East India Company coin

Money from the 16th century

In the late 16th century, ships from Holland and Zeeland sailed to India for the first time in order to import spices. They paid with gold or silver. This trade led to the foundation of the Dutch East India Company in 1602.

Every year, the merchants shipped out chests holding some 6.5 million guilders in coins to Asia. They returned to the Netherlands with bales of herbs, tea and spices. Sailors were paid around 10 guilders per month. A captain’s commission was worth considerably more: sixty guilders per month. The products were exorbitantly dear: the expression ‘pepper-expensive’ (peperduur) is still used in Dutch today. The profits mainly went to the shareholders. The Dutch East India Company was the first to issue shares.