Dishes, coins and pipes: The epistemological and emotional power of VOC material culture in Australia

Book chapter


Broomhall, Susan. (2016) Dishes, coins and pipes: The epistemological and emotional power of VOC material culture in Australia. In In A. Gerritsen and G. Riello (Ed.). The Global Lives of Things: The Material Culture of Connections in the Early Modern World pp. 145 - 161 Taylor & Francis. https://doi.org/10.4324/9781315672908
AuthorsBroomhall, Susan
EditorsA. Gerritsen and G. Riello
Abstract

Somewhere around 25 October 1616, the crew of the Dutch East India Company vessel Eendracht spied an unfamiliar stretch of coastline. Quickly surveying the area, skipper Dirck Hartogh called upon the cook to fl atten a large pewter plate and be ready to engrave it with the message he dictated. This is what it read:

1616, on the 25th of October is here arrived the ship de Eendracht of Amsterdam; the upper-merchant Gillis Miebais, from Luick; skipper Dirck Hatichs, from Amsterdam; on the 27th do. set sail again for Bantam; the under-merchant Jan [Stins]; the upper-steersman Pieter [Doekes from Bil]. Anno 1616. 1

The plate was nailed to a post on the northern edge of what is now Dirk Hartog Island (Figure 6.1). There it remained until 1697 when fellow Company captain Willem de Vlamingh found it lying in the sand at the foot of the then rotting pole, and brought it to the Netherlands where it could be added as early evidence of the Company’s mastery over the known globe. Vlamingh replaced it with his own version, also a large pewter plate, replicating Hartogh’s words in a kind of homage to his forebear and adding his own name and dates to the history of Dutch East India Company claims over the South Lands. 2

In this way, two plates on which dinner might well have been served the previous night, became embedded in deeply emotional colonising politics regarding Australia. Objects – from trinkets and toys to precious metal and textiles – had always formed part of the Dutch East India Company’s (VOC) strategies of encounter with the South Lands in this period. But many more became part of it, through such unexpected uses as did Hartogh’s plate or through shipwrecks that brought coins, glassware, jugs, plates, pipes, and even a consignment of shoes, to the Western Aus-

to, and embedded in, power relations, expressed in social and emotional forms and practices, between Europeans and indigenous peoples in what is now Australia.

Page range145 - 161
Year2016
Book titleThe Global Lives of Things: The Material Culture of Connections in the Early Modern World
PublisherTaylor & Francis
ISBN9781138776661
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.4324/9781315672908
Scopus EID2-s2.0-84960503498
Research GroupInstitute for Humanities and Social Sciences
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