The Presidents of our League had challenged the Committee to find a way to keep this important Prize alive and a series of fund raising steps were taken. A challenge grant first proposed by our affiliates, Ann and David Bromer, provided a grand beginning to this campaign. We got gifts from the Antiquarian Booksellers' Association of Japan (ABAJ), Mitsuo Nita, Verband der Antiquare Österreichs (VDAÖ), The Antiquarian Booksellers Association (ABA), Adrian Harrington, Peter Harrington, Bernard Shapero, Antiquarian Booksellers' Association of Canada (ABAC), and Svenska Antikvariatföreningen (SVAF) which exceeded the goal set by the challenge grant.
Contact with Felix de Marez Oyens, noted author, consultant and President of the Breslauer Foundation, provided the final key to our funding problem. The Breslauer Foundation was set up by Dr. Bernard H. Breslauer (1918-2004), an ILAB dealer who had a life-long passion for the field of bibliography. The Foundation heard our plea for the Prize and responded with a gift of $108,000. In 2008, the name of the Prize was changed to the ILAB - Breslauer Prize for Bibliography to honor this gift.
This international Prize of $10,000 US is awarded every fourth year to the author(s) of the most original and outstanding published work in the broad field of bibliography. Any aspect of bibliography (e.g. enumerative, textual, history of the book, design, binding, book trade, etc.) is admitted. Certain categories are not eligible, notably catalogues of books (or exhibitions of books) intended for sale, catalogues of public libraries, and translations of works appearing in another language. Apart from the Prize, the jurors may at their discretion award Honorable Mentions to other deserving entries. The purpose of the prize is to draw attention to the best academic work being done in the field, to reward and honor it in appropriate terms, and to publicize the League's support for the original scholarship on which the book trade so much depends. The awarding of this Prize and the encouragement of scholarship has always been an important cornerstone in the foundation of the ILAB. Georges Deny (of Brussels) was appointed as its first Secretary and laid down the ground rules and supervised the first and second Awards. He was succeeded by Frieder Kocher-Benzing (of Stuttgart) who was the longest serving Secretary presiding over the third to eleventh Awards. The twelfth and thirteenth awards were overseen by Konrad Meuschel (of Bad Honnef). In 2002 Raymond Kilgarriff was appointed Secretary for the fourteenth Award which was presented in 2006. The 15th Prize will be awarded in 2010 to one or more bibliographies published between 2005 and 2008, with Mitsuo Nitta (of Tokyo) as Chair of the Prize Committee.
The panel of judges (or jurors) consists of three professional scholars or librarians and three antiquarian booksellers. All are chosen for their expertise in the field of bibliographical scholarship as it is on their standing and judgment that the reputation of the Prize itself depends. The judges represent the widest possible range of nationalities so that the panel is qualified to adjudicate on books in various languages and on all aspects of the field. A book may be entered by the publisher, the author, or any other interested party, simply by sending a single copy to the Prize Secretary (Arnoud Gerits of Amsterdam).
Bob Fleck (ILAB President of Honour)