Renowned architect J.F.L. Blankenberg (1888-1958) was responsible for many modern two-storey houses in Menteng, most notably the ones on Taman Suropati numbers 3 and 7, which are now the official residences of the American ambassador respectively the Governor of Jakarta. Blankenberg however, who had his office on Jalan Menteng Raya, also designed many offices and shopfronts in Batavia.
A stunning example is this modern facade of Au Bon Marché, a luxury fashion store at Rijswijkstraat 20 (now Jalan Majapahit). Au Bon Marché obtained its clothing collection from renowned department stores in France. In Batavia it was initially based on Noordwijk (now Jalan Juanda) and moved in 1921 to Rijswijkstraat (Jalan Majapahit) where it replaced the jewellery shop that was established in April 1850 by Victor Olieslaeger. Olieslaeger’s ancestors moved to Parapattan in the early 1920s, later to Noordwijk (Jalan Juanda) where the jewellery shop under that name survived until the 1970s.
Blankenberg’s renovation was conducted in 1934. The shop window space was kept as large and transparent as possible; for this purpose the entrance had been moved to the right side, and the entire central facade and awning construction was carried by supporting points from the ceiling.
Interesting is also that during the 1930s there was an increased emphasis on so-called “light architecture”, the effect of evening lighting on design and appearance. As the magazine Lokale Techniek (Local Technique) mentioned in one of their 1936 articles: “Shopping in Batavia is mainly conducted in the early evening, as the morning hours are less suitable and the afternoon odours not bearable. Shopping is also mostly done by car, so that the shoppers generally get to view the storefronts from a greater distance and more clearly than it would be in shopping streets where pedestrians walk closer to the shopfronts”.
Loss of character
Jalan Majapahit has lost nearly all of its character when former society De Harmonie was demolished in 1985 and most shops on the opposite side (including the one that housed Au Bon Marché on number 20) obtained the typical modern Jakarta ‘ruko’ appearance. See the ‘now’ photo in the comment section.
The first jewellery store in Indonesia, established in 1850, did still exist in 1971. We look at the shopfront along Jalan Juanda 11 (formerly Noordwijk 11) where it was based since 1934. On 10 April 1850 Victor Olislaeger opened his “Joaillerie, Bijouterie, Horlogerie” along Rijswijkstraat (what is now Jalan Majapahit). Until 1861 it was the only European jewellery store in Batavia/Jakarta. Then Van Arcken & Co, another staple in Jakarta’s history, opened its doors too. Victor Olislaeger already passed away in 1854. His brother Johannes continued the business until he died in 1901, at the age of 68. The Olislaeger heirs took over the jewellery store in Rijswijkstraat but only for a few years, then it was sold, but the store name survived. Olislaeger Jewellers moved to Parapattan 56 in 1923, on the corner of what is now Jalan Ridwan Rais and Jalan Arief Rachman Hakim, close to the current Hotel Aryaduta. The premises on Rijswijkstraat 20 were afterwards occupied by fashion store Au Bon Marché. Olislaeger had one strict policy: all jewellery had to be paid cash on the spot. They did not allow any payments on credit. Olislaeger was usually present on the annual Pasar Gambir in the 1920s and 1930s too.
A 140,000 guilder diamond
During the 1934 Pasar Gambir a customer bought a diamond necklace and paid the required amount of 140,000 guilders in cash, as required. It was the most expensive purchase ever on the annual fair. During World War II, the jewellery store of Olislaeger was closed, and it was only on 15 April 1948 that it re-opened. Mr. J.L. Kiek, who had already been the general manager of the store since 1907 (!), fortunately survived the Japanese internment camps, and was still in charge when he organised a party in April 1950 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Olislaeger Jewellers. The store had an extensive atelier and workshop at the back where several Indonesian craftsmen processed precious metals like gold and silver (sourced from Bali, Makassar and Jogjakarta) into valuable jewellery pieces. We do not know when Olislaeger Jewellers store closed its doors permanently. It could well be that the building was (partly) sacrificed and demolished for the widening of Jalan Juanda in 1972/1973, and that this picture from 1971 is one of the last of this famous Batavia/Jakarta jewellery which has existed at least for a remarkable 121 years. If any Lost Jakarta followers have more information, please let us know!