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Description

Extremely rare early broadside news view showing the Dutch Fleet visiting the Pepper plantations in Bantam (Java), illustrating the earliest Dutch attempt to trade in the region.

At least one commentator has speculated that this is the engraving work of Georg Keller in Frankfurt.

The view shows the trading efforts in Java attempted by the Compagnie van Verre of Amsterdam. The Compagnie was established in 1594 by nine citizens of Amsterdam, with the purpose of breaking up Portugal's monopoly on the pepper trade. The Compagnie outfitted and sent three heavily armed ships and a pinnace under the leadership of Cornelis de Houtman, with orders to break into the trade.

On April 2, 1595 the ships set off from Texel, with 248 officers and men on board. The expedition followed the routes described by van Linschoten, who had earlier been in the service of the Portugese and described the route in his book. In June 1596, the ships arrived at Bantam, the most important pepper port in the Western part of Java. The attempt to purchase Pepper was largely unsuccessful, with the Portugese traders in the region blocking most of the Dutch efforts to trade. During the return trip, on January 11 1597, the Amsterdam was badly damaged and had to be left behind at the island of Bawean. On August 14, 1597 the expedition arrived back in Amsterdam with only 87 survivors. While the voyage was not a success commercially, it encouraged further expeditions to the region and helped to break the Portugese stranglehold on the reigon.

In 1598 the Compagnie van Verre merged with the Nieuwe Compagnie, and in 1597 with the Oude Compagnie. The resulting company then merged with the Nieuwe Brabantsche Compagnie in 1601 to form the Verenigde Amsterdamse Compagnie, which in turn merged with many other companies (including the Verenigde Zeeuwse Compagnie) in 1602 into the Dutch East India Company (VOC), retaining a room in the VOC's chambers in Amsterdam.

The view is of the utmost rarity. We note only a single institutional example at the Einblattdrucke Gustav Freytag Universit├Ątsbibliothek in Frankfurt. This example was acquired in 2014 from Norbert Haas.