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the vault

2 contemporary dutch painters
Nice gallery of two Dutch artists: oilpainting, watercolor's and drawings. Worth a visit.

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Dutch landscapes and other
free work of the
Dutch painter, illustrator
Piet Eggen

photographs from the Netherlands
Gallery of the Netherlands.
Click the picture to visit this growing database of pictures of Dutch landscapes, townviews, mill's and rivers.
(Amateur) photographers daily provide this database of new photographs from all over the country. If you want to have your personal photo of any place in the Netherlands added to this database, just feel free to contact me


...back2the 'old occupations'-page

Baker (bakker)
Basket weaver (Mandenvlechter)
Beachcomber (strandjutter)
Beguine (begijn)
Bleacher (bleeker)
Block-maker (blokmaker)
Brewer (bierbrouwer)
Bricklayer (Metselaar)
Candle maker (kaarsenmaker)
Carpenter (timmerman)
Cattle farmer (veehouder)
Charcoal burner (houtskool brander)
Cider maker
Cooper (kuiper)
Dike builder
Dog killer (hondenslager)
Dredger (modderman)
Dumpman (beltwerker)

Dyer (verwer)
Executioner (beul)
Fan maker (waaiermaker)
Farmer (landbouwer)
Fireman (brandweerman)
Fuller (voller)
Goldsmith (goudsmid)
Gravedigger (doodgraver)
Innkeeper (herbergier or waard)
Lime burner (Kalkbrander)
Mastmaker (mastmaker)
Night watch (nachtwacht)
Paper-maker (papiermaker)
Peat cutter (turfsteker)
Peddlar and hawker (marskramer and leurder)
Pharmacist (apotheker)

 

Physician (medicus)
Pile driver (heier)
Porter (kruier)
Potter (pottenbakker)
Rope-maker (touwslager or lijn-draaier)
Salt maker (zoutzieder or zoutbereider)
Seat Caretaker (plaatsbewaarster)
Seaweed cutter
Second-hand dealer (uitdraagster)
Servant-girl (dienstbode)
Ship's carpenter (scheepstimmerman)
Shipbuilder (scheepsbouwer)
Ship Shanghai (ronselaar)
Silk worker(Zijdewerker)
Silversmith (zilversmid)
Soap maker (zeepzieder)
Stonecutter (steendelver)
Stonemason (steenhouwer)
Streetpaver (stratenmaker)
Street sweeper
Streetlamp lighter (lantaarnopsteker)
Sugar-baker (suikerbakker)
Surgeon (chirurgijn)
Tanner (leerlooier)
Thatcher (rietdekker)
Timber merchant (houthandelaar)
Tinsmith (tinnegieter)
Tolltaker (tolgaarder)
Weaver (lakenwever)
Whalebone worker (baleinwerker)
Whale-oil worker (traankoker)
Wheelwright (wielmaker or radelaar)

Baker (bakker)
Bread has been the main ingredient on the menu until the end of the 18th century. The bakers of the 17th century could bake a variety of specific kinds of bread, but rye bread was the main food for the people. That's why the price, quality and the ingredients, like the amount of bran (used to make the bread heavier) were strictly regulated, but according to the bakers the price was too low. In order to get it their way, they made the bread smaller, but the authorities appointed official controllers, who had to measure and weigh the bread in the shops. It is obvious that these officials were far from popular. The bakers hired some men and women, who were posted at the homes of the controllers and the moment he left his house, all bakers on his route were warned, so they could hide their "illegal" bread.
The fact that the dough is kneaded with the hands is even today completely acceptable, although machines took over that job. But we can hardly believe, that the baker did the kneading with his feet, even until the 19th century.
The type of oven, which was used for baking bread, hardly changed throughout the centuries. The oven was made of heat-resistant stone and was heated with wood, branches, peat or sawdust. After heating the oven for some time, the fire was removed and the oven was washed. The stone walls, floor and ceiling of the oven had accumulated the heat and the bread was inserted. After a few times the oven was cooled down a little and the remaining heat was used for other articles, which needed lower temperatures.
But beside the rye bread the bakers were able to make very delicious fine bread in various kinds of quality and taste. The regulation concerning white bread and other luxurious kinds of bread were not as strict as for rye bread. The bread baker was not allowed to make biscuit, pie or pastry, since 1497 the guild had been split up and each delicacy had its own guild.
If you want to see a picture of the baker go to:

http://www.geneaknowhow.net/in/beroepen/luyken/bakker.html

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Basket weaver (Mandenvlechter)
Throughout the centuries the willow (not to be confused with the pollard willow) were the supplier of the twigs for all the weaving you can think of: Egg- and vegetable baskets, rat- and duck traps, laundry- and peat baskets and many more. The toughness of the young willow twig made the material ideal for its purpose and the fast growth guaranteed an almost inexhaustible supply for the weavers. The withies were cut, tied in bundles and placed upright in pits of water for several weeks, after that the rind was soft and would strip easily. In front of each worker was a wooden post about thigh high, on top of which were two pegs of iron between which the rods were stripped. The stripper placed an end between the pegs and pulled, bringing forth a clean supple rod, which was placed against a wall or hedge to dry. If buff colored rods were wanted they were boiled before stripping, the dye in the rind giving the co lour.
In winter the conditions in the basket maker's workshop were hardly comfortable; high temperatures made the twigs dry and they would be useless, because they would crack during weaving. First he took five strong twigs for the bottom of the basket; he laid them in a cross, three under, and two on top. He put his feet on the two on top and pulled them to the floor. Then he took about twenty-one twigs of about the same length and plaited them in the bottom. These were the vertical stakes of the basket through which he had to weave the horizontal twigs. These vertical stakes always had to be an odd number; if these were an even number the horizontal twigs would pass along the same side while weaving. After the basket was finished the ear-setter (orenzetter) would complete the basket. It's obvious that this man, usually an apprentice, only made the ears, the handles, for the basket.
If you want to see a picture of the basketweaver go to:

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Beachcomber (strandjutter)
Combing the beach started out of pure poverty. Unemployment and low wages made people roam the beaches to find anything useful and driftwood was used for the stove or for building houses. Since the Middle Ages it was the law that the goods, which washed ashore were handed over to the local authority, the landowner or the Mayor. In 1529 Charles V enacted a law in which a person, who kept his findings to himself, was to be considered a thief. But these laws were useless; nobody could check the entire coastline and traditions about beach combing were very hard to change.
If an abandoned ship washed ashore the authorities had to react very fast, because the beachcombers always wandered around the beaches especially during stormy weather, even at night. Plundering of those ships happened all the time; a ship's cargo was a very rich catch for the poor inhabitants of the coastal areas. People even started to make big fires on the beach in order to mislead the ships. In 1767 the VOC-ship "Vrouwe Elisabeth Dorothea" stranded on the coast of Holland and an eyewitness stated, that a rapacious mob was involved in plundering the rich ship. As a result of that incident a wreck-master was appointed in 1769 in every village along the coast and he and his helpers had to watch the entire coastline, especially during storms and even at night. Nowadays the local Mayor is the wreck-master and policemen are his helpers, because beach combing still exists.

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Beguine (begijn)
Although beguine is not a profession, it is obsolete, so I would like to tell something about it. Beguines were devoted virgins or widows, who were situated, by their special religious way of life, between civilians and nuns. They obeyed two rules: obedience and chastity. This movement started in the 12th century and originated from Brabant (what is now Belgium). The beguines settled in small houses around a church or near a convent and often a wall surrounded it, so it became a secluded community.
Although these women had possessions, they often owned the house they lived in, they lived according to the vow of poverty; they had sober furniture, allowed themselves no luxury and owned dog nor chicken. By this outlook on life and in later years by the fact that they stayed Catholic, they separated themselves from the rest of the world; they expressed that by their cloths too, a black wimple and a white apron. They volunteered for the tasks within the church, like cleaning and polishing. These religious women had to support themselves by knitting and washing. Contact with the outside world was limited to the absolute minimum. If a craftsman like a carpenter or silversmith had to work within the walls of the beguine court, there were strict regulations how to approach this man: only some coffee or tea, a sandwich for lunch, but no talking. They were also not allowed to receive presents and only at Sint Nicolaas, on 5 December, they could exchange small gifts. Until late in the 19th century these beguines lived their religious lives within their secluded communities.

