Education

Invoice Listing Goods Shipped from Amsterdam to New Netherland, July 21, 1654 and August 1, 1654


Historical Context
The West India Company brought the first settlers to New Netherland to gather beaver pelts to sell back in the Netherlands but they had a hard time finding enough people to settle the colony. In an effort to attract more people, the company decided to give private entrepreneurs pieces of land in New Netherland if the entrepreneurs (patroons) promised to ship fifty colonists to it within four years. So, in 1631, a Dutch diamond merchant named Killiaen van Rensselaer bought a large tract of land around Fort Orange from the Mahicans who had long lived there. He established a "patroonship," or private farming community, which he named Rensselaerswijck. Many patroons bought land, but Kiliaen Van Rensselaer was the only one who was able to build a successful colony. His patroonship, Rensselaerswyck, lasted into the nineteenth century, passing down through generations of the Van Rensselaer family.

 

Kiliaen Van Rensselaer never visited America, but he worked hard to make his patroonship a success. Rensselaerswyck grew quickly, with a steady stream of farmers and tradesmen coming from Europe. Farming was the main activity in the patroonship. The products of farming were used to support the growing patroonship, but also the settlers in colonies nearby. Van Rensselaer had thought that the nearby West India Company settlement of Fort Orange, in the area of present day Albany, and his own colony of Rensselaerswyck would be mutually supporting: the fort would provide protection, and the patroonship would supply the fort with goods. Van Rensselaer hoped to make a profit by selling goods to the settlers in the fort. But the two settlements were so close to each other that they competed for profits, leading to a tense relationship between the patroon and the West India Company that controlled the fort.

 
Essential Question
How did the residents of Rensselaerswyck attempt to satisfy their basic economic needs?

 
Check for Understanding
Explain why these items would be needed in the colony.
[click to enlarge]
Invoice from the van Rensselaer Letters and Invoices , New York State Library, NYSL_sc7079-b31-f01-02b
Document Description
Listing of goods and their values to be shipped from Amsterdam and sold in New Netherland by Cornelius van Schel and Jeremias van Rensselaer. Signed by Anna van Rensselaer. Dated July 21, 1654 and August 1, 1654.

 
Questions
  1. What is the purpose of this document?
  2. Sort the items into categories.
  3. What does the phrase “to our best advantage” at the beginning of the invoice mean?
  4. Based on the evidence in the document, predict what will happen to the items listed in the invoice.
Translation
Amsterdam, July 21, 1654

Given to Messieurs my cousins, Cornelis van Schel and Jeremias van Renselaer, the following goods, to take with them in the ship De GelderseBlom, skipper Symen Claessenvander Graft. The goods are numbered and priced as follows, to be sold to our best advantage.

E N° A            12 yards @ 26 st. a yard…………………………. fl. 15: 12

  25 yards of lace, N° D @ 2 ¼ st. a yard………….        2: 16:4

1 ring on 1 hat......................................................... 3: --

B 1 piece of rattinet; costs...........................................     10: 5

A 1 piece ditto; costs...................................................12:--

C 3 yards of fine braid @ 50 st. a yard……………… 7:10___

fl. 51: 3:4



Books

‘t Leven en Bedryf van Frederick Hendrick,

prince van Orange[1]........................................................fl. 1:10

‘t Leven en Bedryf van Hendrick de Groote[2]………………..     --:14

French and Dutch Testament…………………………………    1:10

Het Mercktecken der Salicheyt……………………………….   --:12

Vondel'sJosep[3]………………………………………………    --: 14

Another book, treating of Faith………………………………    --: 6:12

fl. 56: 10: 0

GERRIT LAMBERTSE KOCK AND

JAN VAN WELY

Endorsed: Account of Gerae[r]t Kock and Joan van Weely.

 



Anno 1654, the 1st of August

[Goods] Given to Jeremias to take with him to [be traded by

him in New Netherland] if it please God to grant him

a safe passage:

14 pairs of knives and forks, cost……….[                 ]

2 pieces of white gansenoogen [diapered

linen], No. [ ]………………….…. [                 ]

2 pieces of white bombanzine, No. 4 at... [

12 hat clasps and 12 breeches buttons,

cost together.......................................... [                 ]

For Leonora 2 pistols at............................ [                 ]

For Susanna 2 pistols at............................ [                 ]

For Hillegonda No.1, 200 yds.nonpareil

[camleteen] at 1 st. [ ]....................[                 ]

No.2, 50 yds.ditto at 1st. 2 p. ..................[                 ]

No.3, 55 yds.hanekampomet at 1 st.l0p.. [ ]

Total [ ]

Further, Jeremias has with him to be traded:

A leather doublet

A Turkish grosgrain suit

A colored satin doublet and cloth breeches

For the following goods he is to demand beavers cash

and to send them over at the first opportunity:

A cloth suit of Nicolaas

A cloth suit of Rycgart

ANNA VAN RENSSELAER





[1]Isaac Commelin, Frederick Hendrick Van Nassauw Prince van Orangien, zynleven en bedryf. 2 vols. Utrecht, 1652.



[2]P. C. Hooft. Henrik de Grote. zynleven en bedryf, Amsterdam.1626. A revised edition of this life of King Henri IV, of France, waspublished in 1638.



[3]Either Joost van den Vondel'sJoseph in Egypten, or his Joseph inDothan; both written in 1640 and published at Amsterdam in 1644.