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On March 5, 2019, the International League of Antiquarian Booksellers (ILAB) held the symposium Who Owned This? Libraries and the Rare Book Trade Consider Issues Surrounding Provenance, Theft and Forgery at the renowned New York book collectors club, the Grolier Club, jointly organized with the Antiquarian Booksellers Association of America (ABAA).

Rare booksellers are faced with increasing demands from institutions to have strong provenance on materials they buy. Booksellers need to know how to deal with this and have a good understanding of what libraries need. The symposium brought together a range of experts and scholars from the antiquarian book trade and libraries, as well as  the fields of investigation, insurance, art law, and technology.

April 10, 2019 is the first International Provenance Research Day with more than 60 cultural institutions in Germany, Great Britain, Austria, the Netherlands, and Switzerland organizing large number of symposiums and workshops at museums, archives and libraries.

Coinciding with this important initiative, ILAB launches the videos of the New York Provenance Symposium.

As Sally Burdon, ILAB President said in her introduction on the day:

“The popular image of an old bookshop with a slightly eccentric bookseller selling books in a shop untidily crammed with books and a computer nowhere in sight, is not the modern reality. Antiquarian books, manuscripts, maps, prints etc. are constantly being traded across international borders. Because of this, identifying and keeping track of stolen items is ever more important and requires immediate response to prevent such items being on sold. The rules and regulations that govern this international marketplace are becoming ever more complex and difficult to keep up with for everyone involved from libraries, institutions, booksellers, and collectors... Hence the need for this symposium.

We must take steps. Today is one step along the way. There is more that needs to be and must be done. We need to protect these precious materials in public and private libraries and in the stock of antiquarian booksellers. Join us in this important fight!”

For more information about today’s International Provenance Research Day, please follow this link:


The International League of Antiquarian Booksellers (ILAB) is a global network for the rare book trade. ILAB, whose official languages are English and French, is a non-profit organization, with its legal location in London. ILAB represents twenty-two national rare book associations representing thirty-seven countries and around 1,800 individual affiliates. It strives to uphold and improve professional standards in the trade, to promote honorable conduct in business, and to contribute in various ways to a broader appreciation of the history and art of the book.


ABAA-member Jonathan A. Hill shares a cautionary tale about his experiences in the international auction world:



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