Oh, that lovely round of antiquarian books

Amsterdam, city of antiquarians! Ah, that wonderful round of antiquarian bookshops that until recently you could still walk and that started at Vuyk on the Singel. Wout Vuyk always had something beautiful in his overloaded shop window, and always priceless so you didn’t have to worry about it. It wasn’t much different inside, because whatever you chose, Mr. Vuyk usually said ‘I’d rather not sell that’. It may therefore be called a miracle that I succeeded in the beautiful first edition of Ter Haars dating from 1904. Our Butterflies to detach from him with all those fragile prints of butterflies and moths.

From Vuyk it went to Brinkman, a little further on the Singel, the last of the Mohicans by now, with its bins in front of the door that never contained anything I wanted, but where I still like to go inside. And from there to the Rosmarijnsteeg for the more serious work, near Straat and the Friedesche Molen. As soon as you went up the stone steps at Straat, the wonderful smell of books greeted you. I also liked that Mrs. Street was always exactly in the same place where you left her last time.

Just like Poes Bus, so called because she was found in the letterbox as a kitten, a very cuddly cat, like most shop cats. Time seemed nonexistent in the attic, and if it existed, it only existed when someone thoughtfully turned a page downstairs. I often sat on the floor sifting through the bottom shelves, because that’s where, and on the top shelf of course, I’d learned early in my career as an antiquarian runner, were the finds. When I discovered something I wanted, I made a small deposit and put it away. Lots of money in your pocket is dangerous if you’re on the antiquarian trail.

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A woman worked at the neighbour, the Friedesche Molen, who told me that she had lived in Harar. Rimbaud’s house still attracted many interested people there, she said. Except that Rimbaud never lived in that house, I said, after which we had a conversation about Rimbaud’s Hararse adventures, which prompted me to quickly cycle home and start a book about Rimbaud, The Rockies of Arthur Rimbaud it was called.

After the Rosmarijnsteeg, choices had to be made. To Bergstraat where the light cages fitted Mr. Fukkink’s boxes? To the paper mountains of the Kloof on the Kloveniersburgwal? Would you like to see Kok again? After long dubbing, it always went to Jan, van Egidius, in the Haarlemmerstraat. (to be continued)

Guus Luijters regularly writes about books and bookshops in Amsterdam.

Also read: That one book from the antiquarian bookshop that disappeared

The article is in Dutch

Tags: lovely antiquarian books

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