Nederlandsche scheeps-bouw-konst open gestelt, 1697

by Wendy van Duivenvoort





The works of Nicholaes Witsen (1671) and Cornelius van IJk (1697) are essential sources for the study of 17th-century Dutch shipbuilding. Their works are the earliest and only two Dutch manuscripts on shipbuilding from the 17th century. Cornelis van IJk published his book Nederlandsche scheeps-bouw-konst open gestelt* in 1697 (26 years after Witsen's manuscript). The first edition was printed by Andries Voorstad in Delft .

As a shipwright from Delfthaven, Cornelis van IJk did not descend from an upper social class. He was a descendant of a family of shipwrights. As a son and grandson of ship carpenters, he became an apprentice on a shipyard at the age of 12. He must have been making drawings at an early age and after his uncle, also a shipwright, left him a thick pile of shipbuilding notes, he probably decided to write his book.

In his book, van IJk discusses, a variety of topics: the history of shipbuilding, galley construction, English and French shipbuilding, timber and timber prices, sailing and outfitting ships, and so on. He also provides a table with overall measurements of different sizes of Dutch ships. He did know Witsen's work very well, as he prices it in his introduction and cites it quite often in his own text. Although van IJk writes from the standpoint of his experience as a shipwright and obviously knows very well what he is talking about, Witsen's work is much more detailed.

Like Nicolaes Witsen in his book Architectura navalis et regimen nauticum, Cornelis describes the design and construction of a complete vessel from step one, but focuses more on practical than on theoretical matters. His discussion is somewhat general and does not go into specific detail, but from his descriptions we do get to know which steps are taken in assembling ships. Unlike Witsen, he is obviously referring to a frame-based construction method used in Dutch shipbuilding during the 17th century, which probably made its way in to the Lowlands in the second half of the 17th century. It seems that the new shipbuilding technique was first introduced to the southern parts of the Netherlands and eventually made its way up north. The works of Witsen and Van IJk form the theoretical foundation of Dutch naval architecture in the 17th century, and also represent a change in contruction method used in shipbuilding.

* Translates literally as: Dutch Shipbuilding Opened Up.


Anonymous. 1719. L'art de batir les vaisseaux et d'en perfectionner la construction: de les ganir de leurs apparaux, les mettre en funin, les manoeuvrer, &c. . . . outre les pavillons de divers etats. Le tout tire' des meilleurs auteurs Hollandois, comme Witsen, van EIJk, Allard, &c. Amsterdam: David Mortier.

Hoving, A.J., and R. Parthesius. 1994. "Hollandse scheepsbouwmethoden in de zeventiende eeuw." In Batavia cahier 3: Herbouw van een Oostindiëvaarder, 5-11.

Roeper, V., R. Parthesius, and L. Wagenaar. 1995. De Batavia te water. Amsterdam: De Bataafsche Leeuw.

Van IJk, C. 1691. De Nederlandsche scheeps-bouw-konst open gestelt: vertoonende naar wat regel, of evenredenheyd ... mitsgaders masten, zeylen, ankers ... Delft: Gedrukt by Andries Voorstad ... voor Jan ten Hoorn.

van Loon, F.N. 1980. Beschouwingen van Nederlandsche scheepsbouw.- Handleiding tot den burgerlijken scheepsbouw. Buitenpost: Jansma.

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