The Danish Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association or Den Danske Antikvarboghandlerforening (ABF) is one of the most traditional rare booksellers’ associations. It is the oldest league of antiquarian booksellers in Scandinavia as well as one of the oldest of its kind in the world, only preceded by the English ABA, founded in 1906, and the French SLAM, established in 1914. The ABF belongs to the five founding nations of the ILAB together with France, Great-Britain, Sweden and The Netherlands. It was established in 1920, and had 27 members before the first year was gone past.
December 16th, 1920, was a turning-point in the history of Danish antiquarian book trade. Since the middle of the 19th century rare bookselling had grown considerably, and had become a fairly large business with a great deal of buying and selling. The renewal of the second-hand- and pawnbroker-law with strict regulations to register every single book that was bought (which was simply impossible), would mean the end of the antiquarian book trade. To prevent the worst Carl Frederiksen, Martin Jarler and A.L.E.V. Ørnø summoned a meeting – and on this meeting the Danish Antiquarian Bookseller’s Association was founded. Martin Jarler was elected the first president. Carl Frederiksen negotiated with the Minister of Justice, Svenning Rytter, and it was decided not to include the crucial paragraph in the law.
27 years later, the Dane E. Grønholt Pedersen was one of the founders of the ILAB, which was formally incorporated on the occasion of the 1st ILAB Congress in Copenhagen in 1948. Another member of the Danish association, Hans Bagger, was ILAB President from 1985 to 1988. ABF Past President Poul Jan Poulsen has been the League's Treasurer since 1991. Furthermore, he is a member of the Committee of the ILAB Breslauer Prize for Bibliography. There were several congresses, meetings and fairs in Scandinavia: The 20th ILAB Congress was held in Copenhagen in 1969. The ILAB Presidents were welcomed by the ABF in the Danish capital to their annual meetings in 1979 and 1991. The year 2002 finally saw a very special event: The ABF arranged the 36th ILAB Congress and the 19th International Antiquarian Book Fair in cooperation with the other Nordic Associations.
There are some cooperative projects of the Antiquarian Booksellers’ Associations of Denmark Sweden, Norway and Finland, as the Scandinavian Antiquarian Book Fair or www.antikvariat.net, an internet database for all Scandinavian ILAB affiliates. Initiated in October 1998, it nowadays has 97 participants and over 1.572.000 titles.
Today, 31 Danish dealers represent the ABF with Maria Girsel as President. The aim of the association is to attain an antiquarian book trade of high quality, high professional standards, to improve professional and technical knowledge, to represent the dealers in their contacts with the Government and other authorities, and to support the legitimate interests of its members. ABF membership is a guarantee for quality: Dealing with a member of the association assures the customers that they will be treated correctly and professionally when buying or selling. The booksellers are skilled, with a good and thorough knowledge of books and prices. They must have had more than three years of full-time employment within the trade, before they are allowed to become a member. At least one colleague has to prove these qualifications, before the applicant is officially admitted to the ABF by the Committee.
Term of office
Maria Girsel, President
Christian Kaaber, Vice-President
Jens Pilegaard, Treasurer
Christian Westergaard, Committee Member
Per Laursen, Committee Member
The Scandinavian Antiquarian Book Fair alternates between the Scandinavian capitals.