Page 56 - Dutch Asiatic Shipping Volume 1
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 Table 1: Calculation of lasts in the equalization
170ftlong 160ftlong 150ftlong 145ftlong 140ftlong 130 ft long 128 ft long 116 ft long 115 ft long 100 ft long
1637 450 last 350 last 275 last
200 last
120 last 80 last
c . 1667
250 last 140 last
130 last 100 last 90 last
c . 1697 250 last 160 last 100 last
1710 200 last 160 last 100 last
1718 180 last 140 last 100 last
90 last
40 last
how the lasts are calculated, whether the prescribed foot of 1637 is followed, or the practices since then and at present, as long as it is done in one and the same manner'. Meanwhile the Amsterdam chamber used this way of calculating lasts also for the payment of the so-called vuurgeld (toll), levied for navigational aids in the Zuiderzee, since 1668 'according to the essential size of ships'. Not until 1750 did this result in a dispute with the receiver-general of tolls, and an increase in Amsterdam's payments. In 1710 it was found that ships of 160 ft at 250 last were calculated too highly in the equalization. They were reduced to 200 last. Eight years later a ship of 160 ft became 180 last, one of 150 ft 140, while the 130 ft ships stayed at 100 last.22
But overseas in the East the real quantities a ship could carry were taken into account. Although accurately calculated numbers of lasts were not used here either, a scale was employed which came closer to reality. Again length was the starting point. A ship of 160 ft was assessed at 500 lasts, of 150 at 400, of 145 at 350, of 144 or 143 at 345 etc. In a memorandum written in the Republic around 1735 the observation was made that for transport purposes the three rates of 160, 145 and 130 ft could contain loads of 547, 406 and 293 lasts respectively. When in the 1780's ships had to be hired, the Heren Zeventien stipulated that East Indiamen of 150 or 140 ft in straight comparisons should be assessed at 450 and 400 lasts.23 This ambivalence has never quite disappeared, much to the discom- fort of the future researcher who wishes for greater accuracy. Complete accuracy he can not achieve, but since even contemporaries at times became engrossed in the problem of tonnages, there is something more to be said about it. Meanwhile it is as well to remember that the last was a measure of volume as well as of weight.
In the framework of an enquiry into the possibilities of redres (improvement) (1683), the committee concerned was confronted with the need for cargo space, namely the cargo space in Asia and the return trade. One of the committee members, Hendrik Decquer (1634-1697), a director of the Amsterdam chamber since 1681, devised a method for calculating the exact size of ships, on the basis of which the weight of goods to be carried
22 ARA, VOC 101, res. Heren 17 of 18.9. and 5.12.1637; VOC 160, id. of 11.3.1710; VOC 161, id. of 24.9.1718; Van Dam,Beschryvinge, vol. 63, 262 and 479-480. During the seventeenth century at annual liquidations and equalizations these measurements were not strictly adhered to; they became gradually lower; relevant resolutions have not been found. For the dispute about vuurgeld State Archive at Haarlem, Archief Commissarissen Pilotagie benoorden de Maze, 105.
23 ARA, Coll. Hudde 20, no. 19 and 21, no. 11; ARA, Aanwinsten 1902, XXVI, 94, p. 48-49; ARA, VOC 191, res. Heren 17 of 26.11.1783; VOC 196, id. of 13.12.1787.

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