Catalogue Archaeological Finds Amsterdam’s North-South Metro Line

Book coverSTUFF
Book coverSTUFF
Book coverSTUFF
Book coverSTUFF

This book is about the state of things and the photography of things. In ‘abundance fetishism’, perfectionism, extravagance, and in the unabated pleasure of its surprising juxtapositions (old coins alongside debit cards, for example, or the jaw of a crocodile next to dentures), this book constitutes a category all its own. Of the roughly thirty-five thousand archaeological finds dug up from the excavations for Amsterdam’s newest metro line, some fourteen thousand have found their way into this book, ranging from a fifteenth-century suit of mail to a mobile phone just predating the smartphone. To help him record all this material, photographer Harold Strak invented the ne plus ultra of product photography: a lightbox on which he placed the objects so that they seem to float unsupported and at the same time no page space is taken up unnecessarily – just one of the tricks he used to encompass the sheer volume of the material. The crisply thin 72gsm paper was specially developed for this book by Schut Papier. As a result, not only is moving through the book’s six hundred pages easy and smooth, but their faint translucence is also thematically in tune with the contents: the pages are the strata of the book, just as the archaeologists peeled back layer after layer of the earth beneath Amsterdam until at a depth of twelve metres they came across the bottom of what was once the course of the river Amstel to which, in part, the city owes its name. What Spul | Stuff triumphantly demonstrates is the extent to which the physical representation of all this data – in a book – contributes to our appreciation of the subject: its sheer magnitude becomes something we can physically experience. To achieve this, the tools of those who make books have been deployed with great care and to great effect: paper selection, lithography, blue ink for the text and a – yes, really – earth-coloured cover, immaculately bound, again by Van Waarden. It’s a pity the typographic system is a little shaky, but with fourteen thousand entries that is something for which the makers can be forgiven. A dramatized archaeological catalogue.

Edition: 2018
Date of publication: June 2018
Author: Jerzy Gawronski & Peter Kranendonk
Language: Dutch, English
Translator: Karen Gamester
Final editor: Dorine Duyster
Image editor: Willem van Zoetendaal
Illustrator: Jan Dirk Bindt, Arno van den Brand, Jort Maas, Bart Vissers, Eddie de Vlugt
Photographer: Harold Strak
Publisher: Van Zoetendaal Publishers & De Harmonie / Monumenten & Archeologie Gemeente Amsterdam, Amsterdam
Available through: Webshop, bookshop
Graphic designer: Willem van Zoetendaal (Amsterdam)
Lithographer: Harold Strak, robstolk® (Alex Feenstra), Amsterdam
Printer: robstolk®, Amsterdam
Binder: Van Waarden, Zaandam
DTP: Willem van Zoetendaal, Amsterdam
Size book block (w x h x d in mm): 240 x 360 x 25
Number of pages: 600
Print run: 2,700 (Dutch) 1,150 (English)
Price: € 79.50
ISBN: 9789463360500 (NL), 9789463360517 (ENG)
Font and foundry: FF Meta (FontFont)
Binding style: Sewn hardback, linen, with a rounded spine
Paper for interior (grammage): 72gsm Schutpapier, Schutpapier
Endpapers (grammage): 120gsm Gmund Cover Linen 805 Color 020, Gmund
Material cover (grammage): Duo® 0222/161 scotch, over 2 mm greyboard, silver foil stamping Luxor 377 (KURZ) by Van Waarden, Wifac
Special features: In consultation with designer and printer the text stock was specially developed and made for this book. Harold Strak was responsible for photographing the approximately 14,000 illustrations: the finds were lit from both above and below to produce a free-standing image without cast shadows.
Awards: Golden Letter Schönste Bücher aus aller Welt, Leipzig 2019