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Archive of the firm Luchtmans

Identifier: UBA354

Scope and Contents

In addition to the financial administration the archive contains almost 1800 letters and several travel logs. The financial administration consists of series of current account books in which transactions with fellow book traders (1697-1845) and with private customers (1702-1839) respectively were recorded. Alongside these there are auction books (1706-1806) in which not only purchases at auctions were recorded but other costs as well. Both handwritten and printed stock lists from the 17th to the 19th centuries are represented.


  • 1697-1848


Language of Materials

Various languages, including Dutch, French and Italian

Conditions Governing Access

The collection has been digitized and can be consulted online via the collection inventory. In principle the original documents are not available for consultation.

Conditions Governing Use

When consulting the material the Reglement voor de gebruikers van de Bibliotheek van de Universiteit van Amsterdam applies. Reproductions and fees for reproduction rights in accordance with the Tarieven en Diensten Universiteit van Amsterdam.

If - in exceptional cases - permission is given to consult the original documents, they are only available for perusal.

Biographical / Historical

On 17 May 1683 Jordaan Luchtmans established himself as an independent bookseller and publisher in Leiden. With his wife Sara van Musschenbroek, a descendant of the Antwerp bookseller and printer Plantijn, he moved to a dwelling on Rapenburg, Leiden's most famous canal. The bookshop also sold books published by other publishers as well as antiquarian books. Affiliated with the business was a bookbinding shop, but the firm would never print. Luchtmans mainly published in the field of classical antiquity and theology, e.g. sermons. Most works were published in Latin. Sermons would only disappear from the stock list in the nineteenth century. He travelled often, among others to the book fair in Frankfurt in order to establish international relationships and to increase his turnover.

In 1708 his son Samuel I (1685-1757) took over the firm. In 1720 he was registered by the guild as bookseller and printer. He distinguished himself mainly as a publisher for the world of knowledge and was appointed printer to the city and the academy. This title was later transferred to his descendants. "Spes alit agricolas" (Hope nourishes the farmers) was the aegis he used. Samuel I introduced the aegis "Tuta sub aegide Pallas" (Pallas is safe under her shield), that would be used until the last quarter of the eighteenth century.

His son Samuel (II) (1725-1780) was registered as bookseller in 1741 and shared the management of the firm with his father. In 1755 he took over the family business together with his brother Johannes Luchtmans (1726-1809). Both had studied at the Latin School and the university in Leiden. Their competence in English, French, German and Italian was useful. They travelled far and wide as well and noted down their adventures in travel logs. After the death of Samuel in 1780 Johannes continued the firm on his own for some time.

Samuel's son, Samuel Luchtmans (III) (1766-1812) joined the firm from around 1786. He was the first Luchtmans to have completed his academic studies and had earned a doctoral degree in law. Until 1795 he was also a member of the town council of Leiden and a commissioner of the reading society 'Miscens utile dulci'. This Samuel did not have sons who would take over the firm.

The son of Johannes had died at an early age. His elder daughter, Magdalena Henrietta, had two children, Johannes Tiberius Bodel Nijenhuis (1797-1872) and Catharina. After Magdalena's death in 1799, her children were raised in the house of their grandfather Johannes. When he died in 1809 the children became the heirs of his possessions and consequently of the firm as well. Johannes Tiberius studied law and collected maps and prints. In 1821 he joined the firm but his real interest was elsewhere.

In 1802 Samuel III and Johannes had employed a managing director, Johannes Brill (1767-1859) who was independently active as a printer. In the years 1812-1821 Brill led the company on his own. When Brill quit in 1848 Bodel Nijenhuis decided to leave as well and liquidate the firm. J. Brill's son, Evert Jan Brill (1811-1871), was both an independent printer in Leiden and employed by the Luchtmans firm. He acquired a part of the stock list, including the orientalia that his father and he used to print for Luchtmans. As of 1 July 1848 he continued the firm as E.J. Brill.

