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Düsseldorf 1977

Published on 04 April 2011

Newsletter 30 - June 1978




Dear colleague - wherever this may reach you,

This "President's Letter" will be rather longer than usual. There is much I want to tell you & I hope you will bear with me as it is my only means of writing personally to each member of the League, who number more than 3000 in 16 countries. Since the League exists to serve its members it is important that you should know what is currently happening.

First a look back to 1977. An outstanding event in the past year for the Antiquarian Book Trade, was the issue of the New Edition of the International Directory. As a publication it is unique in scope & importance. It carries the names of our members across the World. With each successive edition it grows in magnitude, becomes more widely known & more extensively used. Stocks of the latest edition are already low.

In September, 1977, at the kind invitation of the Verband Deutscher Antiquare, the League held a Congress and conducted its Annual General Meeting in Diisseldorf. This was followed by an International Antiquarian Book Fair, the 7th under the auspices of the International League of Antiquarian Booksellers.

Formal business meetings are essential & without them the League could neither work or exist. You will find the Minutes of what took place together with the Accounts printed in this Newsletter. They are important and will tell you about the working-side of the League.

The Congress was attended by upwards of 200 antiquarian booksellers, their wives & friends. The exciting side of a Congress is the social programme, which has two aspects. One is the pleasure of meeting colleagues informally, renewing old acquaintance, & making new friends. The other is the programme itself. Mr. Helmut Rumbler, President of the Verband Deutscher Antiquare, & his Committee had arranged a generous & imaginative programme which will live in many memories for a long time.

Our first gathering included a special feature. We celebrated the 80th birthdav of Mr Menno Hertzberger, the "Father" of the League. He looked spry & well, and I hope he liked being sung to.

During the Congress were two high-spots. First, a splended evening ,at the Ballet at the Diisseldorf Opera House, followed by supper in the Foyer in company with the Dancers. It is pleasant to record that on this occasion the Borsenverein des Deutschen Buchhandels were our joint-hosts. Our second was an excursion in grand style. From Diisseldorf we travelled by Special Train to St.·Goar on the Rhine where a large motorship was waiting which we boarded, & began the spectacular cruise downstream through the Rhine Gorge with its castles, vineyards, & attractive towns & villages. Generously fed and wined, with dancing for the energetic, we arrived back in Diisseldorf at 10.30 p.m. tired, happy, and everyone conscious that it had been a memorable day.

I was about to say, rather pointless, that I wish you had been there, but it is worth remembering that any member is free to elect to join in a Congress if he or she so wishes.

The International Book Fair took place immediately following the Congress. It was held at the Neues MessegeEinde - the vast modern Exhibition Centre on the outskirts of Diisseldorf. More than 100 Antiquarian Booksellers from different countries took part. The conditions for display & movement had never before been so spacious anywhere. The enterprise was master-minded & the problems wrestled with by Mr. Fritz Neidhardt & his aides. It would be an under-statement to say that the exhibits were of a high order - some were magnificent. I would hazard a guess that the turnover for the Fair was one of the highest yet anywhere.

In the last issue of the Newsletter, I worte about the Seminar to be held during the Congress & listed the Subjects for Discussion. I want to tell you how this worked out, & I hope you will find it of interest. The proceedings had a time limit of two hours. The participants were divided into three language groups, English, French & German, which were under the chairmanship of Mr. A. L. van Gendt, Mr. Jean-Jacques Magis, & Dr. Karl Pressler respectively. It had been intended originally to print a separate report from each chairman but this has proved impracticable, so for your information, here is a summary of the points made. So that you can relate this, I will repeat the discussion sheet:


1. That the supply of books printed between 1450 - 1800 will considerably diminish in the course of time and will only support fewer dealers at much increased prices.

a). Does the meeting agree? If answered affirmetively, is the meeting of the opinion that it will apply equally to all various categories of the antiquarian book trade, roughly divided into (1) old and rare books; (2) scholarly old books, science, travel and similar; (3) old prints and maps.

b). Is this statement thought likely to prove true of all countries? Please name any considered least liable to be affected.

c). Is there any positive way in which the antiquarian trade can itself influence the situation?

d). Is it thought probable that a price-mechanism dependent on supply and demand will in any case control the situation?

e). If a shortage of material coming onto the market should develop, would much increased prices encourage the supply?

