A LETTER FROM THE PRESIDENT
Looking back over the past year, the most important event which comes to mind is undoubtedly the 26th Congress of our League which took place in September 1980 and which was hosted by the Antiquarian Booksellers' Association of America. Thanks to the untiring efforts of the officers of the American Association and those of their organizing committee this was a wonderful occasion for all those who participated in it. The extensive social programme was a real delight.
As far as the proceedings of the Congress are concerned, it was generally regretted that - largely due to the fact that no less than three New York auction-houses had organized major sales on the day originally reserved for a second session - both the Presidents' Meeting and the General Assembly had to be limited to one session only. Personally I am of the opinion that the Committee was not given much of a choice - there was an alternative optional programme for the same day as well- but I agree that a similar course of affairs should be avoided in the future. Nonetheless the agenda could be dealt with in a not too hurried way. thanks largely to the simultaneous translations which our American friends had thoughtfully provided. You will find the minutes and the accounts of the Treasurer in this Newsletter. Please take a moment to read them as they will tell you about the working side of the International League.
A somewhat controversial item on the agenda was an English proposal to discuss the status of the large, British-based multinational auction-houses. Due mainly to previous amiable talks between the British- and the German President, this point did not produce the verbal fireworks which some delegates evidently expected. Was it disappointment in certain quarters which resulted in an amount of adverse publicity regarding this matter that appeared afterwards in a few trade papers? Perhaps it is good to mention for the benefit of those who did not attend the meeting themselves - a fact which, by the way, did not impede a certain reporter to issue an unfairly critical article about the workings of the League in a widely-read British monthly - that I, as chairman of the meeting, emphatically asked for further comments on this particular item of the agenda. but that none came forward ... That we have a grave problem here is acknowledged by a great many people, including the Committee itself. but on the other hand it should be realised that a satisfactory solution is far from simple. To take but one example to illustrate those difficulties: The League numbers a comparatively large group of associations which have auction houses among their membership and which are often old and faithful members of long standing. The Committee is of the opinion that this particular problem should be approached with care and in a spirit of fairness towards all concerned, and it regrets hasty, ill-informed publicity. The problem in question, albeit a major one, is only one problem among the many problems our profession faces in this time of world-wide recession. It is a sad and long listing: Customs duties, import and export obstructions. value added tax, high postage-rates, exorbitant banking charges are only a few examples. In view of this increasingly difficult economic situation. international cooperation such as we try to stimulate within our League is a simple must.
A fine example of antiquarian booksellers of many nations smoothly and amicably cooperating, was the New York International Antiquarian Book Fair which followed the Congress. It was an outstanding, impressive and prestigious event. Although visitors and participants alike were somewhat overwhelmed by the sheer size of this mammoth Fair - by far the largest ever held - business was generally brisk and the general feeling was that the Fair met with expectations. The fact that the volume of 'trade-within-the-trade' seems to be increasing every year; that private customers could have turned out in larger numbers; and that librarians were virtually invisible, could not diminish the overall impression that this Fair was a success.
Now a look ahead: On September 25th-27th of this year the Presidents will met in Kyoto. The Japanese President, our good friend Mr. Mitsuo Nitta and I have already arranged that this time there will be ample opportunity both for dealing with the agenda proper. and for informal discussion. I hope that the great majority of the national Presidents will not only find the time and the opportunity to visit this meeting but also to convene a meeting of their members beforehand in order to sound them out as far as matters or current interest are concerned. Conversely individual members ought to contact their committee if they feel that there is some subject which merits discussion in Japan. A multiple exchange of ideas, suggestions, and the like is exactly what this sort of meeting is organized for. It is true that the League exists to serve its members, but it is equally true that the Committee can only function in a satisfactory way if it can benefit from a certain response from its international membership.
In the meantime I send you all my collegial greetings and very best wishes
Bob de Graaf, President
MINUTES OF THE COMMITTEE MEETING
London, June 11, 1980
Present: Bob de Graaf (President); John Lawson (Vice President); Hans Bagger (Treasurer); Francois Charnonal; Jörg Schäfer.
Apologies: Apologies were received from Dr. Maria Conradt and Williarn Salloch.
In the absence of Dr. Conradt, John Lawson was asked to take the Minutes.
