Overview of the bookbindings collection

  • Contents: unique handmade bookbindings, mainly from Europe, from the 14th century onwards.
  • Size: about 13.000 bindings, and other items, such as loose book covers, designs, boxes and an extensive collection of stamps.
  • Access: much of this collection can be found in the KB catalogue. The books can be viewed in the Special Collections reading room, but we do not lend them out.

About the KB collection of bookbindings

The KB has more than 13.000 different bookbindings: the covers that hold together and protect the pages of a book. Most of them come from Europe and are handmade. Together, they provide an impression of the history of hand-bound books from the 14th century to the present day. The bookbindings, made by binders, provide information on stylistic development and materials used, as well as on patrons, donors and owners. The KB also has the design sketches and material samples of many modern bindings in its collection.

  • Bookbinding by Marja Wilgenkamp, made using a 3D printer.

  • 22 prize books, awarded for special achievements in school, to Marie van Reijzen circa 1860.

History of the collection

Many of the Dutch bookbindings held by the KB come from the collections of the 18th-century stadtholders William IV and William V. They often received the bookbindings as gifts from authors or publishers. The bookbindings from the period 1810-1850, which are mainly Dutch, Belgian and French, were donated to the KB by Kings William I, William II and William III.

A key component is the extensive collection of auctioneer Anton W.M. Mensing, which the KB purchased in 1909. The collection comprises more than 500 items and includes important examples of binding styles from the Netherlands and abroad. The collection also includes a number of valuable loose book locks, corner pieces, etc., which were once mounted on bookbindings.

The KB still commissions bindings from modern bookbinders itself as a result of which the developments remain visible in the collection.

Accessibility of the collection

The bookbindings listed in the KB catalogue are available for consultation in the Special Collections reading room. Some items may only be viewed under supervision. Het Geheugen includes 1.100 photos of bookbindings from the KB collection.

Documentation for interested parties

A reference library is located in the Special Collections reading room. The reference works are freely accessible and searchable in the KB catalogue.

The KB decided to close its bookbinding collection from May 2022. Since then, a bookbinding curator is no longer available, and we only make targeted purchases in the area of bookbinding. 



  • Storm van Leeuwen, J. 75 jaar Boekbindkunst in Nederland. Organisatie van Fabrikanten van Grafische Eindprodukten, 1984.
  • Storm van Leeuwen, J. De Achttiende-eeuwse Haagse boekband in de Koninklijke Bibliotheek en het Museum Meermanno-Westreenianum. Koninklijke Bibliotheek, 1976.
  • Storm van Leeuwen, J. De meest opmerkelijke boekbanden uit eigen bezit. Koninklijke Bibliotheek, 1983.
  • Storm van Leeuwen, J. Dutch Decorated Bookbinding in the Eighteenth Century. Hes & De Graaf Publishers, 2006.
  • Storm van Leeuwen, J. Vorstelijke boekbanden uit de Koninklijke Bibliotheek. Rijksmuseum Meermanno-Westreenianum/Museum van het Boek, 1978.