript is at the disposition of members present for examination; and any suggestions they may make will be ensured of our warm welcome. This manuscript, which already comprises over 1,000 words in common use in our trade will give you some idea of the importance and interest represented by this work.
In further conformity with the wishes of the Copenhagen we have attempted the production of an emblem for the League. We have to confess, however, that up till now we have unfortunately failed to agree on a design that we could unanimously approve. We have considered two projects, one English, which did not please some delegates and the French, which displeased others, and we have found it impossible to agree unanimously on either. These designs for an emblem, both the English and the French, will be submitted to you and we shall be happy to hear the opinions of the delegations present at this meeting.
Your Committee has been greatly concerned to find a method of approach to various governments with a view to their facilitating commercial and financial exchanges between booksellers in the different countries affiliated to the League. It is evident that we have to contend here with laws and regulations solidly established and based on principles of high policy in the face of which we can hardly expect to make spectacular progress; but we have, nevertheless, achieved certain tangible results. We have, for example, intervened in the discussions of the Franco-Swiss commercial delegations with the result that they have agreed to extend to our trade the privileges of importations and exportations which had previously been confined to the new book trade. Then we have given the strongest support possible to the Dutch and Italian Associations in their discussions with their respective governments. Further, personal letters have been addressed to the commercial attaché of the Embassy of every country drawing his attention to the importance, both commercial and cultural of the antiquarian book trade, which, for most of them had been a dead letter or a matter of no consequence. I may add, that in view of future possible démarches and negotiations we have gathered, from each country, through the medium of its association, an exact and complete statement of the conditions governing imports and exports and the facilities, or restrictions of payment. We have also asked to be kept in regular touch with any changes that may arise. This system enables us to on demand (and we engage ourselves fully to undertake) to supply to any member of the League desirous of exporting books to a country in which the regulations are unfamiliar to him, with the conditions that apply therein. It is certain that, if this enquiry had been undertaken a year ago, many vexations could have been prevented notably with the Argentine.
And speaking of the Argentine, we have also made an enquiry of all members of the League to inform us of the extent and particulars of debts owing to them there and we propose to send our demarches on this subject to the Argentine Government and to endeavour to secure a complete or partial raising of this financial blockade. Those debts are certainly considerable enough to warrant our intervention. It is by continual effort of this description that we hope to make the presence and importance of the League felt among the authorities of all countries. You may be assured that those questions of customs and exchange regulations are the subject of our constant attention.
He have made contact with UNESCO and our relations with that institution are excellent. We have visited Dr. Carter, who is in charge of those cultural departments in which we are concerned. He has shown the greatest interest in the League’s activities and has asked to be kept in constant touch with its work, decisions and aspirations. In return he has promised us his full support, notably in reference to the Vocabulary of which I have already spoken. He has shown the liveliest interest in this project and is anxious to do all he can to help us, both morally and materially: He also has expressed the desire to receive from members al1 the publications of the national associations and I hope that delegates here present will see that this is regularly done in the future. One of the creations of UNESCO for which owe it a great debt is that of the UNESCO Bonds which offers to any bookseller in a country with depreciated currency, the opportunity to acquire, under certain conditions, books produced in a country with hard currency at an official rate of exhange and to provide the means of payment in dollars at the clearing rate without the necessity for passing through the clearing. UNESCO has placed very considerable sums at the disposal of this scheme amounting to millions of dollars. We hope that every member of the League is familiar with these new facilities, but if this is not so, we are entirely at their disposal for an explanation of its method of working.
Our international relations have extended equally to the UNO at Geneva which we have made contact. We have secured the insertion of the League, as an officially recognised organisation in the Yearbook of International Organisations.
The preparation of a black list was called for and has been undertaken. The procedure adopted by the Committee has been to write to every firm - or individual- to inform him that a complaint has been made against him by such and such a firm by reason of non-payment and to give him an opportunity to regularise the position, failing which his default will be notified to all the associations affiliated to the League. We have received numerous complaints, which have necessitated an important volume of correspondence, of a nature that has occasionally threatened to transform your Committee into a debt collecting agency. We are happy to be able to say that in most cases we have recovered the full amounts incurred - fear of the black list being the beginning of wisdom - save in those cases where debtors inhabit countries from which payment cannot be made, owing to their financial situation. Most of the delayed payments were due either to neglect or to -ignorance of the formalities necessary to obtain permission to pay. Only a few firms, among, them one domiciled in Copenhagen (not a member of the Danish Association) give evidence of actual bad faith by exploiting the confidence of confrères in other countries, and have justly merited the obloquy of inclusion in a black list. We recommend once more to all members of associations affiliated to the League to notify instantly, without hesitation, with the necessary supporting documents, any litigious debts which they may have. By the same token we request all booksellers to notify the President of the League promptly of books stolen or fraudulently acquired, with the fullest possible details to assist in their identification, so that these cases may be communicated by the most rapid means to all the Associations. It is very important to combat these frauds, which seem to be on the increase just now. We ask urgently and earnestly for the fullest collaboration from you all in these matters, whether of bad debts or of misappropriations.
Numerous requests for information on credit standing have also reached your Committee. Thanks to full co-operation by the Presidents of Associations it has been possible to reply quickly and satisfactorily to these.
Your Committee has assumed the responsibilities of a tribunal of arbitration. These powers have peen invoked in only one instance which concerns Denmark, and after careful deliberation we decided that the question was one of internal rather than international provenance and it was therefore relegated to the Danish Association for decision. The rule of your Committee, in accordance with the decisions arrived at in Copenhagen, is to abstain from intervention in questions that concern exclusively the national Associations, reserving its intervention for differences of an international order.
We have recommended - having no power to demand - to the different National Associations, not to grant membership to foreign applicants who are unwilling or unable to acquire membership of their national association. This request has been made to ensure that booksellers considered unworthy of, or who consider themselves unsuited to membership of their native organisations, should nevertheless acquire by other means the benefits of the League. Our suggestion has been adopted by several of the national associations, but not by all. We hope, however, that this fully justified measure, ultimately and in not too lengthy a space of time, will be adopted by all the national associations, without exception.
It is essential that the international character of the League should continue to extend and your Committee has approached various countries not at present affiliated with a view to extending our influence. One immediate consequence ,of this is that we have to present for your approval - or disapproval - the candidature of the Austrian Association of Antiquarian Booksellers. You will be asked to decide on this before the present Congress disperses.
There is good reason to assume that our example, followed by personal approaches through various American channels, bas been an immediate cause of the foundation of an Association by the antiquarian trade in the United states, under the Presidency of Mr. Laurence Gomme of the firm of Brentano’s in New York. The formation of such an organisation in the U.S.A. is unprecedented, and I am happy to report that there has been a very cordial exchange of letters between ourselves and the President of the American Association. The latter has been too recently formed to permit discussion of its affiliation to the League; but the project is on their next agenda and we have great hopes of a successful issue to its discussion. Such an issue is much to be desired and would bring us within sight of universality, for there seems little possibility that the few antiquarian booksellers scattered over other countries should be capable of forming themselves into associations.
One notable exception, of course, will be in all your minds, which must be postponed for future deliberation and cannot arise at this Congress. This is the case of the German booksellers, who have recently reconstituted an association grouping the booksellers of the British, American and French zones. But, I repeat, this calls neither for discussion nor decision at the moment.
The effectives of the League in total are composed of 843 members (plus Holland) which are divided as follows:
Great Britain 300
This brings me to the question of the League’s budget - which is quite independent of its financial position, on which Mr. Hertzberger will address you later - and of the contribution that each Association makes to it. It seems clear that the solution, which was entirely provisional, established during the Congress at Copenhagen is not perfect, because the cost to individual associations is divided inequitably reckoned per capitum by membership.
Given that the subscription for 1949 was fixed at Sw.frs. 900 per syndicate (which moans Sw.frs. 1800 for Great Britain and France) the cost per member in the various associations is as follows:
Belgium Sw. frs. 28.10 per member
Denmark 18.35 per member
Finland 75.00 per member
France 5.00 per member
Great Britain 6.00 per member
Italy 47.35 per member
Norway 180.00 per member
Sweden 37.50 per member
Switzerland 21.40 per member
You will observe at once the inequality and the need for rernedying it. W ask you to examine the question very attentively and to give us the benefit of your advice, taking into account that it is necessary for the League to possess, not only the funds necessary for its existence, but also a reserve with which to meet unforeseen eventualities.
We also ask you to examine and possibly to revise paragraph 6 of the rules, adding to the phrase : “In case the members of any Association call for a meeting of the Comrnittee” “The Committee may also be asked to call a special meeting of the General Assembly if 50% of the associations ask them to do so. On this occasion we ask you to study the rules carefully. They were drawn up rather hastily in Copenhagen and any modifications or adjustments that may occur to you should be brought before the present assembly.
You will remember that it was suggested at Copenhagen that the exchange cf children for holidays should be organised between members of the different associations affiliated to the League. We regret to say that our approach to this question has not been very successful. One person only has proposed sending a child abroad, without the offer to reciprocate. This is much to be regretted and we hope that next year our tentative efforts will have more success. We are quite sure that booksellers in every country, I can speak with assurance for those in Switzerland, would be helpful in this respect if it had attracted more attention.
The exchange of apprentices and of volunteers has unfortunately proved impossible under present conditions owing to the formidable and complicated labour regulations in most countries. This is also very regrettable, but we must hope that the situation will change before very long. National associations can help here by impressing on their own governments the importance of these exchanges and by pressing for relaxation in the regulations so as to permit our machinery to operate.
At the suggestion of H. Rauch (Switzerland) we have decided to ask all members of the League to send to its headquarters all the catalogues they publish. These will be preserved and exhibited as part of our archives, a procedure that will permit in future any bookseller-member to borrow or consult any catalogue that he wishes to see and cannot find elsewhere.
The Scandinavian booksellers have held a joint meeting in Oslo to discuss questions of common interest to themselves and to the members of the League in general. As n result they have sent several resolutions for the discussion of this Assembly. One of them will certainly address you about these resolutions.
A very extensive and magnificent exhibition of old books has been opened at Lucerne under the title “Ten Centuries of French Books”. It has been organised under the supervision of the Bibliothèque Nationale of Paris, the Swiss Libraries and your President. Although only books of French origin are contained in this Exhibition there is no doubt that it will provide excellent propaganda for antiquarian books in general and we cannot too much impress upon the various national associations the desirability of organising similar functions in their respective countries.
