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2nd Committee Meeting, 7th Nov. 1948 | | 2nd Committee Meeting, 7th Nov. 1948

2nd Committee Meeting, 7th Nov. 1948

Published on 20 Feb. 2018



Hôtel de la Métropole, Geneva, Switzerland


Sunday 7th November 1948



President: Mr. W. S. KUNDlG (Switzerland)

Vice-President: MR. P. H. MUIR (Great Britain)

Treasurer: Mr. M. HERTZBERGER (Holland)

Members : Mr. A. POURSIN (France) and M. GRONHOLT PEDERSEN (Denmark)

Secretary: Mrs. HUGHES

M. KUNDlG opened the meeting by thanking the Vice-President, Mr. Muir, for the article he had written in The Clique, giving an account of the Copenhagen Conference. This article was most valuable propaganda, and had appeared in America as well as in England. He also thanked Mr. Gronholt Pedersen for sending all the newspaper cuttings concerning the Copenhagen Conference, all of which had been filed in the archives of the League.

(The official account of the Copenhagen Conference has been unavoidably delayed by the necessity of preparing it in both English and French. Some of the following Minutes must, therefore, appear obscure until that account is circulated.)



The first item on the agenda was a discussion of the minutes of the Copenhagen Conference, which had been compiled in English by Mr. Massey and Mr. Muir, and translated into French by Mrs. Hughes. Two copies of the French translation were given to M. Poursin, one to be transmitted to M. de Nobele.

Various delegates made suggestions for revising minor details of their own speeches in the Minutes, and, after general discussion, these revisions were adopted.

The Minutes of the Executive Committee's first meeting in Copenhagen on September 3rd, 1948, were then read, together with the resolutions passed, in English and French.

M. HERTZBERGER said that he feared that misunderstandings would arise, in the future, from the fact that By-Law n° 5 of the League said that: "An Executive Committee shall be formed ... " etc., and that it would be taken for granted that the Committee's members would always have to be taken from the countries mentioned. It was pointed out, however, that the words: "for the first term," obviated this possibility, and all agreed that the Committee had been elected as individuals and not as representatives of certain countries. It was also agreed to change "formed" to "elected," at the beginning of the paragraph, so that the origin of the Committee should be quite clear.

M. POURSIN brought up the question raised in N° 6, that the Committee should meet "once a year . . . " and asked that the words "at least" should be added. A general discussion followed as to whether it would not be better to re-elect each time a certain proportion of the Committee's members, in order to maintain a proper continuity from one session to another.

M. KUNDIG pointed out that no change could be made in these resolutions as set out in the draft Minutes, as they had been voted word for word by the General Assembly, and the Executive Committee was not empowered to modify them. He suggested, however, that the whole question of the Committee's re-election should be put on the Agenda of the next General Conference, when such questions could be settled as whether at any rate a proportion of the members should remain on for a second term of office, whether all the members could be elected for a second term, etc.

MR. MUIR suggested that paragraph 9 should be changed to: "That the secretarial duties shall be performed in the country of the President in office," so that it should not be thought that these duties involved a financial responsibility for the country of the President in office.

M. KUNDIG then asked that everyone should study the French and English texts, and send to him by post any modifications or additions they wished made. When the final text had been established, it would be published in English and in French: unfortunately, it was impossible to publish it in every language represented in the League, as the expense would be too great, but it was hoped that everyone would understand either French or English. Information would be obtained about relative costs of printing in different countries, and the report would be printed in the country where the price seemed to be the most reasonable.

M. KUNDIG then said that after the Copenhagen Conference he had received a letter from a Mr. Seenssen, in Oslo, asking him for information about the Conference. He asked Mr. Gronholt Pedersen if it was known what had been done with this information which he had sent. Other members had also been approached, and had also sent information. Mr. Gronholt Pedersen replied that he believed that Mr. Seenssen wished to publish some detailed news about the Conference in Norway.

M. POURSIN suggested that a Golden Book should be made of the Copenhagen Conference, and that the Danish Association should send to Mr. Kundig an English translation of all the articles which had appeared, so that they could be translated into French, and the Book could be kept in English and in French. Mr. Gronholt Pedersen said that it was possible to have all the relevant articles translated into English.



