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Scheepjesschelling: 6 Stuiver coin from the United Providences Dutch Republic

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The Model of a War Ship at the Rijks Museum - Amsterdam Scheepsmodel William Rex Vriend, Adriaen de, Davidsen, Adriaen, and Moerman, Cornelis 1698:
This model shows what a Dutch warship looked like at the end of the 17th century. The model was built at the Vlissingen shipyard where real warships were also built. These were more than twelve times as large. This ship has 74 guns on board. The showpiece was set up in the meeting room of the Zeeland Admiralty in Middelburg.

As the end of the 17th Century rolled up, the amazingly successful Dutch Republic, despite several political and diplomatic setbacks, and with its military power waning, was still able to cement it's place on the world stage on the strength of the reputation and trust in the Dutch burger class. Dutch efforts to establish the financial and banking center for the world succeeded. The Bank of Amsterdam, the Dutch East Indian Company, and the enormous Dutch merchant fleet provided not just the best standard of living in the world for the United Providences, as expressed by per capita GDP, but the Dutch also managed to maintain a position of neutrality in the wars between the different European states, which they maintained through diplomacy until the hostilities between France and England overflowed into what is today known as the Continental System. The Continental System was the system by which the English declared an embargo on Napoleonic France and in which France maintained military dominance over much if mainland Europe, creating a tangle for neutral countries, and leading eventually to the Fourth Anglo-Dutch war, the American war of 1812, and a stymied Dutch economy.

In exchange for Dutch neutrality, up until that point, European nations received back critical Dutch services, such as a well regulated and standardized currency for frictionless commerce, a stable and profitable banking system in the Bank of Amsterdam, which provided liquidity, and debt services. Even European Sovereigns wanted access to Dutch capital. Additionally, the Dutch merchant fleet provided reliable trade and shipping, especially to the Orient, which did more than just benefit the Netherlands as a Colonial Power. The Dutch Merchant fleet was an asset for the entire European colonial effort and available for hire at the right price.

Dutch projection of its military power was built on its navy. And while that military threat was greatly diminished. By the 1790's, both the appearance and reputation of such power was essential to maintaining Dutch independence. By the end of the 1600's though, the Dutch navy was severely undermanned and under funded. There were not enough war ships and the ships they had were undermanned despite the availability of an enormous Dutch Merchant fleet and all those experienced sailors of Dutch origins. By this time, the Dutch were sick of paying for a vast military and even more sick of serving in it. In many ways it was a mature modern society with a broad middle class. And this manifested in its economy, and in its political and military decisions.

Close up of the Model: Scheepsmodel William Rex, Adriaen de Vriend, Adriaen Davidsen, Cornelis Moerman, 1698 The Battle of Terheide, Willem van de Velde (I), 1657 Close up of the Pencil Painting

The Rijks Museum in Amsterdam has a lovely room dedicated to its naval past, which includes the huge model picutred above and many pencil paintings. These crazy Dutchmen actually rowed into Naval battles to make sketches of the battles, and then created these incredible pencil painting, as well as numerous oil works all of which was entirely new to the art world. These works of art largely informed the entire art world about nautical subjects, and they were copied for centuries in technique and subject. And then the Dutch adapted the subject for coins.

In the course of Western Civilization, the relationship between people and coinage had slowly evolved. Both commerce and government had a stake in the valuation of coinage for both domestic and international trade, and in maintaining the standards for the composition of coins. By the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries, technology greatly complicated this relationship as purer and plentiful sources of precious and semi-precious metals become available. The point of the precious metal was to gain universal acceptance of the value of coins so that they can be traded as frictionless commodities in the economy.

Scheepjesschelling: 6 Stuiver coin from the United Providences Dutch Republic


8 months ago
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