As you will see from the account that I have just given you, the activities of your Committee have been considerable and will be augmented in the future. But you may be assured that, so long as we remain at the helm, and you continue to entrust the destinies of the League to our hands, we shall not cease to apply all our energies to the well being and prosperity of the League and its members, while we shall endeavour to continue, as I believe we have succeeded so far, in pursuing a disinterested course and in confining our activity to those matters that concern the trade as a whole, while abstaining from intervention in internal affairs.
We hope that the present assembly, in common with those which are to be held in future years, will afford the opportunity to those booksellers who attend of confirming their old fraternal relations and of founding new ones, thus pursuing still further our main aim and object, which is to forge ever closer and more binding links between the antiquarian booksellers of the whole world.
During the course of his Report the President circulated the manuscript of the Vocabulary. He also amplified his references to the black list by saying that he had received, during the year, at least 150 letters of claim relative to unpaid debts and he would like to inform the Assembly that, in nearly every case, he had obtained satisfaction.
He also referred to the presence of Mr. Laurence Gomme of New York, and said : Mr. Gomme is present here and I extend to him on your behalf the most cordial welcome. We feel extremely grateful to him for having made the long journey from New York to London expressly to attend this Conference. It is a sign of the first liaison between the American Association and the International League of Antiquarian Booksellers. The whole assembly applauded and Mr. Gomme rose in acknowledgment and thanks.
After the Report had been read in French and English no comment on it was forthcoming from the assembly, which then received the thanks of the President, who called for the Treasurer's report.
THE TREASURER (M. M. Hertzberger) : My report can only be a brief one. You all know that the contribution to the League has been fixed at 900 Swiss francs per year for the smaller countries and 1,800 for France and England. Up to now we have not received all the contributions because some countries have not been able to pay owing to certain difficulties but we have now received in all, 6,280 Swiss francs. There have, of course, been various expenses. We have a balance of 1,195 Swiss francs. The expenses, of which you can get the details if you wish, have been not only for the printing of the reports of the Congress in Copenhagen, but also for secretarial work, printing, paper, meetings, etc. As you can see from the report, our organisation has in cash only just over 1,000 Swiss francs which is far too little, and I hope that as a result of this Conference a way will be found for raising funds, and an item to this effect is on the agenda.
If anyone wants details I am quite willing to give them.
Mr. I. K. FLETCHER (Great Britain) : As I see it, there is a difference of roughly 4,000 Swiss francs between the money received and the money which the League hopes to obtain for the first year. Can we have a word from the Treasurer about the possibility of collecting that 4,000 Swiss francs?
THE TREASURER (M. M. Hertzberger) : The 4,000 Swiss francs will have to come from the contributions of certain associations affiliated to the League. Some of them cannot pay as yet; others have been in arrear, notably Finland. That is a small country which sent me a cheque to hold but I had to return the cheque because the Bank of Holland did not allow me to send it on to Switzerland.
Mr. I. K. FLETCHER : In other words, we confidently assume that these 4,000 Swiss francs will be paid to the League?
THE TREASURER (M. M. Hertzberger) : Yes, but when we receive it we shall have no reserve at all as our expenses go on.
THE PRESIDENT : Does anyone wish to speak?
Mr. C. D. MASSEY (Great Britain) : Is there a balance sheet?
THE PRESIDENT: Certainly. Mr. Hertzberger has it here. We can make a copy of it.
You will have it. When we decided to ask for 900 Swiss fr. for each association we knew that there were some of them which would not be able to pay that because they had no possibility of doing so. They were such small associations that what it would cost for each member of the organisation would be quite disproportionate. For instance, Norway has five members and Finland has twelve members. If you divide 900 francs by five you will see how much it makes. We had to make an adjustment for those countries. It was impossible to do otherwise. This shows the difference between what we want to receive and what we really receive. Does anyone want to speak about that?
M. de NOBELE (France), also requested a copy of the accounts to be studied by his delegation.
M. Kundig added that it was necessary to take into consideration a contingent liability of the advance payment by M. Poursin (France) a member of the Executive Committee, for the printing of the Minutes of the Copenhagen Conference.
THE PRESIDENT : We will pass to no.3; the League's budget and the subscription for 1950.
M. NYEGAARD (Norway) : At the Scandinavian meeting in Oslo we discussed the financial position and agreed on the following proposition. Each member must pay 10 Swiss francs but each country must pay a minimum of 100 Swiss francs. We propose that this should be voted upon.
M. de NOBELE (France) said that each member of the French Association pays an annual subscription of 1,000 French francs, and that 10 Swiss francs is practically the equivalent of this sum, which would mean that the entire sum paid as subscription to their Association would have to be handed over to the League.
Mr. MASSEY (Great Britain) : The English Association agrees with the French. For us, also, it would create difficulties with the members of the A. B. A.
M. TULKENS (Belgium) : said that Belgium was in the same position as the Scandinavian countries. The 32 members of the Belgian Association, which was called upon for a subscription of Sw. frs. 900 paid a higher subscription than those of the French and British Associations. The proposal of M. Nyegaard, to fix the subscription at Sw, frs. 10 per member for 1950 appeared to him very acceptable.
THE PRESIDENT : The Committee must also express its point of view on this question.
Mr. MUIR (Vice-President) : This question of the budget and the amount of the subscriptions from individual associations has caused us a great deal of anxiety and produced a great deal of discussion in trying to find a way out. There are two points of view we have to consider. There is the point of view of the small association which finds the subscription too high in proportion to its number of members, and the position on the other hand of the large association which has a number of small booksellers belonging to its association and which finds its subscription already large enough. The difficulty that the Committee had to consider was to endeavour to reconcile these two points of view; on the one hand to try not to increase the subscription paid by any association at present and on the other hand to relieve the undoubted hardship which is visited upon some of the small associations by having to pay such a large subscription in proportion to their small number of members.
The Committee feels it would like to recommend to you a sort of combination between the system which has been observed so far and the new system presented by the Scandinavian Association which is supported by the Belgian Association and, I am sure, by some of the other smaller associations whose representatives have not spoken. Their suggestion for your consideration is that we maintain the status quo - that in principle we adhere to the idea that each association should pay a fixed amount to the budget of the League, the English and French Associations paying double the amount, and your Committee would be willing to give every possible consideration to cases presented by smaller countries for the reduction of the amount of the subscription they have to pay. This is not something without precedent because at Copenhagen we saw, for example, that the full amount of the subscription for Finland and Norway could not be accepted, and it was immediately agreed to accept from those countries a small amount. If those countries which find the present rate of subscription a heavy burden on their reserves will present their cases to the Committee, and if you as a Conference, will empower the Committee to treat each case on its merits and lift where possible the hardship of too heavy subscriptions by a small country, the Committee feels that would be the simplest and most amicable way out of a very difficult situation. But if you adopt the suggestion of the Committee you must also bear in mind that the League is already short of money with the subscription fixed at present and if you are willing and anxious to relieve the smaller associations of the burden of debt you must turn your very earnest attention to other ways and means of augmenting the funds of the League because already, with the subscription fixed as it is, we are hard up. That is the considered opinion of the Committee in the endeavour to reconcile two obviously opposed suggestions and we should like to put it to you that you give that your very careful consideration.
M. TULKENS (Belgium) : It nevertheless appears to me that a subscription calculated on the number of members of each Association is the most logical.
M. de NOBELE (France) : Of the 360 members of the French Association, 300 would be unable to pay this amount.
M. TULKENS (Belgium) : Our members have actually paid this year Sw. frs. 35 which represents French fr. 3,500.
THE PRESIDENT, addressing himself to Mr. Tulkens : For the coming year I propose to relieve Belgium of a part of the subscription and to reduce it to the same figure as that which is paid individually by the members of the Swiss Association. I would add that it is impracticable to demand Sw. frs. 10 per member of the League, because, for example, in France it would be impossible to collect such a sum. I should like now to thank M. Tulkens, President of the Belgian Association, for the goodwill shown by the fact that his country was among the first to pay its full subscription, thus providing funds which were very welcome to the League's account. The President then proposed once more that the Committee should be entrusted with the task of working out a method satisfactory for everybody. M. Tulkens insisted however that the solution proposed by Norway should be adopted. He also asked whether the Vocabulary would be distributed to all the members.
THE PRESIDENT: No, the Vocabulary will be sold: there will be a special price for members of the League and another, possibly double, to outsiders.
You have before you. 1° A proposition of the Norwegian delegation to pay 10 Swiss francs for each member of each national association with a minimum of 100 Swiss francs from each association. This proposition is seconded by the Belgian delegation. 2° Another proposition by the Committee asks you to maintain the status quo and to give the Committee power to decide what amounts smaller countries should pay. Each case to be judged on its merits.
The Assembly then voted. For the Norwegian proposition five votes were cast. For the proposition of the Committee to retain the status quo and to leave the Committee to find the best solution seven votes were cast.
THE PROPOSAL OF THE COMMITTEE WAS THEREFORE ADOPTED.
Mr. MASSEY (Great Britain) : If I am not too late, I take it that it would only be decided by the full Committee?
THE PRESIDENT : Certainly.
SECOND DAY (Tuesday, 6th September 1949)
The President of the International League, M. W. S. Kundig, occupied the Chair at 10.30 a.m.
THE PRESIDENT: I have the pleasure to inform you that Dr. H. Thommen, of Switzerland, who is not only a good bookseller but also a lawyer, has agreed to assist us in our juridical tasks with a view to ascertaining the different laws in use in the various countries in relation to the recovery of debts.
I would like to say that the Committee proposes a conference, purely consultative, of the Presidents of each delegation on the subject of the subscription. It would be concerned with an exchange of views. When could we hold such a meeting?
Mr. MASSEY proposed that the meeting should take place on Thursday at 9.30, which was agreed to.
THE PRESIDENT: We pass to no. 4 on the agenda. As you have heard yesterday the funds of the League are not in good shape. One of the first means of obtaining money for the League would be to take a commission on the debts that the League has recovered. I have collected Sw, frs. 14,000; all debts owed since before the war. We ought, of course, by some means or another, to have taken a commission of ten per cent for the benefit of the League which would have produced 1,400 Sw. frs. No objections?
M. de NOBELE (France) : I understand perfectly that it is necessary to find funds for the League. but we should remember that this collecting of debts is the most direct and tangible service that can be rendered to adherents in all countries and that it should, theoretically, be made free of charge.
THE PRESIDENT: What do you think of what Mr. de Nobele has just said?
M. AESCHLIMANN (Italy) : If one takes a little fee on every payment made I think it is all right, whether of five or ten per cent.
