Poul Jan Poulsen, ILAB’s Treasurer and Committee Member for many many years, discovered a real treasure in his archives: a photograph taken in the Town Hall in Copenhagen in 1948. This was the year in which the League was officially founded. 92 booksellers attended the first ILAB Congress in Denmark which followed the Preliminary Conference held in Amsterdam in 1947. They elected the first ILAB President William S. Kundig as well as the first Committee with Percy H. Muir, Einar Grønholt Pedersen, Menno Hertzberger and André Poursin as members. Einar Grønholt Pedersen, who also was the President of the Danish Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association, held a noteworthy opening speech:
“The commodity we handle - the book - is, I daresay, about the most international thing on the world market. It is the support of the research worker and the scientist, the indispensable tool of the intellectual worker thirsting for knowledge. It satisfies the desires of all thinking and sensitive individuals. It is the inspiration behind new ideas, new deeds - and last, but not least, it fulfils a great mission in enlightening the masses. Our mission is to find the right book, preserve and finally convey it to wherever it is needed and can bring benefit or pleasure. A mission which, by its very nature, imposes upon us a responsibility which we must not neglect.”
From 1st to 5th September 1948 the delegates discussed the by-laws of the League, the tax laws of the different countries, problems with long delays in international payments, the necessity of an ILAB Directory and a plan to publish a dictionary of common terms used in the antiquarian book trade. The Farewell Supper on 5th September 1948 was celebrated with music from all participating countries, and some Tuborg beer.
The photograph was taken on 3rd September at the reception in the Town Hall where the ILAB booksellers were officially welcomed by the Lord Mayer of Copenhagen. It is covered with a sheet of paper on which every person on the picture is numbered. These numbers refer to a list with the names of the delegates. No 2, for example, is Einar Grønholt Pedersen. No 6 and 7 are Mr and Mrs Bagger. Hans Bagger later became Committee Member. No 13 on the picture is Erik Olsoni, the first and long-time president of the Finnish Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association (SAY). Fernand de Nobele, SLAM President for many years and no 14 on the photograph, served as ILAB President in the 1950s. His wife is placed next to the League’s first President and Vice-President William S. Kundig (no 19) and Percy H. Muir (no 27) and to the Belgian antiquarian bookseller F. Tulkens who also became a long-time member of the ILAB Committee. No 44 is Dudley Massey, ILAB President from 1966 to 1967 and Vice-President from 1961 to 1965. The Father of the League Menno Hertzberger stands in the last row, as no 59.
From 22nd to 30th September 2012 the ILAB booksellers will meet for their 40th Congress and their 24th International Book Fair in Switzerland. I am sure, another photograph (or lots of photographs) will be taken of the participants.