Page 10 - Dutch Asiatic Shipping Volume 1
P. 10

The purpose of this publication is to provide as complete a picture as possible of the movement of ships between the Republic of the United Netherlands and Asia in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, and thereby to meet the need in historiography for historical-statistical material.
Work has been done, particularly abroad, on quantitative historiography in the field of overseas trade and shipping. We mention the Danish publication of the Sound toll registers by Nina Ellinger Bang and Knud Korst, the shipping statistics of the Spanish trade with America from Seville by the French historians Pierre and Huguette Chaunu, and the statistical material on the Spanish and Portuguese bullion trade collected by Michel Morineau of Paris. These works may be considered models for the present publication. The longer term historical-statistical material could only be obtained by these researchers because of the existence of some typical 'bottlenecks' through which the relevant trade and shipping had to pass. Similar sources from the era of the Republic can only be found with the Verenigde Oostindische Compagnie (VOC), which occupied a monopoly position in relations with Asia and organized and directed its own shipping there from the Republic.
About the VOC's trade and shipping a number of historical publications have already appeared. Here we refer only to the work of M. A . P . Meilink-Roelofsz, Asian trade and European influence (1962), which does not go beyond 1630 however, nor does it have a historical-statistical character, and to the work of the Dane K. Glamann, Dutch-Asiatic trade 1620-1740 (1958), containing statistical data on shorter periods and for the most important commodities. Inadequate and provisional figures only were at the disposal of I. J. Brugmans in demonstrating in his article 'De Oost-Indische Compagnie en de welvaart van de Republiek' (included in his collection Welvaart en Historie, 1950) that in the seventeenth century the numbers of ships in the Asia trade were small in relation to the total Dutch merchant fleet.
There were however sufficient indications in the earlier literature that it should be possible to find more statistical data on trade and shipping of the VOC than had been advanced by the above named authors. Both Pieter van Dam in the seventeenth century and Valentijn in the eighteenth century give tables and surveys based on archive material. The fact that G. C. Klerk de Reus in his book Geschichtliche Ueberblick der administrativen, rechtlichen und finanziellen Entwicklung der VOC (1894) provides figures the origins of which can not be ascertained, confirmed the supposition that even now there were historical-statis- tical data to be found in the VOC archives - preserved in the Algemeen Rijksarchief in The Hague - of an ordered character and covering longer periods. After all the VOC was obliged to keep careful records of its own equipment of ships and its own transport. Depar- tures and arrivals of Company ships, varieties, quantities and values of cargoes to be carried had to be recorded in some form or other. The French work of the Chaunus served as a model here: on the basis of the administration of the Seville chamber of commerce - Seville being another such 'bottle-neck' for trade and shipping - it was possible to ascertain reliably the annual shipping movements to Spanish America for the period 1580 to 1640 at least,

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