Van Rijckevorsel Library

Rotterdamsch Leeskabinet

A special and valuable library collection is that of the Van Rijckevorsel family from Rotterdam. After the Leeskabinet was destroyed by the bombardment of Rotterdam in 1940, it restarted in the former residence of Dr Elie van Rijckevorsel (1845-1928) at the Parklaan. His private library became the basis for the new Leeskabinet collection.

The Rotterdamsch Leeskabinet reading room on Parklaan.

Three Van Rijckevorsel generations built up this book collection: Abraham (1790-1864), Huibert (1813-1866) and Elie, as well as their respective wives. Abraham was one of the most influential figures in Rotterdam society and business. His son Huibert was a a shipowner and trader. Many of the books he collected relate to West Africa, the East Indies and the Caribbean. Elie was a natural scientist and an avid traveler, but also a lover of literature and beautiful books.

The library is rich in early printed books and beautifully illustrated nineteenth-century travel descriptions, but Dutch, English, German and French literary works are also well represented. The Van Rijckevorsel library forms a unique assemblage that reflects the professional activities and interests of its family members. It is one of the few private book collections from Rotterdam from the nineteenth century that has been preserved almost entirely.

More information about the Van Rijckevorsel library can be found in the (Dutch language) article by librarian Roman Koot for the Dutch Book History Yearbook and in his 2021 lecture (Dutch language) on the topic.

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