2. That the opportunities for the antiquarian booksellers in the world at large in years to come will remain, but will be more demanding in standards of personal and professional knowledge and experience, and will only be open to those with considerable capital resources.

a). Is this opinion shared? Can personal and professional knowledge and expertise on the part of the antiquarian bookseller be the prime conditions for succes, or is the amount of capital available a much more important factor?

b). In certain circumstances either now or in the future can personal capacities and knowledge outweigh a lack of capital?

c). What possibilities are open to antiquarian booksellers to attract capital and how can a rate of turnover be increased?

d). How can an antiquarian bookseller best survive in a modern world with ever increasing costs and in a changing situation: should he seek amalgation with another bookseller or booksellers, or should he reduce his scope of operation by specialisation?

3. How best to train young antiquarian booksellers in this day and age to confront the future?

In the light of answers to questions 1 and 2, what do you suggest?

Commencing with Paragraph 1, while much in agreement, the German speaking group did not think the number of booksellers would be reduced.

a). Received a definite "No".

b). Was mainly supported affirmatively.

c & e). The general opinion was that higher prices would bring new material on the market.

d). Most answered this question with "No".

In regard to the same paragraph, the French speaking group considered that scarcity was already a reality. Disregarding the period quoted, they thought in general terms that here would always be room for many booksellers as there were so many books at very variant prices.

a). Numbers 1 & 3 were answered "Yes" and No 2, "No".

b). They considered conditions would vary from one country to another.

c & d). Both received negative responses.

e). It was thought that two factors pertain. Rising prices encourage some books to appear in the market while others are retained as a "good Investment". 

The discussion in the English speaking group ranged rather more generally & specific answers are not available. There was a general feeling that supplies of books printed between 1450 - 1800 would not necessarily dwindle. It was thought that reorganisation among libraries might bring a supply of duplicate copies on the market. It could be expected that fine illustrated books, atlases, & the like, would become scarcer and higher priced. It was thought wiser to sell to private collectors rather than libraries as these books would be likely to reappear for sale.

Now let us turn to Paragraph 2. Here the German speaking group found it more difficult to provide specific answers. A majority were in favour of specialisation, & it was also thought that Book Fairs and Group-catalogues could assist booksellers.

The French speaking group in their discussion were clear on this point. Professional knowledge has always been of first importance & will be increasingly so. Capital is, of course, necessary, but by itself is not enough. In answer to c). it was stated that in France & Belgium no great assistance was available through the Banking system. They also suggested participation in Book Fairs & the more frequent issue of catalogues, and in answer to d). the possibility of co-operative effort among booksellers such as catalogue distribution, accounting, packing & despatch, etc.

The English speaking group generally felt that to the ingredients "knowledge" & "capital", three more important ones should be added "activity", "industry" & "inventiveness".

The three groups had little to suggest regarding Paragraph 3. It was an interesting exercise & we hope to include something of this kind in each Congress.

Now, a look ahead. There are two major events closely associated in 1978. These will be the 25th Congress of the International League of Antiquarian Booksellers & the 8th International Antiquarian Book Fair. Both are due to the kind invitation & enterprise of the Swiss Association & will be held in Zurich. The Congress will be from September 17 - 20, & the International Antiquarian Book Fair, September 22 - 24. This will be the first Antiquarian Book Fair held in Switzerland. If you would like information about either, ask your own association for a prospectus. Mr. Auguste Laube, President of the Swiss Association has shown me the proposed programme for the Congress & I can tell you it looks most attractive.





Committee Meeting, Monday, September 26th, 1977


Present: the complete Committee:

Stanley Crowe, President

Bob de Graaf, Vice-President

Hans Bagger, Treasurer

Dr. Maria Conradt, General Secretary

Mitsuo Nitta, Pierre Petitot, William Salloch, Committee Members.

Interpreter: Mr. Edgar Franco.

Apologies were received from Messrs. F. De Nobele, E. Gronholt Pedersen, D. Massey, Presidents of Honour.

