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San Francisco 1967 | | San Francisco 1967

San Francisco 1967

Published on 23 April 2011


San Francisco Congress

15th September - 19th September, 1967


The official opening of the 19th Congress of the International League of Antiquarian Booksellers took place on 15th September in the St Francis Hotel. In a speech of welcome David Magee, the American president, referred to the 250 delegates and their relations who were present; he believed that this was the largest Congress ever to be held by the League. He regretted that the Mayor o f San Francisco, John F. Shelley, was unable to attend and he read a letter of good wishes on his behalf He then introduced the guest speaker, Dr. James Hart, professor of English at the University of California (Berkeley) and editor of The Oxford Companion to American Literature. In reply, Dr Hart said what an honour it was to represent the Californian bibliophiles in welcoming the members of the League. He quoted aptly from the Omar Khayyam and referred to the joy great writers and collectors had felt in handling original editions. In conclusion he spoke briefly of California's interest in books, book-collecting and bookselling since 1849. He mentioned Hubert Howe Bancroft, the first antiquarian book dealer in San Francisco, who turned into a voracious collector of books. manuscripts, etc., illustrating the history of this region. His great collection is now a part of the State University's library.

David Magee then asked the President of the League, Dudley Massey, formally to open the Nineteenth Congress of the League. The President thanked Dr Hart for his gracious speech. He referred to the two earlier Congresses held in America, in New York, in 1955 and 1959, and he was pleased that the American presidents of those Congresses, Miss Frances Hamill and Michael Papantonio, were present, as was also the first ABAA president, Laurence Gomme. Mr Massey recalled the success of those former American meetings; now it was California's turn and he had no doubt it would be no less successful. It was notable that America was the first country to hold three League Congresses, and this was the first Congress which would be followed by an International League Book Fair. He felt certain that the friendliness between the delegates from the different countries would make the Californian Congress a memorable one.

The first meeting of the General Assembly was held on the following day, 16th September. The President asked all present to stand for a brief moment in memory of members who had died since the last Congress. He read letters of apology for absence from Christian Nebehay, Committee Member; Georges Deny, Percy Muir, Einar Gronholt Pedersen and Menno Hertzberger, Presidents and Member of Honour. Clifford Maggs and Marcel Blancheteau were appointed scrutineers.

Mr Massey explained that his Presidential Report would be brief as this was his first year in office and, in his view, it would be covered by the agenda. Two Committee Meetings had been held during the year, in London and The Hague. He then called upon the Treasurer, Geoffrey Steele, to make his report.


TREASURER'S REPORT. “This statement covers eight months ending on 31st August. Our total income from the year was $3,493.70, which consists of the following incomes: Annual subscriptions and dues- $2,425.04; sales of the International Directory-$738.78; interest on our savings account- $289.88; miscellaneous income- $40.00

“Our expenses for the eight months were $3,353.39, made up as follows:

'Travelling expenses- $ 310.88; printing and stationery- $ 582.12; audit fee-$55; sundry expenses which were incurred at committee meetings, etc, of $57.95; the Triennial Prize expenses, which are made up mostly of expenses of the Jury assembling in one place-$347.00; and the Italian Relief Fund-$2,000.

“This results in an excess of income over expenses of $140.31, so that our balance on 31st August was as follows:

“Cash in savings banks and in our checking account- $22,839.05. The balance on 1st January, 1967, was $22,698.74 and, as I just said, excess of income was $140.31. This makes a balance of $22,839.05.

“Since 31st August, I have received $177 but I have also paid out $108.90, which leaves a balance as of 10th September of $22,897.15. We should have had $328 more in the treasury but two countries still have not paid their 1967 dues.”

In the customary fashion the Treasurer then asked each national president to confirm that his association would pay its current subscription. All agreed as follows: Austria, $85; Belgium, $123; Brazil, $25; Denmark, $100; Finland, $23; France, $500; Germany, $390; Great Britain, $400; Italy, $165; Japan, $ 100; Netherlands, $161; Norway, $50; Sweden, $81; Switzerland, $167; United States, $500.


NEW EDITION OF THE DIRECTORY. The Vice-President, Max Elte, reported that he had received estimates from three printers and the Committee had decided upon a Dutch printer at The Hague. Printing costs would be $6,500. The proofs had been approved and in this edition printing and binding would be of a higher standard than previously. The price would be the same: $3 for ordinary paper and $5 for thin paper copies. The cost of the advertisements would also be the same.

Mr Elte begged the presidents to send him all relevant material within a month so that printing could start in November. If presidents co-operated it should be possible to publish the new Directory by the middle of 1968. The President reiterated the Vice-President's plea: it was absolutely essential that all names and advertisements be with the printer by 1st November.

It was decided that the edition should be one of 2,000 copies, of which 300 would be on thin paper.

