The 15th ILAB Breslauer Prize for Bibliography has been awarded to three outstanding bibliographies. The jury considered and discussed 52 works on the history of books, book production and libraries. The new endowment of the ILAB Bibliography Prize, mostly realized from a grant by the B.H. Breslauer Foundation of New York, has enabled the jury to award two first prizes of $10,000 each to Lotte Hellinga and Jan Storm van Leeuwen and a second prize of $5,000 to Friedrich C. Heller.
1st Prize - Lotte Hellinga
Catalogue of Books printed in the XVth Century now in the British Library, BMC Part XI, England (Hes & De Graaf 2007)
It is no exaggeration to say that the bibliographical world has been looking forward to the publication of this volume since 1908 when Part I - Germany came out, at that time printed by order of the Trustees of the British Museum. One hundred years is a long time, but for the present generation of bibliographers, literary students, historians and bibliophiles, it has been worth the wait, because the descriptive and historical detail and bibliographical analysis that have gone into its compilation far exceed the original model. The title hardly does justice to the contents of the volume, which apart from describing in admirable detail 323 copies of 221 editions in the British Library (out of a total of 395 known editions) takes account of the entire extant production of the incunable presses in England and constitutes a veritable history of English publishing in the last quarter of the 15th century. The work not only contains much analysis and observation of great learning, but in many places and by example points the user to methodology that is absent in most other incunable studies and catalogues. It will be clear that many distinguished hands contributed to the making of this monumental "catalogue", but the principal and general editor, as well as the largest contributor, is Dr. Lotte Hellinga, whose scholarship, experience and stamina developed the project, bringing it to a highly successful conclusion after thirty years of frequently interrupted work.
2nd Prize - Friedrich C. Heller
Die bunte Welt. Handbuch zum künstlerisch illustrierten Kinderbuch in Wien 1890-1938 (Christian Brandstätter 2008)
The study of historical children's books has traditionally been strong in the German-speaking countries. Bibliographers and literary historians have contributed much in this field, while book collectors have played a crucial role in the appreciation and preservation of illustrated children's books, which have a notoriously poor survival rate. Professor Heller combines the passionate search of the collector and the meticulous research of the scholar. His comprehensive monograph on the flowering of illustrated children's book production in fin-de-siècle Vienna until the suffocating impact of the Anschluss is a masterpiece of bibliographical, historical and art-historical description and itself a fine piece of modern book design.
1st Prize - Jan Storm van Leeuwen
Dutch Decorated Bookbinding in the Eighteenth Century (Hes & De Graaf 2006)
When Dr. Storm van Leeuwen's monograph, De achttiende-eeuwse Haagse boekband in de Koninklijke Bibliotheek en het Rijksmuseum Meermanno-Westreenianum, appeared in 1976, its reception was eagerly welcomed. Here was a new work on historical bookbindings by a young, accomplished scholar. It was natural to hope for more. Now thirty years later we truly have the work of a life-time, four monumental volumes on 18th-century decorated bookbindings from all cities and towns in the Netherlands where the art was practised. Following an extensive general introduction on the organization of Dutch 18th-century publishing, book selling and binding, discussions of luxury bookbinding and reproductions of rubbings of finishing tools, rolls and armorial blocks, are arranged by province, city, binder, and date. The study of bookbinding must be inextricably linked with the analysis of markets, the identification of patrons and dedicatees, sponsors and beneficiaries of gifts, givers and recipients of school prizes, as well as contemporary and later collectors. None escapes the attention of the author. 3200 surviving bindings are catalogued or listed in varying detail. Dr. Storm van Leeuwen's comprehensive work on the 18th century in essentially two publications, three decades apart, is a huge accomplishment.
Hes & De Graaf - Oak Knoll Press
The jury is pleased to make special mention of two publishers, Hes & De Graaf and Oak Knoll Press; over decades now, they have published and distributed numerous important works of bibliography that require considerable investment without certain return.
It is encouraging that, at a time when works of reference are increasingly posted online instead of printed on paper, not only the three prize winners, but the great majority of the submitted entries as well, have been published in book form and prove the enduring efficiency and appeal of the codex. The average standard of the entries was remarkably high and for several works it was painful to have to deprive them of the recognition that goes with a prize, and that they richly deserve. At the same time, the jury was quite unanimous in its opinions and there can be little doubt that the books to which the prizes were awarded are exceptional, perhaps even in a class of their own. Only after the winners were selected - three very different works on widely differing subjects - was it found that they share the merit of not only contributing to bibliography, but also to "the history of the book" and that of book reception. This may sound like following fashion, but rather demonstrates that rigorous bibliography inevitably leads to the practice of history.
Mitsuo Nitta (Chair)
Arnoud Gerits (Secretary)
Poul Jan Poulsen (ILAB Treasurer)
Jean-Marc Chatelain (Bibliothèque Nationale de France)
David Adams (Manchester University)
Felix de Marez Oyens (B.H. Breslauer Foundation)
More information on www.ILAB.org. Join us on Facebook and Twitter!