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Bleacher (bleeker)
The materials used to weave cloth always had a variable gray to yellow color and to give it the desired shining white surface, people developed a special washing process and needed the help of sunlight. Bleaching fields were found everywhere and even in the 20th century people occasionally used their grassland to bleach their laundry. Due to the combination of the soft water from the dunes, the filtered sunlight and the sea wind the most important professional bleaching fields were found along the coastline of Holland and especially around the city of Haarlem. This made Haarlem to an important textile center; even English merchants bought linen, which was produced and bleached near Haarlem, sold it in England or exported it to their colonies. Thread was imported from Silesia, twined in Haarlem, used to weave cloth in Brabant and transported back to Haarlem to be bleached. When the textile industry of Haarlem declined in about 1650, the bleaching industry around the city survived and even flourished like never before.
For the bleaching process the bleachers not only needed the soft water, but also starch, bluing, soap, buttermilk and whey. This mixture was dumped in the ditches and polluted the water around Haarlem in such a way, that the bleachers soon had a conflict with the brewers, who needed the water as clean as possible. After the special washing process, the cloth was spread out on the fenced bleaching fields, guarded by special trained dogs, which were on a leash during the day, but patrolled the fields at night. After bleaching the cloth was ironed, folded and packed up. It's obvious this was a flourishing business, but it was typical seasonal work, it only lasted from March to September.
If you want to see a picture of the bleacher go to:

http://www.geneaknowhow.net/in/beroepen/luyken/bleker.html

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Block-maker (blokmaker)
If in marine-terms blocks were mentioned, people were talking about katrols or pulley blocks. On a large sailing-ship you could find dozens of blocks in all sizes and shapes, depending on their purpose. They were used as tackle or just to guide the rigging, especially where human strength was short. By using these rather simple tools a man could multiply his own strength or reduce the power from outside simply by using one or more small wheels. On sailing-ships, single- double- and triple disc blocks were used. Even blocks with four discs existed, but those were only used at shipyards. The more discs used, the more power could be developed, but also the slower it would get.
The wooden block was the casing of the katrol and was made of elm, ash, wood or oak. The ironwork was for the axle of the wooden wheel and for the hooks and eyes, which were used for fastening. Usually the wooden block was strengthened with ironwork; the shape of the ironwork was chiseled out of the wood and it was bent around the block and forged so it became one. Then the axle and wheel(s) were attached. The block-maker was not only a skilled woodworker, but a blacksmith too.

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Brewer (bierbrouwer)
At breakfast people used to drink buttermilk or whey, but the most popular drink for adults and children was beer. It is obvious, that beer was the people's drink number one, because every special occasion had its own beer; for birth, marriage and funerals, for fairs and guilds. But beer was not only used as drink, it was also used as food and especially for infants. It was made of bread, which was boiled in beer and it was called bierenbrood. Beer was mostly made out of hops and malted barley in different stages of fermentation, almost like our present beer. The barley was wetted and stored on a warm place until it germinated. Now it was put on a "daar", a large thin metal plate, under which a fire was burning. By the time it had reached certain hardness and a light brown color, it was grinded and was called malt. The brewer made a batter of malt and after it was filtered, it was pumped into the cauldron, where hops and other flavorings were added. For some kinds of beer fruits and herbs were used, like marjoram, rosemary and sometimes plums. The more hops were added, the more bitter the beer would taste, but it could be preserved longer against decay. The poor drank the tax-free "scharrebier", which was made byusing the malt for the second or even for the third time. This brewage had less taste and a lower alcohol percentage as the original product.
What the brewers needed most was clean water and mostly that was a problem and they had to get it from far away. The water in Holland was often brackish due to leaking sluices and that made the water useless for brewing beer. And industry used the water intensive for all purposes and most of the time the water was extremely polluted. The clean water was transported in ships and with special installations the water was elevated from the ship. In cold winters the supply of fresh water was a problem if the rivers froze over. The brewers ordered the building of icebreakers, which were pulled by dozens of horses to create a free passage for their priceless water. But beer from abroad was far more favored, so the beer-merchant (biersteker or bierbeschooier) imported a lot of beer from Germany or Brabant.
The distribution of the beer was often a problem too; the brewer had a constant shortage of barrels. The innkeepers and bartenders did not return the beer barrels; the barrels were lying about on the street or were used for other purposes. Only in 1786 someone got the idea of introducing deposits on the barrels and the brewers did not have to roam the town anymore to collect his empty barrels.
If you want to see how the fresh water was elevated from the ship and transported by a special chute from the quay into the brewery go to:

http://www.geneaknowhow.net/in/beroepen/luyken/brouwer.html

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Bricklayer (Metselaar)
The hod carrier brought the mortar up the ladder in hod (kalkmouw), anelongated iron tray. He had the hardest job, carrying the bricks and mortar. The bricklayer was a member of the St. Lucas guild, shoulder to shoulder with the painters and sculptors; was he considered to be an artist too? In 1660 he earned 24 pennies per day plus compensation for using his own tools. His assistant made only 18 pennies per day. At the end of the day the mortar was scratched out of the joints and after the bricklayer had finished the wall, the brickwork was pointed with special mortar, mixed with more lime or fine sand.

The pointerused the scaffolding, which was erected by the bricklayer and it was custom, that in exchange for the use of it, the pointer would disassemble it.
If you want to see a picture of the bricklayer go to:

http://www.geneaknowhow.net/in/beroepen/luyken/metselaar.html

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Candle maker (kaarsenmaker)
Even the Romans used tallow- and wax candles and they called it "candelae", which is the origin of the word candle. The Anglo-Saxon King Alfred the Great (849-894) had candles made of beeswax, which could measure the time; six candles burned for exactly 24 hours. Originally candles were used to honor the Gods and not for illumination. Before the Reformation the castle-church of Wittenberg used 35,750 pounds of candles each year. Due to the prices of candles people started to use them for illumination purposes only much later, until then they used torches.
The manufacturing of candles was a craft of patience; the candles were made by attaching twined flax spaced evenly on a long stick, dipping it into melted wax or grease and let it drip down and dry. This process had to be repeated until the candles had their required thickness. The candles made of beeswax were used in the churches, but the common man only had the ones made of animal fat, which produced a lot of smoke and an unpleasant smell. The wick of these cheap candles charred while burning and had to be shortened all the time in order to avoid soot and smoke. The use of the twined cotton wick was a tremendous improvement.
However not all candles were made this way, for the large ones forms were used, which were filled with melted wax. In theatres large trays full of wax were used with at least 160 burning wicks. It is obvious that this led to dangerous situations.
If you want to see a picture of the candle maker go to:

http://www.geneaknowhow.net/in/beroepen/luyken/kaarsenmaker.html

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Carpenter (timmerman)
In the past, village and townlet were self-supporting, recruiting artisans from their own people. In these small communities each occupation acts and re-acts on another, how unconnected they may appear. The depression of one throws the business of two or three others out of gear. The unexpected death of a wheelwright may delay the harvest of a farmer waiting for his wagons to be repaired, the closing of a forge adds to the expenses of others, because horses must me sent elsewhere to be shoed.
The carpenter had a number of occupations, which could effect almost all others. Often he was a builder, and the undertaker. He had his typical carpenter's shop; its large bench standing in the middle of the floor littered with shavings, tools lining its walls. Here he made parts of the wagons, furniture for the farmers and villagers, door- and window frames and coffins. Often he was called for to do some repairs on houses or barns.
The larger the community, the more specialized the carpenter was. In the towns furniture was made by the cabinetmaker, the undertaker had a business of his own, but in these small communities a table or a chair was ordered once in a few years. Allied with the carpenter's profession were a number of occupations, he could perform if business was low, but which were mostly done by the farmers themselves. The making of wooden hay-rakes is one example, or wooden pitchforks and handles for brushes. But normally the village carpenter had enough on his hands.
If you want to see a picture of a carpenter go to:

