Makelaers Comptoir, Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal 75, Amsterdam

Makelaers Comptoir

The Makelaers Comptoir (brokers’ office) from the 17th century is located at Nieuwe­zijds Voorburg­wal 75, at the corner of the Nieuwe Nieuw­straat. It is one of the few remaining guild­halls in Amsterdam. The building underwent renovations in 1739, 1836, 1937 and 2003. A national monument since 1970, it is not open to the public, but rented out occasionally for small events.

Makelaers Comptoir, Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal 75, Amsterdam

The Makelaers Comptoir at Nieuwe­zijds Voorburg­wal 75. Because the Nieuwe Nieuwstraat runs at an angle, the building has a peculiar triangular shape, much larger on the front than at the back.

Constructed in 1633-1634 as a guild­hall for the Brokers’ Guild (founded in 1612), the guild has been the sole owner of the building until 2002, when it was sold to the historic preservation society Hendrick de Keyser for the symbolic sum of 1 Euro.

Makelaers Comptoir in 1868

Nieuwezijds Voorburg­wal with the Makelaers Comptoir in 1868 (before the canal was filled in, in 1884)

Brokers were intermediaries between buyers and sellers trading in coffee, tobacco, grain, cocoa and other goods. They were well respected and trusted in the 17th century: they had the right to weigh gold and silver and to ascertain the value of it. Inside the front house is a checkered marble floor and a fire­place with a mantel­piece from 1760 — the coats of arms of the guild directors adorn the walls. A carved and gilded rose on a ceiling beam in the main room meant that everything discussed in the room was to remain sub rosa (under the rose, confidential).

Broker's staff from the Makelaers Comptoir

A broker’s staff (1837) from the Makelaers Comptoir. These staffs were carried by the brokers as a form of identification.

Although the whole guilds structure was officially disbanded during the French period (the Bataafse Republiek, 1795–1806), the Brokers’ Guild continued well into the 20th century in a changed form. Where most guilds had their assets confiscated by the government, the Amsterdam Brokers’ Guild was an exception: although they lost many official privileges, they continued as an association to administer the assets of the former guild.

Saint Gertrude’s Convent

The terrain between the Suiker­bakkers­steeg and the St. Geer­truiden­steeg on the Nieuwe­zijds Voorburg­wal was once occupied by St. Gertrude’s Convent. Probably from around 1416, the convent remained relatively small, being located in the expensive North­western quarter of the city, close to the harbour.  It was one of the few women’s convents to engage in manuscript copying. Most nuns came from important families and were well educated.

St. Geertruiden­klooster Amsterdam in 1544

St. Gertrude convent in 1544

The convent bordered on the east side on the Onze Lieve Vrouwe­gasthuis (hospital), which led to years of quarreling about the right-of-way. In 1432 a covenant was reached which regulated a path across the convent terrain reserved for the hospital. The path was about 2m wide (6.5ft) and is now called the Suiker­bakkers­steeg, after a sugar­bakery which was established in the chapel when the convent was dissolved in 1585. After the Alteration in 1578 the convent terrain was emptied to construct the Nieuwe Nieuw­straat.

Kasteel van Aemstel

The adjacent building, at number 72, has nothing to do with the castle of the Lords of Aemstel, despite the fancy name. Constructed in 1904-1905 in a sober Art Nouveau style, it was the head­quarters of printing house De Tijd, from 1845 until 1974 a Dutch catholic news­paper, later continued as a magazine. The tiles on the gable depict instances from the life of Gijsbrecht van Aemstel, designed by Theo Molkenboer. Today it houses the INK Hotel MGallery.

Kasteel van Aemstel, Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal 72, Amsterdam

‘t Kasteel van Aemstel from 1904-1905 at Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal 72, now INK Hotel MGallery

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