ILAB - History of the International League of Antiquarian Booksellers
Expanding to the Global Market
During the 30th ILAB Congress and the 13th International Book Fair in Tokyo 1990 the Antiquarian Booksellers' Association of Korea (ABAK) were elected as the 18th ILAB member. Two years later Czech booksellers formed the Svaz Antikváru CR (SACR which joined the League during the 32nd ILAB Congress in Amsterdam in 1994. The Spanish Asociación Ibéria de Librerias Anticuarias (AILA), founded in 1990, also joined ILAB.
Anton Gerits and Alain Nicolas
The 1990s were the decade of two ILAB Presidents: Anton Gerits, the well-known specialist of books on Social Sciences and Humanities and former managing director of Nijhoff’s antiquarian department, had been a Committee Member since 1985. He edited the ILAB Newsletter from 1985 to 1996, was General Secretary from 1985 to 1991, Vice-President from 1988 to 1991, and finally became ILAB President in 1991. Alain Nicolas succeeded him as ILAB President in 1996. The French specialist in autographs and rare manuscripts joined the ILAB Committee in 1990 and was elected as Vice-President in 1992. Anton Gerits and Alain Nicolas did much to promote the ideas of the League, their names are deeply connected with ILAB’s increasing global and cultural influence. In gratitude for this both were made ILAB Presidents of Honour in 1998 and in 2002 respectively.
Two other famous antiquarian booksellers joined ILAB’s honour list during the 32nd Congress and 15th International Book Fair in Amsterdam 1994: Anthony Rota, whose influence in the growth of the League cannot be measured, and Mitsuo Nitta, one of the great personalities of the Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association of Japan (ABAJ). It was Mitsuo Nitta who brought the Japanese booksellers into the League, who served as an ILAB Committee member from 1973 to 1975 and, again, from 1977 to 1979, who organized the remarkable ILAB events in Tokyo and became more and more involved in the award of the ILAB Breslauer Prize for Bibliography.
The presidents met in Copenhagen 1991, Los Angeles 1993, Brussels 1995, Sydney 1997, and Florence 1999. More than 420 ILAB affiliates enjoyed a wonderful week by the River Rhine during the 31st ILAB Congress and the 14th International Antiquarian Book Fair in Cologne 1992. One of many high spots was the the visit of the Gutenberg Museum where the delegates admired a copy of the Gutenberg Bible. A Congress Friendship Programme was conceived by the German Association to encourage young ILAB booksellers to come to Cologne. The idea was that every ILAB affiliate from everywhere in the world could afford to attend such an event, with the help of their colleagues. In 1996 the ILAB booksellers flew to the USA for the 33rd Congress in Los Angeles and the 16th International Fair in San Francisco. Two years later 243 antiquarians from all over the world participated in the 34th Congress held in Vienna in 1998, followed by the 17th International Antiquarian Book Fair in Vienna’s “Hofburg” with no less than 111 antiquarian booksellers from 16 countries. It was, by the way, the first ILAB Congress and Book Fair with a website.