Mr EIte then asked each association how many copies it would order and obtained the following figures:

                           Ordinary paper                        Thin paper

Austria                            25                                    10

Belgium                           50                                    5

Finland                               3                                   

France                           300                                    50

Germany                       300                                    30

Great Britain                  200                                    50


Japan                            150

Netherlands                   100

Norway                            15                                     5

Sweden                            15                                    10

Switzerland                       20                                    20

USA                                300                                  150


TRIENNIAL PRIZE FOR BIBLIOGRAPHY. The President announced that this had been awarded to Mr Jean Peeters-Pontainas for his Bibliographie des impressions Espagnoles aux Pays-Bas meridionaux, 2 vols, published by B. de Graaf, Nieuwkoop, Holland, 1965; price $50. Unfortunately, the winner had been unable to come to San Francisco but Mr Massey hoped that it would be possible for the prize to be presented, by Mr Deny and himself, at a suitable ceremony in Brussels later in the year.

The President then paid tribute to President of Honour Georges Deny for all the work he had done on the Prize Committee, of which he was chairman, and he hoped he would continue with the work as this was the wish of the Committee.

There followed a somewhat heated discussion. Several delegates considered that not sufficient publicity had been given to the Prize. Others thought that full details of the findings of the Prize Committee and the Jury should have been sent to each association. A Dutch delegate even suggested that the Jury's reasons for awarding the Prize “to this particular book and this particular author” should be made known. In reply, the President pointed out that the Jury met two or three times a year; having read the books submitted, they discussed them; there were no written reports. The three Jury members were unanimous in selecting Mr Peeters-Fontainas's book. Antoine Grandmaison, the Committee Member on the Prize Committee, agreed with this. It was, he said, a case of the Jury meeting, reading books, and saying "This is the winner".

In accordance with the Prize rules, the winner could not be notified before the Congress but it was agreed unanimously that a message be sent to Mr Peeters-Fontainas. It was also agreed that a copy of the book be displayed at the Book Fair in Los Angeles.


The second meeting of the General Assembly, 18th September.


TRAINING COURSES. The President gave an account of the plans which had been made since Vienna. It was then that a sub-committee had been formed under the chairmanship of Menno Hertzberger but the programme he had drawn up to take effect in June in Leyden was rejected because it was felt that such an important decision should be taken by all the associations at the Congress and plans made for it to be held probably at the same time as the International Book Fair in Amsterdam in 1968. The Committee were unanimous in congratulating Mr Hertzberger on the work he had done and were pleased that he was prepared to continue as chairman. The plan faced many difficulties - of language, the time and place suitable to all the associations, the number of participants and professors and the cost. The President personally thought that every effort should be made to get it started but he realised that it could be too parochial in scope. It was there perhaps that the drafted scheme would fail. President of Honour Fernand De Nobele, who was a member of the sub-Committee and had done a great deal of useful work, spoke eloquently about the Courses and he agreed with the President that Mr Hertzberger's scheme presented too many problems. He was in favour of the Courses lasting more than one year and if the first could be held in conjunction with next year's Book Fair it would enable the young trainees to see many rare and fine books. At the same time, he thought, courses could be held provided teachers could be found who were bilingual. He .asked that all presidents should inform the sub-Committee of the approximate number of participants, the month they would like the Courses held, and the names of any teachers willing to give lectures in English, French, or in both languages; he requested that replies be sent to Mr Hertzberger by 1st December, 1967.

Mr De Nobele gave details of the curriculum for a 2-year course drawn up by Mr. Hertzberger which would include lectures on Incunables, 16th-19th Century Books, Bibliography, Typography, Cataloguing, Auctions, History of the Trade, etc.

General discussion ensued and, while there was no wish to discourage international co-operation, it was pointed out that such Courses were in fact being given in some countries, and that these might consider themselves already adequately served. In Vienna, when the idea was first suggested, it was enthusiastically received; but it was obvious that there were now serious doubts as to its feasibility.


PROPOSALS. The Italian idea for a Secretariat and the publication of monthly or bi-monthly newsletters was considered too costly and, after discussion, was referred back to the Committee. Also, it was almost impossible to obtain a steady enough flow of news to maintain frequent newsletters.

After further thought the Japanese had decided that theirs was not a National Proposal but a problem between dealers, and they therefore withdrew it.

The third meeting of the General Assembly, 19th September.


PROPOSALS, continued. The Committee's proposal that Congresses be held every year in the Autumn and Spring alternately, and in the intervening year a Presidents' Meeting be held, was discussed. The President said that the Austrian association had sent in a practically identical proposal which they had now withdrawn. The proposal was then voted on and accepted unanimously.


TIME AND PLACE OF THE NEXT CONGRESS, ETC. The President called upon the Swedish president, Mr Du Rietz, who said he thought it might be difficult for any single Scandinavian country to hold a Congress in 1969 but the three countries, Denmark, Norway and Sweden, should be able to if they worked together. Thanking him, the President felt certain a most enjoyable time would be had at a Scandinavian Congress in 1969.