The President opened the Meeting at 2 p.m.

The Minutes of the Committee Meeting at London (published in Newsletter 29) were approved unanimously and signed by the President.

The Secretary of the Bibliographical Prize, Dr. Kocher-Benzing, joined the Committee at about 3 p.m.

In preparation for the Presidents' Meeting and the General Assembly, the Committee considered the Agenda. This will be included in the Minutes of the Presidents' Meeting and the General Assembly respectively.

The Meeting closed at 5.30 p.m.


Presidents' Meeting, Tuesday, September 27th, 1977


Present: the complete Committee.

Mr. FI. Tulkens, President of Honour.

The Presidents or their Representatives of the following National Associations: Austria, W. Taeuber; Belgium, L. Moorthammers; Canada, E. H. Heinemann; Denmark, Hans Bagger, also present as Committee member; France, J. J. Magis; Germany, Helmut Rumbler; Great Britain, John Lawson; Italy, Mrs. E. Seacombe; Japan, K. Kohketsu; Netherlands, A. L. van Gendt; Norway, J. W. Cappellen; Sweden, P. Ronnell ; Switzerland, A. Seebass ; and D.S.A., W. R. HowelI.

Proxies: the proxy for Brazil was held by Mr. Lawson.

Finland was not represented.

Apologies: as reported at the opening Committee Meeting.

Interpreter: Mr. Edgar Franco.

The President opened the Meeting at 9 a.m. Items 1 - 3 of the Agenda were left to the General Assembly.

4. Treasurer's Report: The Treasurer presented Accounts for the period January 1, 1977 to August 31, 1977, together with a summary of the financial position as at August 31,1977.

It was agreed that the remaning Swiss francs will be transferred to the Guilders-account, on a longer term and at higher interest. When certain current debts have been paid, the Treasurer proposed to transfer some of the League's funds to Germany, as this would be advantageous.

The income of the League during the last year has been approximately $ 8,600., the disbursements during the same period have been approximately $ 6,000., leaving a surplus in the region of $ 2,600. Included in this were the expenses of the Fifth Triennial Bibliography Prize. The new Directory will show a profit. The Treasurer, therefore, proposed to leave the subscriptions for 1978 as fixed at Brussels for the current year. This was approved unanimously.

The Treasurer proposed, that in order that younger members might not be deterred from joining the Committee, the reimbursement for travel expenses for Committee members should be increased from $ 150 to $ 200. This was agreed unanimously.

5. The new edition of the International Directory: Mr. Hans Bagger reported that the new issue had been published in June, 1977. So far 2050 copies had been sold leaving 924 copies on hand. In order to promote the sale of the Directory, and to make it better known, copies had been sent for review to various professional journals, including The Antiquarian Bookman, Antiquarian Book Monthly, and Borsenblatt. All members arc requested to make the Directory known as widely as possible, and to include it in their Catalogues. The League would co-operate with National Associations by paying half the cost of appropriate advertising. The President of the League would be glad to hear from any National Association interested. It was announced that both Japan and the U.S.A. have already undertaken advertising for the Directory, on their own account. Orders for further copies were placed by: Canada (ten), Japan (fifty) and the Netherlands (forty).

Additions and corrections: the Committee will consider the best method of dealing with these. In due course, National Associations will be asked to provide a list of corrections and amendments. It was thought probable that the next edition of the Directory will appear in or about 1980.

7. Dictionary for the Antiquarian Book Trade: It was proposed to consider the desirability of a reprint. During the discussion, Mr. Mitsuo Nitta reported that the Japanese Association held a stock of the edition authorised by Mr. Hertzberger, in sheets. Mr. Hertzberger had joined the Meeting and with his approval, it was agreed to buy sheets for 100 copies. A new title page, in English and French, would be printed and the copies delivered bound. The price was considered advantageous and generous, and the President expressed the League's thanks to the Japanese Association. 

