The 39th ILAB Congress and 23rd International Antiquarian Book Fair in Bologna were the perfect occasion for the official award of one of the most prestigious prizes. In a ceremony on 25th September at Bologna’s Palazzo Isolani ILAB President Arnoud Gerits and the President of the B.H. Breslauer Foundation Felix de Marez Oyens honoured two scholars of worldwide reputation with the 15th ILAB Breslauer Prize for Bibliography: Lotte Hellinga and Jan Storm van Leeuwen.
“It is no exaggeration to say that the bibliographical world has been looking forward to the publication of this volume since 1908”, Felix de Marez Oyens said in his speech. In 1908 part 1 of the Catalogue of Books printed in the XVth Century now in the British Library, BMC had been published. In 2007 Lotte Hellinga edited part 11 of this monumental work – and set a milestone in bibliography: “One hundred years is a long time, but for the present generation of bibliographers, literary students, historians and bibliophiles, it has been worth the wait, because the descriptive and historical detail and bibliographical analysis that have gone into this work far exceed the original model.”
Due to a generous gift of the B.H. Breslauer Foundation the jury was able to award two first prizes each worth 10,000 $. Felix de Marez Oyens handed the second first Prize to Jan Storm van Leeuwen who had devoted decades of his scholarly life to his research which was finally crowned by his three volume study about Dutch Decorated Bookbinding in the Eighteenth Century. The jury praised this enormous comprehensive work as “a huge accomplishment”. In his remarkable speech Jan Storm van Leeuwen emphasized the importance of the ILAB Breslauer Prize, both as a general support of worldwide research and scholarship, and as the highest award a scholar might expect after years of work which is often done in private and without any official or financial help.
All the 52 books which had been submitted to the 15th Prize were shown in a special exhibition at the 23rd International Antiquarian Book Fair at the Palazzo di Re Enzo during the Congress week. Many of them were published by Oak Knoll Press, and both Prize winning books were published by Hes & De Graaf. Over many years these publishers supported and distributed numerous important works of bibliography and were therefore honoured with a Special Mention of the jury. The evening ended with an Opera and a Gala Dinner to celebrate the two winners Lotte Hellinga and Jan Storm van Leeuwen, their outstanding works – and the scholarship on which the research in the history of printing and the rare book trade itself so much depend.
The 16th ILAB Breslauer Prize for Bibliography will be awarded in 2014 to bibliographies published between 2009 and 2012. The submitted books – and finally the winners – will be presented on the official website.