http://www.geneaknowhow.net/in/beroepen/luyken/timmerman.html

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Cattle farmer (veehouder)
Farming was a risky business in the 17th century. A lot of land was (and is) below sea level and all human ingenuity and constructions just failed too easily against the fierce powers of nature. Apart from his own living costs, the farmer normally had to pay tenancy to the landowner and even if he had a poor year, the squire had to be paid. The low grasslands flooded easily, that's why you did not find much cattle breeding in those days. If the hay harvest failed due to a wet summer or a flood, the farmer had a problem, because due to the wet and chilly Dutch climate the cattle had to stay inside in winter for a long time and without a stock of hay he could not feed his animals.
It was almost impossible for a farmer to make a living just cattle breeding; the risks were too high. Most Dutch farmers in the 17th century were not specialized agriculturers or cattle-breeders; they just had a small piece of land with some crops and a few animals for their own use. The farmer had to be versatile; he earned some extra money fishing and duck hunting, spinning and weaving, cutting and selling reed and making butter and cheese.
The cows gave an average of 5 liters of milk each day, the farmer's wife made butter or cheese out of it. Five liters of milk was enough for one pound of cheese, 15 liters for one pound of butter. The cheese was sold on the market, the merchants inspected it by knocking on it, cheese with a 'tick' was put aside; it would decay before it was eaten. The 'tick' was caused by dirt in the milk or in the curd (the bacterium within the cheese produces gas, which forms a cavity, you can detect it by knocking on it). The cheese-maker had to work with clean hands and proper tubs; some say that Dutch cleanliness has its origin in cheese making.

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Charcoal burner (houtskool brander)
The charcoal burner provided only a small part of the fuel for cooking and grilling; peat was available in far larger amounts. In England, with its large amount of woodland, the charcoal burner was more common than in Holland.
They built their hearths into circular shape, tapering from the base to the top. The building of the pile or hearth is not so simple as it appears; the billets cut to suitable lengths must stand upright with a slight slant towards the stout central stake, round which they are stacked loosely to allow circulation of air but exclude a draught. When the pile is finished it is covered with grass over which sand and earth is shoveled and pressed down carefully to keep out the air. Next the central stake is withdrawn and the hearth lighted by means of brushwood inserted near the top. The hole is then covered with a sod of turf and now all the charcoal burner has to do is wait. But in windy weather he has to be alert, because if the hearth breaks into flame it would be spoiled, so turf is kept handy to cover such an outbreak. If the weather is stormy screens may be erected. As the hearth burns it subsides slowly without breaking the seal. The volume and the color of the smoke tell the burner when the charcoal is almost complete. Then water is thrown over the pile to drive the steam inwards and extinguish the fire, the covering is withdrawn and the charcoal left to cool.
If you want to see a picture of a charcoal burner, go to:

http://www.fweb.org.uk/dean/deanhist/charcoal.htm

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Cider maker
The word "cider" is supposed to be derived from Hebrew and simply means "strong drink", although a millennium of usage now ties it in with apples. Once harvested, mid- and late-season fruit was stored up to a month or so. The major reason for this is, that starch in the fruit is still being converted into sugar even once the fruit is off the tree. It is desirable that this process should be complete before fermentation. The fruit had to be washed to remove soil, dead insects, leaves and rotten apples. It is fortunate, that healthy apples float in water (pears don't!), thus providing an easy way to wash and clean. The apples were first milled to a pulp, known as the "pomace", before the juice could be pressed out. Apple milling was done in a circular stone through by a rotating stone wheel drawn by a horse.
To extract the juice from the pulp, wooden screw "pack" presses were used. The apple pulp had first to be built into a "cheese" using alternate thin layers of pulp and straw. Pressure was then applied to the cheese, the straw providing drainage channels so that unfermented juice ("must") could flow to a receiving tray en thence to a barrel.
For hard cider the must was transferred to fermentation casks. To produce dry cider, fermentation continued until almost all sugar was converted to alcohol. For sweet cider, the juice was filtered at an early stage, to retain the required percentage of unfermented sugar. The initial fermentation process relied on the wild yeast present in the apples. After about three months maturation, the must was filtered to remove sediment and the cider was bottled.

 

 

Cooper (kuiper)
There used to be two kinds of coopers, the wet and the dry cooper. The dry cooper manufactured barrels, which were used for tobacco and apples. The quality requirements for materials used and for manufacturing were rather low. The work of the wet cooper demanded a far higher standard; he made barrels for herrings, for dairy products and for liquor. Barrels for herrings and rain barrel, for example, didn't require high quality materials or manufacturing. Cheese and liquor required higher quality materials for their barrels. Tubs and barrels for cheese-making were made of teak, for liquor Slavonic or American oak was used. These kinds of wood did not effect the color or tast of the liquor. But beer was not allowed to be in contact with any wood because it would mould and that's why the inside of the beerbarrels was covered with pitch. The kind of wood used also had a positive effect, enhancing the wine with its own flavours, think of French oak for cognac or chestnut for Italian vermouth.
The staves were sawed by hand in their conical shape and the edges were cut with a slicer. As soon as the unbent staves were the right size and shape, the cooper assembled those in a teepee shape using cast iron rings, which were only used during the production process of the barrel. The unbent staves were placed over a fire pot fueled with oak pieces and heated for approximately 20 minutes to soften the fiber, allowing the staves to bend into shape before heating for 45 minutes. Then the teepee was closed with a noose and the actual rings were attached. Instead of iron rings the cooper often used rings of willow twig. These hoops were first soaked in water to make them soft and supple and before they were attached they were rubbed with chalk, so they would not slide off. While drying up the willow shrank a little, so it was tightened some more. The inside of the barrel was smoothed with special tools, especially where the bottom and lid had to be inserted. In order to get a perfect fit, the rings around the edge were attached after the bottom was put in and the barrel was ready.
If you want to see a picture of the cooper go to:

http://www.geneaknowhow.net/in/beroepen/luyken/kuiper.html

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Dike builder
The first attempts at diking were done with simple sods of turf, but soon the first inhabitants of Holland discovered that using seaweed was a much better method. The advantage of this material was, that the dried seaweed became very hard if it was pressed together and it could stand erosion much better than the dikes made of soil. At outgoing tide a trench was dug out, which was filled with a layer of reed and filled with green seaweed. The dike was built as a wall and was about seven feet above sealevel and seven feet wide. It was held in place by wooden poles, which were driven into the ground.
Due to its steep shape this kind of dike was vulnerable to erosion at the waterlevel; the water which slid along the dike slowly wear out a groove in the lower parts. In order to avoid this erosion, short wooden walls were built at a right angle to the dike to "break" the heavy stream of the water. These walls were also a protection against the heavy and sharp drifting ice, which were a threat to the dikes too.
Around 1700 a disastrous animal in the shape of a tiny worm, imported from the Mediterranean Sea, made an end to all seaweed dikes. It dug itself into the wooden poles below the waterlevel, eat itself up to the surface and only a small storm was enough to break the poles at the waterline and the dike would slide into the sea. The authorities could not find any weapon against this enemy and from that moment on diking changed drastically; all dikes had to be covered with soil in a gentle slope. This was a very expensive operation and it lasted decades before all dikes were changed. But not all problems were solved, slowly the tides took the soil to the sea and it took fortunes to try and win this battle against the sea. At the end of the 18th century rubble and rocks were used to cover the dikes at the sea side to stop this erosion.

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Dog killer (hondenslager)
An old law dated 1413 limited the sizes of the dogs, which were allowed within the city. All dogs, which could not go through a ring, which was attached to the tower of the Old Church, had to be killed. Some big dogs were allowed and they had a badge, like the watchdogs of the guilds and bleach fields and the dogs of the Sheriff. There were two kinds of dog killers, the one appointed by the city and the one who worked only inside the church. The dog killer was a very unpopular person, especially the one appointed by the city-authorities. The public called him names and he was often threatened. His task was to free the streets and markets of the stray dogs. He was armed with a stick with ironwork and at the end a sharp point in order to kill the dogs quickly and painless(?) This stick was called a 'kodde'; we still have a nickname for a country-policeman: 'koddebeier' (beieren means to swing). Due to this dangerous stick the dog killer was often called stokman (stickman). During some periods the dogs were a certain threat to the community; during outbursts of rabies or plague no dog was safe from the 'hondenslager'. He earned half a penny for killing each dog, so most dog killers had a hard time making a living out of it; they often had some more activities, like grave-digger, an equal unpopular profession.
The dog killer, who had his territory within the church just chased the stray dogs away from his church. He was a servant of the church and "the church did not shed blood". All church doors were always open, so the dogs could walk in freely and disturb the mass. The 'stokman' in the church was not armed with the dangerous stick, but with a whip or a common stick to run those dogs out of his domain. What his colleague outside the church did to these dogs was unimportant to him. Dogs were not his only torment; children liked the church and graveyard as playground and so he became their boogey-man too, chasing them away. But he had more tasks, many a snoring churchgoer was wakened by a soft push of his stick. Even in 1960 the church council of the Reformed Church of Sint Maartensdijk in Tholen placed an advertizement for a 'stokman', but this function had nothing to do with dogs, his task was to keep the young churchgoers quiet during the service.