Mr. MUIR: I want to say two things on this point. First, with regard to the question raised by M. de Nobele; it seems to me that it is true that members of the League paying their subscriptions are entitled to the services of the League in general, but if any member of the League requires a special service from it, surely he should be prepared to pay some extra amount in order to get a service which is not a general service - one which, although available, is not used by every member of the League. It is quite clear that only the debts which are very difficult to obtain would be involved and which members would very likely not obtain without the services of the League. It seems to me quite just and right that if the League gives that special service which they cannot get anywhere else, they should pay something for it. It also seems to me last year's collections need not be entirely lost. If a letter were addressed to these people who have benefited by the services of the League, not demanding payment, but suggesting that it would be an act of grace to forward a small percentage of the amount, some would certainly send although the arrangement was not then in force.
Mr. FLETCHER (Great Britain) : It has long been the practice of the Antiquarian Booksellers' Association to charge such a fee in collecting debts for its members. We wonder if other associations also undertake to collect debts and then charge a fee for doing so. It has been our practice and we think we should charge.
M. de NOBELE (France) : What could the League count upon receiving?
THE PRESIDENT: Not much. As I have just told you, if I had taken 10 % during last year that would have produced Sw. frs. 1,400.
We now have two proposals:
1° By the Committee to take a commission of 10% on debt-recoveries made by the League.
2° By M. de Nobele (France) to take no commission.
M. POURSIN (of the Executive Committee) : I believe that on this question, before deciding to impose a special charge it would be wise to reflect seriously on the danger, if we ask 10%, that creditors for the larger sums might escape us. If we are to take a commission it is above all necessary that this commission should be payable on the larger sums involved, and that we should not set the percentage so high that creditors for large sums should hesitate to employ our services by reason of a large commission. In a regulation of such a general nature other difficulties will arise if towards those countries in which we have debts for recovery we adopt a certain method of procedure those outside the League will profit by it. For example, we have at this present moment important debts in the Argentine.
THE PRESIDENT: It is the League that will purse debtors in the Argentine.
M. TULKENS (Belgium) : It is quite normal and reasonable to retain 10 %. A lawyer demands more than 10 %. I see in this a means of procuring funds for the League.
M. RONNELL (Sweden) : Will this extend to non-members of the League?
THE PRESIDENT : Certainly not. I would object to doing anything for a bookseller not a member of the League. I am not a collecting agency; I am only President of the League!
M. RONNELL. In that case we should charge a double fee for non- members.
THE PRESIDENT: I would not ask for a fee at all from non-members. I would not de anything for someone who is not a member of the League. Who is in favour of the proposition for asking for a 10 per cent commission for collecting money?
M. AESCHLIMANN (Italy) : We should like to ask if it could not be reduced to 5 per cent and so make it a little bit easier.
THE PRESIDENT: There is a new proposal by the Italian delegation. We have agreed to ask for a commission and the Italian proposal is that it should be five and not ten per cent. Will those in favour of the Italian proposal please indicate? There is another point. Some debts are much more trouble than others. We will leave it to the Committee to ask for a commission on that basis.
Mr. MUIR : May I add one qualification, that it be left to the Committee to decide the amount of the commission to be charged but in general the principle shall be 5 per cent on large sums and 10 per cent, on small sums?
THE PRESIDENT: We have, then, two proposals. First that of M. de Nobele.
M. de NOBELE (France) : I am not opposed to this principle, I merely raise an objection. I am thinking of the question which will be put by our members: if the only service that the League can render to me has to be paid for of what use is the League to me ?
Mr. MASSEY (Great Britain) : I do not agree with that. We expect other services from the League, if creditors receive payment, that is an individual service and the League is entitled to take a commission.
THE PRESIDENT : I must add to that that it is jolly hard work to collect money. .
M. de NOBELE (France) : All of us who are present are perfectly well aware that the League does provide services, but many booksellers who are not here are unaware of it.
THE PRESIDENT: We have, nevertheless, two proposals: 1° that of M. de Nobele to ask for no commission. 2° that of the Committee to ask for a commission of 10 %.
Who is in favour of the proposal of France to ask for no commission on the collecting of debts. Two votes were cast.
Who is for the proposal to ask for 10 % commission on the collecting of debts? Carried by a majority.
Mr. C. D. MASSEY (Great Britain) : May I say what we do in our Association? We do not try to collect debts which are less than a year old. I do not think the League wants to trouble with very small debts.
THE PRESIDENT : I would deal with small debts because they are generally owed to small booksellers who need the money. Will you leave it to the Committee?
Mr. FLETCHER (Great Britain) : Not less than 5 per cent and not more than 10 per cent.
M. TULKENS (Belgium) : One could fix l0% for certain amounts.
M. de NOBELE (France) : I propose that no commission should be payable on small amounts: that 10 % should be payable on medium-sized accounts and 5 % for collecting large amounts.
THE PRESIDENT: What do you call small amounts, middle-sized amounts, and large amounts?
M. de NOBELE : Very well, I propose that 10 % commission should be payable on amounts between Fr. frs.10,000 to 100,000 and 5 % on amounts above Fr. frs, 100,000.
THE PRESIDENT: I suggest that you leave to the Committee the matter of deciding this in the best way, and I would remind you that some collections call for more work than others.
Who has any other ideas how to make money?
M. TULKENS (Belgium) : Advertisements in the Directory.
THE PRESIDENT: That is understood.
M. de NOBELE : I am sure that the Committee has some ideas.
THE PRESIDENT: The Committee is not the League. We call for ideas from the members of the League. Do you wish that we should postpone consideration of this until the next session?
Mr. MAGGS (Great Britain) : What about an auction sale?
M. de NOBELE : That seems to me dangerous. It is a method of publicity for those who give the books. If it is anonymous I do not think that there will be many generous donors.
Mr. MAGGS (Great Britain) : The names of donors need not be mentioned.
THE PRESIDENT: That is just what I told M. de Nobele but he says that practically everybody would know it anyway; he says if it is anonymous no one would give a book. I think he places the morale of the League very low.
Mr. MAGGS : They would give books from England.
THE PRESIDENT: What do you think of this proposal?
Mr. FLETCHER (Great Britain) : On behalf of the British Association, we are willing to send books for an auction sale to be held in Geneva on behalf of the League.
THE PRESIDENT : Or Paris? Will you leave it to the Committee to organise that, because it is hard work? I propose Mr. Rauch. I cannot do everything; I am sorry. Do you agree? (AGREED) I propose that Mr. Rauch take that on if it is held in Switzerland. Are you agreed? (Unanimous agreement). Mr. Rauch will organise the auction sale. (General applause).
M. TULKENS (Belgium) : The books to be sent will they be forwarded individually or by the various associations?
THE PRESIDENT: I think we can leave that to the associations to decide. Remember that the rule of your Committee is to leave full liberty to the Associations and this is a purely internal affair.
M. de NOBELE : I would like very much that the anonymity be respected. I would call your attention to the fact that some countries will have great difficulty in obtaining authorisation for books sent out of the country without payment being made in return.
THE PRESIDENT : That is an important consideration. There is also the question that some books would sell better in their country of origin than in another country. Who has something to say about this?
Mr. MAGGS (Great Britain) : Could not sales be organised in different countries?
THE PRESIDENT: Certainly. Mr. Maggs, if there will be one in England will you take on the organisation of it?
Mr. MAGGS : Certainly I will, and I'll guarantee that it wiII be good,
THE PRESIDENT : Fine. I know that that will be so if you do it.
Mr. MUIR : I should just like to express an idea which has been suggested to me by my colleague and friend, M. Poursin. There is a certain amount of truth in the fact that if gifts are given anonymously it will be a little more difficult to get them. It also concerns the question raised by M. Tulkens. As everything that is done with the League is done by the associations it could be possible - and I suggest it on behalf of M. Poursin for your consideration - that although the names of the individual donors should not be given we might mention in the catalogue which books came from which association.
Mr. THOMMEN (Switzerland) : Will Mr. Rauch have to decide whether he will take a book or not?
THE PRESIDENT: Mr. Rauch with the Committee. -I should think that is the best way to do it.
Mr. MASSEY (Great Britain) : I understand that certain English books would be unsaleable in Switzerland.
THE PRESIDENT : Of course, one must make a choice of the books which would be salable.
Mr. MASSEY : I should like to know whether, supposing an association wants to make a donation of a book, it could not equally well be sold in this country and the money sent there.
THE PRESIDENT : Certainly.
Mr. AESCHLIMANN (Italy) : Is it a question of donations entirely for the benefit of the League?
THE PRESIDENT : Yes. The produce from the books sold will be handed over entirely to the League.
Mr. AESCHLIMANN : Could there be minimum prices below which books would not be sold?
THE PRESIDEXT : One could make an estimate, but you may be sure that a book worth 20,000 frs. will not be sold for 50 frs. It will be open to anyone to give books of small or great value. The donors will be permitted to buy in their own books.
M. TULKENS (Belgium) : Another question. Could not the League, on the pattern of an American periodical which publishes once a year a review of the year's activities, issue just as well, at the end of the year, for example, a sort of «Want List» containing the desiderata of members of the League?
THE PRESIDENT : What do you think of this proposition?
Dr. THOMMEN (Switzerland) : It is also meant to raise money for the League?
THE PRESIDENT : Of course.
Mr. MASSEY (Great Britain) : I think it would cost a good deal to produce.
THE PRESIDENT : Do you agree to leave it to the Committee?
M. TULKENS (Belgium) : Are the needs of the League so enormous?
THE PRESIDENT: The point is to constitute a capital for the League. There is no Society of the importance of our League that has not a capital sum at its disposal. We have need of money: we need money to pay the expenses of printing before we are refunded by the sales of the Directory and the Vocabulary.
M. TULKENS (Belgium) : Booksellers could pay in advance the total sum for the copies they order.
THE PRESIDENT: No. 95 % would not agree.
Mr. FLETCHER (Great Britain) : On behalf of the British Association I should like to propose that the League Committee should send to each national association an indication of the cost of the two publications and ask the national associations to guarantee how many copies they would take and how much money they would advance towards that. This is a considered proposal by the British Association who are very anxious to see that money should go to the League. Speaking for the British Association, we feel that this is one of the best ways of securing the greatest advantages for the League. The British Association would certainly undertake to sell so many copies of each publication and would guarantee to pay the money in advance.
THE PRESIDENT : That is a very fine and honourable proposition I I thank you, gentlemen, that is a very good idea.
I understand that the Belgian and French syndicates will do the same. I think that is a very generous proposition.
Miss MYERS : I thought our Ladies' Committee might organise a few functions. It would be one small way of raising money.
THE PRESIDENT : Thank you very much. I leave it to you.
We are now going to discuss Item 5. We have received a request from the Austrian syndicate for permission to join the International League. The Committee has studied this question very carefully. I asked first of all for the names and addresses of the members of the Austrian syndicate. I made the most careful enquiries. All the members of this association may be as acceptable from every point of view. I suppose that you all follow me.
