Outward from Rotterdam to The Hague and Beyond
During last week’s trip to Rotterdam, we observed how Keystone View Company used stereotypes in both their stereography and in their text. But this week, I had a pleasant surprise in finding a greater variety of subjects in the areas outside of Rotterdam, and better treatment of these subjects. Today we will look at the Metropoolregio Rotterdam Den Haag (“Rotterdam-The Hague Metropolitan Area”), and the gates of Leiden. Rather than going on about Keystone’s follies, I’ll mention a few ways in which this week’s images better focus on their subjects than those of Rotterdam.
Metropoolregio Rotterdam Den Haag
The Metropoolregio Rotterdam Den Haag consists of the two cities named, as well as notable places like Delft, Zoetermeer, and Nisseward. It’s relatively new – having come into existence but 5 years ago. Nevertheless, this area of the Southern Holland province seemed like a logical grouping for our third adventure in The Netherlands. Sadly, I only located five views from the Metropolitan Area, excepting the Rotterdam images from last week. Therefore, I tossed in one of nearby Leiden.
Delft and Delfshaven
My own fascination with Delft began about 15 years ago, when I discovered an abandoned tubercular sanatorium right over on Staten Island. On the top story of each of the remaining ward pavilions were gorgeous terra cotta murals. But as my research some years ago shows, this wasn’t just any terra cotta – it was a form called “sectile”. This photograph depicts the last sectile terra cotta to arrive in America, in 1909:
Joost-Thooft & Labouchere created these pieces, and shipped them in crates, to be assembled here during construction. Researching the company upon making this discovery, I learned that they were extant since 1653 – in a city called Delft, in the Netherlands. Located in between The Hague and Rotterdam, Delft still has a thriving ceramics industry. However, today, much pottery marketed as “Delftware” is actually from England and other regions of The Netherlands. Nevertheless, I’d at some point like to visit Delft.
Sadly, amongst my KVC travel views, I only came up with two of Delft. Happily, they’re both quite nice! The first is of Delfshaven, which was the port of Delft when the stereoview was created – some time before 1886. While a canal with boats is present, it’s not the focus of the image. Rather, in the background, the Oude Kerk – the church where the Mayflower Pilgrims hid out, waiting for their ship, is the putative subject, while a group of children in the hyper-fore make for a very nice stereoview. The view of the city itself features the Oostport, the only remaining gate of the ancient city walls. And once again, while water features in the view, it is not the subject. While the view is barely-stereo, it is quite nice. And not a windmill in sight!
While many Americans suffer the misapprehension that Amsterdam is the seat of government for The Netherlands, this honor falls on The Hague. Amsterdam is indeed the capital. But The Hague is where the government resides. It is also internationally recognized as the center of international law. The Hague houses the International Court of Justice and the International Criminal Court. Thus, if you’re a war criminal, you probably don’t want to holiday here.
The first view of The Hague included in this post is of the Peace Palace – not constructed until 1907. Thus it was likely captured for a later set than the image of Delfshaven. Remarkably for a Keystone view of The Netherlands, there are no canals, windmills, boats, wooden shoes, or cows in this stereoview. It is a perfectly serviceable document of what, from the verso text, is a post-1913 look a the court building.
The second and third views of The Hague are variations on a theme. They both show the same row of buildings, reflected in a foreground body of water. But while the first cleanly depict the buildings and the water, the second – and likely earlier – show two children in hyper-stereo in the foreground, as well as some tree branches. The verso text is confounding as well. They both mention that the lake is a horse-pond from 1363 – but the first identifies the lake as “Hofvijner”, and the second as “Vyver”. This seems a weird anomaly, unless the name of the lake changed in between the earlier (second) view and the later (first) one.
Just outside the Metropoolregio Rotterdam Den Haag, between The Hague and next week’s subject, Amsterdam, is the ancient city of Leiden. Commonly misspelled “Leyden” – as on the today’s card – there are records of the city from as far back as the 9th century. Like many cities of that era, it was once completely walled. Today, it is one of the great seats of higher learning in Europe. While in 1575 it became primarily a university city, it was for centuries before that a military stronghold. Keystone managed to create a remarkably good view of it here – lacking any of their Netherlands stereotypes. Rather, there is a great focus on the military gate, with the gatekeeper hamming it up for the camera. The depth behind the ancient structure is quite good. This is easily the best of today’s views.
Non-Delft views are now available in the “Travel Stereoviews” section of the boot sale.