Eerste Stadhouderlijke Binderij

Brown-carmine morocco, gold-tooled. The covers have two tooled panels, the inner one with a lace pattern. Within this panel is a pattern of ribbons in the form of quatre-foils and semi-quatre-foils, each with a composition of various small tools, garlands of drawer-handles and rosettes, and additional compositions of sprigs and flowers. The spine has ten raised bands; all compartments are filled with the same tooling, except for the second and third, which indicate title and volume.

Throughout the eighteenth century bindings of high quality were made in the Netherlands, but hardly any of them was signed. They have therefore been classified by their tooling and given provisional names. ‘First Stadholders' Bindery’ is the name given to one of the most important studios. Close on two hundred de luxe bindings have been preserved that were definitely made in The Hague. The bindings with decorations based on sixteenth-century interlace patterns are amongst the most beautiful made in the Netherlands at the time, and the binding illustrated on the opposite page is one of the best. The unknown binder actually had a tool with the coat of arms of William IV. He has bound many dedication copies for the stadholder and must have worked directly for his library. In the 1750s many manuscripts from the Orange-Nassau library were given a Russia leather binding with little more than the coat of arms of the stadholders on its covers. As no library invoices of the stadholders at the time have been preserved, it is impossible to trace the name of the binder with any degree of accuracy.

From the many de luxe bindings it may be deduced that the First Stadholders' Bindery must have been a prestigious studio. It has been possible to establish a very detailed chronology, which indicates that the most beautiful bindings with the most intricate patterns were made between 1725 and 1749. After that period the quality of the tooling decreased, and from the 1767-1793 period only a few, fairly uninteresting bindings are known that cannot even all be attributed to the studio for certain.

The First Stadholders' Bindery may be identified with the leading Hague family of bookbinders, Stofvoet. Johannes Stofvoet (born in Arnhem in 1687) was admitted into the Hague guild in 1714. From 1733 until his death in 1749 he was commissioned to bind for the municipality. After his death his widow Johanna continued the business, probably assisted by her son David, who did not become a member of the guild until after his mother's death in 1764; he died in 1795.

Bookbinding. Made by the First Stadholders' Bindery. The Hague, 1734-1738? Contents: blank pages to keep prints and drawings. Full-size. 41 A 1

Bookbinding. Made by the First Stadholders' Bindery. The Hague, 1734-1738? Contents: blank pages to keep prints and drawings. Full-size. 41 A 1


Winst van een kwart-eeuw. 's-Gravenhage 1962, no. 242
J. Storm van Leeuwen. De achttiende-eeuwse Haagse boekband in de Koninklijke Bibliotheek en het Rijksmuseum Meermanno-Westreenianum. 's-Gravenhage 1976, no. 33.