The President began the meeting by thanking Francois Chamonal and John Lawson for their work as translators since the previous meeting.
Minutes of the previous meeting were passed.
President's Letters. (1) In February the President had written to the Presidents of all the National Associations but despite a reminder concerning dead-lines no proposals for discussions at the Congress in New York had been received yet.
The President had requested also information on the Confidential and Security systems of the Associations, but only the A.B.A. had replied. In answer to a request for comments on the proposed Guide Lines for Book Fairs, only the A.B.A. and the Swiss Association had responded.
The President announced that the Past President, Stanley Crowe would collate the information and bring the Guide Lines to a conclusion.
(2) Postal Tariffs. The President had written to the International Union of Publishers and they had replied that they were concerned and were already in touch with UNESCO and the International Postal Union. They were prepared to join with us to draw attention of various governments. In reply to a letter from the President. the International Booksellers Federation stated that they were making representations also to UNESCO and the International Postal Union, and would be pleased to consider joint action. They will bring our suggestion to their Annual General Assembly.
(3) Countries not yet represented in their own right in the League. The President had written to representatives in Spain, Portugal und Israel about the possibility of becoming affiliated to the League. but had received no replies to date.
(4) The President had written to congratulate Hylton Bayntun-Coward and Keith Fletcher on their appointments as President and Vice-President of the A.B.A. and also to John Jenkins and Miss Elisabeth Woodburn on their appointments as President and Vice-President of the A.B.A.A.
Letters. (1) The A.B.A.A. President, Laurence Witten had requested a statement from the President concerning the conduct of Book Fairs, The President had replied that no statement should be made until the Guide Lines had been voted on at the forthcoming Congress.
(2) The S.L.A.M. President, Louis Loeb-Larocque, had written with a problem raised by several of his members. French banks levy 27 French Francs for cashing foreign cheques, and this, with the 10% trade discount. means that the profit margin practically vanishes on smaller amounts. He requests that colleagues pay with all costs paid, otherwise he feels that some members will not give the 10% trade discount on purchases under 500 francs. The President replied supporting Articles 3 and 4 of the Compendium of Usages and Customs (that all purchases be paid for immediately and that the supplier must receive the full amount of his invoice - all charges being paid for by the purchaser); but on no account was the discount to dealers to be dropped as this could well harm international relations and friendship.
(3) Ex-Committee member Mitsuo Nitta had sent his best wishes to the new Committee, and was looking into the possibility of a ten-day excursion ticket for the President's Meeting in Kyoto in 1981. There are also plans for a Book Fair at that time.
(4) A member of the Brazilian Association had written to advise a change of address and President. The address is not correct on the League's note-paper.
(5) The retiring President of the A.B.A. Raymond Kilgarriff, had written to say that the A.B.A. was willing to act as host for the Congress in 1984. The Committee was delighted and readily accepted the invitation.
Treasurer. Hans Bager had little to report, except that four countries had not yet paid their subscriptions.
There had been a suggestion that Presidents of Honour were not being advised of Committee Meetings. Whilst welcoming such Presidents at any time, the Committee felt that Presidents of Honour should feel no necessity to attend working committee meetings, but that they and the immediate Past-Presidents should be kept informed by the Minutes. Mr Bagger reported also on the sad news of the death of Mr Rosenkilde.
Directory. Hans Bagger reported that this was proceeding on schedule and should be ready for New York at the Congress in September. The suggested price was $15 trade, $22.50 retail, and it was hoped that we should be able to keep these prices.
The President gave warmest thanks to Hans Bagger and to Heinz Pummer for all their hard work on the Directory, and the thanks were heartily endorsed by the rest of the Committee.
Newsletter. The President and Committee congratulated the new Editor (Jorg Schafer) and his first Newsletter, Newsletter No. 32. Mr Chamonal referred to one item in Newsletter No. 32 which appeared in English only, and asked that in future all contributions should be in English and French. This was agreed.
The Editor advised that the cost plus postage of the Newsletter would be around 7,800 - 7,900 Swiss francs. He also thanked Francois Chamonal, John Lawson and the President for their help.
Bibliographical Prize. All circulars for the Seventh Triennial Prize have been distributed to the National Associations. The last date for submitting entries is December 31st, 1980.
