Amsterdammertje

The Amsterdammertje of Amsterdam

Before I talk about both the modern and outmoded uses of these wondrously uncomplicated contraptions, I want to talk about a specific example where the bollard really did find the appreciation it deserves.
At the close of the 18th century, the people of the city of Amsterdam began using metal, stone and wooden bollards on the pavements outside their homes to protect them from the wild cyclists and carriage drivers constantly careening by. It was a personal choice for property owners, but one which came in vogue as the discerning citizens recognised the benefits of this most simple invention. The bollard’s continued to pop up here, there and everywhere until the 19th century when the first cast iron bollards were produced.
1915 saw the advent of a standard bollard which weighed 17 kg and were produced en masse. These new bollards marked a new standard in bollard production and the people of Amsterdam embraced it with welcoming enthusiasm. These bollards stood out because of their unique colouring and design. Each unit was finished in brown and displayed a design derived from the Amsterdam coat of arms; three Saint Andrew’s Crosses.

This new bollard quickly spread throughout the city and was developed into what is now known as the Amsterdammertje – a modern variant of the previous bollards made from plates of steel and weighing in at 20 kg. This new breed of bollard quickly replaced the older versions and by 1984 the city proudly boasted approximately 100,000 Amsterdammertjes.
Unfortunately the Amsterdammertjes’ place in bollard history was short lived with them being deemed ineffectual against the many truck collisions which occurred with the increase in motor traffic in the city. It is estimated that 2000 Amsterdammertjes are being removed each year and 2003 saw the once grand total of 100,000 reduced to a mere 37,616. The happy ending? The government now turn a profit by selling off the once iconic street guards.