In 1721, the silversmith Willem van Laer entrusted all his professional knowledge to paper in his Weg-wyzer voor aankomende goud en zilversmeden (guide for aspiring gold and silver smiths). Now, 300 years later, the time has come to study his text more closely and make it available to a wider audience. The Rijksmuseum is organizing an symposium about van Laer’s publication on on 1 December 2021.
The first edition was printed in 1721 and was available through the silversmith’s guild in Amsterdam. It describes in great detail the actions that a silversmith must be able to perform and is the most important Dutch source of information about eighteenth-century manufacturing techniques. The booklet was reprinted in 1721, 1730 and 1768, indicating that it was a widely used document. Internationally, few or no comparable publications exist.
The Rijksmuseum, in collaboration with the University of Amsterdam, University of Utrecht and the Zilvermuseum in Schoonhoven, is currently working on an English and annotated translation of the Weg-wyzer. This symposium launches the project in which, in addition to the translation, research will also be conducted into the person Willem van Laer, his position as a silversmith, the practical use of the Weg-wyzer, the different editions and the framework within this book was published.
For more information, the program and to register, please see this page (in Dutch).