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11th Gerard Turner Memorial Lecture 2023 and SIS Ruby Jubilee Celebration: ‘The Zuylenburgh Collection & the reminiscences of an antiques dealer’

November 3, 2023 @ 6:00 pm - 7:30 pm GMT


By Bert Degenaar, Netherlands, with an introduction by Huib Zuidervaart, Netherlands.

Part 1: Collecting scientific instruments over time: the Zuylenburgh Collection in context

Huib Zuidervaart
Retired Senior Researcher at the Huygens Institute for the History of the Netherlands
Member of the Scientific Instrument Society

Collecting scientific instruments as objects demonstrating the history of science is a phenomenon that emerged in the nineteenth century and reached full maturity in the twentieth. But collecting instruments in itself is much older. Already in the Renaissance there were cabinets of curiosities in which mathematical instruments were housed, and after the emergence of the so-called ‘philosophical instruments’ in the seventeenth century, the time was ripe for the independent ‘cabinet of experimental philosophy’ of the eighteenth. The nineteenth century is thus a time of transition. From regularly used utensils, some older scientific instruments became cherished historical objects.
In the presentation, this development will be discussed, to provide some background to the Zuylenburgh Collection, collected by Bert Degenaar, followed by a short overview of the collection itself.

Part 2: Reminiscences of an antiques dealer who eventually became a collector

Bert Degenaar
Founder of the Zuylenburgh Collection
Founding Member of the Scientific Instrument Society

The love for antiques was instilled in Degenaar (*1958) at a young age. From the age of twelve his parents took him to antique fairs. He was impressed by the dealers he saw; of the smell of their adventurous liberal life, more or less included and sustained by the hippie era. Traveling, buying, selling, meeting interesting people, making friends, but above all a worldwide traveling circus, unfortunately killed by internet. Soon, he decided to become such a person as well. He began as “a jack of all trades” at the shop Jaap Mennink in the centre of Utrecht, a generalist antiques dealer with a technical interest for clocks barometers and other scientific instruments. After a few years, Degenaar started his own business in the Spiegelstraat in Amsterdam, then the centre of the Dutch antiques trade.

Over time, his main focus became historical real estate restoration with the ambition to preserve the condition and soul of these monuments but next to that he always collected and traded in antique clocks and scientific instruments. In this industry he frequently struggled with the dilemma of the antique dealer: “you always have to sell what you prefer”. However, in the last decade this dilemma is no longer valid, because the antiques dealer eventually became a full-time and passionate collector. Today, he will tell about this life path, and the many experiences he has gained while assembling the largest private collection of historical scientific instruments in the Netherlands.
Join us at the Royal Automobile Club, London for Bert’s lecture at 6pm, followed by a champagne reception and 2 course dinner with wine and coffee. Thanks to generous sponsorship by a private donor, we can subsidise tickets to just £55 per member.

Dress code: Smart lounge/business wear (no jeans or trainers please)

Time Event
Free, open to all
5.30pm Tea and coffee on arrival
6.00pm Lecture followed by Q&A
Ticketed events
7.00pm Champagne Reception
7.45pm 2-course dinner with wine, followed by coffee and petit fours
10pm Event ends

Regrettably, we cannot livestream this lecture via Zoom as usual but we will post a video on the website afterwards.

If you would like to simply attend the lecture, please reserve a space via info@scientificinstrumentsociety.org.

If you would like stay for the Champagne Reception and Dinner, please order tickets via the booking form.

Ticket numbers are limited; please book at the earliest opportunity to avoid disappointment.

This event has been generously sponsored by our speaker and Charles Miller Ltd.


November 3, 2023
6:00 pm - 7:30 pm GMT
Event Category:


Sarah Cavalier


Royal Automobile Club
89 Pall Mall, St. James's
London, SW1Y 5HS United Kingdom
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