Who wishes to say something on the subject of the possible entry of Austria into the League?
THE PRESIDENT : I think it would be better, so that everyone can give his opinion freely, to have a secret ballot.
Dr. THOMMEN (Switzerland) : There are already some German members of the League so I see no reason why there should not be Austrians.
THE PRESIDENT: No, there are no German members.
Mr. C. D. MASSEY (Great Britain) : My Association feels that providing the Austrians can pay, we do not want a secret ballot. We are quite prepared for them to come into the League.
THE PRESIDENT: I think it is better to have a secret ballot. We should get the absolute truth.
M. TULKENS (Belgium) : It seems to me to be more friendly to take an open vote, the Austrian Association will thus feel itself accepted with more amity and sympathy.
THE PRESIDENT: If any country is not agreeable it would be better that the Austrian Association should not know that.
M. TULKENS : Which is the country which does not trade with Austria already?
THE PRESIDENT : I have no idea.
Mr. C. D. MASSEY (Great Britain) : Mr. Cohen of our Association has made the suggestion that when we have the meeting at 9.30 on Thursday we should then decide about the Austrians. The Presidents will be together then.
THE PRESIDENT: Let us do that and vote after.
Mr. MASSEY : The Presidents would be empowered to vote.
THE PRESIDENT: All right. I am willing.
M. TULKENS (Belgium) : May I say that the Belgian delegation is opposed to a secret ballot?
M. de NOBELE (France) : Let us vote by show of hands if the vote on the admission of the Austrian Syndicate should be by show of hands or by secret ballot.
THE PRESIDENT : Who is in favour of the proposition of M. de Nobele, to know if we are going to vote simply by a show of hands or by secret ballot?
The motion was put to the Conference and carried by 10 votes in favour, no one voting against.
THE PRESIDENT: The proposition of M. de Nobele is adopted. We will vote on the eventual admission of Austria in that way.
On being put to the vote, it was agreed that Austria should be permitted to enter the League, by 11 votes to 1.
THE PRESIDENT: Item 6 on the agenda deals with the Year Book.
M. de NOBELE (France) : How many booksellers does the Association represent?
THE PRESIDENT: 26, I believe. I can add that Austria will be in a position to pay her subscription in full. I think that each delegation present should give its opinion by secret ballot.
No. 6. The International Directory.
M. POURSIN (of the Executive Committee) : You have already heard what has been said on this subject. The Directory will be arranged alphabetically in order of countries and by specialities. It is almost finished so far as editorial work is concerned. We have been delayed because of the possibility of including other countries. We believe, if no unforeseen difficulties arise, that it could appear in March or April next. There is, of course, the question of finance. We have studied the question of cost if the printing is done in France, based on an edition of 1,500 copies. We have obtained two estimates; the one of 380,000 Fr. frs., and the other or 500,000 Fr. frs. The Directory will be a volume of about 210 pages - not counting the pages reserved for advertisements, if there are to be such - and it will be bound in cloth, in a style similar to the pre-war directories with which you are all familiar. We have aimed at producing something acceptable and in familiar form. It remains to consider what are the resources. They are of two kinds: first the product of the sale of the Directory, and secondly the advertisements. It is certain that if we sell the majority of the copies - the Committee believes that 1,500 will be sold - we should cover the cost. But we could draw important resources from the advertising. We have considered admitting every kind of advertisement, except those of booksellers : that is to say those of firms concerned in navigation, despatch, insurance, etc., etc., in a word, all those trades that are interested in our activities. We have, in this respect, certain modes of exerting pressure.
If each President, if each Association, takes upon itself the task of placing in its country a certain number of pages of advertisement, we shall easily acquire sums sufficient to our purpose.
THE PRESIDENT : As soon as the manuscript is complete we shall study the question of the country in which it would be most advantageous to have it printed.
Mr. TULKENS (Belgium) : What are the reasons which drove you to exclude the advertisements of booksellers who are members of the League in this Directory?
Mr. POURSIN : The opinion of the Committee is that we must avoid the possibility that certain publicity would preponderate and that therefore it is necessary to limit it. We are especially desirous that people who would not have the means to participate in this publicity should not see in it something that was to their disadvantage. It is, perhaps, a question of democracy, but it is also, in our view, a capital issue.
M. TULKENS (Belgium) : The League is in search of funds.
M. POURSIN : We expect to obtain sufficient advertisements from those to whom no objection could be raised by anyone. It is the opinion of the Committee that it is necessary to avoid the formation of an opinion by our adherents - for whom the Year Book is destined -that the League is a machine for publicity.
M. NYEGAARD (Norway) : The size of the advertisements could be fixed beforehand.
THE PRESIDENT: Yes, I think it should be fixed for everyone.
Mr. CARTER (Great Britain) : May I make two or three points on behalf of the British delegation and ask one or two questions? In the matter of the advertisements of booksellers in the international directory, our feeling is that since the League needs money this is one way in which the richer booksellers can make a contribution to the League and that there is nothing undemocratic in someone taking a larger size of advertisement if he pays for it.
Then there is a question about which we should like to be clear. I gather that the edition contemplated is about 1,500 copies. Do we gather that it is proposed that copies will be available for sale outside the membership of the League?
THE PRESIDENT: Certainly.
Mr. CARTER: They will be available to the public ?
THE PRESIDENT: Yes - if we print 1,500 copies it is to sell them.
I think we should print more copies even than that but it is a matter of opinion. As there are only 900 members of the League we are bound to sell to the outside public but they will have to pay more for them, than members of the League.
Mr. CARTER: Then a discount will be given to booksellers who are able to sell copies to the public?
The third point which I want to make is that we feel that the title Year Book is perhaps a little misleading because it implies something which will come out every year.
A truer title would be “International Directory”
Of course, it would be brought up to date every so often. Otherwise I think our members will expect it to come out every year.
Another point which I should like to make on behalf of my delegation, and I hope on behalf of other delegations, is to record our high sense of indebtedness for the hard work and devotion of the members of the Committee and those associated with them in the compiling of this directory. A lot of work has been done on it. The editors and translators and all the others concerned are giving their services freely to the League and I think that we should like them to feel that their efforts are appreciated.
THE PRESIDENT: I would add to that that the people who did this work (I mean Messrs. Muir and Poursin) did it completely alone and therefore, I can say that I think that praise is deserved.
The British delegation has made a proposal that we should take advertisements from booksellers without limit as to size. In other words, a bookseller can have a page, half a page or a quarter page and so on. The idea is that all booksellers why are members of the League should have what advertisement space they require?
M. TULKENS (Belgium) : It is quite understood that it will be only for booksellers who are members of the League, and the publishers.
Mr. CARTER (Great Britain) : In addition, of course, to the various forms which Mr. Poursin has mentioned.
THE PRESIDENT : Certainly, that is just what I said. We have already decided that we will accept advertisements from anyone. We are now concerned with the point of whether we include booksellers or not.
M. de NOBELE (France) : To return to the Committee's standpoint, our view, like theirs is that a Directory that includes advertisements by booksellers is a commercial Directory, and the question arises whether we consider ourselves a committee of defence for the interests of individuals. It must not be permitted to anyone to draw profit from this League which must be denied to others of its members. I am totally opposed to all advertisements by booksellers.
M. TULKENS (Belgium) : M. de Nobele loses sight of the fact that the League needs money.
M. de NOBELE. Is the League a commercial enterprise or should it not regard with equal importance the welfare of everyone?
THE PRESIDENT: To protect the interests of members we must have money.
M. BERES (France) : You could collect a great deal of money without the booksellers.
THE PRESIDENT: We therefore have two proposals. We have a British proposal to take any size of advertisement from booksellers who are members of the League, and we have a proposal of the Committee supported by the French delegation which is to refuse advertisements from booksellers. I will put those proposals to the vote.
The British proposal was accepted by 7 votes to 4
Dr. THOMMEN (Switzerland) : I should like to know whether each actual member of the League will figure in the book or not.
THE PRESIDENT: Yes, provided that he has filled up the form which was sent him.
Mr. MUIR: May I call your attention to a point in M. Poursin's remarks which I think you may have overlooked? If I understand the position correctly we are at present in the position of framing the cost to members of the League of purchasing the directory at such a figure as will exactly cover, or nearly exactly cover, the cost of production and we are relying for the profit upon advertisements. I think you should have that point in mind when thinking about advertisements and outside sales. It is the wish of the Committee, after careful consideration, that the members of the League should not be asked to pay more than the actual cost of production of each copy of the Year Book or Directory. This seems to me to be a very distinct advantage that will affect even the smallest bookseller because it means that he will get a very useful publication absolutely at cost price – no profit to be made by the League at all.
Mr. CARTER ( Great Britain) ; In order to make it tidy for the Committee I propose formally, on behalf of my delegation, that the price et which the Year Book is to be sold and the number of copies to be printed should be left to the discretion of the Committee who will base the size of the edition on the announced requirements of each national association. I hope that the Committee will not forget, in thinking about outside sales, that the Americans are not yet members of the League but that there are many American booksellers, collectors and libraries who will need this book. We must not under-print.
THE PRESIDENT: That, of course, is completely agreed. The Committee will study the question very carefully and will see that we have enough copies and will also see that the copies are printed at the lowest possible price.
M. de NOBELE (France) : We have reckoned 1,500 copies at least?
M. POURSIN : We have based our calculations on a minimum, but if we can increase the numbers advantageously we shall of course do so, you are quite right. We take into account the new adherants first and then the number of copies we may hope to sell outside. We are altogether of your opinion.
THE PRESIDENT: I believe that U. N. O. organisations are going to take a good number of copies.
Mr. ROBINSON (Great Britain) ; I should just like to make one point about the cost of the advertisements. The British delegation have some sympathy with the views expressed by the French and other delegations that the small man should not be shut out by the big man. Our view was that the cost of the advertisements should not be proportionate. There should be a nominal charge for small advertisements and then, if anyone wishes to take a full page, they should pay very highly for it. Then we will get the money from those willing to pay.
THE TREASURER (M. Hertzberger) : I should like to point out the number of obstacles we have to overcome to get a small bookseller to join his national association and also to pay an extra contribution for the League. Although I appreciate the British proposal to advance the price for large advertisements, I think it would lead to great difficulties should you want the largest number of members to advertise. Not like the idea that the big booksellers can take a whole page advertisement.
