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Messages from colleagues around the world: On the passing of Poul Jan Poulsen

On 28 February 2023, ILAB was informed by the Danish Antiquarian Booksellers' Association of the passing of Poul Jan Poulsen who held the position of ILAB Treasurer for 21 years and was a true ambassador of the association. Read condolences messages from colleagues and friends here.

Danish bookseller Poul Jan Poulsen has passed away at the age of 83 years. Like few others, Mr. Poulsen has served the ILAB community and held the position for 21 years from 1991 - 2012. He is remembered here by his colleagues.
An article by Maria Girsel from November 2010 after his election as ABF Member of Honour can be found further below.

Dear colleagues,

it is with a heavy heart and great sorrow that I have to report that Poul Poulsen has died, aged 83. He played a tremendous role in the antiquarian book trade, not only the Danish, which he was part of for more than 60 years, but also internationally, with his tireless work for ILAB and general love for our trade. He shall be sorely missed.

On behalf of the Danish Antiquarian Booksellers Association

Maria Girsel
28 February 2023
President of ABF


Dear Maria,

On behalf of the ILAB Committee, I would like to join all those who have offered condolences on the passing of Poul Poulsen.

It is impressive to read the memories of those who knew him. Poul played an important role in the progress of our association, and the messages of his colleagues who worked with him on the board reflect this strongly. He did not only serve as President of the Danish association but also as ILAB Treasurer for 21 years until 2012. After stepping down from the ILAB Committee, he was awarded the “ILAB Treasurer of Honour” medal.
I had the pleasure of meeting Poul in person at the Presidents’ Meeting in Copenhagen in 2017, and it became clear how much he still cared for the work of the League and how well-respected he was amongst his colleagues. ILAB loses a true ambassador of our trade, deeply committed to the international network we stand for.
Our condolences go out to his family and his colleagues in Denmark.

Mario Giupponi
Acting ILAB President


Dear All,

I am deeply saddened to learn about the passing away of Poul Jan Poulsen. I had met Poul during ILAB’s Congress in Paris 1988 for the first time and many Committee Meetings, Presidents Meetings and Congresses were to follow. His restless work for both ILAB and the Danish Association was more than inspiring. From a more personal view I want to add that he was the best thinkable teacher for me - and many others - when I had joined the Committee of ILAB. His enormous knowledge of of ILAB’s structure, his feeling of what could possibly be changed for the better of the whole trade, had helped many of us to lead the ship through stormy waters. Unnecessary to mention that he had kept more than an eye on ILAB’s finances which were always in perfect order.

He will not be forgotten.

Norbert Donhofer
ILAB President of Honour (President from 2014 - 2016)


Dear fellow Presidents,

I just wanted to pass on the condolences from ANZAAB to the Danish Antiquarian Booksellers Association and the ILAB Committee upon hearing the news of Poul Poulson's passing.
I know he made great contributions to that Association and the ILAB community.

Kind regards,
Douglas Stewart
President ANZAAB


Dear Maria

I am so sorry to hear that Poul has died. He was indeed a great contributor to the book trade. He was ILAB's one and only Treasurer of Honour which reflects in what high esteem he was held. We were so fortunate that he served for such a long term in the role of ILAB treasurer, a difficult task to do even for just a few years, never mind for 21 years! ILAB was very fortunate indeed to have him on the Committee.

Please pass my personal condolences to the trade in Denmark and to Poul's family. I am so very sorry.

With my best wishes,
Sally Burdon
ILAB President 2018 - 2022


Dear Maria and All,

These are very sad news for all os us that had the opportunity to know him over the years. Poul was a cornerstone for the League for many years with his tireless and unwavering spirit of work. My deep condolences to the family and the Danish association.

Gonzalo Fdez Pontes
AILA President / ILAB President of Honour (President from 2016 - 2018)


Dear Maria and all,

I share your sorrow about Poul’s disparition. He has of course worked a lot for the League, but he was also a very good fellow quite in the spirit of those book lovers who liked to share their passion in the reality and not only on the virtual way of internet…
We will miss him a lot.

