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News & Updates Antiquariaat Acanthus

When Rare Books & Interior Design work in perfect harmony

An article was published in the December edition of the beautiful World of Interiors Magazine with ILAB bookseller Iris van Daalen of Antiquariaat Acanthus.
Antiquariaat Acanthus World of Interiors 4

"Nestled in Utrecht’s old centre, the aristocratic-house-turned-shop of the book collector Iris van Daalen is an antiquarian bookshop like no other. Lining its historic shelves, rare books and prints jostle with intriguing curiosities. ...

‘I have been buying and selling books since I was a hard-up art-history student in the 1980s,’ Iris says, describing how she and two friends sold periodicals for cash from a stand on the Bezembrug, a bridge on the Oudegracht, or ‘old canal’. Decades later, after a time running the now-defunct auction house J.L. Beijers, she set up shop using her family home as a premises. Unlike the anodine spaces with flickering LED lights typical of so many of today’s bookstores, the two rooms provide ample space for museum-quality stock. In the first room is a 1920s two-tier American pine shelving unit, accessible using metamorphic library steps – ‘remodelled to fit the now taller Dutch citizen’. Against one wall is a gilded 17th-century chimneypiece with a carved oak relief in the overmantle depicting a scene from the myth of the Abduction of Proserpina, a feature whose importance qualifies it for inclusion in the Rijksmonument List, in which items of national heritage are recorded. ...

The second, an office space, is Iris’s showcase for her most prized objects. Day to day, she researches alone, often – but not always – at her laptop. ‘Most book dealers buy and sell only online, but I wanted a physical showroom where I could meet people face-to-face; this is what truly inspires me – I can learn about their stories and collections.’ Within her study, a jungle of exotic taxidermy and animal sculptures inherited from her collector father are confined in the handmade units, reminiscent of Renaissance period Wunderkammer (cabinets of curiosities)....

As well as books, Iris is fascinated by ephemera. ‘These are written or printed pieces that should not have been kept at all, such as old posters, leaflets, cards, drawings and letters. They’re a paper trail for how life once was.’ Kept neatly in mahogany drawers is a collection of Japanese ephemera, printed on tissue paper. It is currently a personal collection, but one day may be sold as a single lot. The fact that they have been preserved provides an insight into the Western world’s fascination with Japanese life in the early 1900s. Another find that Iris is currently researching sits undisturbed in a quiet corner: a manuscript, written c1781–83 by an assistant onboard the ship of Captain Louis-Antoine de Bougainville, which recounts the story of the decisive battle at Yorktown that led to the American Independence."

We recommend reading the full article, following >> THIS LINK

Below some impressions of the bookshop of our member Antiquariaat Acanthus. Copyright for all images is with the World of Interiors Magazine and Isabel Bronts