Mr. CARTER (Great Britain) : Are we not losing sight of the object of this book which is a list of members of associations with their specialities? The advertisements will be the smaller part of the book and could be put at the end. The petite annonce has no place in this. The object of the advertisement pages is to raise money. If any bookseller, large or small, wishes to take an advertisement it is additional to the main purpose which is a proper listing of all of us. Therefore the democratic principle is maintained because all our names are there in the same size of type. The advertisements are a minor part so far as the purpose of this book is concerned. I think we are concentrating too much on the advertisements and too little on the book itself.
THE PRESIDENT: Now we come to Item 7 on the Agenda. You all saw the dictionary yesterday so you all know what stage have reached in the work. We have the complete text, although it will have to be reviewed again - a dictionary is never complete. The text is fairly complete for French, English, German and Italian and we expect soon to receive the Dutch text and the Scandinavian text. With regard to the Spanish text, I cannot do anything further until we have shown the others to U. N. E. S. C. O.
THE TREASURER: As regards the international dictionary, the Dutch text is ready now. The Scandinavian and Italian texts still require translation of amendments. The point is that when each text is ready it is sent to each country for final corrections in translation.
M. AESCHLIMANN (Italy) : I have to correct the next with regard to my own language?
THE PRESIDENT: Yes, because there are new words added to it. All that will take about a month and the dictionary will be printed about the beginning of next year. As you see, the dictionary will be in seven languages. There are two schools of thought with regard to the method of publishing it. One is to make seven booklets. That would be one book with the Dutch alphabet, giving the translation in the six other languages, one book with the French alphabet, giving the translation in the six other languages, and so on. The other school of thought is to make one single book with one alphabetical order for all languages. It would be more practical to make seven booklets because if, for instance, a French bookseller goes to Denmark, he only needs to take the Danish translation with him. If we make one single book it will be bulky. I should like the opinion of members about that.
M. NYEGAARD (Norway) : Do you know hew many pages there will be?
THE PRESIDENT: No. If we make one book there will be about 7,000 words and some words will take two or three lines because for one word there are often different expressions. That would make about 15,000 lines; you can try to calculate how many pages there will be from that. We are not yet at the stage of knowing how many pages there will be but if we print it in one book in one alphabetical order it will be bulky. On the other hand, if we make seven books it will cost more because there will be seven bindings instead of one.
Mr. CARTER (Great Britain) : Would it be technically possible to have each of the separate seven languages available as a brochure, made in such a way that they could be bound together? I realise, of course, that they would still have to be printed separately.
THE PRESIDENT: I think it would be more practical to do it in seven pamphlets for taking abroad but it is not an impossibility to have the seven bound together.
Mr. CARTER: Many of us are more likely to use this dictionary at our own desks in our own offices when a catalogue comes in from another country. If, on the other hand, you visit a bookseller in Copenhagen, Milan or Paris you would expect that bookseller to have a copy of the dictionary himself.
THE PRESIDENT : If you bound the seven texts together it would not be easy to find, for instance, the Dutch text whereas if you had seven pamphlets you could print the covers in different colours.
Mr. CARTER (Great Britain) : It should be thumb-holed.
THE PRESIDENT: Yes, it is a matter to be studied.
Mr. CARTER: It seems to me that there are uses for both forms.
THE TREASURER (M. M. Hertzberger) : I would advise you to have one alphabetical order because it would mean that you could immediately find the equivalent of a certain word in all the seven languages. For instance, if you look up the English word « Calf» you would find the word « veau » next to it. I see no reason against having one book only because everybody will have to buy the whole thing.
THE PRESIDENT: Yes, everyone will have to have the seven copies.
Mr. MUIR :' The only disadvantage of having one alphabetical order is that the word « calf» would appear under « c » and the word « veau » would appear under v.
THE PRESIDENT: Yes, I should prefer to see the dictionary in seven different alphabetical orders, either separately or bound together. It should be understood, however, that the seven booklets make one work and anyone who buys this dictionary must buy the seven. People cannot be allowed to buy one because we should lose money on it.
M. BERES (France) : I think one way of doing it would be to make one alphabetical order, including all the terms used in this trade, in all the seven languages. One could then print each language in a separate colour on a white page - the French text in black, English in red, German in green and so on - and then we would have columns giving the translation of each word in the other languages. For instance, the word « calf» would be followed by « veau » in the next column, and the next column would have the Dutch word and so on. The book would, of course, be lengthier but you would have the seven pamphlets together. I think this idea might perhaps be studied by the Committee.
THE PRESIDENT : It can be studied but I think it is impossible. There is another point about the dictionary. I am not quite certain but I think this dictionary will be supported by the U. N. E. S. C. O. That organisation would buy a good number of copies. Therefore we shall have to ask their opinion about the manner in which it is published. I think they will want it done in seven booklets because they will think it more practical. If we want the co-operation of U. N. E. S. C. O. in the matter of the Spanish translation, and if they buy the book we must ask for their advice.
If no one else has anything to say about the dictionary, then work on it will proceed.
We now come to Item 8 on the Agenda which consists of a proposal from Holland. I now call upon Mr. Schierenberg who will explain it to you.
M. SCHIERENBERG (Holland) : Before the war young people, future booksellers, could go into any country in Europe to spend their holidays there. Now this is no longer possible because of governmental stipulations. The proposition of the Dutch Association is the following: That Dutch
booksellers may accept young booksellers coming from abroad as volunteers on condition that they remain with those booksellers for more than one year and receive the same salaries as the young people of the country and in the same circumstances. That would be a solution opening a door for
the young generation.
THE PRESIDENT : I propose that the Committee should make an enquiry (under the guidance of M. Thommen) on the conditions of labour in each country affiliated to the League.
M. de NOBELE (France) : Here are the customary regulations in France. I hand them over to M. Thommen.
THE PRESIDENT: We now suspend the general procedure for a short time to refresh ourselves and I propose to profit by this to ask Mr. Laurence Gomme, President of the American Association of Antiquarian Booksellers, who is amongst us, in the capacity of an observer, to tell us a little about his Association.
Mr. LAURENCE GOMME : I feel it a particularly great honour to be here in London on this very auspicious occasion and I would be less than human if I was not even proud of the fact. I want first to thank you for the tremendously cordial reception I have received. I realise fully that I am only a guest and it is my earnest hope that on the next occasion my organisation will be one of you - (Applause) - and we shall be able to take part in your discussions and contribute what my associates would undoubtedly be very pleased to do, in offering their points of view on the various subjects you have discussed to-day. Regarding our own organisation, it is a very young one, probably the youngest in the world. We have attempted in the past to form organisations but without any success and it was last January that a small committee of four men got together with the suggestion that a national organisation be formed. I was not one of the first four but I was invited to come to later meetings and to form then what was known as the Constitutional Committee. It was suggested that we should form a committee to deal with our future operations. We succeeded in getting together and we heard that there was a great deal of enthusiasm throughout the country which we were anxious to organise.
In April we were told to have a full meeting, an unofficial meeting, of a group of booksellers who adopted the form of the constitution which we had offered to them. Obviously it had to be changed a great deal. There was a good deal of discussion but we became, in fact, an organisation by electing officers and we proceeded to operate, although by the very laws of the States we were operating unofficially. According to the laws of the States we had to incorporate and we employed legal advice. At that time there were about 60 of us who were enthusiastic about the proposition.
We formed a board of governors and decided the form of membership we had to have and, of course, our purposes were very clearly outlined.
It might be of interest to you to know what our purposes are. With your permission I will read the eight clauses because I think that they are very apposite to the possibility of our joining an international group.
According to our incorporation, we have to give definitely our purposes. Our first purpose is to further friendly relations and the co-operative spirit among members. Then to stimulate interest in collecting books, among provide collectors and public institutions; to uphold the status of the antiquarian book trade and maintain its professional standards; to encourage the advancement of general and technical knowledge of those engaged in bookselling ; to act as an association in matters where individual action would be less likely to succeed; to promote exhibitions of books and related material and to obtain publicity for the benefit of the trade as a whole; to co-operate with similar organisations for these purposes in this country and abroad - that was one of the propositions which was most discussed and accepted and to collect funds to be used for the general purposes of the Association.
Those are the simple terms of our organisation and I think the seventh would perhaps be more interesting to tell you a few words about. We have a very great sense of our organisation's possibilities. We realise that as an organisation we could further our own interests, but also we wish to be of value to and to receive the value of, association with other European organisations. That was something which was very close to my heart and to most of the members of our board. Unfortunately, according to our terms, the board itself could not make any move towards membership of your international organisation. We have to submit this proposition to our whole body and it is my fervent hope that they will accept it, but I cannot say that they will. Any human being who can say what a group of men will do is more than a Prime Minister, so I do not think I can offer any suggestions or any hopes, and I do not wish to do so. I only wish to express my own feelings when I say that I hope we shall become an organisation affiliated to your great and distinguished League. In coming over at the very cordial invitation of Mr. Massey as a guest of your League, I was wholly cognisant of the fact that I should have to report back fully to my own organisation. That I will do with more than pleasure, having learnt a great deal of your activities and a good deal of the purposes behind the League. It has really only reinforced my view and I thank you very much for your cordial request that I should speak to you.
I should like to draw one small matter to your attention. There has been a great deal of discussion here about credits. We expressly left the question of credits out of our constitution. We left that the behaviour of a bookseller is not within the framework of our constitution, whether it be on matters of credits or ethics, or in any other form, so we have definitely left that out. In the United States we have definite legal processes which can be employed to collect debts. They are rather stringent. They have a good deal of teeth in them, I can tell you, and I think that anybody who does not honour his credits can very easily be dealt with by the proper legal authorities. But our members have a right, if there is a real complaint about the credit behaviour of another of our members, to lodge a complaint in writing to our advisory board, who will take the matter up and discuss the question with the offending party. We feel that this covers it. It does not cover the international aspect of credits but since he heard that we were an organisation, Mr. Kundig has written to me concerning delinquents in America and I believe those cases have been taken up and satisfactorily arranged. I am very happy to act as an agency, whether I am in this League or not, and to be of assistance to anybody in such matters of credit. While the Association itself cannot do it officially, I know that any of our members would do the same thing.
With those few words I think you will understand the American spirit as I wish to convey it to you and I should like to close by thanking you very much.
Mr. MUIR : I am sure it is your wish that some official recognition of the importance and of the welcome nature of the fraternal visit of the President of the American Association should be recorded at this meeting. We all feel that one of the most important things that has happened since this League was formed is the fact that the American booksellers have started an Association and we have heard that the seventh point in their constitution empowers them to enter into fraternal relations not only with booksellers in America but with booksellers abroad. Although Mr. Gomme was unable, naturally, to predict what would be the decision of the American Association when confronted with the possibility of joining our League, I think that article 7 of their statute is a considerable promise, and that when they formed their Association they were already looking beyond their national borders and were intending to extend the hand of friendship to us on the other side of the Atlantic. In that respect we are peculiarly fortunate in that Mr. Gomme is himself international. It is a source of great pride to those of us who are British that the President of the newly formed American Association is British born and I think it is, in itself an augury of the fact that the American Association is an organisation with an international outlook.
