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Brass button from the ZEEWIJK wreck site

Date: before 1727
Dimensions:
Overall: 13 mm, 2 g
Medium: Brass
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Transferred from Australian Netherlands Committee on Old Dutch Shipwrecks
Object Name: Button
Object No: 00016353
Place Manufactured:Nederland

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    Description
    This undecorated brass button was excavated from the wreck site of the ZEEWIJK, a Dutch East India Company vessel wrecked off the Western Australian coast in 1727.
    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.
    HistoryThe ZEEWIJK was constructed by the Dutch East India Company in 1725. On 7 November 1726 the ship, with a crew of 208 commanded by Jan Steyns, departed for Batavia (present day Jakarta), with a cargo consisting of ironwork, coins and general items. On 26 March 1727 the ZEEWIJK arrived at the Cape of Good Hope to deliver goods, and set sail again on 21 April. Despite the warnings from the Dutch East India Company of low reefs and sandbanks off the Western Australian Coast, Steyns changed course and took ZEEWIJK too close to the coast. On 9 June 1727 ZEEWIJK struck a reef in the Houtman Abrolhos islands.

    The vessel did not break up immediately, but due to rough weather the longboat could not be launched for over a week. Ninety six of the crew and their salvaged provisions eventually reached Gun Island, and soon after, a group of 11 men set sail in the long boat for Batavia to obtain help. The long boat never reached its destination, and by October the castaways began constructing a vessel from salvaged material which they named SLOEPIE. In March 1728 the survivors left the island for a month long journey to Batavia. The boat was fitted with weapons salvaged from ZEEWIJK to protect the cargo of coins they took with them. Eighty-two of the crew arrived at Batavia on 30 April 1728.

    In 1840 during HMS BEAGLE'S survey of the Australian coast the crew found relics of the castaway's camp site on Gun Island, including a bronze Dutch East India Company cannon after which the island was named. The wreck of ZEEWIJK was identified in the 1960's after artefacts were found in the reef. The ZEEWIJK is protected under the Historic Shipwrecks Act 1976.
    Additional Titles

    Primary title: Button, excavated from the wreck site of the ZEEWIJK

    Web title: Brass button from the ZEEWIJK wreck site

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

    Related Sites Pelsaert Group - Gun Island

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