Tuesday, Sep 13, 2022
A congregation, a gathering, a multiplicity, a grouping, a plurality of…
...antiquarian booksellers, from all over the world, whose national associations each belong to ILAB – the International League of Antiquarian Booksellers.
A conference, in which we visit museums and private collections. We eat and we drink. We renew acquaintances and make new friends. We share with each other our collecting interests, specialities, and passions – what makes our bibliophilic hearts beat when we see….whatever bibliophilic treasure we each love.
Held every two years, this year’s Congress was in Oxford…the “city of dreaming spires”, upon whose streets Tolkien, Lewis, and Williams all walked. Home of the Bodleian and great libraries in so many of the individual colleges such as Merton and All Souls. In addition we were graciously welcomed into the homes of two prominent private collectors whose collections took our collective breaths away (yes, I did just use the same word thrice in one sentence).
It is impossible for me to enumerate all of the magnificent books we saw during our five days in Oxford. However, one stood out to me as being entirely unique….a production of the great Arts and Crafts master, William Morris. The picture you see to the left is his very first attempt at calligraphy….an original, never printed. Seeing this incredibly special item, live and in person, left me…stunned. And thankful to the collector who opened his library to our group.
This, to me, is one of the great joys of working with collectable books. Seeing unique items one never even dreamed existed, is a joy beyond words.