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Dredger (modderman)
When the large merchant ships returned to Amsterdam they always anchored near Texel. The overloaded ships could not sail in the shallow waters of the Zuiderzee, so part of their cargo had to be reloaded in smaller vessels. Near the harbor of Amsterdam the problems were even bigger. Amsterdam had a constant struggle against silting up. Early in the 17th century a dredge was used, which was driven by men. Two treadmills, each driven by two men, were built on a raft and, by an ingenious construction, connected to a wheel, which could be lowered to the bottom of the harbor. Dozens of planks were attached to the connecting chain, which was led through a chute and while the men pedaled, the planks hit bottom and pushed the mud to the surface and dumped it in a mud-vessel. This 'moddermolen' (mud-mill) was improved during the following years, the raft slowly turned into a ship, the planks were replaced by buckets and the men by horses, which made their rounds below deck.
But not only the harbor needed to be dredged. The Amsterdam canals (which were dug by hand) were hardly ready and the lazy civilians could not wait to use them as rubbish dump. Despite considerable fines the authorities had no alternative than hiring their own 'mud men'. But the dredging machine, which was used in the harbor, could not pass all the bridges, so this dredging was done by hand, a very tough and distasteful job.
If you want to see a picture of a "moddermolen" go to:

http://www.geneaknowhow.net/in/schepen/overig-schepen/moddermolen.html

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Dumpman (beltwerker)
Every town had its own rubbish dump and some people actually worked there. They sorted out the garbage according to the materials and looked for useful things. They found so much, that regulations were issued about how to deal with this. The dumpmen (and women) were not allowed to keep any object they found; they were searched thoroughly when they left. If some silverware was missing from the house of a merchant, the maid was send to the dump and the dumpmen were alerted. Often the missing piece was found and returned to the rightful owner. The tips, which were custom in these situations, were collected and split up at the end of the year.
Twice a year all the sorted materials were sold by subscription, like bricks, iron, copper, zinc, lead, glass, rags, even faeces for the ammonia production. What was left was sold as compost. Let's face it; the Dutchman was a merchant all the way. As you can see, recycling is nothing new.

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Dyer (verwer)
Only in the damp climate of Holland the threads could be made so thin and strong. The quality of the cloth was wellknown, but after the weaver had finished his job, the product was far from ready. All summer the grey sheets lay in the sun to bleach, after that it was treated with lactic acid. Only the western part of Holland could provide enough buttermilk to meet the needs of this market.
In the production-cycles of the cloth the dyer (verwer) had an important role. The market-value of the cloth depended strongly on the quality of the color, so everything had to go right in this process.
The dyers prepared their dye in large kettles, which were filled with all kinds of vegetable dye base. Some of the dye base used were the roots of madder (meekrap) for the colour red, the leaves of the indigo for blue, the fruit of the fig-thistle for pink, elderberry for lilac, the skin of an onion for orange, the bark of the birch for light brown and the husk of the walnut for dark brown, mixed with water, urine and alum.
If you want to see a picture of the dyer go to:

http://www.geneaknowhow.net/in/beroepen/luyken/verver.html

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Executioner (beul)
The city of Haarlem has always had the privilege -if one could call it a privilege- to supply the executioner for Holland. The only exception was Dordrecht, as the oldest town it had its own executioner. If Amsterdam needed his services, the magistrates had to send a request to the Sheriff of Haarlem a few weeks in advance. According to the standard procedure a representative of Amsterdam traveled to Haarlem a day before the execution with two letters, one for the Sheriff with the request to allow the executioner to leave for Amsterdam and the other letter for the man himself with the official invitation to accompany the representative to Amsterdam.
The magistrates made sure they had several convictions for this "day of justice", so it always was a tiring day for the executioner. His work usually meant to execute capital punishment in its several forms, whippings, branding or the less cruel punishments as public exposure. Whatever his job was, he was always sure he had enough audience; these "events" were witnessed by an enormous crowd, fathers even lifted their children on their shoulders so they would not miss a thing.
It is needless to say he and his family were outcasts of society. Every execution day was hard for them too; in the 15th and 16th century a few executioners, who failed to cut of the victims' head with one blow of the sword, became prey of the disappointed crowd and were beaten to death. In the 17th and 18th century this never happened again, although the watching crowd judged him critically. The executioner was paid the same day and he was paid for every action. For breaking on the wheel for instance, he was paid for every turn of the wheel and per convict he earned 42 to 54 guilders. In one day he could earn as much as a common laborer made in a whole year.

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Fan maker (waaiermaker)
Originally fans were manufactured mainly in France and only after the retract of the Edict of Nantes in 1685 the French fan makers spread out over Northern Europe. Most of them went to England and only a few settled in Holland. Fan making has never become a flourishing trade in Holland, everyone was allowed to manufacture and sell them. In England a fan maker's guild was founded in 1709 and it had a few hundred members. But the guild members could not stop the import of the far more elegant French fans, which were painted much finer. They started to copy the Chinese fans and these imitations became such a success, that even France started importing them.
The first folding fan was introduced in Europe in the 16th century and became very popular. The ladies had fans for every special occasion: mourning fans were sold in large amounts, for the interim phase there was the "light" mourning fan and they had for instance the wedding fan and the church fan. The wedding fan was richly painted with the suitable allegorical scenes and decorated with gold and silver, the fan sticks made of ivory. The church fans however were sober; don't forget in the Reformed Church every finery was prohibited. The ladies used the fan for several purposes; to hide their bad breath or brown teeth, but also for communication (read flirtation). Almost every movement with the fan had a special meaning, from "I love you" to "I love someone else" and from "kiss me" to "that is the limit".
The fan making could be divided in several trades; the ivory worker who made the fan sticks, the miniature painter, the actual fan maker (mostly women), who folded and assembled the fan and occasionally the gold- and silversmith. The fans were sold by the ivory workers, along with luxury utensils, like ivory buttons, silk gloves and turtle or ivory inlayed snuffboxes.

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Farmer (landbouwer)
The most profitable crops for the 17th century farmer were madder (meekrap) and wheat. Madder grew in loose, rich soil, the roots of this plant had to be rubbed till it was powder. It was fiery red and was one of the raw materials dyers used to produce red paint. The madder-farmer had to plough deep and fertilize his land very thoroughly and at the end of the summer the man, wife and children started to dig up the roots very carefully. It made a lot of money; a small piece of madder-land was enough to feed the whole family.
Wheat was used to bake white bread for the rich, so a good harvest was worth a lot of money. But wheat is not winter hardy, so in the Dutch climate it was a risky business. In order to avoid crop failure, the farmers sowed wheat as well as rye at the same time. Rye bread was for the common man and for the farmer himself. In case of a mild winter the wheat grew fast and the rye, usually stayed small. Rye needed lesser fertilization and normally rye-harvest was good. Sowing one pound of rye meant harvesting forty pounds, wheat had only a one to twenty ratio. Even if the winter-hardy rye was destroyed by a freezing winter, the farmer could plough the land and sow buckwheat in late spring. Buckwheat could grow on poor land and hardly needed fertilization. It was used to bake biscuits or to make porridge.
His existence was left to the mercy of the weather, the wind, war and peace. If the land flooded, due to heavy rainfall, storm or deliberately in times of war (in order to stop or to drive away the enemy), it was a disaster for him, it meant months of poverty for him and his family. Many farmers, who had to handle one crop-failure to many, left the country or became beggars. Even in the rich years of the Republic these disasters were almost inevitable, partly because the technical know-how about diking and land reclamation were not yet at a high level and partly because people reconciled to those events as the will of God or as His punishment.

