Bookkeeper-General Batavia. The Circulation of Commodities of the Dutch East India Company in the Eighteenth Century

Edited by Judith Schooneveld-Oosterling. With cooperation by Gerrit Knaap, Nicolien Karskens, Dorine Smit-Maarschalkerweerd, Sander Tetteroo, Joris van den Tol, Herman Nijhuis, Koen van Wijk, Anna Kunst, Jolanda Buijs, Maarten Jongma and Remco Boer.

This database offers information concerning the circulation of commodities as found in the administration of the Bookkeeper-General (Boekhouder-Generaal) of the Dutch East India Company (Verenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie, for short VOC) in Batavia.

For two centuries the Dutch East India Company (VOC) transported over a thousand different products, from apricots to sauerkraut, and from arrack to pocket watches. To do this the VOC used thousands of ships, varying from return ships with a maximum of 1150 tons, to smaller vessels as barques and sloops, which were used mostly for the trade within the East Indian archipelago. The commercial traffic of the entire charter area was recorded by the accountant-general and his clerks in Batavia. Each year copies of the ledgers, trade books and journals were sent to the Chambers in Amsterdam and Zeeland.

Of these copies fifty-five volumes of the eighteenth-century have been preserved in which, for each financial year, was recorded how many and which products were shipped between patria and the charter area, and between the colonies themselves. These fifty-five volumes constitute the sources for this overview.

In the database the freight traffic and the corresponding ship movements, not only between patria and Asia but also within Asia itself, are being systematically categorized. The database has been built around ship journeys. Data that have been included are the ship name, the place of departure and arrival, the date of arrival or departure, the transported products and their value. The various measuring units that were used to describe the volume or weight of a certain product have also been included, as well as the thousands of specifications that were added by clerks to specify the product in detail.