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Maurits IJsbrand Dirk Muller Massis collection

Identifier: ubl158

Scope and Contents

The collection of more than 14.000 objects contains approximately 3800 cartes de visite, 2300 cabinet photographs and examples of early photography, among which ambrotypes and 58 daguerreotypes. Emphasis in this collection form the approx. 700 19th-century albums with travel- and portrait photography and the collection of more than 5000 stereo photographs.


  • Creation: 1841-1960
  • Creation: Bulk 1850-1910

Language of Materials

If applicable (in case of some albums) Dutch, German

Conditions Governing Use

The photography collection is kept in a vault with special climate control. Because of the acclimatization process photographs will have to be requested in advance of a visit to the Reading Room (see also the request instructions below). Some photographs, such as very sensitive early salt prints, can be viewed only after permission by the curator.

Other regulations that apply during the use of these materials can be found on the website of website Leiden University Library.

Biographical / Historical

Maurits Muller Massis (1899-1992) was a book dealer with a market stall on the Waterlooplein and later on the Leidseplein in Amsterdam. Beside collections of objects as diverse as books, stamps, toy soldiers and porcelain, Muller Massis assembled a substantial collection of photography and photographic technology. In addition to early photographs such as daguerreotypes, salt prints, ambrotypes, tintypes, his collection focused particularly on the ways in which the photographic medium was popularised in the second half of the 19th century and the first half of the 20th century. It includes many forms of vernacular photography such as cartes de visite, cabinet photographs, stereo photos, magic lantern slides, and albums. Partly, Muller Massis arranged his photographs typologically according to subject and genre, filling many albums (which he initially acquired empty) with the categories he created such as wedding portraits, children's portraits, royal houses, dogs, etc.

As he explained at the time of his presentation of his collection to the University of Leiden, what interested him about photography was the invention itself, the many possibilities for applying photography and the subjects of the photos. The loss of many interesting bits of information and objects was also a motive for him to assemble his photo collection.

After donating his collection 72-year-old Muller Massis put a stop to his activities as a photography collector, although he continued to collect postage stamps.


13600 photographs (circa), including 58 daguerreotypes, approximately 1200 cartes de visite, 2400 cabinet photos and 4600 stereo photos, 750 albums and 500 cameras and accessories.

Abstract in Dutch

Verzameling 19e- en vroeg 20e-eeuwse vooral populaire vormen van fotografie, bijeengebracht door de Amsterdamse boekhandelaar Maurits Muller Massis, waaronder portret-, familie-, reis- en koloniale fotografie, objecten zoals albums en fotografica zoals camera’s, studio- en doka-toebehoren.

Abstract in English

Collection, gathered by the Amsterdam based book dealer Maurits Muller Massis, of 19th and early 20th-century, mainly vernacular photography, among which portrait-, family-, travel- and colonial photography, objects such as albums and photographic technology such as cameras, studio and dark room accessories.

Physical Location

Leiden University Library, Special Collections

Other Finding Aids

Objects from the Muller Massis Collection have callnumbers that start with ‘ PK-F-MM.’. A large part of the collection is digitized and accessible through the Catalogus (tab Special Collections).

Custodial History

Apart from obtaining objects from clients and other dealers, Muller Massis actively collected photographs, albums and other photographic objects during travels through Europe.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

In the summer of 1970, Muller Massis donated his collection to the Print Room of Leiden University. It was transferred to the premises of the Print Room in different donations between 1970 and 1972.


The purchase of this collection almost doubled the size of the Print Room’s then existing photography holdings. It also marked a broadening of collection scope: next to the existing interest in the artistic value of photography as fine art came a new interest in the documentary value of more vernacular photography.


No future additions are to be expected.

Existence and Location of Copies

The website Early Photography 1839-1860 catalogues photographs before 1860 from the Muller Massis Collection.


  • Boom, M. 'Apologie van de fotografie. Prof. Dr. H. van de Waals essentiële rol in de vorming van Nederlands eerste publieke foto-collectie in het Prentenkabinet (1953-1972)’, in: J.F. Heijbroek e.a. (red.), Het Leidse Prentenkabinet. De geschiedenis van de verzamelingen, Leiden 1994, pp. 323-344.
  • Pronk, J., ‘De collectie MM’, in: J. Pronk en T. de Ruiter (red.), Fotovoorkeuren. 50 auteurs kiezen een foto uit de collectie van het Leids Prentenkabinet, Amsterdam 2007, pp. 131-134.
  • Heuvel, M. van den, ‘A selection of the most important sub-collections […]’, in: M. van den Heuvel en W. van Sinderen, , Photography! A Special Collection at Leiden University. Leiden 2010, p. 232.


The material in this collection can be requested in the Catalogus (tab Special Collections). Please note that photographs and photography albums have to be requested for viewing at least 24 hours in advance.

Processing Information

The objects from the Muller Massis Collection are catalogued at the Print Room photography collection; the callnumbers start with PK-F-MM., followed by a serial number.

Collection guide of the Maurits IJsbrand Dirk Muller Massis collection (1841-1960)
Collectie Maurits IJsbrand Dirk Muller Massis
Maartje van den Heuvel, 2012
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note
Beschrijving is in het Engels.

Revision Statements

  • 30 October 2013: latest update

Repository Details

Part of the Leiden University Libraries Archives & Collections Repository

Witte Singel 27
Leiden 2311 BG Netherlands
+31 71 527 2857