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Fireman (brandweerman)
As we can see in history almost every town had its city fires, which could destroy major parts of those cities. The authorities issued strict regulations to prevent dangerous situations and ordered every citizen to have a few leather buckets handy, which were inspected regularly. Amsterdam had fire watchmen situated all over town in every tower; they alerted their colleagues with the sound of a trumpet and pointed out the direction of the fire with a lantern and in daytime with a special flag.
For centuries the only equipment used to fight a fire were leather buckets, hooks, ropes and ladders. The buckets of water had to be handed over by two rows of people and by the time a bucket reached the fire, it was almost empty. If extinguishing with buckets of water failed the houses were pulled down with the ropes and hooks, in later years fire blankets were introduced to protect the adjoining properties.
In about 1650 the first fire pump was used, an invention of German citizen of Neurenberg, called Hans Hautsch. The principle of this machine was like the simple plant spray we still use. Pushing the piston down meant spraying water, but the jet of water stopped if it was pulling up again. This pump had to be transported by horsepower and pumping was a hard and dangerous job, because the men at the pumps had to stand close to the fire. Apart from that aspect, the copper water container, in which this pump was installed, had to be filled with buckets and like in the old days, most buckets were empty by the time they reached the machine. In 1672 Jan van der Heijden did some inventions, which were a big improvement, he invented the leather fire-hose, so the machine could be positioned near the canal and only a few men were needed to fill the water container. The second advantage of using the fire-hose was, that the firemen could go to the seat of the fire, instead of wait till the flames reached the street. He also improved the fire pump and in 1698 he even invented a suction pump, which could suck the water out of the canals.

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Fuller (voller)
After dying the cloth, the next step was 'vollen', a heavy and distasteful job, which was done by fullers (volders). They had to trample the cloth all day in large tubs filled with special soil, urine and ash in order to soften the cloth and give it a smooth, feltlike surface. The fuller-soil had the special characteristic of being able to absorb greasy oils. Small amounts of cloth were also softened by pressing and beating with special tools.
After washing and drying the cloth-shearer (droogscheerder) had to 'shave' the hairs of the cloth until it had a smooth surface. Now it was ready for inspection by the inspectors of the guild (waardijns) and would get an official mark. After all these processes the customer got a cloth which could last a lifetime; people even inherited each other's clothing.

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Goldsmith (goudsmid)
The goldsmith was a comprehensive artist; he often was silversmith, engraver and type caster too. The connection between the goldsmith and the type caster is obvious; the art of printing originates from the art of gold creation. Before 1630 the guild only knew one profession: goldsmith, whether the member was a gold- or silversmith or even a diamand setter. These professions were all related, the diamond setter was a full member of the guild and a skilled engraver in precious metals too.
The characteristics of gold have made it to the most wanted materials in the world. It has a beautiful color and shine, it is immune to the influence of oxygen and it can be flattened to less than a thousandth of an inch. Gold is heavier than silver, but much softer. That's why gold is hardly used for objects like goblets or cutlery; it would be twice as heavy as the similar silver items. So it is often found as material for religious objects and ornaments.
Gold and silver have always been valuable metals, which were used to make coins. One has to remember however, that the value was equal to the amount of pure gold or silver the coin contained. The value of a silver or gold object was always measured by the weight of the object plus a small amount for the manufacturing costs, called the fatsoen (decency). These costs were only a fraction of the value, because wages were relatively low. That's why gold and silver art objects were melted so easily during wars or depressions; the value remained almost the same.
The pureness of gold is expressed in carat, 24-carat is pure gold, 18-carat gold has 18 parts (out of the 24) of pure gold and the remaining 6 parts are non precious metals. These proportions tell us something about the softness of pure gold if you compare it with silver. The guilds had three values of pureness for silver: 934 to 1000, 833 to 1000 and 778 to 1000. In England the sterling-silver value was 925 to 1000. So every kilo of silver contained only 75 grams of copper. One kilo of 18-carat gold however needed at least 250 grams to obtain its desired hardness.
If you want to see a picture of the goldsmith go to:

http://www.geneaknowhow.net/in/beroepen/luyken/goudsmid.html

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Gravedigger (doodgraver)
The 17th century gravedigger did not only bury people, he also sold graves. If people had money and did not immediately need a grave, they contacted the church warden and told him they were interested in buying a grave and waited until a suitable grave within the church was available. But if a relative died and he or she had to be buried within a few days, you ended up at the gravedigger. Normally he owned a few graves and took advantage of the grieved family by charging them extravagant amounts of money. Even Rembrandt was the victim of the gravedigger of the Oude Kerk. When Saskia died he bought grave 29 for her within the church in the Weitkopers chapel behind the pulpit. Not being a sharp merchant, he was an easy victim for gravedigger Zeger Fransz. Claeu. Saskia was buried on 19 June 1642 and Rembrandt did not even have any money left to have her name engraved in the stone or to let the bells ring.
This gravedigger was no exception; all his colleagues had this profitable additional income. Graves were bought and sold all the time and if the tombstone was decorated with a copper goblet or a coat of arms, the gravedigger removed those items before he sold the grave to somebody else. According to the church regulations the owner was allowed to do this as long as he did not ruin the tombstone. This is why we hardly find any copper nameplates or metal ornaments on the still existing tombstones, only the ones that were attached too tight. One of the church wardens of the Old Church wrote down all the malpractice of the gravediggers at the end of the 17th century, but it still lasted years before the regulations were changed and the wardens had any control over the embezzlements of the gravediggers.
If you want to see a picture of the gravedigger go to:

http://www.geneaknowhow.net/in/beroepen/luyken/doodgraver.html

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Innkeeper (herbergier or waard)
If a nobleman in the Middle Ages spent the night at an inn, he attached his shield to the front-wall and put a guard next to the door in order to scare of the robbers and beggars. Seeing the shield the other travelers knew they were in the company of noble guests and that they could safely close their eyes. The innkeeper asked the knight if he could keep the shield as a souvenir and attached it to his inn permanently. When Count Dirk VI went to Kleef he had a number of spare shields with him, to leave behind at every inn. It is said, that this explains why so many inns had a coat of arms or a lion in their name.
The inn was the place where the 17th century countryman spent his time for leisure and pleasure. One could drink there, or smoke, sing, talk and most of all gamble. The men played cards or chess, and always for money. Very popular was a particular dice-game, which resembles the American game craps. The inn was also the perfect place to do business, although the church called it evil-, silly- or fool's trade; some deals were made with too much alcohol as bad counseller. The frequency of this kind of deals was so high, that in Holland a law was issued, that every transaction made in an inn or bar could be cancelled within 24 hours.
The highlights for the innkeeper were the annual fairs and markets. Musicians and comedians had to draw the customers and raise sales. The whole family had to work at the inn; the wife and daughters served the drinks, while the father and sons entertained the guests with cards and games and removed any occassional troublemakers. In later years the inns had their own "amusement park"; labyrinths were laid out next to the inn. Or a field for the local favorite ball sport malie, a game simular to croquet.

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Lime burner (Kalkbrander)
The 17th century bricklayer used slaked lime mixed with sand and clay as mortar. The lime was made of seashells in a limekiln. In the limekiln some blocks of peat were covered with a layer of shells, then another layer of peat, shells, peat and so on, until the oven was completely filled. The peat was lighted and it would burn and smoulder till the peat was turned into ash. The shells turned into dust as soon as it was touched and was called "living" lime. After it was quenched with water it was called "dead" lime (slaked lime). The powder was sifted in order to remove the remaining shells and other particles and could be used as mortar.