M. KUNDIG showed the members of the Committee two specimens of writing-paper of which he had had proofs made, and which was intended for the use of Committee members for their correspondence. Various corrections were made in names and addresses, and the proofs were returned to M. Kundig so that he might have the paper printed and circulated as soon as possible.

M. HERTZBERGER suggested that the A.B.A. should be asked to suppress the word "international" in their title, as soon as this writing paper was available. M. Kundig agreed that they could be asked, though Mr. Muir could not guarantee that they would accept.



MR. MUIR submitted to the Committee a draft emblem prepared by Mr. Reynolds Stone, a well-known English commercial artist. Further draft emblems were submitted by M. Poursin, but the Committee felt that none of them combined all the factors wanted. It was agreed that the initials of the League should appear in French as well as in English (though it would be preferable to give the full titles in the two languages, if they could be read clearly when reduced to a very small size), and that a globe, to indicate the League's international character, should be combined in the design if it were at all possible. M. Kundig suggested that each country should add to the emblem, when a final design had been established, the title of its Association in its own language, and stressed the importance of combining the ideas of Universality and Peace. The question was left open, and Mr. Muir and M. Poursin promised to obtain further designs from their respective artists, which would be circulated to members, and their decisions made know by correspondence.



M. KUNDIG then raised the question of the Yearbook. He asked whether it was intended to keep it entirely in the hands of the League, by excluding from it all booksellers who are not members of a national Association, or whether it was intended to incorporate it with the Yearbook which was being prepared commercially by a private publisher in England at the moment.

M. POURSIN and MR. MUIR read out the correspondence which had passed between them on this subject, in which M. Poursin stressed the importance of non-members of syndicates being excluded, and Mr. Muir pointed out the enormous expense to the League of such a publication on their own account, a commercial publisher having facilities for the printing of such a directory which were not possessed by the League.

M. GRONHOLT PEDERSEN asked how far the work had gone on this directory, as he had written to the firm in question, shortly after the Amsterdam Conference, to ask for information, and had never had a reply. The other members of the Committee agreed that they had never been approached for information by this publisher, and they feared that the publication would not be of very great use if it contained only names and addresses without specialities.

M. POURSIN pointed out that the detailing of specialities would be one of the most important and useful features of the Yearbook, and said that if such a book were published by the League, it need not in any way hinder the English publisher from preparing his directory, and that on the contrary the League's work would probably be of help to him.

MR. MUIR said that when he heard about this projected publication in England, he had naturally been interested in seeing that his Association was properly represented, and he was satisfied that the publisher was in possession of complete information about the A.B.A., because Mrs. Brown had worked closely with the firm in question for a considerable time, in order to see that they had all the information necessary. In his opinion, the cost of publishing such a Yearbook would be considerable, if undertaken by the League, and if a commercial publisher would agree to make the directory according to the Leagues wishes, it would probably be more economical.

M. POURSIN asked again whether it was intended to include the names of all booksellers, or only members of syndicates, as in the latter case it was impossible to put this work into the hands of the commercial publisher, because he could not be prevented from including names of booksellers non-members of syndicates.

M. HERTZBERGER stressed the importance of having a directory containing only names of members of national Associations: it would be a manifestation of the force of the League, and would only contain names of honourable booksellers. It would be circulated to librarians as well as to booksellers.

MR. MUIR said that he had promised the firm in question that he would tell them, on his return to England, of the upshot of the Committee's discussion about the directory. He had in no way committed the League, but he would like to consider the possibility of combining the directory of this private enterprise with that of the League. The many technical details to be dealt with could more conveniently be put into the hands of a publisher. A note could appear on the title-page indicating that the book was published for the International League of Antiquarian Booksellers, but it would be published at the risk and expense of the publisher.

M. POURSIN agreed that this might be feasible, if the publisher agreed to be treated simply as a printer to produce a book prepared by the League. Terms might be arranged with him by which he would not be prevented from publishing his own directory later on, giving names of all booksellers, and incorporating the information already published for the League.

M. HERTZBERGER raised the point that a commercial publisher would wish to make a profit on such a publication, and would, therefore, charge the League more for its production than it would cost if it were made at the League's own expense. Also, the League would be more or less morally obliged to put the next directory into the hands of the same publisher, although the cost of its production a second time would be very much less than the first if it were undertaken directly by the League.

