Collection: An international collection of decorated paper, with both Western an Oriental sheets, pattern books, manuscript recipe books for th eproduction of paper, watermarks, ream covers, moulds, including many examples (Santa Claus paper, wrapping paper, paper clothing), wasps’ nests, instruments and objects related to the history of paper. There is also an extensive collection of literature on paper and paper making.
Size: c. 45,000 objects.
Coverage: The collection is one of the largest in the world in the field of paper and paper documentation.
Access: a substantial part of the objects and books can be found in the KB Catalogue
Erik Geleijns 070-3140306
Until 2016, the collection had its own curator and acquisition policy. At the moment, Erik Geleijns is responsible for the cataloguing of the collection.
Brocade with positive golden relief. Johann Carl Munck, Augsburg, ca. 1770
The paper historical collection has become one of the most important resources in the world. Documentation is available on the precursors of paper (older carriers of writing such as papyrus, parchment, hammered bark (amatl, tapa, dluwang) and palm leaf, the oldest specialised literature, including recipe books for paper, Oriental paper making (especially in Japan), watermarks, pattern books of paper mills and paper traders from many countries, thousands of sheets of decorated paper such as marbled, block printed and brocade paper, together with paper art, origami, and other art works made of paper or pulp (such as ‘pulp paintings’). There are objects such as moulds, antique testing apparatus from paper factories (for establishing the pulling and tear resistance), ream covers used to wrap paper in, but also a contract for the sale of a paper mill, a seventeeth-century stained glass window with the coat-of-arms of a paper maker, a flag of the ‘De Schone Haas’ factory (1839), a school plate of the papermaking process (1857) and a number of wasps’ nests.
The basis of the paper historical collection was laid in 1972 with the acquisition of an extensive private collection consisiting of literature, paper sheets and various types of documentation. The founder of the collection was Henk Voorn, who built the collection over a 25-year period. He became the first curator of the collection in the KB.
In the following years, some important new objects and collections were acquired. A shadow collection of Japanese papers, most of them from the collection of Japanese art of the German phycisian Ph. F. von Siebold, came to the KB in 1973. Von Siebold had gathered his collection in Japan in the years 1823-1830 and had sold it to the State after his return.
Emmering and Dessauer collections
In 1975, two collections of Western decorated paper were purchased from the Amsterdam antiquary S. Emmering. Two years later, the important collection of Oriental and Western decorated papers of G. Dessauer (Düsseldorf) could be acquired. This collection had been built in the period 1961-1975 under the supervision of the art historian A. Haemmerle, the author of the standard work Buntpapier (1961). Ater Haemmerle’s death in 1976, Dessauer decided to find a better place for his collection, where proper conservation and cataloguing could be ensured. Eventually, the collection ended up in the KB.
The Dessauer collection includes a number of pattern books, albums with many thousands of tipped in, often numbered and sorted, samples of decorated paper, that show the assortment of the Buntpapierfabrik Aschaffenburg, of which Dessauer was the last director and co-owner and which was closed in 1970. In addition, there are intersesting manuscripts of recipes for different kinds of decorated paper.
Apart from complete collections, smaller acquisitions have regularly been added, among others a collection of twentieth-century watermark papers of S.L. Hartz (1976), a number of moulds and a number of old instruments from the laboratories of former paper factories. In 1997, the private collection of 100 brocade papers of the antiquarian Max Israël was purchased. In 2003, a collection was bequeathed to the library consisting of more than 100 specimens of folding art (related to tesselations of origami) by Frank van Kollem.
The extensive collection of paper sheets consists of a number of smaller collections of older and modern handmade paper sheets ordered according to their country of origin and manufacturer.
A special section consists of so-called ream covers, of which there are a few hundred in the collection. Ream covers are pieces of sturdy paper of lesser quality, covering a wrapped ream of paper. Ream covers usually have the device, the name and the place of origin, and an indication of the quality of the paper printed on them.
Ream cover of G.J.W. Pannekoek, Apeldoorn, ca. 1850.
Brocade paper with depictions of crafts. Paul Raymund, Neurenberg, ca. 1785.
From: Fred Siegenthaler, Strange papers, a collection of the world's rarest handmade papers (1987)
Necmeddin Okyay, Necmeddin Ebru (1962-1964)
The collection of decorated paper is one the of the world’s most important collections. Apart from its large size, it is very diverse. The main categories are: plainly coloured and painted papers, metal papers (including real and imitated gold and silver leaves), bronze varnish papers, brocade papers, marbled papers, paste papers, block printed papers, lithgraphic papers and modern printed decorated papers. They have been organised according to their type, country of origin and maker. The collection contains papers from the late sixteenth century to the present.
Apart from loose sheets, there are many applications in the collection, including decorated papers used as simple covers for brochures, dissertations and orations, both loose an pasted onto cardboard.
The reference library and a number of documentation systems for scholars facilitate the use of the collection.
- Firstly, there is an alphabetical documentation system on paper making and paper trade in the Netherlands and abroad. Included is information on small-scale paper making, private paper makers and artists. The collection includes archival materials, correspondence, folders, pricing lists and paper samples.
- In addition, there is a photo archive, with photographs, slides, microfilms, videos and prints and drawings.
- The third and most important archive is the watermarks documentation archive. It comprises a large number of (mainly Dutch) watermark papers, ordered by name or initials of the paper mill or factory.
There are also reproductions of watermarks, with photos and tracings, including collections in the National Arcvhives of E. Kirchner and especially that of T. Gerardy, an important scholar of watermarks who published widely on the subject. He was an important paper historian and co-founder of the International Paper Historical Society (IPH). His collection of 15,000 drawings and photos of watermarks from (mainly) German archives and libraries was thirty years in the making. It was acquired by the library after Gerardy’s death in 1987.
The literature on water marks is virtually complete. It includes the well-known reference works of Briquet and Piccard, and the Monumenta series of the Paper Publication Society.
- E. Cockx-Indestege e.a. Sierpapier & marmering. Een terminologie voor het beschrijven van sierpapier en marmering als boekbandversiering. Den Haag, Brussel 1994.
- H.J. Porck. 'De Papierhistorische Collectie van de Koninklijke Bibiliotheek / The Paperhistorical Collection of the Koninklijke Bibliotheek.' In: Voelbaar papier / Tactile paper. [Houten] 1996, p. 12-53.
- H.J. Porck. 'Henk Voorn'. In: Verzamelaars en verzamelingen. Koninklijke Bibliotheek 1798-1998. Zwolle 1998, p. 178-184.