The complete collection of the Westfries Museum comprises 30,000 objects. Together they paint a picture of the cultural history of the region West-Friesland. The accent lies on the period between 1500 and 1800: the build-up, prime and aftermath of the Golden Age.
The objects concerning the United East Indian Company, the V.O.C., form an important part of the collection. The fact that the V.O.C. maintained trade relations between East Asia and the Republic is known. What is less known is the fact that the United East Indian Company (Compagnie) had an extensive trade network within Asia. In actual fact the Compagnie was the first multinational with its own shares. And in 1680 the Compagnie employed approx. 22,000 (!) men just in Asia alone. The pursuit of monopoly for the production to be traded resulted in enormous prosperity in the 17th century. In the course of the 18th century the Compagnie declined due to the downswing of the Republic’s economy, smuggling, weakening of the naval forces and contract dodging.
The directors and the high V.O.C. officials have been portrayed often, like the directors in the painting of Johan de Baen and Jan Pietersz. Coen’s portrait (probably painted by Jacob Waben). However, of the hundreds of thousands of seamen of the Compagnie we only know their names, not their faces. Without them the long trips to Asia in the 17th and 18th century would not have been possible.