In 1996, the Jewish Historical Museum in Amsterdam received a collection of 1200 glass negatives from portrait photographer Jacob Merkelbach's studio, with portraits of his Jewish customers.
Jacob Merkelbach was born in Amsterdam in 1877, the son of a storeowner who dealt in cameras, stereoscopes, lantern pictures and magic lanterns. Merkelbach first worked successively for his father and his brother-in-law, who owned a portrait studio, and so learned the trade of portrait photographer.
His customers included many Jewish businessmen, intellectuals and artists. We find portraits of artist Chaya Goldstein, Abel Herzberg - who would later become a well-known lawyer and writer - back when he was still young, and actor Louis de Vries.
Merkelbach's pictures offer a nice image of Amsterdam's Jewish elite in the years from 1915 to 1940. Not only can one see how people dressed, but some pictures also show how people decorated their homes.
Jacob Merkelbach died on 6 February 1942, after which his daughter Mies Merkelbach-Roosenboom continued running the studio. It was closed in 1969.