Among other things Bodel Nijenhuis bequeathed the oldest part of the archive of the Luchtmans firm to his executor Henri Bienfait. Probably the 19th century records of Luchtmans were handed over to Bienfait when in 1883 the Brill publishing house moved from Rapenburg to a new location, at Oude Rijn. After his death his son, Jean Louis Bienfait, offered the archive to the Association for the advancement of the interests of the Book trade. The Association added the archive to its library.


ca. 11 meters

Abstract in Dutch

Op 17 mei 1683 vestigde Jordaan Luchtmans (1652-1708) zich als zelfstandig boekverkoper en uitgever in Leiden. In 1697 opende hij een boekhandel en uitgeverij aan het Rapenburg. Het bedrijf was gespecialiseerd in wetenschappelijke uitgaven en zou in 1730 academie- en stadsdrukker worden, al drukte Luchtmans niet zelf. Het bedrijf zou tot 1848 in de familie blijven, toen de laatste nazaat van de familie Luchtmans, J.T. Bodel Nijenhuis, het bedrijf overdeed aan de zoon van zijn bedrijfsleider Johannes Brill, Johan Evert Brill. Het archief bevat ingekomen brieven, kopieboeken van uitgaande brieven, reisdagboekjes, financiële administratie en magazijncatalogi.

Abstract in English

On May 17 1683 Jordaan Luchtmans (1652-1708) established himself as a bookseller and publisher in Leiden. In 1697 he opened a bookshop and publishing house on Rapenburg. The firm specialized in academic publications and would be university and town printer in 1730, even though the firm was never a printing house. The firm would be owned by members of the Luchtmans family until 1848. In that year the last descendant of the family, J.T. Bodel Nijenhuis, transferred the firm to the son of his managing director Johannes Brill, Johan Evert Brill. The archive contains incoming letters, copybooks of outgoing letters, travel logs, financial administration and stock lists.

Physical Location

Allard Pierson, University of Amsterdam

Other Finding Aids

  1. Catalogue of the University of Amsterdam.
  2. Guide & index to international book trade in the eighteenth century. Booksellers' accounts, 1697-1803 from the Luchtmans archive on microfiche. Lisse, 1995.
  3. Guide & concordance to international book trade in the eighteenth century. Part II: Private accounts and other documents, 1702-1845 from the Luchtmans archive on microfiche. Lisse, 1998.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The archive is part of the Library of the Book Trade that was given in loan to the Library of the University of Amsterdam in 1958. Since 2006 the Stichting Bibliotheek van het Boekenvak owns the Library of the Book Trade. The archive was acquired in 1883. In 1915 the archive was supplemented with catalogues of S. & J. Luchtmans and with auction books from Brill and with circulars and manuscripts owned by S. Muller Fzn. In 1936 the complete collection of annotated book sales catalogues was acquired from Brill.


All of the archive has been transferred.

Existence and Location of Copies

The complete archive is available online.

Related Materials

The archive of Luchtmans is a part of the loan of the Stichting Bibliotheek van het Boekenvak . The archive of the firm of E.J. Brill is also in the care of the Special Collections of the University of Amsterdam.


  • Luchtmans & Brill. Driehonderd jaar uitgevers en drukkers in Leiden, 1683-1983. Catalogus van de tentoonstelling gehouden van 1 september tot 1 oktober 1983 in het Gemeente-Archief te Leiden. Leiden, 1983.
  • E.J. Brill. Three centuries of scholarly publishing, since 1683. Leiden, New York, Köln, 1994.
  • Sytze van der Veen. Brill. 325 jaar uitgeven voor de wetenschap. Met bijdragen van Paul Dijstelberge, Mirte D. Groskamp, Kasper van Ommen. Leiden, 2008.


Since the archive is available online, special permission is required to consult the original documents.

Processing Information

At first, the archive was stored with the 'collection of prospectuses and personal information' of the library of the Association of the Book Trade (KVB). At the Library of the University of Amsterdam the letters have been catalogued separately from the rest of the archive. As a result their original arrangement has been lost. The archive was microfilmed in 1995. A finding aid of the entire archive was completed in 2016 when the archive was digitized.

Inventory of the archive of the firm Luchtmans (1697-1848)
M.D. Groskamp, M.S. Polak
Description rules
International Standard for Archival Description - General
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Edition statement
1st version 2008, 2nd version 2012, 3rd, English version 2016

Repository Details

Part of the Allard Pierson Repository

Oude Turfmarkt 127-129
Amsterdam 1012 GC Nederland