The French association had agreed to hold a Presidents' Meeting in Paris in 1970 and, at the same time, they would like to hold a Book Fair. The French president, Mr Roux-Devillas, confirmed this; after some discussion it was agreed that the best time would be early in October. The British Vice-President, Stanley Crowe, confirmed that the 1971 Congress would be held in London in September.


ELECTION OF PRESIDENT, VICE-PRESIDENT, AND ONE COMMITTEE MEMBER. Mr Massey informed the Assembly that unfortunately there could be no elections; due to a mistake, when the proposals had been sent out to the associations the names of the candidates for election had been inadvertently omitted. Some delegates and a few presidents had stated that this would not therefore be a democratic election and the President assured the Assembly that he was the last person who would want to hold such an election. It had been unanimously decided by the Committee of the League and the presidents of all the associations that an Extraordinary General Meeting must be called early in 1968. It was agreed that a Presidents' Meeting could take the place of an Extraordinary General Meeting.

In his closing words to the General Assembly, the President regretted that the Congress had to end in this way without the elections taking place. He had always believed that one of the greatest assets of the League had been the spirit of friendliness between booksellers from different countries and this should be engendered by the Congresses. He had served the League for many years with that in mind; but the League would be ill-served if the sly intrigues apparent among a minority should prevail and grow.

The President then thanked the Interpreter and the Court Reporter. “And now,” he said, “I have a pleasant thing to do. I would like to thank, on behalf of us all, our American hosts, especially the Northern Californian Chapter.” After prolonged applause the President closed the meeting.



Meeting of the Executive Committee


A Committee Meeting was held in Paris on 15th and 16thJanuary, 1968.

Mr Elte reported on the progress of the new edition of the Directory. Because of great difficulty in reading many entries publication will not be before September, 1968. Of 1750 copies printed on ordinary paper, 1550 are sold; of 450 copies printed on thin paper, 400 are sold. These sales cover printing costs; advertisements will provide the profit.

The Committee regretfully accepted the resignation of Mr Hertzberger from the Training Courses sub-committee.

The Dutch association had written to the President requesting the convocation of a General Assembly as provided for in Rule 17, but as they did not obtain a majority vote from the other associations the Committee were not bound to accept their proposal.

A letter had been sent to all presidents on 18th December, 1967 requesting nominations to the office of President, Vice-President and two Committee members.

From the nominations received it was clear that the presidents had overlooked two points: (1) the nomination of anyone for election to the Committee must first have the approval of the national association of which he is a member; (2)as long as the two German associations are not united no member of either association may stand for election to the Committee.

It was decided that, following the decision made in San Francisco, a Presidents' Meeting should be held. It would be in London on 30th April and 1st May (and if necessary 2nd May), 1968; the President to inform each national association of the date and place and invite them to send in proposals and further nominations.

Mr Massey stated he would prefer not to stand again for President. He was delighted that his friend, Femand De Nobele, was willing to be nominated by the Committee for the presidency. In order to make this possible, Mr Grandmaison said he would not stand for a second term.

A letter had been received from the Austrian association raising a number of points. They were in favour of a revision of the rule concerning Presidents of Honour, and would like to see a permanent secretariat set up. They asked where the official seat of the League was located (Mr Nebehay was instructed to make enquiries) and requested a greater dissemination of information (reports of Committee meetings to presidents etc). At future elections they would like three candidates nominated to each vacancy.

Mr Deny reported on the presentation of the Triennial Prize in Brussels. Costs for the Prize were quite high; last year more than $1,100 had been spent on the Prize itself and expenses.

On the President mentioning that the Customs and Usages were to be reprinted, Mr De Nobele suggested the inclusion of the following: “An invoice may be made out either in the currency of the country of origin, or in foreign currency at the rate of exchange obtaining on the day of the sale.”

The President said the next Congress would take place in Stockholm or Copenhagen, but no definite arrangement had yet been made.

AGENDA - Presidents' Meeting

May Fair Hotel, London, W1

30th April-2nd May 1968, 10.00 am


1) President's Report

2) Treasurer's Report           

3) Directory

4) Confidential List

5) Triennial Prize

6 Proposals:


1.  That Rule 25 regarding Presidents of Honour be revised

2. That a permanent secretariat be created

3. That the location of the League’s registered office be determined

4. That Rules 30 and 31 be strictly observed

5. That 3 candidates be nominated to each vacancy on the Committee with the exception of Presidency.


That if possible at least two short lectures (e.g. by a librarian, a bibliophile or an antiquarian bookseller) be delivered during a Congress of the ILAB.

United States of America

That the Triennial Prize be discussed

7. Training courses

8. Rules of the League

9. Scandinavian Congress

10. Election of President, Vice-President, and two Committee members.


President - F. De Noele

Vice-President - M. Elte

Committee Members - C. Nyegaard, S. Crowe, Mme Olschki-Witt

11. Any other business.

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