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Mastmaker (mastmaker)
The manufacturing of masts looks like the simple modelling of a large straight trunk, but only a skilled mast maker could do this difficult job. First of all he had to know all about the characteristics of all kinds of wood and he had to know the dimensions of the masts for any type of ship. Normally the mast maker himself selected the trees he would use; dead straight trees of excellent quality were very rare.
First the trunk was sawed in a square shape and in most cases even sawed lengthways, then the two equal parts were glued together backwards in order to avoid warp. After that the mast was sawed into an octagonal shape. With draw-knives (large razor-sharp knives with a handle on both sides) and handslicers the mast slowly got its round shape, every foot to the top it would get a little slimmer. In order to shape such a large tree with a diameter of a few feet into a perfectly round mast extreme craftsmanship was necessary. Usually the masts were made of pinewood or Oregon pine. The manufacturing of the rest of the roundwood of the ship, like yard, gaff, boom and bowsprit, was the task of mast maker too. Cracks in the mast, which arose after some time, were sealed with 'harpuis' a mixture of resin and linseed oil.

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Night watch (nachtwacht)
The night watch was introduced in the 14th century and was the responsibility of the Sheriff. But as towns grew every neighborhood got its own department of watchmen. The organization of the night watch was based on the principle of the army, even with titles as lieutenant, captain and colonel. But these titles were for the rich and they never patrolled town. The night watch did not have a uniform, but they had their standard attributes: the lantern, sword, drag (to save people who fell into the canals) and rattle. Every half hour he rattled, announced the correct (?) time and rattled again. The night watch was not a policeman, but his presence in the streets had a preventive character. The job of the night watch was a job for the poor, so they tried to earn an extra penny. If someone had to get up early, he came knocking at the door.
His working hours depended on the seasons, from ten in the evening until the ringing of the gate-bell next morning at sunrise. He had to report at the gate at 21.30, got his instructions and attributes and left for his district. In every district was a small cabin, where the night watch could hide if it was raining or snowing. In this cabin was a stove, on which he could warm some coffee. It had no windows, but the door could be opened in two parts, the top part was always open to let out the smoke of his peat-stove. In winter the night watch started his shift by begging for a piece of burning peat at the houses near his cabin. But soon he started to beg in summer too, now for a tip or a drink. Due to the low wages a lot of watchmen could not resist the bad influences of the night; they got involved with burglars or robbed drunken pedestrians. The authorities were never able to solve this problem, until the night watch was dismantled by Napoleon.

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Paper-maker (papiermaker)
The raw material for manufacturing paper used to be rags. The rags were cut into small pieces by rag-shredders (lompenscheurders), a real profession for men and women. In later years the papermill was used to grind it. The rags were rotated in a large wooden tub, with four stampers, which fell by turns into the tub, just missing the bottom by a quarter of an inch. Due to this violence the rags turned into a kapok-like mass. If the wind was strong the rag was shredded within five hours, but if the miller had a bad day, it could take five days. Now water was added and a special roller, driven by several gearwheels, squeezed it into a paste and in order to avoid foaming a few drops of linseed oil was added.
As soon as the paste was ready, some slides were opened and the paste run by wooden gutters into a special filter, where the water was let out and a muddy mass stayed behind. With a large sieve, made of a wooden casing with copper-wire sieve in it, the miller had to take some of it out and while constantly shaking the sieve. It had to drip-dry and finally a thin equal layer had to remain in the sieve. This was extremely hard work, because it had to be done while bending over the filter.
Now the sieve was handed over to the 'koetser', it's a derivative of the French word coucher, which means putting down. This 'koetser' was very skilled in constantly toppling the sieve, so the fragile and still wet paper was put on a piece of felt without being damaged. As soon as a pile of paper was produced, which still contained at least 60% water, it was put under a press. Then it was moved to a huge barn, where special lines were attached in several levels and the sheets were hung out to dry. These lines were made of special fig rope, made of the cambium of a specific Asian tree, only this rope did not leave marks or any smudge on the paper. Ingeneous openings in the walls of the barn made the air circulate freely, but kept out the wind.
As soon as the sheets were dry, they were inspected one by one and any spot or flake was scratched out with a sharp knife. In the last step of the process paper was put into a press with hardwood rolls in order to get a smooth surface.
If you want to see a picture of the papermaker go to:

http://www.geneaknowhow.net/in/beroepen/luyken/papiermaker.html

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Peat cutter (turfsteker)
In the 17th century coal was hardly known as fuel and because Holland did not have enough forests to fill that need, people used peat as a fuel for centuries. Peat was cut out of the ground and after it had dried out it was highly inflammable. In enormous amounts it was shipped from the provinces Overijssel and Drente to Holland.
Two kinds of peat were used; cut peat and mud peat. With long sharp spades the cut peat was dug out by the peat cutters and it was set out to dry in equal parts. After it had been turned several times, it was ready for use or transportation. For mud peat the bog and the waste of cut peat was put in a large square wooden tray with a low frame around it and it was mixed with water. Now the peat tamper trampled on it intensively and it was spread out on the field to dry. The mud peat was the best for heating the stove, because it was so dense, it would burn longer. Cut peat was used for pottery- and lime ovens and as fuel for the bread oven.
After the peat-ship arrived in town, the members of the peat-guild unloaded it. In those days the guild of Amsterdam had 54 (female) peat collectors, who had to gather the peat and put it in small baskets. It was put on shore and after it had been weighed, the female peat fillers, 201 in total, did put it in larger baskets and the 73 peat lifters had to put the basket on the shoulders of the (in total 360) peat carriers. All these hands were absolutely necessary, if one realizes that 60 to 100 peat ships had to be unloaded every day.

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Peddlar and hawker (leurder and marskramer)
The traveling merchant has always been a controversial person; the established shopkeeper tried to banish him from his territory and was always assisted in this struggle by the guilds. The shopkeeper had the burden of a mortgage, rent or taxes, even in slack season, like in winter. The hawker was free of those costs, so he could offer his merchandise much cheaper than his city rival and that was considered to be unfair competition. But not only the hawker was a threat, the guilds also tried to banish the street vendor. Regulations were issued, that only stores and warehouses were allowed to sell certain articles and that the merchandise could not be exposed on the streets or in a vehicle. But all these restrictions did not stop the hawker and all other traveling merchants.
We knew a few kinds of these traveling merchants: first the hawker (marskramer), who traveled from village to village in his own area, known by almost every villager and farmer. He had his variety of merchandise, like ribbons, buttons, clocks, anything light, because he had to carry it in his -mars-, a basket, which he carried on his back. He was considered to be a more or less reliable merchant. The street vendor had his own territory too, but he (or she) did not have his own costumers, usually he roamed the streets announcing his presence by yelling, singing or other noises. Most of them had their own special merchandise, The third category was the leurder; his position was close to the odd-jobber or even the beggar. He went from house to house, peddling his merchandise, which could be anything.

 

 

Pharmacist (apotheker)
Till the 17th century the physician and the pharmacist were member of the guild of the hawkers, so they were of humble descent. Only in 1638 they were allowed to form their own guilds. Before the pharmacist could start his practice, the city-physicians and board of the guild examined him on his knowledge of Latin, herbs and the production of powders and ointments. If he passed these exams he had to pay a few hundred guilders (a years pay for a common laborer) to the guild and for the herb-garden.
Herbs were the main ingredients for the 17th century drugs. A lot of the knowledge about the use of particular herbs originated from ancient times. Not all prescribed recipes had the healing effect the physicians and pharmacists thought it would have; blessed thistle for instance did not have any effect on diabetics. Yarrow however, was an excellent cure to stop bleeding, and they already knew, that tea made of the flowers of the Golden Rod eased the pain of someone who was suffering from gout or rheumatism and pure Horse Radish was used as painkiller for arthritis. One leaf of Pellitory each day was enough to stop migraine and Klammath Weed calmed down stressed and mentally disordered people, it "chased away the devil". Yarrow and Marigold were the ingredients for an ointment against festering wounds and eczema. The pharmacist took some pigs fat and added as much flowers of both plants as possible and heated it for about half an hour on a low fire. Then it was left for a fortnight, the fat was melted and the flowers were strained out. After it had cooled down the medicine was ready. Thorn Apple is a real witch-herb; it is very toxic. Inhaling the vapors of the dried plant helped asthmatics to breath.
If you want to see a picture of the pharmacist go to:

