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The First ILAB Directory - “Geographic Repertory Répertoire Géographique 1951-1952”

The First ILAB Directory - “Geographic Repertory Répertoire Géographique 1951-1952”


Whenever I walk in front of the outside stalls of a second-hand bookshop, I invariably look at the books displayed, hoping to find … a treasure that the bookseller has overlooked.

And such was my luck the other day; I couldn’t believe my eyes when I found and bought for a single Euro a good copy of the first ever ILAB Directory of its members, published in 1951. Even though ILAB had been founded in 1948, the publication of its first directory was delayed to include the American affiliates, as the ABAA joined ILAB in 1950.

Prepared by founding members Messrs. Percy Muir and André Poursin, 1,500 copies were printed, of which probably not many have survived. I had never seen one, none of the dealers I know – and I know a few – have it in their archives, and I was therefore very thrilled to be the proud owner of one.  The brochure of 86 pages has a plain cover with the ILAB logo, and the title “Geographic Repertory Répertoire Géographique 1951-1952”. There is no introduction, no inside title page, and at the end, no mention of printer.

ILAB counted then 12 member National Associations (VAO in Austria, SBLAM in Belgium, ABF in Denmark, SAY in Finland, SLAM in France, ABA in Great Britain, CLA in Italy, NVvA in the Netherlands, NABF in Norway, SVAF in Sweden, SLACES in Switzerland and the ABAA in the USA) and 1,114 affiliated booksellers in 27 countries (Algeria, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China – in Shanghai, Czecho-Slovakia, Denmark, Egypt, Finland, France, Great Britain, Greece, India, Italy, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, South Africa, Spain, Switzerland, Tunisia, & USA).

The Associations with the greater number of affiliates were the SLAM (France) with 341 members, the ABA (Great Britain) with 255 members, the ABAA (USA) with 225 members. The other Associations had each less than 60 members : ABF (Denmark) 52 members; SLACES (Switzerland) 44 members; NVvA (Netherlands) 42 members; VAO (Austria) 39 members; SBLAM (Belgium) 35 members; CLA (Italy) 33 members; SVAF (Sweden) 26 members; SAY (Finland) 5 members; NABF (Norway) 5 members. Nowadays, it is the ABAA that is the largest Association with nearly 450 affiliates.

What is most striking is the fact that only 89 businesses are still in activity today, whether managed by family descendants or not: 1 in Australia, 7 in Austria, 30 in France, 12 in Great-Britain, 8 in Italy, 7 in the Netherlands, 3 in Norway, 1 in South Africa, 1 in Argentina, 5 in Sweden, 4 in Switzerland and 7 in the USA. 

One can conclude that our trade has seldom been hereditary. Famous firms such as Goldschmidt in London or Olschki in Florence have simply disappeared.

Businesses come and go, and yet our trade still thrives.

ILAB Directory 2013/2014

The new ILAB Directory will be presented at the beginning of 2013. It will be published in house in a new and better design. If you wish to advertize in the Directory, please contact the ILAB Executive Secretary.

Published since 14 May 2012