MR. GR0NHOLT PEDERSEN pointed out also that the first edition of such a directory would be very costly, but that following editions would only need small modifications. It would probably be possible to sell at least a thousand copies, and if the cost were too great, part of it could be covered by advertisement space. Probably most Associations would be glad to pay for the opportunity of advertising in such a book, and it would therefore be possible to make a good margin of profit after the first edition, the cost of publishing having diminished.

M. HERTZBERGER pointed out that in the budget of the League a profit on the directory was counted on.

MR. MUIR said he considered that if the English publisher brought out a competitive publication before the League's Yearbook was ready, it would endanger the sale of the latter. M. Poursin, however, pointed out that if it were already announced that the League was publishing a Yearbook, with specialities, there would be no question of competition, as this would be so much more valuable.

M. HERTZBERGER suggested that it would be preferable for the League to try and publish the Yearbook itself, and not collaborate with a private enterprise, but that if it became apparent that there were too many difficulties, or costs were too high, it could be put into the hands of a commercial publisher.

M. POURSIN said that by then much time and money might have been wasted. It is essential to carry on the work from our side, as rapidly as possible, so as to draw up the lists of names and specialities to appear in the Yearbook. If the publisher were unable to obtain the particulars he wanted from the national associations his book could not appear before that of the League. The League could announce the publication of its Yearbook, and then approach the publisher, telling him that they had a Yearbook to be published, and asking him how much he would require for printing it. The publisher could he allowed to publish in the directory printed according to the League's instructions a notice saying that he was publishing another directory later with a full list of booksellers.

M. HERTZBERGER said that he considered that if the League kept the Yearbook in its own hands, it would be an incentive to booksellers to become members of the League, in order to appear in it. It would be impossible to oblige a publisher to print only according to the League's instructions, and omit his own advertisements, etc., unless he could be treated only as a printer and binder; unless he could, in fact, be used only for the technical side.

MR. MUIR said that it would sum up the deliberations if it were agreed that the League should publish the directory itself, reserving to itself the right to judge at the last moment what the best financial solution would be.

M. POURSIN urged that it should be recommended that it was essential that the syndicates should not give information to anyone else for a competitive directory, and when the work was ready, it could be seen what the financial possibilities were. Syndicates should be recommended also not to give any information to other organs of publicity before the publication of the directory.

M. KUNDlG raised the point of whether names of booksellers who were not members of their own national Association should be included in the directory, if they were members of another Association.

MR. MUIR said that if it were decided to exclude names of booksellers who were members of another Association than their own national one, he thought he was the only person who would be embarrassed by such a procedure, and that if such a resolution should be passed it would endanger the co-operation of the A.B.A.

M. KUNDlG suggested that the A.B.A. would agree to the names of members of their national Associations being listed first, followed by a subsidiary list of foreign members.

M . POURSIN pointed out that it would be difficult to exclude foreign members of national Associations in the case of nationals of countries with no syndicate of their own. Where a syndicate did exist, the booksellers in question should be asked to join their own national Association first, and the foreign one afterwards if they wished. If they should be refused, however, there seemed no reason why another national Association should substitute itself for their own, and accept them. He considered that all members should be admitted except those who had national Associations of which they were not members.

M. HERTZBERGER added that this point was connected with the point that foreign Associations should not accept members who are not members of their own Association, when such an Association exists.

MR. MUIR replied that his Committee's point of view was that the League was trying to interfere with their internal organisation, and that, if the matter were pushed too far, he feared that the A.B.A. would resign from the League. He asked what solution was proposed for the American booksellers, at present members of the A.B.A., if a national Association should be formed in America, and they did not wish to belong to it.

He said that his Committee was prepared, however, whenever a bookseller from another country applied to become a member of the A.B.A., to ask the country from which he came about his honesty. If there was nothing against him from the point of view of integrity, the A.B.A. would not refuse him.

M. POURSIN urged that the custom should be established amongst all national Associations of asking information from the syndicates concerned, and if the reply was that the bookseller in question was someone whom the syndicate did not wish to admit, the habit should be formed of yielding to this decision, or, in difficult cases, of submitting the question to the Executive Committee of the League, who could discuss it at their next meeting. If the bookseller had made no request for membership of his national Association, the custom could be established of asking him first if there were special reasons why he had not joined his own syndicate. If so, it could be pointed out to him that there were green difficulties in the way of his being admitted to another national Association.

