Hajenius: A Renowned Cigar House in Amsterdam

Since 1914, one of Europe's most esteemed cigar houses has been located on Amsterdam's Rokin: Huis Hajenius. Hajenius, founded in 1826 on the Warmoesstraat near the Dam and established on the Rokin since 1915 (built in 1914), is Amsterdam's oldest cigar and tobacco shop. Despite four generations of the Nijman family being at the helm for 135 years, the business still bears the name of its founder, Pantaleon Gerhard Coenraad Hajenius. Hajenius supplied various European monarchs with superior cigars and tobacco, and in 1851, King Willem III granted him the title of Royal Purveyor. In 1869, Hajenius moved to the Dam/corner Rokin. In 1914, Huis Hajenius and all other houses between Kalverstraat and Rokin had to make way for the construction of Peek & Cloppenburg's clothing store. Thus, Hajenius was forced to move again, this time to Rokin 92-96. There too, Hajenius built up an international clientele with its exclusive range. The heyday was between the two world wars. The Twente textile aristocracy was an important customer category, as was the Roman Catholic clergy. Chaplains, rectors, and pastors all had a Hajenius box on their tables.

The real Hajenius cigars, a Dutch brand for many years, are sold not only on the Rokin but also at selected concessionaires, hotels, and restaurants in the Netherlands and abroad. In the Heerenkamer of Hajenius behind the shop, courses are regularly given on how to best enjoy a good cigar. You can try a cigar in a separate room with a cup of coffee and browse a book from what is said to be the largest library on cigars and tobacco in Europe. Hajenius sells beautiful humidors to store precious cigars at home under the right climatic conditions.

Both the traditionalist-style building on the Rokin and the magnificent art deco shop interior were designed in 1914 by the architects the Gebroeders Dolf and Jo van Gendt. The shop interior is one of the few from this period that is still almost entirely in its original state and has the allure of a museum. Hence the name 'Huis Hajenius'. Both the building and the interior belong to the group of 200 new national monuments. In 1984, Hajenius was taken over by Gebr. van Schuppen's Ritmeester cigar factories and later by Ritmeester BV from Veenendaal in 1992. In 2006, Hajenius became the property of the Swedish Match Group BV in Valkenswaard and in 2011 Hajenius became the property of the current Scandinavian Tobacco Group, based in Waalre with factories in Westerlo and Lummen in Belgium.

Amsterdam Monument
P.G.C. Hajenius, established in 1826 on the east side of the Warmoesstraat opposite the Vijgendam and located at Rokin since 1915, is Amsterdam's oldest cigar and tobacco shop. Although four generations of the Nijman family were at the helm for 135 years, the business still bears the name of its founder, Pantaleon Gerhard Coenraad Hajenius. Hajenius supplied various European monarchs with superior cigars and tobacco, which earned him the title of Royal Purveyor in 1851. His shop moved to Dam / corner Rokin in 1869 and to its current address Rokin 92 - 96 in 1915. Here too, Hajenius built up an international clientele with his exclusive range. The real Hajenius cigars, a Dutch brand for many years, are sold in addition to Rokin in the Netherlands and abroad at selected concessionaires, hotels, and restaurants. American tourists like to make a detour to buy a box of their beloved Cuban cigars here, which are not available in their own country due to the boycott of Cuba. In 2006, Hajenius became the property of the Swedish Match Group BV in Valkenswaard and in 2011 Hajenius became the property of the current Scandinavian Tobacco Group from Eersel. The shop on the Rokin is now considered the calling card of this international company.

Traditional Architecture and Art Deco Interior

Both the traditionalist-style building on the Rokin and the magnificent art deco shop interior were designed in 1914 by the architects Gebroeders Dolf and Jo van Gendt. Hajenius' shop interior, with its exclusive cigars and magnificent collection of pipes, is one of the few from this period that is still almost entirely in its original state and has a museum-like allure. Both the building and the interior are on the list of 200 new national monuments.

