It was the former president of the Nederlandsche Vereeniging van Antiquaren (NVvA) Menno Hertzberger who conceived the idea of forming an international organisation of antiquarian booksellers with the aim of establishing international peace through cultural exchange and open markets. A Preliminary Conference was held in 1947 in Amsterdam with representatives from Denmark, France, Great-Britain, Sweden and The Netherlands, before the League was officially founded in 1948.
The NVvA itself was established in 1935 with the object of promoting reliability in the trade of old books and prints. Nowadays it counts 77 members, president is Frank Rutten.
The connections between the Dutch rare book dealers and the International League of Antiquarian Booksellers have been strong from the beginning:
1947 – Preliminary meeting in Amsterdam, the idea of ILAB was born
1960 – 13th ILAB Congress in Scheveningen
1965 – The First International Antiquarian Book Fair, organized by the League, took place in Amsterdam
1968 – Bibliophiles and booksellers, again joined in Amsterdam for the 3rd International Antiquarian Book Fair
1975 – The NVVA welcomed the ILAB affiliates to the 23rd ILAB Congress and 6th International Antiquarian Book Fair
1978-1981 – Bob de Graaf was ILAB President, now ILAB President of Honour
1982 – The Presidents of the ILAB members met in Amsterdam for their annual meeting
1991-1996 – Anton Gerits was ILAB President, later he was elected ILAB Member of Honour
1994 – The 32nd ILAB Congress and the 15th International Antiquarian Book Fair were much appreciated by visitors from all over the world
Arnoud Gerits is Secretary of the ILAB Breslauer Prize for Bibliography. A privilege and a pleasure, as Gerits points out: “Bibliography is one of the most vital aspects of our profession, and the pleasure of discussing these books is a temptation difficult to resist.” From 2010 to 2012 he also served as ILAB President.
As part of the international network of antiquarian booksellers the NVvA members constitute the best contacts for collectors of old books and prints. From the very start applicants had to comply with stringent regulations, the purpose of which is to give customers guarantees of quality. According the ILAB code of ethics the NVvA dealers guarantee the authenticity and completeness of their offers, with the right to return any goods for defects not mentioned and total repayment.
Dutch booksellers represent would-be purchasers at auctions where, through their expertise and relations, they can avoid difficulties and frustration which a private purchaser may encounter. Furthermore, they are of assistance in tracing books or prints considered difficult to find. Some have a special search services, by means of which the customer gains access to stocks spread all over the world.
For 30 years the Nederlandsche Vereeniging van Antiquaren (NVvA) has been organizing an annual book fair in Amsterdam, well known both to foreign exhibitors and customers.
Gert Jan Bestebreurtje
Frank Rutten – Immediate Past President
Peter Everaers – Secretary
Simon Blok – Treasurer
>>> Edgar Franco
>>> Simon Emmering
>>> 4th Joint Catalogue, published in October 2009
>>> Nop Maas and F. W. Kuyper, Offeren aan Mercurius and Minerva. Nederlandsche Vereeniging van antiquaren 1935-1995. De Buitenkant 1995 . (A review by Ewoud Sanders’ article “Vergaarders van cultuurgoed” on NRC boeken)
>>> Anton Gerits, Books, Friends, and Bibliophilia. Reminiscences of an Antiquarian Bookseller. Oak Knoll Press 2004. A unique autobiography and a well-written look behind the scenes of Europe's antiquarian book trade from 1950 to the present
Menno Hertzberger, Boeken, vel boeken - en mensen. Herinneringen aan Internationaal Antiquariaat Menno Hertzberger 1920-1970. Bezorg door Nico Kool. Vantilt 2008