The cowrie was an important currency during the period of the slave trade in West Africa. The shell was utilised for both very modest everyday payments as well as very large transactions. The cowries were used for ballast on the VOC ships on their return voyages to Europe. In the Netherlands, the shells were then sold to the WIC for export to West Africa. Amsterdam and London were the main European cities for the trade in cowries. Traders would travel to Amsterdam from France, Denmark and Portugal to purchase cowries
This engraving was made between 1713 and 1718. On the right we see the Maroni river, where the Leusden was foundered and to left the Suriname river the planned destination of the ship. The title of the map (lower left) reads : New map of Surinam showing the rivers and regions of Suriname, Comowini, Cottica and Marawini.
Cutting down of the masts of the Woestduin, 1779. The Woestduin, a merchantman from the East India Company, foundered near the coast of Flushing (Vlissingen) on its way back from Indonesia (Jakarta formerly named Batavia) to the Netherlands on the 24th of July 1779.
Jan Pranger was Director-General of the Dutch West India Company on the Gold Coast (now Ghana) in West Africa from 1730 to 1734. He stands in his office at the Fort Elmina trading post. All the details underscore the importance of his position: the servant with the parasol (pajung), the commander’s baton on the table and the monogram, GWC, of the Chartered West India Company on the tablecloth. As is told in chapter 10 Jan Pranger was Director- General during the 7th and the 8th voyage of the Leusden.
Map of West African (Guinea) coast with the most important forts and factories (trading stations) during the period of the trans-Atlantic slave trade.
Prospect of St. Georges castle
This picture is based on accounts of Jean Barbot (1655-1712) a slave trader, who was in the employment of the Compagny du Sénégal. His account of his visits to West Africa was published in 1732. In 1745 John Raphael Smith made this painting according to the writings of Barbot. On the painting from left to right: Elmina (Dutch), Saint Jago (Dutch army residence), Cape Corse or Cape Coast Castle (British), Fort Royal (British) and Mouri or Mouree (Dutch).
During a short period the island of Saint Eustatius was the most important slave depot for the WIC. From here slaves were distributed to the surrounding island. The Leusden was the first WIC slave ship to deliver captives to this island in 1719. Because of the dominance of the English in the slave trade the Dutch decided to stop the trade to Saint Eustatius and Surinam became the most important region for the delivery of African captives.
St Georges Castle is located on the Gold Coast, now Southern Ghana. First built by the Portuguese in 1482 and named São Jorge da Mina (Saint George of the mines). It was the first trading post built on the Gulf of Guinea, so is the oldest European building in existence below the Sahara. The Dutch seized the fort in 1637, and took over all the Portuguese Gold Coast in 1642. It was used by the Dutch until 1814; the Dutch referred to the castle and the surrounding village as Elmina. In 1872 the Dutch Gold Coast, including the fort, became a possession of the British Empire.
The shipyard of the Admiralty of Amsterdam was opposite the wharf where the Leusden was built. The governors of the WIC often asked the people from the Admiralty to help them to check the construction of new ships before they gave the shipbuilder their final consent to build the ship. The painting is from Ludolf Bakhuijsen and painted between 1655 and 1660. The WIC was established in 1621 so at the time Bakhuijsen painted the Admiralty shipyard the WIC was already building their ships opposite this place.
The slave ship Brookes, build in 1781 in Liverpool, made ten voyages between 1781 and 1805. A total of 5122 captives were embarked of whom 4729 reached the Americas alive. The image of the Brookes was very important for the British abolitionists. With this image they were able to show the people how inhumane and terrible the trade in human beings was.
The Zeeland Chamber of the WIC conquered Suriname from the English in 1667. The settlement called Paramaribo was renamed New Middelburg, same as the capital of the province of Zeeland. The map was made in the 17th century, and published by Reinier Ottens (middle 18th century).