The Geldermalsen was one of 6 ships commissioned in 1746 by the Zeeland Chamber, the second most powerful of the six chambers of the VOC. The ships were merchant vessels which the VOC used for long-distance trade to the West Indies, and the Far East round the Cape to Batavia, Canton and South Chinese waters.
In 1751, while on its way way back to Netherlands with cargoes of Chinese goods loaded in Canton, it hit a coral reef and sank in the South China Sea. In 1986 the bulk of the cargo was salvaged by Captain Michael Hatcher and subsequently sold at Christie's in Amsterdam as the Nanking Cargo. Items excavated under controlled conditions and sold at the Christie's Nanking Cargo auction often have their lot number stickers still remaining.