Gijsbert Cuper (classicist)

The collection: An extensive collection of correspondence of Gijsbert Cuper, professor of classics (1644-1716), with notes to his scholarly work.
Size: C. 12,000 folia (c. 7 metres)
Access: The collection can be found in the KB Catalogue. A concise description of the constituent parts of the collection can be found in volume 2 of the Inventaris van de handschriften van de Koninklijke Bibliotheek.
More information: Ad Leerintveld 070-3140320.

ion announcement from the library of Gijsbert Cuper
ion announcement from the library of Gijsbert Cuper

Auction announcement from the library of Gijsbert Cuper. Shelfnumber 72 C 32. Broadsheet.

Beginning of the diary of Gijsbert Cuper
Beginning of the diary of Gijsbert Cuper, 72 D 14

Gijsbert Cuper was professor of Classics and rector at the Athenaeum at Deventer. His extensive correspondence with scholars in the Netherlands and abroad made him a central figure in the study of archaeology, Antiquity and classical literature. He was also interested in numismatics.

Collection profile

Cuper’s letters constitute the lion’s share of this collection. Cuper corresponded on a regular basis with, for instance, the classical scholar Joannes Georgius Graevius (1632-1703), the theologian and philosopher Pierre Bayle (1647-1706), the Amsterdam burgomaster and geographer Nicolaas Witsen (1641-1717), the diplomat Nicolaas Heinsius (1620-1681), the antiquarian Claude Nicaise (1623-1701), the librarian of the Archduke of Florence Antonio Magliabechi (1633-1714), the theologian Jean Le Clerc (1657-1736), the classical scholar Petrus Burman (1668-1741), and the philosopher Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz (1646-1716).

Also notable are the volumes of notes by Cuper to scholarly publications in the field of classical literature, archaeology, theology and numismatics. Studies and notes that were published later can also be found in the collection.

Collection history

A year after Cuper’s death, his extensive library of more than 4,000 volumes was auctioned at Deventer. His autographs and correspondence remained in the possession of the family. In 1854, they were sold to professor Petrus Bosscha (1789-1871), who sold more than three quarters of the collection for 400 guilders to the State in the same year. The administrative papers (16 volumes) were placed in the National Archives, the antiquarian and literary material (140 volumes) in the Koninklijke Bibliotheek. After Bosscha’s death, a few Cuperiana from his collection were added to those in the National Archives and the KB.

Research on the Gijsbert Cuper collection

In 2012, the Gijsbert Cuper collection was intensively studied by KB-fellow Harold Cook. See his blogs from 2012 and 2013:


  • P. Bosscha, Opgave en beschrijving van de handschriften, nagelaten door Gisbertus Cuperus. Deventer, 1842. [Eerste aflevering]. [Some 35 of the c. 200 volumes in the Cuper collection are described in this publication.]
  • Het dagboek van Gisbert Cuper, gedeputeerde te velde, gehouden in de Zuidelijke Nederlanden in 1706. Uitg. door A.J. Veenendaal, 's-Gravenhage, 1950.
  • D. Groffen, 'Gisbert Cuper', in: De wereld binnen handbereik. Nederlandse kunst- en rariteitenverzamelingen, 1585-1735. Amsterdam, 1992, p. 102-104.
  • Bianca Chen, ‘Digging for Antiquities with Diplomats: Gisbert Cuper (1644-1716) and his Social Capital’, in: Republics of Letters. A journal for the Study of Knowledge, Politics and the Arts, 1 (2008).
  • Harold Cook, Assessing the Thruth. Correspondence and Information at the End of the Golden Age. Leiden, 2013 (KB-Nias fellow lecture 2013).