9a. Security: The Security Scheme in co-operation with the Bavarian State Library had met with inadequate support and the Committee proposed to take no further action in this respect. However, four National Associations had sent positive replies, namely Belgium, Denmark, Netherlands and Italy, and the President suggested that it might be valuable to explore the possibilities of a kind of mini-Scheme which could in some measure provide protection. The urgency and the need for security measures was never greater. If such a Scheme was established, others could join or co-operate at a later date. The Presidents of the Belgian and Dutch Associations, by reason of their geographic proximities, agreed to consider this, and Mr. A. L. van Gendt said that the Dutch Association would consider this at their Annual General Meeting in October.

9b. Confidential List: Mr. Petitot reported that so far he had not received a single reply to his request for information, and he proposed that until the occasion permitted, to take no further action. It was understood that there are certain difficulties in the dissemination of confidential information. The Presidents of Great Britain and the U.S.A. said they would co-operate as far as possible. The President urged that both bad payers and book thieves were matters of first importance.

10. Proposals.

(a) The Syndicat de la Librairie Ancienne et Moderne proposed that this Congress considers the possibility of an approach by the ILAB to the Union Postale Universelle (U.P.U.), C.P. CH-SOOO Berne, Switzerland, in the endeavour to obtain a reduced rate for Bookseller's catalogues. After considerable discussion, it was agreed that such a proposal needed wide support, to include books as cultural material, and to seek the cooperation of new booksellers and publishers. The President of the Syndicat de 1a Librairie Ancienne et Moderne agreed to draft an appropriate letter which the President of the League would send to the Union Postale Universelle, a copy of which would be sent to all National Presidents.

(b) The Antiquarian Booksellers Association proposed that the ILAB should emphasize the desirability of member Associations keeping the control of their Book Fairs in thier own hands. This aroused considerable discussion both in the Presidents' Meeting and in the General Assembly. A summary is included in the Minutes of the General Assembly.

The President closed the Meeting shortly after 12 p.m.


General Assembly, First Session, Tuesday, September 27th


The President opened the Meeting at 2.15 p.m. and welcomed the Members present.

The Assembly observed a minute's silence in memory of those who had passed away.


1. Nomination of Scrutineers: Mr. Charles Traylen and Dr. Frieder Kocher-Benzing were appointed.

2. Minutes of the Presidents' Meeting at Brussels: The Minutes of the Presidents' Meeting at Brussels in September, 1976, published in Newsletter 28, were approved unanimously and signed.

3. Report of the President on the League's activities since September,1976: In his report, the President reviewed the events of the past year. He welcomed several newly appointed Presidents of National Associations; Mr. Werner Taeuber, Austria; Mr. St. Geyerhahn, Brazil; Mr. David Manson, Canada; Mr. Renzo Rizzi, Italy; Mr. A. van Gendt, Netherlands; and Mr. Bjorn Ringstrem, Norway.

An outsanding event had been the publication of the new edition of the International Directory, in June. The first copy was brought specially and presented to Mr. Edward Heath, the former British Prime Minister, after he had opened the Antiquarian Book Fair at the Europa Hotel in London. The President emphasised the importance of this publication, the most notable of its kind and invaluable to book collectors and librarians everywhere. The preparation of the new edition of the International Directory has been, as always, an enormous labour. The President expressed the thanks of the League to Mr. Hans Bagger, who master-minded and supervised this mammoth task, and for its admirable production.

As agreed at the Amsterdam Congress in 1975, a Seminar would be included in the course of this Congress. The President thanked Mr John Benjamins and his colleagues for their efforts in arranging the paper for discussion. The President's report was adopted unanimously.

4. Treasurer's Report: This is covered in the Minutes of the Presidents' Meeting. It was adopted unanimously and the President expressed the League's thanks to Mr. Bagger for the sound condition of the finances.

5. International Directory: This is covered in the Minutes of the Presidents' Meeting, and in the President's report above. 

6. The Newsletter: Mr. Bob de Graaf, Editor of the Newsletter, reported that the first issues for which he had been responsible, were mainly selfsupporting. However, as printing costs have increased and the number of advertisements diminished, the Newsletter was now a charge on the League's finances. The Rules of the League require that two Newsletters are published annually and distributed to every member. They have a wide distribution and the advertisement rates are low. Mr. de Graaf asked National Presidents to encourage their members to advertise in and support the Newsletter. He agreed that Minutes do not take fascinating reading and would be grateful for contributions including articles, anecdotes, pictures, or anything which would make the Newsletter more interesting. The President warmly thanked Mr. Bob de Graaf for his admirable efforts.