Book Fair Policy. The President announced that Stanley Crowe would compile the final report and this would be issued with the Agenda for the Congress. Opportunity for discussion and comments was now finished, and the Report was to be voted on only, at the Congress.
Congress Agenda. It was decided to keep the Agenda as last time with the addition of a proposition for a change to Rule 29 concerning the expenses of officers and committee members. The proposition to Congress being that “The League refunds League Committee Members their transport expenses on League business”.
Any other Business. There being no further business the President thanked those present for their attendance, and closed the meeting.
MINUTES OF THE MEETINGS AT THE CONGRESS,
NEW YORK 1980
Committee meeting, Sunday, September 28th 1980. 3 pm - 5 pm
Present: the whole Committee and Mr. Stanley Crowe, Past President
Apologies: Mr. Denis. Mr. Hertzberger and Mr. Tulkens, Presidents of Honour.
The Committee considered the agenda in preparation for the Presidents' Meeting and the General Assembly.
The first copies of the new International Directory were distributed to the Committee and the President thanked the editor Mr. Hans Bagger. that he himself and Mr. Heinz Pummer had again done enormous work to publish this very important publication.
PRESIDENTS' MEETiNG, Monday, September 29th, 9 am - 11 am
Present: the whole Committee
Mr. Standley Crowe, Past President
the Presidents of the following National Associations: Austria (W. Taeuber), France (L. Loeb-Laroque), Germany (G. M. Reiss), Great Britain (H. Bayntun-Coward), Japan (M. Nitta ), Netherlands (A. Gerits), Sweden (Mrs. K. Wachtrneister), USA (J. H. Jenkins).
The following National Associations were represented by one of their members: Belgium (J. Van der Heyde), Canada (W. Hoffer), Italy (A. Pregliasco), Norway (P. M. Bottn). Switzerland (W. Alicke).
Proxies: Denmark and Finland. The votes held by Mr. H. Bagger.
Two National Associations were not represented: Australia and New Zealand, Brazil.
In all 19 votes were represented.
Interpreter: Mrs. Bernheim.
The President opened the Meeting and, after words of welcome from the President of the American Association, he thanked the ABAA for the invitation to hold a Congress at New York.
The President welcomed the newly elected Presidents of National Associations: Mr. Bayntun-Coward, Mr. Jenkins and Mr. Nitta. The President drew attention to the fact, that the Schedule of the Congress includes only one Presidents' Meeting instead of two, so that there would not be enough time to discuss the problems as long as might be desirable. As an excursion as well as important auction sales will coincide with the scheduled second General Assembly, it was proposed, (remembering the time-saving effect of the prepared simultaneous translations during General Assemblies), to try to finish the Agenda during the first Meeting.
The President proposed to discuss No. 5 of the Agenda after No. 13. which was agreed.
2. The Minutes of the Presidents' Meeting at Copenhagen, 1979.
They were approved by the Assembly and signed by the President.
3. President's Report.
The President reported on the activities of the Committee during the last year. Working meetings were held at Stuttgart on January 29th and 30th, and at London on June llth 1980. In February the President had addressed a letter to all National Presidents, giving information about the current state of affairs.
There was correspondence between Mr. De Nobele, the League's permanent representative at the Association Internationale des Bibliophiles and the President, regarding the invitation of the members of this Association to previews of book fairs. The Committee sustained the President's point-of-view that this was not a task for the League. The French President had brought forward the problem of enormously high bank charges in France of 27 Francs ( = 6$) for the cashing of foreign Cheques and he feared that under these circumstances his French colleagues would be obliged to cancel the 10% trade discount for all invoices less than 500 French Francs ( = ca $ 115). As this drastic measure would be clashing with article 8 of the League's Usages and Customs, the President underlined, and in general for all members, the necessity to pay invoices in conformity with article 4 of the Compendium: “The supplier must receive the full amount of his invoice, therefore all clearing and bank charges shall be charged wholly to the purchaser.” (Use postal giro or at least money orders!).
To stimulate the founding of National Associations of Antiquarian Booksellers in countries not represented in the League, the President had written to colleagues in Spain, Portugal and Israel, but so far without any reaction.
The problem of increasing postal rates for books and catalogues will probably be approached, thanks to the initiative of our President, in joint-action with the International Publishers' Association (Geneva) and the International Booksellers' Federation (Vienna), who have answered in favour.
