Piet Buijnsters

Piet Buijnsters, March 2013 (photo: Nick ter Wal)


“Verzamelen is een onuitroeibaar virus, een gezonde gekkigheid voor mijn part. Geen overheidscensuur of economische crisis weerhoudt de man of vrouw die eenmaal door deze verzamellust gegrepen is” (Collecting is an ineradicable virus, or, if you will, a healthy madness. No censure or economical crisis will stop the man or woman that is in the grip of this collector’s craving).


(Geschiedenis van de Nederlandse bibliofilie, p.446)


The quality of the library of old and rare books collected by P.J. (“Piet”) Buijnsters (1933-2022) and his wife L.M.A. (“Lin”) Buijnsters-Smets (1937-2021) is such that, had Piet Buijnsters not been the author of the main history of Dutch bookcollecting, their names would certainly have been included in the Geschiedenis van de Nederlandse bibliofilie, Boek- en prentverzamelaars 1750-2010 (Nijmegen 2010). Their collection perfectly fits the conditions of orginality, rarity, diversity and importance that Buijnsters lists in his preface to the book.


Piet Buijnsters first made his mark as biographer/ bibliographer with his publications on 18th century Dutch literature (i.a. on Justus van Effen, Hieronymus van Alphen and Betje Wolff en Aagje Deken) during the period that he was professor in this field at the University of Nijmegen. He will however perhaps be best remembered for the works that he published after his retirement, such as the important bibliographies that he and his wife wrote on early Dutch children’s books, his manual for bookcollecting and his histories of Dutch and Belgian antiquarian booksellers and bookcollectors. With these works Buijnsters positioned himself as prominent promotor of the collecting of books.


He started collecting books at a young age and never stopped, always finding and enjoying the collecting of new subjects of interest, such as artists’ manuals, children’s books, chapbooks, emblemata, fashion and costume, the literature of roguery, Don Quixote, Robinsons Crusoe and travel literature, mostly in Dutch editions. He early on developed a great feeling for what was special and rare. Buijnsters and his wife donated their collection of rare children’s books to the University of Tilburg because it has the only chair in Dutch children’s literature in the Netherlands, but chose to disperse their entire collection of old and rare books by auction because Buijnsters strongly believed that books have to keep circulating in order to be read and find their place in new collections. To this end they frequently visited antiquarian bookshops, bookfairs and auctions. The first treasure trove of their bookhunting was presented in the catalogue of our May auction and a second selection, including their collection of 18th and 19th century Dutch literature, is part of the present auction (lot 2194-2498).


In the preface to the second edition of Het verzamelen van boeken: een handleiding Buijnsters writes: “(...) boekverzamelen is niet primair een kwestie van geld. Waar het op aankomt is smaak en fantasie” (book collecting is not primarily a matter of money. What matters is taste and imagination). From the books of their collection listed in the previous and current auction it is easy to recognize that he and his wife successfully followed this guideline.



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