Size: The bookbindings collection consists of ca. 10,000 hand-bound books. More information: Rens Top - 070-3140323.

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Collection description

The bookbindings collection consists of ca. 10,000 hand-bound books. Almost all bindings come from Europe, dating from 1540 to the present day. In this collection the bookbindings have been brought together because of their historical or aesthetical interest. They are all unique. In the Manuscript Collection, the Incunabula and Postincunabula collection, and in the Early Printed Books Collection an additional 2,000 special book-bindings can be found.

As to the provenances, three important collections can be distinguished. Many beautifully bound books originally came from the collection of the eighteenth-century Stadtholders Willem IV and V, who had received them as a present from the author or publisher. The thousands of bookbindings from the period 1810-1850, particularly Dutch, Belgian and French, were donated to the library by the Kings Willem I, II and III. They, too, had received them as presents from the authors. The third collection is that of the Amsterdam auctioneer Anton W.M. Mensing, acquired by the KB in 1909, containing over 500 copies from many countries and periods, among which are quite a few important examples of Dutch and foreign styles of binding.

The collection also includes some loose objects, such as book-clasps. The collection comprises both bindings and various forms of documentation for research.


For the advancement of book binding studies various apparatus have been constructed:

  • Reference library
  • Offprint collection
  • Bibliography of Dutch book bindings
  • Photograph collection
  • Slide collection
  • Card catalogue of bindings in the KB collection
  • Automatised catalogue of descriptions of bindings
  • Index of the catalogues and inventories of the stadtholders' book collection
  • Collection of rubbings and other visual documentation of KB-owned and related bindings
  • General register of bindings