Lastly the President thanked the various National Presidents and the Committee members for their cooperation during the past year.
4. Treasurer's Report.
The Treasurer presented the Statement of Cash Receipts and Disbursements from January 1st to August 31st of 1980 and the Budget for 1980-81.
The finances of the League being in such sound condition, the President in thanking the Treasurer, justly called him “a pillar of the League”
7. International Directory.
The new edition was presented by the editor Hans Bagger. The price has been fixed at $ 24.-, net $ 16.-.
10. Guide Lines for International Book Fairs.
This paper, which will become one of the publications of the League, had been brought together by our Past President. Mr. Stanley Crowe , who presented the first draft at Copenhagen last year. The Associations of Germany, Great Britain and Switzerland have in the meantime written valuable additions or proposals. Mr. Crowe presented a revised edition of the draft for discussion so that the final text might be prepared for being voted on at the coming Presidents' Meeting at Kyoto, 1981.
A discussion on point 4 of the General Principles reduced the expression “high quality” to the one word “quality” (voted with one voice against). Point 5 aroused several controversial voices, but finally was adopted in the presented form by the majority. Commentaries on the chapters of Organisation should be sent to the General Secretary. The deadline for alterations will be December 31st. 1980.
11. Proposal from the ABA.
The Proposal of the ABA based on the situation in Great Britain. where the auction houses Sotheby's and Christies (that deal with various material as well as books etc.) have grown to multinational firms with enormous publicity, helped by means, as the British Association suggested, of the recently introduced buyers' premium of 10%. Mr. Reiss (Germany) defined the different position of the Continental (German, Swiss, Dutch) auction houses, being antiquarian booksellers in the first place, but choosing also to sell by way of an auction sale. They also were annoyed by the aggressive methods of the big English multinational houses, but have their own means of defence.
13. Proposal from the Committee.
The proposal was discussed and postponed to the General Assembly to be voted on.
5. Subscriptions for 1981.
See the minutes of the General Assembly.
GENERAL ASSEMBLY, Monday September 29th, 2pm - 5 pm
The President opened the Meeting, which for the first time in the history of the League will benefit by a simultaneous translation into English, French, German and Japanese, and thanked the ABAA for their generous invitation to this Congress.
The Meeting observed a minute's silence in memory of the members who have died since the last meeting, the President mentioning especially Mr. Percy Muir, the first President of the ILAB, Mr. Heinz Heinemann, for all long time President of the Canadian Association, and Mr. R. Matsumura, President of the Japanese Association at the time of the Congress at Tokyo in 1973.
Nomination of Scrutineers.
Mr. F. Knuf and Mr. J. Maggs.
2. The Minutes of the Presidents' Meeting at Copenhagen, 1979.
The members were advised that these minutes, published in the Newsletter No. 32, had been approved by the Presidents. Nobody in the Assembly wanted to comment.
3a, President's Report see the minutes of the Presidents' Meeting.
3b, Secretary's report.
The General Secretary reported that nearly the whole edition of the Dictionary for the Antiquarian Booktrade is now sold. There is a continuous demand for this publication, that really needs improvement. If anybody knows a person, able and willing to undertake the task to work on a revised edition, of course helped by a group of antiquarian booksellers from different countries, please do contact the Committee.
4. Treasurer's Report see the minutes of the Presidents' Meeting.
6. Newsletter: Editor's report.
The new Editor of the Newsletter reported his experiences with printers and stated that he intends to publish, due to increasing costs, only one Number at the beginning of each year covering all events and minutes of meeting of the past year.
He is always eager for advertisements and above all contributions so as to make the Newsletter more interesting and not only for the trade - do help him with your contributions.
7. International Directory see the minutes of Committee-Meeting and Presidents' Meeting.
8. Bibliographical Prize.
The Secretary of the Prize, Dr. Frieder Kocher-Benzing reported that so far only 9 contributions have been received (last time there were 36 entries) and he asked the Assembly to give as much publicity for the competition as possible.
The President expressed the League's thanks to the Secretary. The Treasurer brought forward his suggestion, that was supported by the Committee, to establish a Foundation for the Bibliographical Prize out of the Funds of the League. He wanted to deposit a sum of about 75.000,- to 100.000,- dkr for a long term at the highest possible interest, which will cover the costs of the Prize. The Committee will have further discussions on this point.