I should like to address a few words to Mr. Gomme to take back with him from us to his Association, when they are eventually prepared to deliberate on the possibility of affiliating themselves to the League. This Conference, like others, is partly a business meeting and partly a social occasion. It is inevitable in the circumstances that the social occasion should loom rather large on the horizon, but Mr. Gomme has been very welcome to attend all our discussions and I hope he will report to his American colleagues that the business part of this Conference is by no means a pure “get together”. It by no means consists entirely of back-slapping and handshaking. This morning he has heard very striking evidence of the fact that every national association affiliated to this League has an individual point of view which it is not afraid to express and which it feels it can express freely and fully without offence. It is understood that we are called together here to say precisely and exactly what we think about the future of the League and about the possibilities of what the League can undertake and what it cannot undertake. I hope he will report back to his Association that in the discussions that have taken place here and which will take place in further meetings, no punches are pulled. Everyone states his opinion perfectly freely and it is understood that this is a democratic institution and that every man is as good as the next. I hope he will tell his American friends that, and that by the time we have our next Conference, wherever that may be, some of the most formidable punches in the discussion will be contributed by our American brothers across the Atlantic (Applause).
Mr. LAURENCE GOMME : I shall certainly take back that impression. I feel, perhaps, a little restraint in mentioning the business elements which I have heard discussed here, but I know it is of great importance to have discussions in such an open manner as I have heard to-day.
THIRD DAY (Thursday, 8th September 1949)
The President of the International League, M. W. S. Kundig, occupied the Chair at 10. 30 a.m.
THE PRESIDENT: We now come to Item 9 on the Agenda: The emblem of the League. Yesterday I circulated the two emblems, the French and English. I will send them round again if you wish and while that is being done we will deal with Item 10, the distinctive mark for names of booksellers affiliated to the League in all advertisements in trade journals.
M. SCHIERENBERG (Holland) : We would like to propose that those booksellers who are members of their national associations, when they advertise in journals or elsewhere should have their names followed by some sort of sign. They could, for example, put the initials of their Association (A. B. A. for Britain, etc.).
THE PRESIDENT: It would seem to me better to have a common sign for all booksellers affiliated to the League.
M. de NOBELE (France) : May I be permitted to remark that it is rather Associations that are members of the League than individual booksellers. One may visualise, for example, in « Le Bouquiniste » each advertiser indicating the initials of his own association. I propose to you to indicate in each number what these abbreviations are. I wish to retain the principle that it is the Associations themselves and not their members that are members of the League.
THE PRESIDENT : I want to simplify matters.
M. de NOBELE : One is a member of an Association and that Association, itself, is a member of the League. Let each member of each Association indicate the particular Association to which he belongs.
THE PRESIDENT: How would a foreigner know that this association belonged to the League?
M. de NOBELE : By consulting the list of abbreviations of the national Associations who are members of the League which I have just proposed to include in each number of the «Bouquiniste ».
THE PRESIDENT: The United States is not actually a member of the League.
M. SCHIERENBERG (Holland) : For the publisher it would be easier to put a general sign.
THE TREASURER (M. M. Hertzberger) : I agree with the proposal of Holland of course, but in principle M. de Nobele is right.
THE PRESIDENT: If we take the emblem of the League, each bookseller member will have it on his paper.
Mr. MUIR : May I suggest a compromise between the two propositions? It seems to me - I am speaking now entirely detached and not from the British point of view - that a complication may arise in one way or the other. It is clear that in any national paper, in any paper circulating largely in one particular country, the people who advertise in it will largely be booksellers in that country. There will be a few exceptions that we want to make some distinctive mark. We want to say, especially to the people who are subscribers to the paper, that it is the foreign booksellers - those they do not know - in whom they want some sign of confidence; perhaps we could agree that in general in each national paper the advertisers should signify if they are members of their national association in the country where the periodical is published, and in the case of foreign advertisers a sign should be used to show that they are members of an association affiliated to the League. I think that would combine the two ideas.
THE PRESIDENT: We have three propositions, one from the Dutch delegation asking for a general mark for all booksellers belonging to associations of the League to be placed in front of their names in their publicity; one from the French delegation, who propose to put in the front of each name the mark of the national association; and a third proposition by Mr. Muir, to put the national initials in front of the name of the bookseller if he is a member in the country in which the paper appears and the international sign if he does not belong to that country.
Mr. MASSEY : In each case it should be optional.
THE PRESIDENT : We should never understand anything then.
Mr. MASSEY : If a bookseller does not wish to put the badge of his association on, he does not do so in our country. Would he have to put it on in this case?
THE PRESIDENT: I think so, just to avoid doubt. If a bad bookseller puts in an advertisement and other good booksellers do not put the sign in front of their names, no one knows if they are bad or good. It must be obligatory.
I propose to put it to the vote. Let us have vote on the Dutch proposition first. That is, that in front of the name of each professional bookseller putting in an advertisement, if he is a member of an association affiliated to the League, he must put a sign saying that he is affiliated to the League. That is, one sign for all the booksellers of the world.
On a vole by a show hands, eight votes were cast in favour.
Mr. MASSEY : There is some confusion in the English delegation. Does this mean in our own journal or any foreign advertisement?
THE PRESIDENT: In everything.
Mr. MASSEY : Then we must make quite clear the position of The Clique. It is not our Association's journal. Mr. Murray might object.
This means that we should put the sign of the League and not of the Association?
THE PRESIDENT: Yes, for all booksellers of the League.
Mr. MURRAY : The Clique would be quite willing to comply with any regulations, but I cannot speak for the other papers, such as the American.
Mr. COHEN (Great Britain) : The Clique is an international paper and has been for many years. We in the British Association have in the front of the names of our members the initials « A. B. A. » which also relates to those members of other countries which are members of the A. B. A. Do we have to alter that or do we have to put « A. B. A. » which we have instituted in The Clique?
THE PRESIDENT : You can put both.
Mr. COHEN : That is awkward. If you are a member of the Danish or Dutch Association and are a member of the A. B. A. you are entitled to have the letters « A. B. A. » in front of your name in The Clique. That is already done.
THE PRESIDENT: What do you propose?
Mr. COHEN : I propose to leave it as it is.
THE PRESIDENT : That is all right for The Clique but not for the others.
Mr. MASSEY : If we can have both I see no objection.
THE PRESIDENT: We will vote now on the French proposition.
On a vote by a show of hands, four votes were cast in favour
THE PRESIDENT: The Dutch proposal is therefore adopted.
Mr. MUIR : It seems to me to be so very important that we should be unanimous in dealing with matters of this kind and I am reluctant to see a divided vote put on the record on such a question as this. If I understand the British delegation aright, they have no objection to the international sign being used in advertisements in The Clique so long as they are able to continue their present practice of having also, A. B. A. Perhaps the Dutch would agree to add this - that the national associations continue to use their national signs in so far as they use them at present - to their resolution regarding the international sign. I think we should be able to persuade the French and the British Associations to vote for the Dutch proposition and have an unanimous decision on the record.
THE PRESIDENT : Are you agreed? All agreed.
Mr. Muir's proposal was therefore unanimously accepted.
THE PRESIDENT: With regard to Item 9, while you are having a look at the drawings. I have a very important announcement to make. We have here to-day Mr. Kalman from Cairo and I wish him welcome here ( Applause).
Now you have all seen the photographs of the emblems, what do you think of them?
Mr. H. W. EDWARDS (Great Britain) : Could I make an objection to the use of this symbol at the top? I presume it is meant to symbolise peace but I suppose books have caused more harm in the world than any other thing. The one thing that books have never done is to introduce peace in the world. I think a sword would be far more appropriate.
THE PRESIDENT: I think the dove has caused more trouble in the world than anything else.
M. NYEGAARD (Norway) : At the Scandinavian meeting in Oslo we were unanimously in agreement with the French proposal that the name should form an unbroken circle.
Mr. FLETCHER (Great Britain) : It is a matter of very great regret that the British Association has not got Mr. Carter here this morning because he is an expert on these matters. Unfortunately he is not able to be here but I will try to convey to you his opinion of the two designs. On the question of the design of the English emblem he feels it is unfortunate that it should have a dark background, that it should not be a white design on black. It should be thin black on white - something which would stand out distinctively. As to the French design, he thinks it is not good for reproduction in a small size and that when the lettering is reproduced it would be unreadable. The suggestion we make is that the whole question of the badge should be thrown open to some form of competition.
THE PRESIDENT : I propose that you leave it to the Committee to arrange a new competition. It is most important that this emblem, which is to last for a very long time, should be liked by everyone. If there is no objection we will leave it to the Committee (Agreed).
We now come to Item 11, the laws and regulations in use in every affiliated country concerning the purchase of books. The French delegation asks us to make a code of the different laws and regulations on the theft of books and so on. Each association should have a code of regulations and you will receive this code in a very short time.
M. TULKENS (Belgium) : Will M. Thommen draw up the code?
THE PRESIDENT: That is what I propose.
M. de NOBELE (France) : It is be hoped that the sequel to the collecting of these documents may be that the League will consider drawing up fixed rules which could be adopted by all members even if the laws of some countries do not specify the same measures.
THE PRESIDENT : In Switzerland the thing would be impossible. We could not adopt an internal rule in contradiction to the laws of Switzerland.
M. TULKENS : Could we make a gentlemen's agreement between ourselves?
THE PRESIDENT: Let us begin by making the code, and afterwards the gentlemen's agreement as requested. Are you agreed? All agreed.
Item 12 concerns credit problems in various countries, notably the Argentine. The total amount of the debts of the Argentine declared to the League is 70,263 Sw, frs which is, roughly speaking, $ 17.600. That is a lot of money.
The President read the list of the debtors to the Conference and continued:
Although a certain number of these booksellers acted in good faith, thinking they were able to pay, a great many knew that they could not pay. Certain of those booksellers came to us at the beginning of the year and said they knew they could not pay directly by the Argentine clearing, but had outside means of paying. They had the books, took them away and never paid, nor did they answer any letters. What are we going to do about it?
Mr. MUIR : Leave it to you, Sir.
Mr. MAGGS (Great Britain) : One name you have not received is that of Kramer. I have just had a letter from him saying “I must inform you that in spite of the British-Argentine commercial agreement it is still absolutely impossible to get any exchange for England”. They have made many applications to get permission but they have always been refused. We have taken £ 10,000 or more from them, so I think they are in good faith.