http://www.geneaknowhow.net/in/beroepen/luyken/apotheker.html

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Physician (medicus)
Although the physician does not belong among the obsolete occupations, the insights and treatments have changed so drastically, that the 17th century physician can be considered as obsolete.
The physician was a man of distinction; most of them came from wealthy families. They had studied for years at the University of Leiden, Paris or even Palermo. After their first exams the apprentices were allowed to visit a hospital, accompanied by an experienced physician. Their education was purely theoretical, they attended autopsies, but were not allowed to do anything themselves. They had to watch, to listen and to dispute.
Medicine in the 17th century was largely based on the experiences of the Greek Claudius Galenus (130-210), personal physician of the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius. According to his theory the human body contained four kinds of fluid: blood, slime, yellow bile and black bile. If something went wrong in the balance of these liquids, people got sick and only they knew how to create harmony into the body, mostly by bleeding, but also by giving the patient hops or chervil to decrease the amount of bile. Why this balance was disturbed was always a discussion, but they all agreed the stars and planets had something to do with it; astrology was one of the main subjects at university. What people did not know either about Galenus anatomic lessons was, that in the Roman times autopsy on human bodies was not allowed, so Galenus used animals.
In 1628 William Harvey published his theory about the blood circulation and his discovery turned the medical world upside down. Until then the whole medical society believed, that blood was constantly produced by food and that it slowly heaved through the body and was destroyed inside the organs. Harvey explained, that the heart was a pump and it constantly circulated the blood through the veins.
If you want to see a picture of the physician go to:

http://www.geneaknowhow.net/in/beroepen/luyken/arts.html

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Pile driver (heier)
The soil of Holland was absolutely unsuitable for building; the first foundations found were rows of boulder stones to support the walls. As soon as bricks were used as building material, these foundations were not enough, so all houses were built on wooden piles, which were driven into the subsoil water by manpower. These piles had to stand completely in the subsoil water, the ends at least half a foot below the lowest water level, in order to avoid rotting of the wood, if it was exposed to the air. A lot of houses just collapsed due to rotting piles. The first piles used were 20 to 26 feet long. We know now, that the first sand layer was found on a depth of 40 feet, so you should expect trouble. But for normal houses these piles were long enough, they kind of glued to the mud. As long as enough piles were used it needed no sand layer to support it.
With a large heavy block, hanging in a teepee shaped construction, the piles were driven into the earth by 10, 20 to 60 men. They all pulled the thick rope, which was split up at the end, so every two or three men had their own rope. The pile drivers earned one guilder (20 pennies) per day. They each had to pay two pennies to the pile-master, who owned the installation.
But not only the houses needed piles, piles surrounded all the harbors. On large rafts the pile drivers and the installation were transported over the water to do their job. It is obvious, that it was inevitable, that these wooden piles would rot at the waterline. If a mooring buoy had to be replaced a vessel with ten or twenty men started working at low tide and fastened several ropes around the pile. They waited till the water would rise; the vessel would be slowly pulled sideways and if the angle was right the men would sit and hang over at the topside and pull the pile out of the water.

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Porter (kruier)
In general the Dutch "kruier" was a man, who transported all kinds of goods in his wheelbarrow from market to store or vice versa. We knew apple porters, fish porters, butter porters, mussel porters and many more. They were all alike, strong men with the "zeel" (leather carrying strap) over their shoulders, which was attached to the handles of the wheelbarrow.
But the Amsterdam porter was something else. His job was comprehensive, moving furniture with his wheelbarrow was not the only thing he did. He was a jack-of-all-trades. He could be hired to run errands, like tickets for the theater or just some forgotten articles in the shop. Beating the carpet or polishing shoes? It was the porter's job. Or he was, like a postillon d'amour, hired to deliver letters, the ones mom and dad were not allowed to see. He had to be discreet, escorting the ladies while shopping and carrying their goods. Even baby-sitting and escorting the ladies to the theatre was not strange for him to do. He knew everybody in the neighborhood and all the right addresses for anything.

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Potter (pottenbakker)
The number one material in the 17th century was pottery. Almost every village had a local pottery and in the towns complete pottery factories were found. Cooking- and frying pans were mostly of simple pottery. These pans often had hollow handles; in order to avoid burning ones hands, a stick could be put in the handle. The grey and red pottery was often made of the same clay; if the oven was functioning without oxygen supply, the pottery stayed grey. If oxygen was supplied the clay would oxidize and it would turn red. Although the painted bowls, plates and cups were often called "porceleyn", it was all made of clay, so they were imitations of the imported Chinese, French and English porcelain. The real porcelain was made of kaolin clay, which becomes very hard if it was heated to 1000 to 1200 degrees Celsius and it stayed transparent.
Glazing was an old technique, even known to the Egyptians and one of the first steps in manufacturing glass. It probably originates from areas where the sand had a specific natural composition and someone discovered, that the porous pottery became watertight if the pots were sprinkled with this calcareous sand before it was heated in the oven. Glazing was relatively expensive, so it had to be functional, that's why many pots and pans were only glazed at the inside to make it watertight.
Not only pottery for domestic use was produced, but also the whole industry needed pottery. The melting pots for mint and the flasks and retorts for nitric acid needed special craftsmanship. Some potteries ran completely on the mass production for the sugar bakers, one of the most important customers of this industry. But every possible article was sold in pots and cans, like pigs fat, milk, thee, strawberries, oil and wine. The oil- and winecans had a thick heavy bottom, so the assumption was, that they were used on board of ships, but later findings indicated, that the use of these kinds of cans on board was limited. The exaggerated thick bottom seemed to have a commercial background; the buyer got less than expected.
If you want to see a picture of the potter go to:

http://www.geneaknowhow.net/in/beroepen/luyken/pottenbakker.html

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Rope-maker (touwslager or lijn-draaier)
Rope-makers used to work on the rope-walk (lijnbaan), normally situated along the city walls. In Amsterdam we still have the Lijnbaansgracht. The workers on the 'lijnbaan' were called 'baanders' and their foreman was the 'lijnbaans-oppermeester' (rope-walk master). The ropewalk was about 2000 feet in length, 55 feet wide and surrounded by a 3 feet thick wall. This was because of the fire risk due to the tar-kettles, the drying of the tarred ropes and the stock of hemp. An inner wall lengthways separated the building in two sections; in the first part, the big walk, the cables were made and in the other part the lighter ropes. In this last section was the stove to make the rope flexible and here the hemp was hackled and the kettles were situated. In the attics the hemp was stored with the empty barrels, ropes and other ships' supplies.
The raw material for the ropes was hemp, which had to be grown in Holland, later on it was imported from Russia and Italy. The hemp had to be inspected by an official inspector, before it was hackled and cleaned. Then it was hackled, softened on wooden boards with iron pins on it. By spinning yarn was produced and this was used on the 'lijnbaan' to manufacture cables. From one pound of hemp 52 vadem (one vadem= about six feet) single cable-yarn was made. The rope-makers (baanders) walked backwards on the so-called spinning-path with the bundle hackled hemp around their waist and with an ingenious spinning wheel they made the rope. The single yarn was twisted double and even twenty times; the thinnest rope was used for nets and as sail-yarn and the thickest as anchor-rope for tall ships.
If you want to see a picture of the rope-maker go to:

http://www.geneaknowhow.net/in/beroepen/luyken/lijndraaier.html

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Salt maker (zoutzieder or zoutbereider)
Salt has always been essential, first of all for optimal function of cells and organs of the human body, but also as the only known way to preserve food for a long time. In some countries it was a very scarce product, so the salt (= sal) was even used as medium of exchange or as currency (salary). First the salt winning was done in the coastal regions in Holland and Zeeland. The peat soil was, like an enormous sponge, soaked with salt seawater. The peat was dug out, burned and the ashes were boiled. After this process the crystallized salt remained. But this digging up was a serious threat to the dikes and in about 1500 it was forbidden.
The raw salt had to be imported from France, Portugal and Spain. In the refinery clean seawater was pumped into large pans, the raw salt was put in until the saturation point was reached. This mixture had to rest, until all dirt had sunk to the bottom. Then the cleaned brine was pumped into boiling kettles. These kettles had a maximum diameter of 28 feet and a depth of one foot. Each kettle had a weight of 2500 kilo's and was situated on a brick support, in which peat fires were burning. For each ton of salt three tons of peat was needed, so every salt factory had its own peat storage and even their own peat-carriers. During the boiling process some milk was added; dirt would come to the surface in the form of foam and it prevented the salt to burn to the bottom. If the salt burned to bottom -it is comparable to boiler scale- the fire had to be stirred up some more and this could damage the bottom of the kettle. During the evaporation process of the brine pyramid-shaped salt crystals would be formed. Depending on the size of the crystals the fire was lowered or stirred up. During five days this boiling went on and the salt-crystals were removed from the kettle constantly. The moist salt was put in baskets and hung above the kettle. After it had dried in the dry-house, it was ready for transportation to the warehouse.

