Page 204 - Dutch Asiatic Shipping Volume 1
P. 204

 zinc in a special alloy) were also taken: in the Republic buyers could usually be found for these goods.30 In this way ballast, like building materials on the outward voyage, was doubly useful. How textiles, pepper, sapanwood, saltpetre and cowrie shells were together stowed in the holds may be illustrated by the example of a Bengal homeward ship. For the lower layer saltpetre and cowrie (from the Maldives) were poured in and then covered with mats. On top of this was put a layer of pepper. Above this the cases and bales of textiles were placed, first the coarser kinds, then the more valuable ones. The layers were separated by mats. Any remaining spaces in between the cargo and the hull were filled in with pepper and sapanwood - small tree trunks of c. 60 cms in length and c. 10 cms width. This garniering (trimming) had to prevent the shifting of the cargo. Bindrottings or rattan was also used for this. In bundles of 65 pounds this stowage could be sold at home at a small profit. The most expensive goods like silk were stored under the poop. Beforehand the hold was cleaned, aired and newly caulked against leakage.31
Besides pewter, Japanese copper and tin need mention among the metals. An economi- cally more interesting group of products, joining the cargo in the course of the seventeenth century, were coffee and tea. Coffee came originally from Mocca in Arabia, and precious metals had to be handed over for its purchase. Forced coffee cultures in the Preanger district and near Cheribon in Java made the purchase of coffee cheaper for the Company. The first Javanese coffee was shipped in 1711. Next to coffee, tea was also a luxury product, increasingly consumed in Europe. The VOC never succeeded in controlling the tea market, yet bought in large quantities of it in Batavia and Canton in the eighteenth century. Shipping the light tea from Canton combined conveniently with the shipping of porcelain. Frequently hundreds of thousands of pieces of this heavy commodity were placed low down in the holds.3 2
Changes in the cargoes of homeward ships
So far the most important Asiatic commodities have been outlined, and shifts and changes have been touched on. A total of fifty to sixty articles came under the hammer at the auctions in the Republic. Insight into the financial aspect of the categories of goods is given in table 41 by a series of six 'snapshot'-images, showing each category's share in the eventual proceeds of the auctions. This is not the place to go deeply into the matter of changes. Suffice it to note that the dominating share of fine spices and pepper had disap- peared for good by the end of the seventeenth century. Profits in the Republic from the four monopoly products remained high however. This was a very different matter with the newcomers coffee and tea. Purchased for a great deal of money, the returns were on average low. The same applied to textiles.
Until far into the seventeenth century the Company could be characterized as a pepper and spice trader. By the end of the century the definition of textiles trader came much closer to reality. Textiles formed from then on the most important part of the cargoes. This reversal had started around 1680. Textiles and tea generally had to be purchased with cash. It is true that expenses were probably lower than for products obtained under Company management. For those the exact price was difficult to calculate!33 Moreover
30 For these products see Glamann, Dutch-Asiatic trade, passim, and Gaastra, Geschiedenis van de VOC, 109-128.
31 ARA,VOC 2304 (ship V ANALSEM in 1734). See also Jörg, Porcelain trade, 89-90. 32 Jörg, Geldermalsen, 32, with a scetch for the stowage of tea and porcelain. 33Cf.Steur,Herstelofondergang,80-83,193-195and217-228.

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