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Porcelain with VOC mark

Porcelain with VOC mark

My wife works for an importer who specializes in Balinese items.

He brought the attached items back a few months ago.

We were hoping you could give us some idea of their history, value and/or general authenticity.

Thank you for any help you could give us.

Recent fakes

I always hesitate to express my feelings when they are as negative as in this case. Please consider though that my opinion is only my personal - as a collector - and not as a commercial appraiser.

These pieces would be very rare and very valuable if they were authentic, which of course is the actual reason why "replicas" are made in the first place.

I would strongly encourage you to seek a professional opinion if you have paid anywhere near the "market value" of genuine pieces, which would be several thousand $.

The historical background is quite interesting though. The VOC actually stands for the Verenigde Oostindische Compagnie. It was founded March 20, 1602 as a result of the joining of forces of several small Dutch trading companies.

All had the common goal of increasing trade with the East Indies.

Its purpose was also to fight the enemies of the state, and to try to prevent other European nations from expanding trade in the region.

While the abbreviation VOC correctly should be translated "United East India Company", the common name used today are the "Dutch East India Company" to separate it from the numerous other European East India Companies such as the English, Swedish, Danish, French, Austrian etc.

Remarkable enough, the traders were given power to govern and adjudicate in their new territory, to maintain armed forces, enter treaties and produce coinage. These activities left a fascinating, sometimes frightening, history.

The VOC was granted a monopoly of trade from the Cape of Good Hope eastwards to the Strait of Magellan, and sovereign rights to all territory acquired in the region.

In the late 1660s the VOC owned 40 war vessels and 160 merchantmen, and had a payroll of over 10,000 soldiers.

The main trade route of the VOC was from the Netherlands southward in the Atlantic then around the Cape (Cape Town, South Africa established in 1652 as a provisioning stop) and eastward to the Indies.

The headquarters in Asia was established in 1619 by Jan Pieterszoon Coen (1587-1629), booming by the late 1600s at Batavia, Indonesia, is now the city of Jakarta.

From 1605-65 Spain and the Netherlands fought an intractable war in the region, as a result of which Portugal (part of Spain from 1580-1640) lost virtually all of its territory in the Indonesian archipelago, the Malay Peninsula, Ceylon, the Malabar Coast and Japan.

The British were driven out of the Malay region and the Moluccas.

Commercially the company was initially highly successful. Its charter was renewed for financial recompense to the government every two decades. In the first 94 years of business, the dividends paid to shareholders never fell below 12 percent, and rose as high as 63.

After 1700 the company declined however, due to the loss of Formosa, declining trade in Japanese silver, competition from other nations, internal bickering, and dissatisfaction with its treatment of local residents.

By 1798 the company was bankrupt and profitless, and was taken over by the Batavian Republic.

Many of the ships of the VOC were wrecked, in sites ranging from the North Sea to the very harbor of Batavia (Jakarta). A rich heritage of artifacts has been recovered from them, including porcelain and China, pepper and spices, indigo and dies, wood, cooking vessels, armaments and shipboard equipment.

Very few of the porcelain pieces in the use of the VOC were ever marked and fakes with the VOC mark added to heighten interest, abounds today. Everything from clumsy South East Asian pieces that would not fool anyone except the most optimistic bargain hunters, to real good pieces, mostly looking as if they were Japanese.

There is a lot more to tell, but I hope this will do as at least an outline of the background.

Jan-Erik Nilsson