After some discussion, the following resolution was passed unanimously:-

"We have unanimously resolved that for the purposes of the Yearbook, members of countries where a national Association exists, who do not belong to their Association, but are members of an Association in another country, shall be approached by the League, and informed that they cannot appear in the Yearbook unless they acquire membership of their own national Association."

M. HERTZBERGER asked whether, in the case of a member of several Associations, a list of all the different Associations to which he belonged should be mentioned in the Yearbook.

M. KUNDlG replied that this came into the category of technical details which would be dealt with by the compilers of the Yearbook.



M. HERTZBERGER said that he had not yet had time to have the dictionary typed out and put into proper order, but that he would send a draft of it to all the members of the Committee and ask them to complete it, as well as to the secretaries of the national Associations.

M. KUNDlG took this opportunity of saying that M. Hertzberger had not had time to finish the dictionary for a very sad reason, that he had lost his sister and brother-in-law in an aeroplane accident, and that all the members of the Committee would like to assure him of their deepest sympathy.

M. KUNDlG then asked that the German language should not be forgotten in this dictionary, and M. Hertzberger replied that he was preparing it in English, French, German and Dutch, but that he would have to ask help from the national Associations of the countries whose language he did not know.

M. GR0NHOLT PEDERSEN said that the Danish Association would give all the help they could with the Danish section, and that it was not necessary to have more than two languages, for the Scandinavians- Danish and Swedish-as the Norwegian language differed very little from the Danish, and the Finns spoke Swedish.

M. KUNDlG reminded M. Hertzberger that Spanish and Portuguese should be added, as there were possibilities of closer relations with Latin America than at present. The great difficulty would be the keyword. The important thing was to keep the dictionary as brief and as simple as possible. The equivalent terms in different languages must be easily referred to. For the clearest system of codification, he suggested that reference should also be made to the "Memento du Commis Libraire" of Lebouc.



M. KUNDlG said that he wished to find out whether there were syndicates in Austria and in Spain, and asked Mr. Grenholt Pedersen to whom he had sent the invitations in those countries for the Copenhagen Conference.

MR. GR0NHOLT PEDERSEN replied that there was some kind of Association in Austria, and several letters were exchanged with them, but that they had not succeeded in sending a representative to the Conference because of visa difficulties. They would try and find out, however, whether there was actually an Antiquarian Booksellers' Syndicate in Austria, and let M. Kundig know by letter.

M. KUNDIG said that he had written to addresses in Spain and Portugal, sent to him by the French Syndicate, but that he had received no answer at all from Spain. From Lisbon, however, he received a reply saying that the Portuguese Association would be very happy to become members of the League, and asking for details. M. Kundig suggested that they should be told that the League was willing to accept them, as there was no other syndicate in Portugal.

M. POURSIN pointed out, however, that if there were many other countries in the same case, the situation might well arise in which, at the next General Conference, the majority would be formed by modern booksellers, and he proposed that they should be asked to create a sub-section for antiquarian booksellers, and that that section only should be represented by authentic antiquarian booksellers.

M. KUNDIG said that he had also received a letter from J. S. Canner &, Co., of Boston, asking for membership of the League, and quoting American Associations of which they were members; but it was not clear whether these were antiquarian booksellers' associations or merely modern booksellers' associations. It was agreed by all the members that Canner's was a very good firm-they had all had dealings with it - and it was agreed to suggest their joining a syndicate already in existence, and do all in their power to help create an American Antiquarian Booksellers' Association.

MR. MUIR said that he had sent information about the A.B.A. to the Publishers' Weekly after the Amsterdam Conference, and a special article had been published in America concerning the Association, and urging the importance of forming an American Association, adding that it was hoped that they would join in international conventions as they occurred. After the Copenhagen Conference, Mr. Muir had written again, saying how surprised and sorry everyone had been that no American Association had yet been formed, and that any help possible would be given in forming one. He had received a message that efforts were being made in America to form an Association, and that in due course they would approach the Committee for full particulars of how to form an Association and join the League, etc.

M. KUNDIG suggested to Mr. Muir that he should write to his correspondent, Mr. S. Malkin, in America, asking him to do all in his power to create an American Association.

M. POURSIN suggested the writing of a circular letter, to be sent by all members of the Committee to their personal friends in America as an encouragement.

