Strolling along the Spiegelgracht is a feast for the eyes — shops, locals, bikes, tourists. Tucked between the Rijksmuseum and the Prinsengracht, this peculiar shop stands out, with its stripped canopy and wooden boxes at the entrance. There’s nothing especially remarkable about it at first sight, until one sets their eyes on the contents of the boxes: hundreds of fine vintage prints of all sorts; birds, floral elements, a skeleton with a medical description of the bones, depictions of Amsterdam landscapes. Once one starts, there’s no end to the digging. That led me to select a print – a dissection of the eyeballs – as my ophthalmologist friend was about to celebrate his birthday.
The gift, in turn, led me to converse with the owner of Antiquariaat Hoogkamp. I complimented his charming antique prints, and we talked Amsterdam and the challenges of small local businesses in times of massification. It was an actual interaction with a human being who’s engaged with his trade and exudes love for his craft: I felt revived. Mr Hoogkamp takes care of the business all by himself – no marketing or social media, just a physical store and unique (affordable) goods you can’t find anywhere else nor order via the internet. You have to go there.
All the while he drew my friend’s name on a piece of paper, in a delightful old-school handwriting style, which he attached to the gift. A present with both a personal touch and an unexpected act of kindness. Long live Antiquariaat Hoogkamp.