The exchange of Hendrick de Keyser

Antwerp, London and Rotterdam already had a exchange building. In 1607, the Amsterdam city council made a decision: a exchange building had to be built here as well. Hendrick de Keyser, who was appointed as the ‘city architect, stonemason, and sculptor’ in 1594, was sent to London in order to study the city’s exchange building. The first Koopmansbeurs (Merchants Exchange) of Amsterdam had to be special. Therefore, the city council stated that “to spruce up the work, we will not take care of the pennies.”

The Beurs van Hendrick de Keyser, which became an icon of the Golden Age, was completed in 1611. It was situated on the Rokin, south of the Dam Square. The building was approximately sixty meters long and over 35 meters wide. Forty-two numbered columns surrounded the center square without a roof that served as a trading floor. Merchants who had a permanent place were, therefore, easy to find. The long-standing custom to concentrate certain types of trade in corners (‘hoeken’) originates here. Up until the end of the 20th century, the corner man (‘hoekman’or specialist) was a familiar figure on the trading floor.

At the exchange, goods were traded primarily. The importance and scope of securities trading, however, increased rapidly. In 1668, its growth even led to an expansion of the trading floor, which was specifically meant for share trading. The exchange existed for well over 200 years, and during that time, it grew into a foundation for the development of Amsterdam and the contemporary Netherlands. Subsidence necessitated closing of the building and eventually led to its demolition. After traders had been forced to rough it with a temporary shelter on the Dam Square for ten years, Amsterdam got its second Koopmansbeurs (Merchants Exchange) in 1845: the Beurs van Zocher.