THE PRESIDENT: Yes. Some are in good faith but many are not. A great many ordered books knowing they could not pay.
Mr. MASSEY : So far as the British accounts are concerned, when our country signed the trade pact with the Argentine we were informed that these debts should be met, so we sent our list to Board of Trade and that is why our names are not included in the League's list.
THE PRESIDENT : I should like to have them anyway. It does no harm. I should like to have a list of all debts to the English booksellers.
Mr. TIRANTI ( Great Britain) : I have received a repayment from the Argentine this month. In each case they say they will pay 50 pesos a month. That is a Government quota.
M. de NOBELE (France) : I would like to call your attention at once to a Franco-Argentine treaty signed on September 1st. We have not yet had time to examine it.
THE PRESIDENT: I can tell you that it will contain nothing of any use to booksellers.
M. de NOBELE : I would call your attention to the firm LERU which has found a method of payment. This firm has deposited as a guarantee, with the Ambassador of France, who has accepted it, a certain sum in Argentine currency which may serve as a deposit so that books may be received by them.
THE PRESIDENT: I have made a similar request to the Swiss Legation which has refused to take charge of money.
Mr. BERES (France) : I would remind you that among the Argentine booksellers there may be some who will one day be found among the members of our League and that the first requirement is to know which of them are and which are not in good faith (He quoted the case of a firm which had authorised its bank to send him documents and the bank held the money at its disposal until such time as it could be freed for payment). There is in this case, certainly plenty of good will. There are certainly evidences of good faith in some.
THE PRESIDENT: Certainly, Rothstein, for example, is in good faith.
What I propose to do is to leave it to M. Thommen who is our legal adviser, but what I should like to know is the names of those who have deposited money. If some of them have deposited money they are not in the same position as those who have deposited no money at all.
M. RAUCH (Switzerland) : Those people who have deposited money are even more dangerous than those who have not if ever the Argentine reduces the value of its currency. These booksellers will say: “We have paid at such and such a time” and you may not receive more than a third of what is due to you.
Mr. DA VIS (Great Britain) : But booksellers sell in the currency of their own country.
THE PRESIDENT: What I should like to have is a list of debts including the British debts, and those who have deposited money in an Argentine bank. I should like to have that at once. There may be five chances in a hundred that I may find a way to get you paid! Has anyone else anything to say about the Argentine debts? What about the other countries?
Mr. MAGGS (Great Britain) : I understand that Portugal is now coming into the other countries. They can only pay £ 25 at a time.
THE PRESIDENT: They can pay a small amount; that is my personal experience. If they are paying 250 to 300 Sw. frs. at a time, they can do it. It is 100 escudos, or something like that. What I should like to have generally speaking is information on bad debts.
Mr. TIRANTI (Great Britain) : What time do you allow for a bad debt?
THE PRESIDENT: A year. Will you send me your bad debts and I will do my best to collect them with the help of Mr. Thommen?
Mr. MASSEY : Each member will send his own debts through the Association to the League?
THE PRESIDENT: Yes.
Mr. MASSEY : You will have a lot of worry if you have them sent direct.
THE PRESIDENT: All right, have them sent to your associations.
Mr. TULKENS (Belgium) : Are you able to receive the money that is due to us?
THE PRESIDENT: Yes, if you delegate your debt to me.
M. TULKENS : Any question of debts due in Belgium must be regulated directly and not through Switzerland. Belgian law does not permit that. What method of pressure can the League bring to bear?
THE PRESIDENT: I have a little secret of my own I cannot divulge...
Item 13. You will have read what I said in the Committee's report about the black list. The Committee have received a lot of letters. I collected a lot of that - 14,000 Swiss frs - and now there is nothing to put on the black list except one firm in Copenhagen, not a member of the Danish association. They are the only firm to put on the list but we ask for information on all bad debts. The fear of the black list is the beginning of wisdom.
Mr. HARRIS (Great Britain) : I should like to ask if any Association is keeping a black list or already has a black list. In our Association we have had one for many years. It is somewhat out of date now but nevertheless it is available for anybody. Mr. Cohen and I worked on it many years ago.
THE PRESIDENT: I should like each Association to send me any black list they may have.
Mr. MAGGS (Great Britain) : Is it the idea of the League to circulate this black list?
THE PRESIDENT: Yes. It is to give information where information is asked for and it will be circulated all over the world.
Mr. MAGGS : We may get into trouble.
THE PRESIDENT: No, you will not. No one will know it is a black list except you.
Mr. TULKENS (Belgium) : Is it possible to send debts concerning the United States?
THE PRESIDENT : Send them by all means. I have obtained one payment by return of post. A New York bookseller who owed money to one in Europe, has paid by return for fear of the black list.
M. TULKENS : Are other means of pressure available in America?
THE PRESIDENT : I see no other than that of the black list.
Perhaps the Danish delegation will tell us something about “Antiquarius” in Copenhagen?
Mr. PEDERSEN : An I can tell you is that it is in our own hands to get the money from them and we will distribute it afterwards to all clients who are creditors.
THE PRESIDENT: We pass now to Item 14. I will call upon the Norwegian delegation to present this report.
M. NYEGAARD (Norway) : I do not wish to take up the time of the Conference unnecessarily. I will therefore confine myself to saying that all the recommendations in our report have been already discussed by the Conference under other headings.
THE PRESIDENT: Does anyone wish to speak about Item 15 ?
Who is in favour of modifying paragraph 6 of the Statutes to read: A special meeting of the Executive Committee shall be held with the briefest possible delay if called for by at least 50 %of the Associations. The Committee would be empowered to decide if a convention of the general assembly was called for.
I will now put this modification to the vote. The modification was accepted by 8 votes to none.
THE PRESIDENT : Has anyone else any other modification in the statutes to propose?
M. HERTZBERGER : I should like to propose an amendment. It is often said that the members of the League can only be national associations but that is not mentioned in the Statutes. I propose that we say that the League consists of all the national associations of the different countries.
Mr. MASSEY (Great Britain) : I understand that but it seems rather unnecessary.
Mr. HERTZBERGER : Only a national association can be a member of the League. No individual person can be a member of the League. No individual person can be a member and therefore I do not think that the present wording is strong enough.
THE PRESIDENT: Shall we leave it to Mr. Thommen to consider the matter and report to the Committee so that the Committee can then consider it? These Statutes were drawn up rather hastily in Copenhagen and will probably need final correction.
M. de NOBELE (France) : There is a point of view which I would like to submit to the Committee. The name of the League (in French) produces a certain ambiguity because, for example, in France, we call ourselves Association of Booksellers Old and Modern. Now booksellers who sell old books may also sell modern ones which are out of print and of importance. What exactly is intended by the term « Libraire-antiquaire » ?
THE PRESIDENT : Every bookseller who cannot obtain his books from publishers.
M. de NOBELE : In the mind of our people, in France, it is different. I am not proposing any change of title, I simply request the Committee to study the question.
THE PRESIDENT: Then the Committee will study the question.
Now we come to Item 16 dealing with exhibitions. We have had two very important and interesting exhibitions. They were remarkably well prepared exhibitions and attracted a great many people. One exhibition was held in Lucerne of books from the 9th century onwards. The National Library of Paris sent a number of books to that exhibition. There were also many books lent by booksellers, a number of which were sold although they were sent only for show. The exhibition brought many customers back to the book trade who had not bought books for many years. It gave them a new taste for buying. I shall circulate a catalogue of the Lucerne exhibition because it may be of interest to those who have not seen it.
The Committee would like to organise and prepare other exhibitions of every sort and kind and they would particularly like if possible, to organise an international exhibition which could be circulated from country to country. That would be a very important exhibition but it would also be very difficult to organise. There are many things which make it difficult to organise. The books would be out of the hands of their owners for a very long time - a year at least. However, it is a matter for study and I would appreciate any suggestions from members.
M. de NOBELE (France) : I would like, above all, to present to our President the very real thanks of the French delegation for all his devotion and for everything he has done in the organisation and towards the success of this Exhibition at Lucerne.
Universal applause for M. Kundig, and M. Kundig offered his thanks.
M. de NOBELE : I suggest the organisation of exhibitions for sale with a percentage to go to the League.
THE PRESIDENT: The Swiss Public Libraries will lend books to other countries. They were very glad and happy to show their books at the Lucerne exhibition. Since the Swiss Public Library and the National Library of Paris both lent books for that exhibition I think that other countries could do the same thing.
Mr. ROBINSON (Great Britain) : The British Association have had two recent exhibitions. One of them was an exhibition in connection with the World's Fair, held under the auspices of the British Government. It was a very fine show indeed. The other one was an exhibition held under the auspices of the Sunday Times newspaper where the antiquarian booksellers went in among a group of publishers. That created tremendous interest, lectures were held and we really tried to put old books on the map.The idea was to encourage book collecting and raise the standard of the bookselling trade. The idea was successful. Generally speaking, the British delegates are extremely favourable to this idea of exhibitions and I think that so far as we can we shall do everything possible to help them.
THE PRESIDENT: Mr. Gomme, do you feel that it would be possible to organise two exhibitions, one in Europe of books coming from America and another in America of European books?
Mr. GOMME : I think such an idea would be a very excellent interchange of the interests of America and Europe and I am sure that we could arrange it. We use several media of exhibitions in America. In the new book field especially, we send out an exhibition of 50 books every year selected by a committee more or less on design and fine printing. It is called The Best Books of the Year. The exhibition is organised by the American Institute of Graphic Arts and the whole exhibition goes to every State. It takes just about a year to complete the tour of the States and by the time it has got back to New York we are ready with the next exhibition. Thus the exhibition goes on all the time. We might perhaps do the same thing if you sent books to us ; the rare books of Europe could be organised as an exhibition in exactly the same way and I think we should have to form a committee of our organisation to do that.
THE PRESIDENT: Can I count on you to study the possibilities for us ?
Mr. GOMME : I think it might be more difficult for booksellers because they have a way of thinking of their books from the commercial point of view. They might not be willing to release important books for a long time. All the same I think that we in America could make some contribution.
THE PRESIDEXT : Do not forget that European booksellers are good customers in America. Will you study the idea with us in detail ?
Mr. GOMME : Certainly I will.
M. TULKENS (Belgium) : And where in Europe?
THE PRESIDENT: A sort of itinerant exhibition could be arranged to visit all large towns. In any case I strongly recommend you to organise such exhibitions in all your respective countries.
M. TULKENS : Should such exhibitions be organised under the patronage of the international League?
THE PRESIDENT: Certainly.
