Goldene LetterThe Netherlands

Jerzy Gawronski, Peter Kranendonk
Amsterdam Stuff

Design: Willem van Zoetendaal
Printer: robstolk®, Amsterdam
Publisher: Van Zoetendaal Publishers & De Harmonie, Monumenten & Archeologie Gemeente
ISBN: 9789463360517 (English), 9789463360500 (Dutch)

Some years ago the city of Amsterdam took the opportunity to approach the major construction site for its new Metro line from an archaeological perspective. Scientists brought up countless items from the Amstel riverbed; 700,000 finds were recorded. Among these, 13,000 artefacts appear in this unique treasure trove that ranges from prehistoric times to the 20th century; they are all things that had sunk to the bottom of the Amstel. For instance, the chapter Food Processing & Consumption includes a pitchfork from around 1800 on the same double page as a chip fork from the outgoing 20th century. Despite its size, the use of India paper for the 600 pages makes this volume easy to handle. The paper’s opaque quality has its own charm: it is reminiscent of the layering principle identified by archaeologists during excavations. Painstakingly extracted illustrations are presented according to category in an image area of 5 × 7 squares per page. If necessary, singular shapes are given extra space. This creates perfectly sorted displays that show a fascinating hotchpotch of items. The conspicuous cover reveals astonishingly little about the meticulously documented contents. It makes you feel quite curious. A paper half-cover bears the laconic title: Stuff. Above it, the three silver crosses of the Amsterdam coat of arms sit resplendent on the shimmering bicolour fabric — these shouldn’t be confused with three “X”s, as any expectation of finding explicit material inside would be mistaken.