9. Security and Confidential List.
The President of the ABAA reported on their successful cooperation with the FBI. All book-thefts were published and circulated widely. The ABAA would most willingly circulate information of other National Associations as well.
The Presidents were asked whether there is a working system in their Associations.
Beglium: a very simple system
Canada: telephone-connection between the antiquarian booksellers
Germany: nothing effective
Great Britain: very effective telephone-chain and circulated lists
Italy: effective telephone-chain
Japan: only higher value missing material is published
Netherlands: telephone-chain and circulated lists
10. Guide-Lines for International Book fairs.
The revised edition of these Guide-Lines, established by Mr. Stanley Crowe, had been sent to all Presidents. They were asked to discuss these in their Committees and send suggestions for further alterations to the General Secretary, deadline 31.12.1980. They will be passed at the Presidents' Meeting in 1981.
There followed a discussion on the necessity of more publicity for International Fairs and consequently for National Associations and for the ILAB.
11 . Proposal from the ABA.
The proposal “The expansion of some British based auction houses in recent years and their introduction of the buyer's premium, has led to an imbalance in the market which the League views with concern. Everything possible should be done to restore the balance that formerly existed between the trade and the auction houses” was read by the President of the British Association. Mr. R. Kilgarriff, Past President of the ABA and most actively engaged in this problem, elaborated on the proposal.
12. Proposals from the SLAM.
a) “To standardize preferential postage rates for catalogues and books”. No discussion. as the President of the League had taken an initiative already (see his report).
b) “The unhindered circulation of books for international exhibitions”. The President stated this to be a most desirable situation and every bookseller will do his best to make it a reality. The VADEMECUM is already one step.
13. Proposal from the Committee.
“To cancel article 29 of the Rules and to replace same by a new text, reading 'The League refunds League Committee Members their transport expenses on League business”. Mr. E. Morton seconded the proposal. In voting it was adopted unanimously.
5. Subscriptions for 1981.
The Treasurer proposed to have the rate raised only by 10% to meet inflation. The Congress at New York will cost the League about $ 7000, to be taken from surplus funds. Next year new subscription rates will be proposed. Save for one abstention the vote was unanimous.
14. Future Congresses and Meetings.
1981, end of September will be the Presidents' Meeting in Kyoto. The inviting President, Mr. M. Nitta stated that a group of 12 persons or more from Europe could travel less expensively.
1982, September: invitation by the French Association for a Congress and International Book fair at Paris (Fair perhaps in the Grand Palais).
1983, September: the Swedish President, Mrs. Wachtmeister offered an invitation for a Presidents' Meeting, followed by the annual Bookfair at Copenhagen.
1984: the British Association invited the League for a Congress and Bookfair.
As there was no other business, Mr. E. Morton took the initiative to thank the Japanese delegation that so many of their members travelled so far to take part in the Congress.
The President expressed his thanks to the interpreters and to the ABAA Congress Committee for the perfect organisation. and closed the Meeting.
COMMITTEE-MEETING, October 2nd, - 12 - 3 pm
Apologies: Mr. Hans Bagger.
Final discussion of the Committee at the end of the Congress. The next Meeting was fixed for the 28th of January 1981 at Stuttgart.
MINUTES OF THE COMMITTEE MEETING
Stuttgart, 28 January 1981
Present: The whole Committee, and temporarily Dr. F. Kocher-Benzing
Apologies: Mr. Menno Hertzberger, Mr. Einar Gronholt Pedersen and M.Fernand De Nobele.
The Minutes of the Committee Meetings at New York were approved.
The President gave his Report for October 1980 to January 1981. Mr. Dudley Massey, a Past President of the League, passed away in December 1980, as did also the former Swedish President Mr. G. Ronnell.
The Danish Association celebrated its Diamond Jubilee in November 1980.
The reports on the New York Congress by Dr. Pressler in the Borsenblatt and by Mr. Kilgarriff in the A.B.A. Newsletter were discussed.
No further progress had been made with the International Associations of Publishers and Booksellers regarding Postal Rates. As during the next few years, postal charges are being, or will be raised in all countries belonging to the Common Market by about 100% or more, this problem is very urgent. Mr. Lawson promised to contact Mr. Davis of the International Book Federation.
