Paper historical collection

More Information: Henk Porck - 070-3140572.

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The KB is one of the few libraries in the world which possess a paperhistorical collection. The foundations for the paperhistorical collection were laid in 1972 with the acquisition of an extensive private collection, consisting of literature, paper sheets and various forms of documentation. Right after the transference of his collection, the paperhistorian H. Voorn, who had built up this collection in the preceding 25 years, came into service of the KB as curator of the collection.

In the following years a few important additions to the collection could already be realised. In 1973 a shadow-collection of Japanese paper was acquired from the Museum of Mankind (Rijksmuseum voor Volkenkunde) at Leiden, much of which belonged to the famous collection of Japanes art of the German physician Ph.F. von Siebold. In the years 1823-1830, Von Siebold had gathered his collection in Japan, and after his return he sold it to the Dutch state.

In 1975, a collection of western decorated paper of the Amsterdam antiquarian bookseller S. Emmering was bought. Two years later, the important collection of decorated paper from the East and the West of G. Dessauer (Düsseldorf) could be acquired. This collection was built in the years 1961-1975 under guidance of the art historian A. Haemmerle, author of the standard work Buntpapier (1961). After Haemmerle's death in 1976 Dessauer decided, for better preservation and accessibility, to look for a new accomodation for his collection, and thus the collection finally ended up at the KB.

The Dessauer collection also numbers various monster books, albums with several thousands of mounted samples of decorated paper, often numbered and sorted by type, which show the assortment of the former Buntpapierfabrik Aschaffenburg, which was closed in 1970, and of which Dessauer was the last director and co-owner. Apart from this there are several interesting manuscripts with recipes for the production of various kinds of decorated paper.

Besides entire collections, smaller acquisitions are often added to the collection, among which a collection of twentieth century watermark paper of S.L. Hartz in 1976, a few dozens of paper moulds and a number of old devices from the laboratories of former paper-mills. In those first ten years, the paperhistorical reference library also underwent considerable additions.

The collection was and will be further developed thanks to an annual budget with which both recently published specialist literature and materials offered by antiquarian booksellers, auctions and individuals could be bought. Particularly in the last few years, much attention has been paid to the completion and improvement of the indexing of the collection, to make the many information sources at the Department accessible to an increasing number of researchers and other interested persons. Because of this, too, the paperhistoricval collection has developed into an international centre for paperhistorical research and documentation.


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.

Examples of different kinds of paper can also be seen in the special thema about decorated paper .