1690: Off the wall

Paragraaf titel

Tools

The number of almanacs made in the past far outnumbered those that are still available. Most bibliophiles and libraries preferred to collect the handsome editions for which Dutch publishers have become famous, or scientific and religious texts that were of interest to the rank and file. Almanacs were regarded as tools that could be thrown away after the passage of time.

Wall almanacs

This was even more the case for almanacs that consisted of a single page. These were available in various shapes and sizes. The small sizes could be tucked into a book and saved; the larger were to be hung on the wall, giving them the name 'plakalmanak', or wall almanacs. The chances of survival of a wall almanac were small indeed. The KB collection includes only sixty. Around twenty constitute a series from the years 1586-1622, which has been preserved because the almanacs were later bound by a collector, who even added an engraved title page to the work. Because the almanacs were thus transformed into a book, they were able to withstand the ravages of time.

Local information

Then there are a few nineteenth-century wall almanacs that served a local function, such as the Deventer almanac, the Middelburgsche almanak, and the Nieuwe Zutphensche almanak. These are posters containing a calendar, a view of the city and additional practical information, which undoubtedly served a useful purpose in offices, schools and inns. Some came to the KB via the government. They were offered to a city council or another administrative body by the publisher as proof of publication. The administrative body had no reason to preserve them, so they handed them over to the KB.

Gems

The other wall almanacs are almost all gems well worth saving, such as the hand-coloured posters with tables for converting from Greek to Hebrew and from the Gregorian to the Julian calendars of 1730, and perpetual almanacs with sliding tables. The Eeuwig Durende Tijdt Wyser of Almanach [The Perpetual Time Indicator or Almanac] is also exceedingly fine: a fully engraved almanac made by Jochem Bormeester, an engraver and publisher who worked in Amsterdam at the end of the seventeenth century. The engraving shows a circular calendar with a compass rose in the centre surrounded by the days of the week, the months and the number of days per month, the signs of the zodiac and the holidays and saints' days. This is not a complete perpetual calendar, since the mobile parts used to make calculations are missing. Besides the almanac the engraving also shows a scholarly person who is using his time wisely: he needs twelve hours a day to sleep, eat and serve God. The rest he uses for study and labour. His advice: 'Waardeer de Tijdt het dierbaerst aller dingen' ['Value time, the most precious of all things'].

Eeuwig Durende Tijdt Wyser of Almanach, c. 1690

Eeuwig Durende Tijdt Wyser of Almanach, c. 1690