7. Dictionary for the Antiquarian Book Trade: This was reported to the General Assembly as covered in the Minutes of the Presidents' Meeting.

8. Bibliographical Prize: Dr. Frieder Kocher-Benzing, Secretary for the Bilbliographical Prize, reported that in the spring he had sent out the conditions for the Sixth Triennial Prize to all National Presidents and to those appointed by different countries to be responsible for the Prize. So far, only nine entries have been received. Some are of a high standard but the small interest shown is disappointing. Steps would be taken to seek wider support.

9a. Security: This is mainly covered in the Minutes of the Presidents' Meeting.

Mr. Warren Howell drew attention to an experiment in the D.S.A., in which issue of the Antiquarian Bookman has one page reserved for the announcement of stolen books. It has proved a quick, cheap and useful means open to booksellers, libraries, etc., in which to make known and public their losses. The Society of American Librairies now publishes lists of stolen books in their Bulletin.

Mr John Lawson drew attention to the lists of stolen books published regularly and circulated by the A.B.A. The Presidents of all National Associations will in future be included in the distribution.

9b. Confidential Lists: As reported in the Minutes of the Presidents' Meeting.

The first Session of the General Assembly closed at 4 p.m.


General Assembly Second Session, Wednesday, September 28th


The Session was opened at 10 a.m.

10. Proposals.

(a) The President gave a summary of what had been considered during the Presidents' Meeting as recorded in the Minutes of the Presidents' Meeting.

(b) The Antiquarian Booksellers Association proposed that the ILAB should emphasize the desirability of member Associations keeping the control of their book fairs in their own hands.  This proposal gave rise to a lengthy and lively discussion in the General well as in the Presidents' Meeting. The case for allowing to organize and conduct book fairs was argued at some finally the proposal of the AB.A that member Associations should keep control of their book fairs in their own hands was emphasised unanimous vote of 18, there being no contrary votes. The importance of preserving both high standard of exhibits and integrity in dealing was also emphasized.

11. Election of a Committee Member: Mr. Pierre Petitot was elected unanimously to the Committee for a second term. The President both congratulated him and thanked him for his support.

12. Future Meetings.

a) To consider whether it is desirable or necessary to change the pattern of our Congresses in view of the increasing costs.

This was debated at considerable length, and while it was appreciated that it was desirable to encourage new faces and younger men and women at our Congresses, it was also found that in the present financial climate there was little that could be done in respect of rising costs. It was suggested that some National Associations might give financial aid to assist and encourage younger members.

b) Adolf Seebass, representing Switzerland, confirmed the invitation by his Association for a Congress in Zurich in 1978. The dates will be Sunday, September 17th to Wednesday, September 20th, followed by the Eighth International Book Fair on Thursday, September 21st to Sunday, September 24th.

c) Future Meetings of the League are:

1978, Congress at Zurich.

1979, Presidents' Meeting possibly at Copenhagen.

1980, Congress on the East Coast of the U.S.A

13. Other business: The President of the British Association, Mr. Lawson, reported that a movement was on foot to establish an Antiquarian Booksellers Association in Portugal. He was assured of both the League's support and encouragement.

It was agreed that the Usages and Customs of the International League of Booksellers should be, by common practice, handed to each new member of all National Associations. This was felt to be both basic and important for trade practice and the Committee will undertake to ensure a reprint is available to all member Associations.

Finally, the President proposed a warm vote of thanks to the Verband Antiquare for their generous and friendly hospitality. He thanked the Scrutineers for their good offices, Mr Neidhardt his arduous efforts in arranging the International Antiquarian Book Fair, and a special vote of thanks to Mr. Edgar Franco for his invaluable help as an interpreter. The President closed the Meeting at 12 p.m.


Committee Meeting, Thursday, September 29th, 11 a.m. to 12.30


In the train to St. Goar.

Present: the complete Committee.

At its final Meeting, the Committee gathered the threads and proposals made during the Congress. It arranged to hold its next Meeting in London in March, 1978.




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