Back to the roots: The Preliminary Conference, organized by the Dutch booksellers and initiated by the “Father of the League” Menno Hertzberger, was held in Amsterdam in the year 1947. In 1960, the ILAB delegates from Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Switzerland and USA returned to The Netherlands for their 13th Congress. They spent four fruitful and delightful days in Scheveningen, with excursions to the famous libraries and museums in Amsterdam and Den Haag. Jack Joseph, at that time ABA President and one of 51 (!) British delegates, resumed: “The harmony of this Congress had been perfect, due in part to two working days and two workless days, but in the main to the cordiality exemplified by the splendid feelings evinced by all.”
From “The Clique”, September 24, 1960
The working session for members was scheduled for four days but everything went so smoothly that all business was concluded by the end of the second session, after which two very interesting lectures were delivered. Mr. Leo S. Olschki of Florence discoursed on Jacques Charles Brunet and presented a twenty-four page brochure specially printed for the Congress “on the occasion of the 100th and 150th anniversary of the publication of the ‘Manuel du Libraire’ (1810, 1860)”. This includes three pages in facsimile and an inset portrait in colour.
The other lecture was an introduction to the special exhibition to be visited on Friday at the Rijksmuseum at Amsterdam “Printed in the Netherlands”. It was given by Prof. H. De La Fontaine Vervry, librarian of Amsterdam University, whose enthusiasm in describing the continuity and excellency of the Netherlands type founders, printers and publishers from the “Golden Age” of printing to the present time was only equalled by his profound knowledge of his subject.
The Executive Committee’s report will appear in the next International League’s Newsletter. M. Fernand De Nobele was re-elected to the Executive Committee and promised instant distribution of additions to the cautionary list to all associations as well as a coding system to indicate the exact classification of entries. The code will be at the disposal of all members.
No solution for the need for a permanent office and secretary was forthcoming. Mr. Wormser put forward several suggestions, including that of the secretary’s duties, including communications to the press.
The abundant and well thought out excursions were fully detailed in the neat pamphlets and invitations distributed to all visitors. We particularly appreciated the card! “Departure of Coaches”, and everyone must have been pleased by the bouquet of flowers found in their hotel bedroom with a card of welcome. To the President, Max Elte, and Secretary, K. P. Longbloed, as well as their numerous helpers, members of the Dutch Association and their ladies, the most grateful thanks are due for their untiring attention and cheerful help on all occasions. Their hospitality was in full measure and overflowing.
Despite deplorable weather all the excursions proved delightful. There is no doubt that the circus was a great success. It was a first rate circus and the clowns were delightfully funny. One of the many unexpected additions was the invitation to refreshments at the Kurhaus Hotel after the show. Another was the stopover at one of the great vine houses where we sat under the grapes at a table extending the entire length of the vinery and ate grapes. This was on the “round trip” return after the reception at the Maritime Museum at Rotterdam. The coaches took us a very interesting trip round the city and docks on the way.
The ladies’ coach trip to the Antique Dealers’ Fair at Delft included quite a few male members. As the Netherlands Association had an Exhibition of books, prints, drawings and maps at the Fair, of which a catalogue was provided, this saved some of them a separate trip.
One of the outstanding events was the visit at the invitation of the Burgomaster and the Aldermen of The Hague to the Old Town Hall in the Groen Market, where refreshments on the usual lavish scale were enjoyed whilst wandering from room to room of this gracious period building admiring the old portraits and other pictures and the magnificent decorations to the accompaniment of a full orchestra.
The Amsterdam trip by coach included two receptions at the Rijksmuseum, with a boat trip on the canals between. It was already dark when we boarded the boats but what we may have missed of historic buildings described by not always visible through the rain was compensated by the view of the lighted city as we toured the harbour. By the time we returned to the Museum where each was personally received by the Minister of Education, Arts and Sciences, and the Burgomaster and Aldermen we were ready for the refreshments and were able to view not only the special exhibit “Printed in the Netherlands”, but every room in this fine Museum was lighted for our benefit.
On Saturday afternoon a reception was also given at the Royal Library at The Hague by invitation of the Director. The farewell dinner and dance was notable not only for the excellent cuisine but the brevity of the speeches. Each President was called upon to speak for his association and the thanks and appreciation were good to hear. We must confine ourselves to our own President.
When approached on his return to London and requested to repeat what he said at the festive board, Mr. Jack Joseph stated that as he had spoken off the cuff and his shirt had been sent to the laundry the best that he could do for the purposes of mental hygiene for our readers was the give the following part of his speech:
The President of the ABA, Mr. Jack Joseph stood up. “I can’t speak in Dutch,” he said, the proceeded to extend the appreciation of the excellent reception, the generous treatment and the splendid hospitality, the interesting visits to the various museums, to Naboth’s Vineyard and the journey on the canal and the Mayor’s receptions in the towns visited. He regretted the indisposition of Mr. Hertzberger and paid tribute to Mr. Hertzberger’s continued efforts on behalf of the League and sincerely hoped that he would be restored to his usual vigorous health. He humorously referred to the fact that the British contingent of 51 people was more of an invasion to breach the Dutch Dyke in retaliation for what happened 300 years ago when that splendid little nation had the audacity to sail up river Medway, pillaging the towns and burning our shipping. He trusted they would never have another touch of Dutch courage which could enable them to repeat that incident. “The harmony of this Congress had been perfect, due in part to two working days and two workless days, but in the main to the cordiality exemplified by the splendid feelings evinced by all. Quite a deal of praise must be accorded to Mr. Richard Wormser for his masterly handling of all the meetings.” And Mr. Joseph faded out with these very pleasant words:
Happy have we met
Happy have we been
Happy may we part
And happily meet again.
And we now go on our several ways accordingly.”