Couperus collection

Acquired from ds. J.A. Eekhof
Acquisition: 2006
Date: Ca. 1880-2005
Size: Ca. 1400 volumes
Shelfmark: COUP 0100-1523

The collection of the works of Louis Couperus owned by reverend J.A. Eekhof (1928-2007) from Leiden had for years been as famous as it was mysterious, when the Letterkundig Museum [Dutch Museum of Literature] and the Koninklijke Bibliotheek were approached with the offer to buy the entire collection. After some discussion and a viewing of the books, both institutions expressed their interest in acquiring this amazing collection of Couperus' works. In doing so, the Letterkundig Museum would be responsible for the letters, photographs, clippings, signed books and other documents, while the collected works by Couperus would go to the Koninklijke Bibliotheek. As both institutions are located in the same building, the collection would continue to be housed together.
Jan Eekhof began collecting the books of the decadent son of The Hague, the writer Louis Couperus (1863-1923), while he was still in secondary school. He quickly expanded his collection to more than just the texts alone: he became enamoured of the beautifully-executed contemporary editions of the books in all of their - often very numerous - variations. The designs for their covers were often provided by leading artists from Louis Couperus' time, such as Jan Toorop, H.P. Berlage and C.A. Lion Cachet.

Eekhof compiled his collection in silence. He screened his collection from third parties, and never came to the fore as a collector. In so doing, over the period of fifty years he built up a collection of quality pieces, while keeping it a secret known only to a select few. Over the course of the years, the collection came to hold more than just Couperus' own books: the collection grew to include photographs, signatures, numerous translations, books about Couperus, collector's editions, folders, posters and more.
When informed of the possibility of purchasing the collection, Wim van Drimmelen was immediately enthusiastic. The necessary subsidies were arranged quickly, thanks in part to the support provided by the Meermanno-Westreenianum Museum and the Louis Couperus Museum, both in The Hague. The latter institution was able to use the Eekhof-Couperus collection to create a number of interesting exhibitions; a tribute to Couperus as one of the great writers of the Netherlands, and a tribute to the memory of a very affable collector. (RS)