Pantaleon Gerhard Coenraad Hajenius: The Founder

Pantaleon Hajenius, born in Arnhem in 1806, later moved to Doesburg in the province of Overijssel. His father was a commissioner of direct taxes and excise duties there. He inherited his rare first name from his grandfather Pantaleon Hajenius, alderman and councilor of Pannerden. Almost twenty years old, he moved to Amsterdam and on September 4, 1826, opened a cigar and tobacco warehouse in the De Rijnstroom hotel in the Warmoesstraat, in the second-to-last house near the Halsteeg, the current Damstraat. A prime location so close to the Damrak, which was still in open connection with the port of Amsterdam at the time, where it was always busy with the coming and going of ships. The Royal Palace on the Dam, diagonally opposite Hajenius' shop, was also the center of much activity. In May 1833, Pantaleon married the 18-year-old Amsterdamse Johanna Jacoba Rijkers. They had three sons and two daughters.

Royal Purveyor

In 1851, King Willem III (1849-1890) granted Hajenius the title of Royal Purveyor. His letterhead bore the names of even more monarchs to whom he was allowed to supply: Prince Hendrik de Zeevaarder, Emperor Franz Joseph of Austria, the kings of Belgium, Romania and Sweden-Norway, the Duke of Nassau, the Prince of Wales and Grand Duke Vladimir of Russia. Hajenius increasingly received diplomas of honor, silver and gold medals at international exhibitions throughout Europe. All those awards were of course on the parchment bag in which the customer received his cigars. The praise in the press was not to be sneezed at. 'Busy affair, first-class warehouse, unwavering entrepreneurial spirit, old famous company etc'.

A Legacy of Excellence

P.G.C. Hajenius has stood the test of time, remaining a bastion of quality and tradition in the world of cigars and tobacco. Its rich history, coupled with its exquisite selection and impeccable service, has cemented its place as a true Amsterdam institution.

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Pantaleon Gerhard Coenraad Hajenius

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Vijgendam 'Rijnstroom'

In 1826, P.G.C. Hajenius established his cigar and tobacco shop in the 'De Rijnstroom' hotel on the east side of Warmoesstraat, near Vijgendam. It was the second-to-last house by Halsteeg. Due to a council decision in 1868 to widen Halsteeg into the present-day Damstraat, the cigar warehouse and the house to its right had to be demolished. Hajenius relocated to a newly built building on Dam Square.

Economic Downturn and a Glimpse of Hope

In January 1857, Hajenius entered into a partnership with 25-year-old Hendik Willem Nijman from Zutphen: "Regarding the Trade in Cigars and the Manufacturing and Sale of Tobacco and Snuff". The name P.G.C. Hajenius was retained. In that same year, the economy took a significant downturn, while the trade in primarily American tobacco also disappeared to the major tobacco market in Bremen. On the positive side, there was a spectacular increase in tobacco imports from Java: in 1861, almost three million kilos, and in 1865, almost five million kilos. And... in 1864, tobacco trader Jacob Nienhuys, founder of the Deli-Maatschappij, brought 50 bales of North Sumatra to the Dutch market, the first Deli tobacco, a harbinger of huge profits, the so-called Deli millions.

Shop Relocates to Dam Square

Due to a council decision in 1868 to widen Halsteeg into Damstraat, the 'De Rijnstroom' cigar warehouse in Warmoesstraat had to disappear. To make matters worse, Pantaleon's three sons decided to emigrate: the eldest to the Cape of Good Hope, the other two to Batavia. This meant that there were no more Hajenius successors. Hajenius' successor, Hendrik Willem Nijman, had a new tobacco and cigar house built on the south side of Dam Square on the corner of Beurssteeg (present-day Rokin). The 1868/69 building, designed in the Renaissance style by architect H.J. van den Brink, was again named De Rijnstroom and fitted in perfectly with the nearby Royal Palace. The shop opened on August 25, 1869. "A spacious shop paneled with noble woods and with colossal windows. A monumental massive marble counter. A floor of Trier tiles. Showcases all around the shop. Elegant gas chandeliers and chandeliers. No shop in this country can rival this elegance. Even abroad, no tobacco shop like this is found," according to the Algemeen Handelsblad.

A Legacy of Excellence

P.G.C. Hajenius's story is one of perseverance, resilience, and an unwavering commitment to quality. From its humble beginnings in Warmoesstraat to its grand establishment on Dam Square, the company has established itself as a cornerstone of the Dutch tobacco industry. The legacy of P.G.C. Hajenius lives on, not just in the exquisite cigars and tobacco products it continues to produce but also in the enduring values of craftsmanship, innovation, and customer satisfaction that have been at the heart of the company since its inception.

