A message from the ANZAAB President,
Jonathan Burdon AM
In February this year the International League of Antiquarian Booksellers (ILAB) held their biennial Congress in Pasadena, USA. This very successful three day event attracted a large gathering of antiquarian booksellers from around the world. It was preceded by an ILAB Committee meeting and, separately, by a meeting of ILAB’s national Presidents. I attended the latter meeting representing ANZAAB and it was a good opportunity to hear of the issues confronting other national bodies and to collectively advise the ILAB Committee on matters of international importance.
It was lovely to see a large Australian contingent attending the Congress, particularly as ANZAAB’s Sally Burdon, of Asia Bookroom in Canberra, was elected ILAB President. Her acceptance speech as ILAB President at the Congress’s Gala Dinner was acclaimed by all. In the short time since her election, she has shown outstanding leadership as several difficult international issues, potentially adversely affecting the antiquarian book trade, have arisen. It is also important to mention, in relation to the Congress, that Dawn Albinger, of Archives Fine Books, Brisbane, attended as one of the four international young antiquarian booksellers awarded an ABAA Woodburn Foundation Scholarship to support attendance at the Congress. Dawn’s wonderful report is included in this edition of our newsletter and is a ‘must read’.
Dawn reviews the program in full, but I would like to add that I was particularly impressed by the ‘Reverse Book Fair’ staged by specialist librarians at The Huntington Library, where they showed us (not for purchase!) many of their treasures—fascinating from the historical, academic and collectible points of view. It was also wonderful to view a Gutenberg Bible and a first edition of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales. I had seen them both in past years but it was an enormous thrill to see them again and only twenty centimetres away (through the glass!). I also enjoyed the Petersen Motor Museum where the 70th Anniversary of Porsche was being celebrated with a special collection of Porsches—for car buffs this was really special. The Congress was very well organised, everything was thought of in advance, and no-one was left behind at the end of the numerous visits. It was a credit to the organising team at the ABAA.
The 43rd ILAB Congress - A report by Dawn Albinger, Archives Rare Books
Congratulations to Jen and Brad Johnson of Johnson Rare Books and Archives for curating a fascinating itinerary and for the detailed and thoughtful organisation of this four day event. I’m aware that a couple of things didn’t go quite to plan, but on the whole things went rather swimmingly and, being new to the ILAB Congress experience, I had my mind seriously blown each day. ...
... Overall the experience of attending the 43rd ILAB Congress was enriching beyond measure. I am convinced that the role of the rare book dealer is as important as it ever was in helping private collectors and public institutions build collections that foster independent thought and contribute to our understanding of human progress. I continue to be in awe of rare book and specialist collection librarians. I know that all I do not know could fill an ocean of books, but I am comfortable with that because learning anything in this profession is a lifelong endeavour. More importantly what I do not know may well fall within the expertise of a colleague and all I need do is reach out to find answers to my questions and the questions posed by my customers. However I am not complacent and in my opinion there is much work to be done to foster young collectors at home and abroad. In the end I have come home with a couple of modest purchases, a head full of ideas and plans, and a new passion for William Blake (John Windle’s catalogue has not been far from my hands for the past few weeks). Not as hung-over as planned, but definitely intoxicated with new knowledge, new relationships, and new possibilities. The 44th ILAB Congress will be held in Amsterdam in 2020 and is optimistically in my diary. If you are a rare book dealer I hope to see you there. If you are a collector perhaps we will meet at the Amsterdam International Antiquarian Book and Map Fair that will open as the Congress concludes. As Frank Rutten delighted in telling us, all we have to remember is “44/2020”. See you there!
SAVE THE DATE! Melbourne Rare Book Week from 29 June - 8 July 2018
The 2018 Melbourne Rare Book Week program will be officially launched by The Hon. Heidi Victoria MP, Shadow Minister for Arts & Culture, Tourism & Major Events, and Consumer Affairs, on Monday 21 May and will be available from that date online at www.rarebookweek.com.
The 2018 partners joining ANZAAB to present this year’s program are:
Book Collectors’ Society of Australia (Vic.)
The C. J. La Trobe Society
Douglas Stewart Fine Books
Ephemera Society of Victoria
Genealogical Society of Victoria
Hince on Wine
The Law Library of Victoria
The Melbourne Athenaeum Library
Melbourne Cricket Club Library
Melbourne Law School
Melbourne Library Service
Monash Public Library Service
Monash University Library
National Gallery of Victoria
Old Treasury Building
Parliament of Victoria Library
Private Libraries Association
PMI Victorian History Library
Royal Historical Society of Victoria
RMIT Design Archives
Royal United Services Institute of Victoria
State Library Victoria
University of Melbourne Library
Together, they are presenting over 40 free events, including behind the scenes visits to libraries, exhibitions, curators’ floor talks, lectures, talks and panel discussions on book collecting, artists’ books, the music of war, the mediaeval art of dying, Sappho of Lesbos and representations of Women's Sexuality, the Fanfrolico Press and its collectors, preservation of photographs and paper-based items, cook books, William Blake, rare book appraisals, and theft from collecting institutions.