M. KUNDlG said he had received a letter from the firm of Britschgi, in Zurich, concerning the directory. (The letter was read aloud to the Committee.) He added that he had all the elements to reply to Britschgi, and that he would reply in the name of the Committee to his enquiries, but he had wanted to draw the Committee's attention to the letter, as it showed the interest that the directory had already aroused in many quarters. He had also met recently a bookseller from Germany, who was most eager to know under what conditions German booksellers could join the League. M. Kundig had told him that there could be no question of their joining as long as Germany for all practical purposes did not exist, but that it could be talked about when Germany ceased to be occupied.



M. KUNDlG said that he had received a letter from the "Annuaire des Organisations Internationales," asking for information about the League. This Yearbook was going to publish a list of all international organisations (but without addresses). M. Kundig had replied immediately, sending all information about the Organisation: the League will consequently be among the International Organisations mentioned in the Yearbook.

M. KUNDlG had also contacted M. Blondeel, of U.N.O., an old friend of his, who asked for a report of the Copenhagen Conference, and for all possible information about the League, and who said that he would arrange for an interview between M. Kundig and the Director. There seemed no doubt that U.N.O. would accept the League as the international authority on all questions concerning the antiquarian book trade.

MR. MUIR said that he, for his part, had contacted Mr. Carter, of the British Council (a Government-sponsored organisation for making British culture known in other countries), who was in charge of the librarian side of the British Council, and was, therefore, a valuable contact.

M. KUNDlG said that he had also had an interview with M. Henri Guillemin, Cultural Attache at the French Embassy in Berne, who was very interested in the Organisation, and said he would give it his complete support. M. Kundig had asked him whether he could arrange that the League should get 10 per cent on business done in antique books between Switzerland and France. It would, perhaps, be possible to make the same arrangement with other countries.

M. HERTZBERGER mentioned the difficulties encountered in trading with many countries, and suggested that Governments might be asked, whenever a new commercial treaty was concluded between countries, to include antique books in the import licences. He suggested that the League should draft a general letter, to all bodies concerned in the different countries, drawing to their attention the important cultural task the League has in buying and selling old books, and saying that the League would be happy if its representatives in each country, or the League itself, could be consulted on the particulars of this important matter.

M. HERTZBERGER added that he could approach immediately the right department of his Government, if he had several copies of this letter to present to them. Through personal contact it could be ensured, in all countries, that these letters were not just put aside, but were dealt with appropriately.

M. KUNDlG said that the writing of such a letter would be a very delicate matter, but that he would draft one, to be sent to the commercial attaches of the different Embassies. It must be found out exactly to whom the latter should be addressed in each country, to avoid its being thrown into the waste-paper basket!

M. HERTZBERGER said that there were often difficulties in paying for goods bought in other countries, but he considered that individual associations should not address their complaints direct to their government, but that the League, having received a complaint from an Association, should write to the authorities concerned.

It was agreed that the letter to the Commercial Attaches should be signed by M. Kundig, as President, and (as a second signature was required) by M. Poursin or M. Gronholt Pedersen, as "Secretary," the practice usually being to sign letters of such importance with two signatures, "President" and "Secretary." It seemed rather outside the usual convention to use for the second signature the title of "Vice-President" which was Mr. Muir's.



M. KUNDlG submitted to the Committee the only expense so far incurred by the League, which was the translation of the Minutes of the Copenhagen Conference, for which 375 francs had been paid to Mrs. Hughes. He said that it was therefore impossible, as decided at the Conference, to establish a budget at this stage.

M. KUNDlG then raised the question of members' travelling expenses: it was decided that these expenses should be calculated on the price of a return air ticket from the country of origin of each member to Geneva. These prices were ascertained and were as follows : -


Copenhagen-Geneva (return) 718 francs

London-Geneva (return)         468 francs

Paris-Geneva (retur               200 francs

Amsterdam-Geneva (return)  432 francs

Total                                   1818 francs


After discussion on the amount of the contribution due from each country, it was decided that the Treasurer (M. Hertzberger) should write to each Association and inform them that their contribution would be 225 francs - for the period from the inception of the League until the end of 1948. This would mean that England's and France's contributions would each be 450 francs. It was decided not to ask Finland to contribute anything, but that Norway should be asked to contribute what she could.

There being no further business, M. Kundig then brought the meeting to a close.


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