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Dam Square 'Rijnstroom'

A First-Class Cigar Emporium

'The capital, already so rich in magnificent shops, has one more jewel, thanks to the now completed construction of the cigar emporium of Messrs. H.W. Nijmand, firm P.G.C. Hajenius, purveyor to the court, corner of Dam Square and Beursstraat. The elegant new building is worthy of the old, renowned business. The firm has been in existence for 42 years; it has always maintained its position as a first-class emporium, even in the face of increasing competition, and indeed shows that it moves with the times, which, not content with excellent articles at a fair price, is also demanding for the eye, and wants everything to be in beautiful forms. This demand for beautiful forms has been fulfilled in the most praiseworthy manner by the meritorious architect, Mr. H.J. van den Brink, in Rijsenburg near Driebergen.'

Purveyor to the Court of Prince Hendrik

'H.R.H. Prince Hendrik of the Netherlands has granted our fellow citizen, Mr. H.W. Nijman, owner of the firm P.G.C. Hajenius, the privilege of placing, in addition to the royal arms he already carries, also those of H.R.H., with the title of Purveyor to the Court.'

To an Even More Chic Location on the Rokin

The two sons of Hendrik Willem Nijman, Frans and Neander, who formed a partnership on February 5, 1909, unfortunately had to leave their magnificent cigar emporium again five years later. All the houses on the south side of the Dam between Kalverstraat and Rokin were bought up and then demolished to make way for the enormous clothing store of Peek & Cloppenburg. "If we have to move our business anyway, then let's build something even more exclusive on the beautiful Rokin with its wide sidewalks," the brothers must have thought. The owners of the Maison de Bonneterie, located a little further away, had already preceded them in 1909 with the construction of their impressive fashion palace, designed by the architects A. Jacot and W. Oldewelt. Frans and Neander Nijman bought the buildings Rokin 92-94-96. They engaged the Gebroeders Jo and Dolf van Gendt, who had already gained a reputation in Amsterdam with their design for the shopping arcade in the Raadhuisstraat. The purchased houses on the Rokin were demolished and a new building was erected in their place, which was delivered in 1915. In the meantime, Hajenius temporarily settled at Spui 6.

Art Deco Shop Interior by the Van Gendt Brothers

Through the oak entrance, with its heavy copper-clad doors, you enter a large rectangular space with Italian marble counters on both sides. Above them hang two gigantic brass chandeliers from the decorated coffered ceiling, brought over from the previous shop on the Dam. The walls are clad in various types of marble and the open mahogany wall cabinets contain, in addition to boxes of cigars, nineteenth-century wooden baskets for pipe tobacco and Delftware decorative pots. The marble floor with mosaic decorations later disappeared under a carpet due to wear and tear. For the interior, the Van Gendt brothers used only natural products such as wood, marble and bluestone, because no paint and related products were allowed to be used in the interior of this exclusive cigar shop, as the 'sensitive' cigar very quickly absorbs odors from its surroundings. Two inlaid wooden cigar showcases in the middle of the shop were long-time showpieces. These contained, among other things, a corona and a knak model of the same brand: Corriente del Rhin, which is the translation of the name of the three Hajenius buildings: 'De Rijnstroom'.

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Rokin 'Rijnstroom'

The brothers Van Gendt built in familiar forms and sometimes resorted to seventeenth and eighteenth century styles. Hajenius' building is constructed from a concrete skeleton that was modern for its time. The facade consists of two somewhat independent parts: a wide left part that is symmetrically arranged with the shop entrance in the middle and a narrow right part with the access to the office floors. The facade is clad in precious Oberkirchener sandstone, just like the facade of Maison de Bonneterie. The breastwork of the shop window is made of granite. The building has a high shop window from the ground floor to the first floor, which serves as a base for the three floors above it, which are provided with pilasters. Above the royal entrance of the shop, the royal coat of arms is carved in sandstone, with P.G.C. Hajenius and the year 1914 below it. The now familiar 'De Rijnstroom' stands above the entrance to the upper floors.

 

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In the “Heerenkamer’’ translated as 'Gentlemen's Room', which has retained its original style to a large extent, regular customers were once received to discuss their cigar orders for the coming year. Here hang the two portraits of Pantaleon Hajenius' successors Hendik Willem Nijman and his son Neander Nijman. Many profound conversations have been held at the antique meeting table. Regular courses are given here on how to become a skilled cigar smoker.