Dutch term – Handelaar

A handelaar was a trader. Handelaren could mostly be found in cities, not villages, and were often quite well-to-do.

Sometimes, specific words were used to show what people were trading in: a graanhandelaar traded in grain, a fietsenhandelaar traded in bicycles, and a handelaar in koloniale waren traded in colonial goods. You can also use newspapers, court records, or tax records to find out what your ancestor was trading in. 

Another word for handelaar is koopman (merchant), where the term koopman is usually used for more affluent tradesmen.

horse trader

Horse trader. Credits: Vincent van der Vinne, collection Rijksmuseum (public domain)

About Yvette Hoitink

Yvette Hoitink is a professional genealogist in the Netherlands. She has been doing genealogy for almost 25 years. Her expertise is helping people from across the world find their ancestors in the Netherlands. Read about Yvette's professional genealogy services.


  1. Another interesting post!
    One that I love is Jan Luyken’s Book of Trades – his engravings are magnificent and are great for use in genealogy!

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