The Postzegelmarkt (Stamp Market) is a small square located on the southern part of Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal. In the 16th century it was called Deventer Houtmarkt (Deventer Wood Market), where wood was delivered and traded. In the 17th and 18th century the quay served as a flower market (Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal was still water then — it was filled in around 1884). Although everyone in Amsterdam call this spot Postzegelmarkt, it is not its official name.
The southern part of the Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal has been renovated and restructured as part of the renovation project Oranje Loper (Orange Carpet), which includes all streets and bridges between Raadhuisstraat and Mercatorplein. The northern part of the Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal, between Dam and Central Station, is being tackled now and should be finished in summer 2024. The entire project is projected to finish by 2026.
After the renovations finished here in June 2022 this once grey area became a small green stretch, with a children’s playground and an underground storage for excessive rainwater. The stamp collectors and merchants have returned to what has been their favorite spot for more than 75 years.
Bloemmarkt (Flower Market)
Around 1800 this part of the quay at the former canal of Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal was called St. Lucia Wall and held a trees and flower market.
When the Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal was filled in in 1884, the flower market was moved to its current spot on Singel, between Koningsplein and Muntplein.
On Wednesdays and Saturdays (between 11:00 and 16:00) there’s a little collectors market here for postage stamps, coins and medals. Collecting post stamps and coins used to be a common hobby in Europe, but the stamps market has more or less collapsed since the mid 1980s. In the nearby Rosmarijnsteeg there’s still a stamp, coin and banknotes specialty shop. Once there were many small stamp collectors shops, but most have disappeared.
The stamp traders have a unique position in Amsterdam’s street vendor landscape: they are on an unofficial trading spot, tolerated but not regulated, their places decided by tradition, much like the book vendors on Oudemanhuispoort.
Former Newspaper Street
After the former canal had been filled in it became quite a busy road. Many printers were located here since the 17th century. The offices of most major newspapers and magazines were located here in the 19th century, as well as many printers and press and advertising agencies. Journalists gathered in the bars here at the end of the work day, first in the bar of Hotel Royal (corner of the Paleisstraat, from 1877 until 1921), later in Café Scheltema (Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal 242) and Café Hoppe (Spui 18-20).
Between 1967 and 1976 the newspapers left, some to the Wibautstraat, some to Basisweg, some to other cities. In June 2022 a bronze statue (by Saske van der Eerden) of a comic strip journalist was placed here to commemorate the time when this was the Fleet Street of Amsterdam with hundreds of journalists.
Statue of Argus
On the small square a statue of Argus, a newspaper reporter from a comic strip by Marten Toonder, in the form of a rat. Marten Toonder (1912-2005) was a famous Dutch comic strip creator — his highly creative use of language resulted in many new words and expressions in Dutch. His most famous work is a series about Tom Poes and Ollie B. Bommel (Tom Puss and Oliver B. Bumble).
The Argus character was named after Argus Panoptes, a giant from Greek mythology who had a hundred eyes on his body — he was created by Marten Toonder as the proverbial news reporter: curious, energetic, tenacious, opportunistic and slightly invasive.
Buildings on Postzegelmarkt
At Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal 282 a house with a six windows wide façade — it dates from around 1725 in its current form and is a national monument. City mayor Hendrik Bicker (1682-1738) once lived here. From 1910 until 1957 this was the Prinsenschool. In 1963 some classrooms of the school were converted into a small theater with 145 seats, called Tingel Tangel. A cabaret group of the same name performed here until the 1980s. In 1989 the theater was sold, after which it became known as the Betty Asfalt Complex. In 2019 the building was sold to Stadsherstel Amsterdam.
At the corner of Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal and Wijdesteeg, at number 264, a house from 1688 with sculpted decorations in Dutch Classicist style. It got its current form after various simpler homes were united and restructured in the 18th century. The entrance dates from around 1740. In 1929 it was bought by cultural heritage association Hendrick de Keyser. Back then it housed a knife factory, a bicycle parking and a small stamp shop, later an antiques dealer. The house was restored in 1930, 1999 and 2005. During that last restoration the interior, with paneling and doors in Louis XIV-style, was redone. The house is not open to the public.
Just north of the St. Luciënsteeg a small wooden construction, now a coffee spot called Stadspaleis, constructed in 1896 as a police station. The building became a national monument in 2002.
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