Mr. HOPKINSON (Great Britain) : I do not know whether what I have to say fits in with this discussion but I should like to make a plea for my own branch of the trade which is absolutely neglected. There are three or four members of the A. B. A. who are not present to-day but who deal in the same subject as I deal, and that is music. That is a branch of the book trade which is neglected and despised but I think there is a chance for music to be brought into exhibitions. There is, for instance, the Goethe centenary and there are Goethe exhibitions for books but no one has ever thought of putting in musical settings of Goethe and that sort of thing.
THE PRESIDENT: I think there is a lot of money to be made out of music and I think we ought to include music in exhibitions.
Now we come to Item 17 on the Agenda, dealing with division of labour.
Mr. MUIR : You will have observed in the course of our discussions here, and those of you who were at previous conferences will remember that a large number of proposals is made which have to be put into effect by the League. So far as the carrying out of those proposals is concerned, up to now it has very largely fallen upon the five people who are sitting at this table and I would say that roughly out of that half has fallen on one person whom I need not name, and the other half on the other four. My suggestion is that with regard to some of these proposals which have to be carried out, individual countries should be appointed or, better still, should volunteer to undertake the routine work and the actual hard grinding labour of collecting the material necessary to execute these proposals of the League. This would have a treble effect. It would have the effect, first of all, of relieving your Executive and the President of a great deal of routine work which ought not to be placed upon them, and especially upon him. It would have the effect of delegating work from the centre to each country and thus making each country realise that the activities of this League are not confined to a single meeting every year. It would show them that it is not just an annual conference with which the League is concerned but that there is something to be done and that the League is alive and working. It will especially have the effect of bringing home to booksellers in all countries, large or small, that they are constantly in touch with the League and it would have the effect of bringing home to them the fact that they have not only privileges and rights in the League but also duties to the League. If things were carefully thought out and the work was delegated to a certain extent, always under the final and general supervision and responsibility of your Executive, I think it would help the League to get going more quickly and to get the work done more effectively and would help to express throughout the membership the knowledge that the League is a real and live thing which means something to every single one of them.
THE PRESIDENT : Acting on that I would suggest that someone should help me to translate part of the report of this meeting into English.
Mr. MASSEY (Great Britain) : We would certainly do that.
THE PRESIDENT: Then I would ask the French Association to help with the translation into French of the English part of this report.
Mr. MASSEY : Mr. Davis has agreed to do the translation.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. The French Association has accepted the task of doing the translation of the English into French.
Mr. MUIR : That is a good start but what I should like to have is a general undertaking from everybody so that the Committee may feel that each delegation is at their disposal to undertake any special task. We should like the unanimous support of all the delegations here present if a task is given to them they will undertake to see that that task is done.
M. de NOBELE (France) : I propose that the French shall occupy themselves by arranging the competition for the emblem of the League (Accepted with acclamation).
THE PRESIDENT: Do all the delegations agree to the proposal made by Mr. Muir? (Agreed) Thank you very much. We are going to give you a lot of work.
Our next business is Item 18. Has anyone anything they wish to say?
Mr. AESCHLIMANN (Italy) : First of all allow me to transmit the heartiest greetings of Dr. Cesare Olschki, President of the Circolo dei Librari Antiquari. Unfortunately, to his great regret, Dr. Olschki was prevented at the last moment from attending this meeting. Our Circolo is still very young. The date of its inauguration goes back to December 1946 and it only has 35 members. It is the only institution of its kind in Italy. Since November 1947 we have published a monthly bulletin of cultural and commercial content.
We have many problems to resolve. The most urgent is that of the export and import of old and new rare books from and to Italy. The law is rigorous in Italy. For old books printed before 1550 the export taxes vary from a minimum of 8 per cent for the first 20,000 lires to a maximum of 30 per cent for some specimens up to 300,000 lires. It is evident that in this way the Italian book trade with other countries is extremely handicapped if not reduced to zero. Moreover, the Italian State can prohibit the export of important books, declaring them of national interest. A few weeks ago Dr. Olschki presented to the Italian Board of Public Instruction a detailed memorandum asking the Italian Government to remove the chains which are laid on our trade and to abolish the heavy taxes and the prohibition against exportation on a certain number of important books which are not in the possession of any Italian public library. Of such books a list should be established and such books should not leave the country without a special licence. Those are the steps which the Italian Association has taken in the interests of our cause.
We should now like to ask the League to lend us its help and we make the following proposal, with the reservation of the most ample discussion by the League. After having discussed with the Italian delegation the legal position of the Italian book trade in comparison with other countries, we would ask the League to send a memorandum to the Italian Board of Public Instruction giving them the laws which regulate the trade of old books in other countries which are members of the League and asking the Italian Government to put the trade of old and rare books on the same legal level as that of other countries.
THE PRESIDENT: I am absolutely sure that I may act as interpreter for everyone in saying that the League is ready to use all its resources to help Italy in this way. The enquiries will be made and we shall send you the results very quickly. I will ask you to allow us to interview two Italian delegates designated by you and they will be good enough to indicate to us the course to be followed. I can, from the very beginning, assure you of the complete support of the League.
M. TULKENS (Belgium) : There exists an international convention which exacts that every parcel should bear a green label, called a Customs Label. (N. B. in Great Britain details of this will be found in the P. O. Guide under « Green label service »). The Belgium Customs, when this label is not attached to a parcel, exact fines which may amount to 200 %of the value of the book. We have sometimes, by reason of this, to pay terrible fines. In the name of my delegation I request that each Association shall instantly recommend to its members to observe this convention, and never to forget to attach this green label.
THE PRESIDENT: Will everyone please note that when they send a book to Belgium they must put a green label on the parcel?
M. TULKENS : It is only for registered parcels.
THE PRESIDENT: I have had an unfortunate experience even with unregistered parcels. Therefore to be quite sure of being on the right side in this matter it is best to affix the green label in every case, with the solitary exception of packets containing catalogues.
M. TULKENS : Could not one put on this green label the words «Collector's item» ?
THE PRESIDENT: I do not advise it.
M. TULKENS : We have received parcels damaged by the post and to avoid this we have had the idea of affixing a red label with the words: LIVRES.BOOKS to draw the attention of the postal authorities to the need for handing our parcels more carefully.
M. van MAARSEN (Holland) : What are the possibilities of buying books originated in countries with hard currency?
THE PRESIDENT : We have already the « Unesco Bonds » of which you, in Holland, may profit greatly.
M. TULKENS (Belgium) : What exactly are these «Unesco Bonds»?
THE PRESIDENT: Unesco has published a small prospectus, printed in French and English, UNESCO BOOK COUPONS - which is in great detail. The idea of these bonds is to permit booksellers in countries with soft currency to obtain, under certain conditions, the publications of countries with hard currencies. Payment must be made in money of the country at the official dollar rate ruling in the country of payment at the date of the purchase.
M. de NOBELE (France) : I understand the conditions that apply in France, but not these applying in Belgium. In France, Unesco places at the disposal of French booksellers for the month of September a sum of $ 6,000. A second allocation of $ 20,000 will follow, and the third, also of $ 20,000. In all, for the year 1950 a distributing of 100 to $ 120,000 is arranged, for division among all the Associations. But, naturally, this concerns only books of documentary, educational, scientific and cultural interest, collectors' books are excluded. Booksellers receive the bonds which permit them to purchase in other countries by paying the official rate for the dollar.
M. TULKENS (Belgium) : To whom should enquiries be addressed?
THE PRESIDENT: Each National Association affiliated to the League should address enquiries to the official bureau of Unesco in its country. If there are any countries in which, as in France, the distribution has been entrusted to the Association, there are others in which Unesco itself undertakes the task. I can assure you that Unesco interprets applications in a very broad sense; but they are, of course, limited to countries with soft currencies. Switzerland, certainly, has no right to them.
M. TULKENS : In Belgium Unesco Bonds are reserved for the national libraries which have been either destroyed by the war, or pillaged by the Germans during the occupation. But if we have orders for collectors' books stolen by the Germans, Unesco Bonds can also be obtained for these to pay the net price, profit not included, nevertheless for the cost price.
THE PRESIDENT: In the course of the conversations I have had with Mr. Carter he gave me only the assurance that treatment would be extremely liberal.
M. SCHIERENBERG (Holland) : The Dutch delegation thinks that it would be desirable to discuss a programme of publications framed to create a bond in the International Book Trade. We propose to the League the publication of a treatise on the economic history of the old book trade, with the main emphasis on the last hundred years, and we would ask whether others feel inclined to assist the Dutch in this idea?
THE PRESIDENT: It is a very good idea. Perhaps the Dutch delegation will prepare a project for us in more definite terms?
M. van MAARSEN (Holland) : Certainly.
Mr. NYEGAARD (Norway) : On behalf of the Scandinavian delegation I am asked to suggest that among members of the League each bookseller should be obliged definitely to give other booksellers a 10 per cent discount for books purchased. In practice there is not always this discount although there is in theory.
Mr. ROBINSON (Great Britain) : We are prepared to recommend that suggestion to our members but I think we must leave it at that. We shall do our best to persuade them to do it.
THE PRESIDENT : I would propose that when a bookseller hears of another bookseller who does not make the 10 per cent discount he should advise the League to that effect. There is no reason why a bookseller should not make that discount. I do not think, however, that we can take a compulsory measure on that.
THE PRESIDENT: In Switzerland we give a discount of 15 per cent to members of our association.
M. de NOBELE (France) : I return to the question of the emblem. I would hope that procedure will be by elimination, that is to say that each Association will arrange its own competition so that we do not receive a large number of designs: but rather only the two or three best from each country.
I return also to the question of the green customs labels. In France, if we put on the green label the words «Printed bocks» when the package contains old books, it is we who suffer the fine. I propose also not to put “Collector's object” but only the number of the customs tariff.
M. BOURLOT (Italy) : What should or might the emblem represent?
THE PRESIDENT: You have complete liberty to submit absolutely anything that you wish as a project for the emblem.
M. TULKENS (Belgium) : Has any decision been come to about booksellers who do not allow 10 %?
THE PRESIDENT : No. It has only been decided that the question should be examined.
M. TULKENS : In Belgium booksellers who buy at auction have a reduction in commission they must pay.
M. de NOBELE (France) : In France it is the State that fixes and collects the whole commission.
M. TULKENS : We try to apply the reduction of 10 %.
THE PRESIDENT : Has anyone anything further to say?
Well, I have something very important to put to you. Where are we going to meet next year?
M. de NOBELE (France) : I propose to you that it should be in Paris.
The suggestion was received with universal acclamation. The proceedings and the Conference terminated with a vote of thanks to the President proposed by Mr. Massey and carried with loud applause.