The Amsterdam Treasure Room

The Amsterdam Treasure Room used to be the safe of the Nederlandsche Handel-Maatschapij (Dutch Trade Company). Wealthy Amsterdammers gave their most precious possessions for safekeeping here. This safe room is now part of the City of Amsterdam City Archives (Stadsarchief Amsterdam) in The Netherlands. It is located at De Bazel.

The City of Amsterdam City Archives presents treasures from its archives and collections.
The Treasure Room includes historical photos by famous Amsterdam photographers.

Two visitors of the Kwaku Festival at the Bijlmerpark, 1992. Photo by Dorian Kransberg.

The Kwaku Festival has been celebrated at the Bijlmerpark (now called the Mandelapark) every summer as of 1975.
It started out as a Surinamese football tournament, but has since grown into a large multicultural festival.

Mayor Harman Hendrik van de Poll was one of the Amsterdam citizens to invest in slave ship De Watervliet in 1743. The ship first sailed to the west coast of Africa, where it took on 462 enslaved men, women and children. By the time they arrived in Suriname, a Dutch colony on the north eastern coast of South America, 62 had died due to disease, lack of food or maltreatment. For the others, the hardest part was yet to come: life on the plantation. The ship would then travel back to Amsterdam filled with coffee and raw sugar, produced with slave labour.

This journey by De Watervliet was one of at least 323 slave transports that were completed by Amsterdam-based ships throughout the 17th and 18th century. Over 115,000 slaves were transported from Africa to the plantations in the colonies; over 18,000 of them did not survive the journey.

The trip of the slave ship De Watervliet, 1743-1745

8 October 1743: Departure from Amsterdam

22 October 1743: Departure from Texel

25 November 1743: Departure from Duinkerke

8 January 1744: Departure from Plymouth

June 1744: Arrival in Guinea

8 February 1745: Arrival in Suriname

25 June 17:45: Departure from Curaçao

27 August 1745: Arrival in Texel

The Hegt en Sterk plantation in Suriname, around 1750

This coffee plantation was located along the Commewijne river in Suriname. At the centre is the plantation owner’s grand home. On the left are the so-called ‘neegerhuisen’ or ‘negro houses’, the slaves’ quarters.

A collecting pot for molasses and a sugar mould, used in Amsterdam’s sugar manufacturing industry, found during archeological survey, dating back to the 17th or 18th century.

The city’s sugar refineries turned the raw sugar that was shipped from the plantations into molasses and regular sugar. This is how products that had been grown by virtue of slave labour ended up on the kitchen tables of many homes.


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