IR F. BAAY
Length: 95.8 cm
Provenance: Netherlands, private collection
Whaling for the extraction of traan (oil) took place in two periods in Golden Age Holland. The early period (1614-1640, the time of the Greenland Company) was characterised by the hiring of Basques, who had practised whaling, when still possible off their own coast, for centuries. Dutch whaling took place in the bays of Svalbard, Bear Island and Jan Mayen Island in the Arctic Ocean, where the animals were mostly hiding. Processing the carcasses and boiling out the bacon was done on the beaches of the islands, where large cooking pots had been built and small settlements formed. Mutual envy mainly with the English operating in the same area, caused much damage to the cookeries. Climatic conditions (the Little Ice Age) also influenced the intensity of whaling during the seventeenth century. There were no special requirements for the ships in this period; they served primarily to transport the bacon or whale oil.
The second period (1660- 1690 and later) was different, as the Company had lost its patent and free trade struck. Another difference was that they had to go further out into the open sea, as the bays had gradually become empty. Since processing now had to take place on board, it became necessary to acquire ships with wide decks. Moreover, yacht sloops had to be able to be taken on board, to which end a gallow was placed over the campaign and the main mast was made heavier. Thick fenders protected the hull from damage when lifting the sloops. Often the ships were also fitted with doublers, a second skin, against the pack ice.
The Paerel’s model contains all the characteristics of a whaler’s flute from this period.
It is no wonder that not many original seventeenth-century ship models have survived, as the materials used have different lifespans. In particular, that of the textile of sails and ropework is limited to about 150 years. This rigging decays at a rapid rate and the only way to make the ship look decent again is a total replacement. Paint lasts slightly longer, but also requires attention after several centuries. Metal oxidises and corrodes surrounding materials. Finally, the wood itself deforms over the years and is susceptible to insect damage, drying out and rotting. The appearance of a model that has defied several centuries untreated usually does not deserve any beauty prize.
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