It has been learnt that antiquarian booksellers in Spain are not eager to form a National Association that could join the League, because it is not convenient for them to be organized.
An arrangement has been made between the ILAB Committee and the Association International des Bibliophiles, that the latter's List of Members be published in the League's Newsletter.
The Secretary reported on the sale of Dictionaries. It was decided to purchase another 100 copies of the Dictionary in sheets from the Japanese.
The Treasurer presented a Statement of Cash Receipts and Disbursements 1.9 - 31.12.1980, that shows a surplus of about dkr. 51.600.- not including the subscriptions for 1981 (the bills for those having only just been posted). A financial basis for the proposed Foundation for the Bibliographical Prize will be established when the amounts due have been paid. For the new edition of the Directory some advertisements have been placed and copies have been sent to be reviewed.
Newsletter. It is hoped the next issue will be ready in May 1981.
Security. Only the Presidents of the British and German Associations have answered repeated requests to report on their special methods of security. Mr. Baynton-Williams will now be asked to give his suggestions for a system so that the League might adopt a plan.
The Secretary of the Bibliographical Prize reported that some 18 to 20 entries had been received. Dr. Eric Dal of Copenhagen was elected unanimously as a member of the Jury, and the Vice-President, Mr. John Lawson. and Committee Member M. Francois Chamonal, will join the Jury.
Investigations as to where to house the bibliographies received as well as the Files of the League will be made by the President.
International Book Fair Guide Lines. The final version of the Guide lines will be prepared, to be approved at the Presidents' Meeting in Kyoto.
The President promised to write to Mr. Nitta requesting details of the forthcoming Presidents' Meeting in Kyoto.
Mr. William Salloch will come to the end of his second term in September. It was agreed that the Committee would seek a nomination from the A.B.A.A. The Treasurer, who agreed to stand for another term. will have to be re-elected in Kyoto.
The Committee arranged to meet again in London at the Europa Hotel at 9 a.m, on June 10th, 1981.
The editor of the 'Newsletter' , has kindly asked me to make a few comments on the League's financial position, which is shown in the statements printed here, covering the year 1980.
I am sure you will agree that the League's finances are sound, especially now that most of the amounts due per December 31, 1980 have been paid. By the end of 1980 the League's total assets amounted to U.S.$ 36,500.-, plus an unsold stock of the new directory, which we hope will be sold during the next two to three years, after which it is hoped to publish a new edition. The 1980 edition has been a success and has added a nice sum to the League's funds.
At General Assemblies and committee meetings the question has sometimes been raised whether it is reasonable for the League to collect a larger sum of money instead of simply keeping enough to pay for the running costs. The committee's point of view, however, is that it is of fundamental importance that the League should have funds. Otherwise it would be difficult, if not impossible, for the committee to act or take initiatives of any kind. It would, for example, be a risk to print the important International Directory, which links us all together, if we did not have a solid financial basis. The printing costs are considerable, and the printers are not offering the same long credit terms as they used to.
We are also looking into the possibility of publishing a revised edition of the popular but now rather outdated Dictionary. It demands a wide linguistic knowledge and a close acquaintance with our trade. Who can do it? The League does at least have the money to pay for the work and the printing of the book.
A question often discussed by the committee, and sometimes at the president's meetings and the General Assemblies, is which currency the League's funds should be in. For the treasurer, by far the easiest thing is to have the money in his own currency and to work with his local bank. We are therefore keeping most of the money in Denmark, even though the Danish krone is not one of the strongest currencies in Europe. Its weakness as a currency is compensated by an extremely high interest; so I would imagine that the final result is the same. In countries such as Germany and Switzerland they offer us no interest at all.
At the General Assembly in New York I mentioned that the committee had thought of the possibility of making the Bibliographical Prize self-supporting in future by buying Danish state bonds and thus let the interest pay for the prize and all the expenses involved. This foundation would claim a capital of $10,000,-, the interest on which would pay for the 'Prize Activities' and would have a good chance of meeting inflation, so that it would be possible later to adjust the prize according to present-day money value.
Hans Bagger, Treasurer
Copenhagen, April 21, 1981.