Postzegelmarkt, Amsterdam


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.

Postzegelmarkt, Amsterdam, viewed in northern direction

Postzegelmarkt on Nieuwe­zijds Voor­burg­wal, viewed in southern direction (June 2022).

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.

Ongoing restructuring of Postzegelmarkt, Amsterdam, in 2021

Ongoing restruc­turing of Post­zegel­markt in 2021 (May 2021).

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.

Postzegelmarkt, Amsterdam, viewed in northern direction

Postzegelmarkt viewed in northern direction. In the background the former head office of newspaper De Telegraaf (June 2022).

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.

Bloemmarkt on Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal, Amsterdam in 1759, drawing by Jan de Beijer

On the left the Bloemmarkt (Flower Market) in 1759, seen in the direction of the current Palace on Dam square, Nieuwe­zijds Voor­burg­wal still a canal. Drawing by Jan de Beijer (1703-1780) (Stads­archief Amsterdam).

When the Nieuwe­zijds Voor­burg­wal was filled in in 1884, the flower market was moved to its current spot on Singel, between Konings­plein and Muntplein.

Etching of Bloemmarkt at Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal, Amsterdam, around 1800

Bloemmarkt at the St. Lucia Wall around 1800. Etching by J.P. Visser Bender after a drawing by J. Cats (Rijks­museum).

Stamps Market

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.

Postzegelmarkt on Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal between Rosmarijnsteeg and Wijdesteeg in 1979

Postzegelmarkt on Nieuwe­zijds Voor­burg­wal between Ros­marijn­steeg and Wijde­steeg in 1979, in the background theater Tingel Tangel (now Betty Asfalt Complex) (Stads­archief Amsterdam).

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).

Postzegelmarkt, Amsterdam, with statue of comic strip reporter Argus

Postzegelmarkt with statue of reporter Argus (June 2022).

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 reporter Argus by Saske van der Eerden, Postzegelmarkt, Amsterdam

Statue of newspaper reporter Argus, by Saske van der Eerden (June 2022).

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).

Marten Toonder, book presentation in De Bijenkorf, Amsterdam, in 1972

Marten Toonder during a book presentation in warehouse De Bijen­korf in 1972 (Nationaal Archief).

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.

Postzegelmarkt, Amsterdam, on the right number 264 at the corner of Wijdesteeg

Postzegelmarkt, on the right number 264 at the corner of Wijdesteeg (February 2022).

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.

Stadspaleis, Amsterdam, at Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal 277

Stadspaleis at Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal 277 (June 2022).

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.

Former wooden police station from 1896 at Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal, Amsterdam

Former wooden police station from 1896 at Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal (June 2022).

Looking north from Postzegelmarkt, Amsterdam, towards Royal Palace and Magna Plaza

Looking north from Postzegelmarkt towards Royal Palace and Magna Plaza (June 2022).

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