Het Boekhuis in Workum has sold literary treasures for 300 years
Translated by Thomas Ansell
As reported by the Friesch Dagblad, the oldest bookshop in the Province has been awarded a ‘Predicaat Hofleverancier’ (Royal Warrant) by the King’s Commissioner Arno Brok. Het Boekhuis (in Workum) has a sign in its window proudly proclaiming that it has sold books since 1719, and it had hoped to receive the royal nod in 2019 to celebrate its 300th anniversary. However “a panful fault by an administrator left the application sitting”, says Vincent Stumpel, the current owner.
“We’re the oldest shop in Freisland, and we think ourselves the oldest in the Netherlands”, says Stumpel, who took the business over in 1981 from the Gaastra family. The name was changed in 1996 (from ‘Boekhandel Gaastra’), when a second outlet was opened in Bolsward. In three centuries, the shop has only had eight owners, and has only moved premises twice “both times within a stones-throw of our current location”, says Stumpel.
The story of the shop begun in 1719 when Petrus Olingius came to live in the Workum, in the plot where the current De Gulden Leeuw hotel stands. Olingius opened a bookshop and printworks shortly after, and the shop was run by his children until 1804, when it was sold to Isaac Verwey, who was a neighbour. Shortly after that the shop moved over the road, and in 1819 the shop was bought by the Brandenburgh family. Eighty years later the Gaastra family took over.
1904 proved to be tumultuous for the bookshop, with a fire gutting the printworks and shop itself, leading to a re-housing at Noard 17- where it remains to this day. Het Boekhuis is the sixth bookshop in the Netherlands to receive the royal nod, which is given to businesses that have an ‘important posiiton’ in a region for over 100 years.