Hotel Elephant : Weimar

The Approach to Weimar


The safari takes on an international dimension. A slightly complex journey, but I reach Weimar (without undue incident) for a meeting of the presidents of the International League of Antiquarian Booksellers (ILAB). Quite an occasion, with booksellers from at least fifteen different countries (and representing many more) – from Australia, Japan, Canada and the USA to Denmark and Hungary – assembling to talk our way through the problems and complexities of the international trade.

The Hotel Elephant

The Hotel Elephant

A welcoming dinner in the famous old hostelry on the market square followed by a day of sight-seeing. All about Goethe and Schiller around here. We learn as much about the former as we are comfortable with, tour his house, view his study, his pictures, his busts, his furniture, his bed, his self-designed cabinets, his plates, his medals, his … whatever. The threat of even more Goethe in the afternoon inclines me to slip away quietly to the Bauhaus Museum – small but perfectly formed. After a cup of coffee in the sunlit square with ILAB President, Arnoud Gerits, we rejoin the main party for a tour of the Anna Amalia Library

Bibliothek Anna Amalia

Bibliothek Anna Amalia

– a rococo miracle of elegance and light, now lovingly restored after the appalling fire. The booksellers fascinated by the advanced restoration techniques being used on the damaged books. And on to dinner at Zum Weissen Schwan, a favourite of Goethe himself.

On Saturday we start to earn our keep. A day-long meeting of the presidents, with the ILAB Committee and its tireless staff.  Here’s not the place for a full report, but we discussed, among many other things, the circuit of international bookfairs, the major upcoming events in Switzerland (2012) and France (2014), the sharing of new ideas to promote our activities, the preparation of an international guide to book-collecting in its various forms, the ever-expanding ILAB website, the international directory of members, and the wider geographical spread of associated booksellers around the world.

All in all, a highly congenial and really rather impressive example of international co-operation. New friendships and better communications forged. We in the United Kingdom possibly tend to regard ILAB and all its works as a little remote from the everyday experiences of our members, but that, as Adam Bosze of the Magyar Antikváriusok Egyesülete suggested to me, is because we are a large association with a strong internal and external English-language market. For his members in Hungary, membership of the League is a vital outlet to the international stage. Let us not underestimate that.

The Market Square in Weimar

The Market Square in Weimar

About Laurence Worms - Ash Rare Books

Laurence Worms has owned and run Ash Rare Books since 1971. He represented the antiquarian book trade on the (British) National Book Committee from 1993 to 2002 and has been six times an elected member of the Council of the Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association. He was largely responsible for drafting the Association’s Code of Good Practice first introduced in 1997 (and its recent update), served as Honorary Secretary of the Association from 1998 to 2001 and as President from 2011 to 2013. He is a former member of the Council of the Bibliographical Society and continues to serve on the Council of the London Topographical Society. He writes and lectures on various aspects of the history of the book and map trades, and has lectured at the universities of Cambridge, London, Reading and Sheffield, as well as at the Bibliographical Society, the Royal Geographical Society, the Warburg Institute, the National Library of Scotland and at Gresham College and Stationers' Hall. Published work includes the compilation of fourteen ‘lives’ for the “Oxford Dictionary of National Biography”, a number of articles for “The Oxford Companion to the Book” and the chapter on early English maps and atlases for the fourth volume of “The Cambridge History of the Book in Britain”. Essays on the British map trade are also appearing in “The History of Cartography” published by the University of Chicago Press. His long-awaited “British Map Engravers”, co-written with Ashley Baynton-Williams, was published to critical acclaim in 2011. He also contributed the numerous biographical notes to Peter Barber’s hugely successful “London : A History in Maps”, co-published by the British Library and the London Topographical Society in 2012.
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2 Responses to Hotel Elephant : Weimar

  1. Not bad at all, Laurence, your first report about the Onion Queen and the “Elephant”! I look forward to receiving more detailed ones!
    All the best,
    Norbert Donhofer – Austria


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