Kind regards,
Alain Nicolas
ILAB President of Honour (President from 1996 - 2000)


Dear Maria and all,

I am deeply saddened to hear of Poul’s passing. I got to know Poul when he entered the ILAB committee when my father was at that same committee and committee meetings were held in our Amsterdam premises, which was in the late 80s, early 90s. Ever since, upto to my own years at the committee, Poul was always there, calm, composed, a bit in the background, but not without solid and well argumented opinions. For well over 20 years he was the one continuous factor in the committee: presidents and members came and went, but Poul, Poul was always there and I have greatly benefitted from all his qualities during my years on the committee.

His tireless work for both the Danish Association and for ILAB, his meticulous management of ILAB’s finances, his deep knowledge of ILAB’s history, workings, principles behind it, it all greatly served a large number of colleagues who became member of the ILAB committee. His towering figure, the pleasure it gave him to meet his international colleagues, to visit the various cities were meetings were held, the conversations around the meetings, he enjoyed it to the full and was always eager not to miss any of it. He was one of the most modest personalities (a rare quality and combination), and one of the kindest persons I’ve ever met in our trade. I’ll will miss him greatly and he will not be forgotten. May he rest in peace.

With all my sincere condolences to our Danish friends and Poul’s family,

Arnoud Gerits
ILAB President of Honour (President from 2010 - 2012)


Dear Maria,

I would like to extend my condolences to our colleagues of the Danish Association.

On behalf of the ALAI,
Gabriele Maspero
ALAI President


Dear Maria,

Marina and I were very sad to get your news of Poul’s death. He was indeed a towering figure in the Danish Association and we can well imagine that the whole association is going to miss him terribly. I knew him well from my time on the ILAB Committee, where he was the Treasurer for as long as most people could remember.
We send our heartfelt condolences to you and the Danish Association and, through you, to Inge.
Yours Sincerely,
Keith Fletcher
ILAB Member of Honour


Dear Maria and all:

It is with heavy heart that I note the passing of Poul Jan Poulsen, Committee member for over two decades and the only ILAB Treasurer of Honor. I bemoan the loss of this loyal and diligent servant of ILAB. His good-natured and calm demeanor will be missed by all who served with him on the Committee and by the many Presidents of ILAB countries who had the privilege of experiencing his competence and good advice at Presidents’ meetings. He was by nature reserved, but beneath his manner he obviously took great delight in the company of his colleagues. He will be missed by all who knew him.

Tom Congalton
ILAB President of Honour (President from 2012 - 2014)


Dear Colleagues,

We are saddened by the loss of Paul Poulsen and would like to extend our condolences to our colleagues of the Danish Association.

On behalf of the Brazilian Association,
Sandra Soares


Poul Jan Poulsen, by Maria Girsel (ABF President)
Article from November 2010

For his outstanding efforts and commitment to the antiquarian book trade, Poul Jan Poulsen has been elected honorary member of the Danish Antiquarian Booksellers Association (ABF), as the only still active bookseller ever, and as the third in the entire history of ABF, which was founded in 1920.

During the 90 years that ABF has been in existence, Poul has done more for the association than any other member. For many, many years, he has formed the back-bone of ABF, which would hardly be imaginable without him.

Poul has been in the book business since 1957, when he began his training as a bookseller in Knud Rasmussens Boghandel on Østerbrogade in Copenhagen. He quickly became interested in old books and began working in Politikens Antikvariat, after that Rosenkilde & Bagger, and finally Harcks Antikvariat (three of the most well esteemed antiquarian book shops in Denmark, sadly all closed now), before he started on his own in 2001 under the name of Antikvariat Aldus, which is situated in Vesterbrogade in Copenhagen.

Poul had worked for the ABF for many years, before he became president of the association 23 years ago. He had this post for 18 years (being re-elected every second year), and is thus the longest running president of ABF. At the same time, he has spent more than 20 years as the treasurer of ILAB, a post that he still holds.

Throughout his many years working for the ABF and ILAB, he has spent an enormous amount of energy on making our association and ILAB run smoothly and efficiently. Not only has the association throughout his presidency benefitted from his international work, which has made our small association an important part of ILAB, Poul has also been, and still is, a vital asset for all later ABF-committees, as he has always been willing to help and guide us with his great knowledge and experience. But as important is the fact that he has succeeded in attaching the younger generation personally to the association and given us all a sense of responsibility for the ABF as well as for ILAB and the antiquarian book trade in general.