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Slate pencil from the wrecked VERGULDE DRAECK

Date: before 1656
Overall: 129 mm, 12 g
Medium: Slate
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Transferred from Australian Netherlands Committee on Old Dutch Shipwrecks
Classification:Tools and equipment
Object Name: Pencil
Object No: 00016349
Place Manufactured:Nederland

User Terms

    This slate pencil was excavated from the VERGULDE DRAECK, a Dutch East India Company vessel wrecked off the Western Australian coast in 1656. It was used in conjunction with a slate board for writing purposes on deck. Observations such as course and speed were written down on the slate before they were transcribed into the ship’s log.
    SignificanceThis object highlights the presence of the powerful Dutch East India Company in Australia, prior to British exploration. It illustrates the significant role Dutch merchants played in putting Australia - then referred to as New Holland - on the map.
    HistoryDuring the 1600s the Dutch East India Company or Verenigde Oostindische Compagnie (VOC) was a rapidly expanding merchant organisation. The VOC established a trade network throughout Asia by transporting rare spices, exotic textiles and seeking new markets. Asian goods - especially spices and Chinese ceramics - were highly sought after in Europe, allowing the VOC to establish a profitable enterprise between Europe and the East Indies. A number of Dutch ships are known to have wrecked on the west Australian coast, leaving evidence of their passing in the form of wreckage, coins, pottery and other material. Dutch maps at this time also began to show the coastline of Australia (New Holland).

    On 4 October 1655 the VERGULDE DRAECK set sail for Batavia from Texel as part of its second trading voyage between Holland and the East Indies. Under the command of Captain Pieter Albertszoon the ship carried a crew of 193 and a cargo of trade goods and silver coins worth 185,000 guilders. After a brief stop at the Cape of Good Hope the VERGULDE DRAECK followed the Brouwers route to the East Indies but struck a reef off the Western Australian coast on 28 April 1656. The ship broke up and 75 survivors were marooned on the mainland with only a few provisions and stores. Albertszoon dispatched Under Steersman Abraham Leeman and six other crew to get help, and after a 40 day voyage in the ship's boat they successfully reached Batavia. On hearing the news of the wreck, two Dutch ships were sent to search for survivors. The ships failed to find any survivors and returned to Batavia after five months. Two more expeditions were mounted in the following years however they encountered various difficulties and failed to turn up any of the missing crew. Eventually in 1658 the possibility of any future searches was ruled out by the VOC.

    Additional Titles

    Web title: Slate pencil from the wrecked VERGULDE DRAECK

    Collection title: ANCODS (Australian Netherlands Committee on Old Dutch Shipwrecks) collection

    Primary title: Slate pencil, excavated from the wreck site of the VERGULDE DRAECK (GILT DRAGON)

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