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Oldest news from Dutch newspaper extremely rare

Only copy returns for exhibit

Tags: Excerpts from the Windmill

THE HAGUE - The oldest known copy of a Dutch newspaper has returned to the Netherlands for display at a special exhibition. Sweden has lent a nearly 400-year-old page from the Courante uyt Italien, Duytslandt &C to the Koninklijke Bibliotheek (KB, Royal Library), where it can be viewed until the end of this month.

The exhibition is part of KB's drive to create an online archive of Dutch newspapers. So far the KB has digitized a representative portion of four centuries of Dutch newspapers, now available online as well.

The page dates from a 1618 issue and is printed on one side only in Gothic letters. Now yellowed, the page is about the same size as a letter size sheet.

Courante uyt Italien, Duytslandt, &c. was the first Dutch newspaper and published weekly. The paper does not reveal the name of the printer or the publisher, but based on similar papers published later, it is thought that Joris Veseler was the printer and Caspar van Hilten its editor and publisher. The paper started the practice of printing on both sides of the sheet with date and serial number in 1620.


The first issue presented news from four different sources, including those originating in Venice and Prague. The main text runs in two columns. The only surviving copy of the first issue is part of the Kungliga Biblioteket collection in Stockholm, Sweden. The Dutch Royal Library has the issues published between 1628 and 1664 in its collection.

Experts regard the Courante as the world’s first proper newspaper. In their view, the earlier news periodicals are considered to be pamphlets or newsbooks. Two years after the Courante was started, Veseler printed the first newspaper in English for the publisher Pieter van den Keere. In 1665, the Oxford Gazette followed the style of the Dutch Courante, ending the era of the newsbooks in England.