The Atlas Van Stolk is not a book of maps but a collection of prints, posters, photographs, and drawings – some 250,000 images in total, most of which can be viewed online. It was initiated by Abraham van Stolk, a nineteenth-century Rotterdam timber merchant with a passion for the history of his country. The aim of the collection was to compile images of Dutch history, including everyday life, such as prints depicting family life, clothing, and means of livelihood. The historical compilation has always been kept up to date and is still being expanded to this day.
One particularly remarkable book in the collection is Spieghel ofte afbeeldinghe der Nederlandtsche geschiedenissen (“Mirror or Image of Netherlandish Histories”), compiled by Willem Luytsz van Kittensteyn. The book contains more than 500 folio sheets and dates from 1613, making it the oldest collection of historical prints in the Netherlands. Although it is chiefly a pictorial account of the Eighty Years’ War, it also shows the customs of the period, such as two smoking men depicted in a drawing from around 1600. The collection is very varied and gives a colorful picture of the Netherlands. In 2022, it was moved from the Schieland House to Rotterdam City Archives, where visitors can view it by appointment. Exhibitions are organized at various locations around the city.
Emilie van der Maas, Curator (March 2023)