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Seat Caretaker (plaatsbewaarster)
In the chilly Dutch climate the temperature within the church could be as low as outside. There was no heating and Mass could take a long time. Some churches took good care of their members by renting pre-heated footstoves. The women who provided this luxury were called "plaatsbewaarster".
In a large room within or next to the church was a big fireplace, as big as in a forgery, where hundreds of small pieces of peat could smoulder at the same time. In the same room piles of "tests" were stored, small boxes, made of clay, which had to be filled with the smouldering peat. After they were filled they were brought to the church is large baskets and within the church the "tests" were put in the footstove. The plaatsbewaarsters were busy all Sunday, before Mass with heating the peat, filling the tests and distributing the footstoves. After Mass they had to collect all the footstoves, remove the tests and empty them and clean the footstoves. It is obvious, that every Sunday a few footstoves fell between the pews, so they had to remove the still smouldering peat and clean the church too. You could smell it in the whole church.

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Seaweed cutter
One raw material, which has always been available in large amounts, was seaweed and during centuries people have used it for many purposes. In general seaweed did grow on places, where during low tides the water was about two feet deep. Cutting seaweed was hard work; while standing in the water, the cutters got the long leaves around their legs and they had to mow under water, which made it very hard. If the tides came in they were standing in special flat-bottomed boats and mowed the seaweed with a scythe on a long handle. The loose seaweed floated with the tide to the sea and was stopped by wooden beams, which were sticking out on both sides of the boat. Getting it in the boat was a tough job and a distasteful one, because it smelled badly. During the loading of the heavy seaweed the water had to be bailed out constantly, because the seaweed was soaking wet. If the ship was overloaded it could get stuck; all they could do, was wait until the tides would lift them up again.
After it was brought to the coast, it was transported to the meadows behind the dunes and dropped into the ditches to "refresh". This was done to extract the salt and after a few weeks it was spread out over the fields to dry. In a special press the seaweed was pressed into bales and sold. Usually the cutters earned only a small part of the profit, they had to deliver it to the authorities for a set price and they sold it to the traders. Floating seaweed, which was floating around after a storm, was allowed to be sold by the cutters, because the quality was less than the seaweed, which was cut.
In the old days seaweed was used for diking, I'll tell you about that in my next story. Seaweed was a multi-purpose material; the 17th and 18th whalers always had a few bales of seaweed aboard, if they got stuck in the polar ice and the ship got damaged, the seaweed was an excellent emergency filling. It was also used as filling for chairs and sofas, later for mattresses. If it was burned soda and iodine could be extracted from the ashes. It was even used as a medicine against rheumatism.

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Second-hand dealer (uitdraagster)
Second hand dealing was a typical woman's job; in the local laws only the female form of "uitdraagster" was used. Men in this profession were called male "uitdraagster", and they formed a minority. The merchandise could be anything: buckets, ropes, candles, furniture and chinaware, but second-hand clothing was the most important commodity, because clothes were precious and most people did not have the money to order new clothes at the tailor's.
Second hand dealers were bound by many rules, because the authorities feared fencing and contagion. The fear for infection originated from the fact, that they assumed diseases to be spread in clothes. The suspicion of fencing was obvious; it was very hard to check where all the merchandise came from. One controllable origin of the goods were the public sales of the Orphanage, these sales were strictly documented. The auctioneer showed an article and named the price, now he slowly lowered the price and if one of the women called "mijn" (mine), it was sold for the last price mentioned. That's why these second hand dealers also were called "mijnsters". Although most "uitdraagsters" had a dubious reputation, some of them were hired by the notary as assessor for home contents, in case of death or bankruptcy. This business had to be lucrative, because many of these second-hand dealers died as well-to-do women, belonged to the middle class of the community.

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Servant-girl (dienstbode)
At very young age a girl was hired by a middle class or rich family as a servant. Early in the morning she had to get up to light the fire and make breakfast. After the family had eaten she had to ventilate the rooms, make the beds, clean the clothes and polish the tin and copper. She had to shine the ironwork on the shutters and especially scrub the floors and the doorstep. Due to the very low wages and the surplus of women in the cities almost every housewife from the middle class could afford a servant.
In general the servants were willing, depending on the relation between the mistress and the servant, but normally she was almost part of the family. She ate with the family, but had to know her place. In comedies servants were often ridiculed as the ones who talked most at the dinner table. But they were subordinates and impudence was not tolerated, if things got out of hand, even verbal, it could well become a matter for the Sheriff. It is striking, that so many foreigners wrote about the fact, that the Dutch never did beat their servants.
Things changed when merchants got richer and twenty or more servants were needed to run the household and the same number on his estate. The special one-to-one contact between the mistress and the servant was gone. Loyalty and discretion were not obvious anymore and the bad reputation the servant-girls had throughout the centuries seemed to be confirmed.
According to their reputation they were a threat to every household, unreliable but indispensable, single but marriageable, devious, lazy and disobedient. Of course history has its reports about the servant, who was punished for stealing a silver spoon and about seduction and adultery, but one should not forget, that her intimate position within a family made this young girl extra vulnerable. Most of the time they were the victims, they had hardly any defense against accusations of their more superior employer. In case of pregnancy they rarely had the means and the social confidence to accuse the natural father and in most cases the shame and scandal landed on her head and not his. Sometimes servant-girls did live together with their employers and got married like in the case of Descartes or stayed as concubine, like Hendrickje Stoffels with Rembrandt.

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Ship's carpenter (scheepstimmerman)
The first action in shipbuilding was aligning the keel, after that the timbers were mounted and those could be huge and very heavy. With handsaws, fire, rasps and planes the 'klouwers' formed the timbers into the right shape from bended trees, which were specially selected by the ship's carpenter. Before the timbers were assembled to the keel it was covered with tar, which is an excellent wood-preservative, the light-colored tar from Finland was the best. In order to shape and bent the planks of the hull, the ship's carpenter used fire and water. First the planks were bent as far as possible and fastened in the necessary ankle and while it was wetted all the time, it was carefully heated. Not actually burned, because the wood would dry out and crack. French oak was the easiest to bend. For the hull below the waterline hardwood was used and that was extremely hard to shape. If the hull was ready, the caulking could start, all the seams between the planks were sealed with cotton and the larger seams with hemp. Now it was covered with melted pitch, to protect the cotton or hemp. Sealing with only pitch was bad craftsmanship. This melting was done with burning reed and it's obvious this was a dangerous job; the fire hose was on stand-by and all other flammable materials were kept away from the melting pot. Then the ship was launched and the building of the ship went on while floating in the water.
The most important factor for working hours was the amount of daylight. Shipbuilding for example was outdoor work. A ship's carpenter earned more in summer than in winter, because in summer he worked 12 to 14 hours a day. In 1669 his winter wages (15 Nov. till 15 Feb.) were 0,80 guilders and his spring wages (16 Feb. till 17th March) 1,00 guilders a day. Between 18th March and 13th Sept. he earned 1,30 and from 14th Sept. till 13th Oct. 1,10 guilders. On 14th Oct. it was really getting dark early, because he earned only 0,95 guilders a day. Most workers started at sunrise, had breakfast break from 8-8.30, lunchtime between 12 and 1 and another break between 4-4.30. From there they worked till sundown or curfew. So people had to save some money in summer to get through the winter. If you want to see a picture of the ship's carpenter go to:

http://www.geneaknowhow.net/in/beroepen/luyken/scheepstimmerman.html

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Shipbuilder (scheepsbouwer)
Before a ship was built, the ship owner and the shipbuilder made plans about the type of ship, which had to be built such as sizes, depth, positions of the masts and sails. After that it was time to make the drawings, to write the technical specifications, budgets. Finally a notarial act was made. After the contract was signed, the shipbuilder started his negotiations with the wood merchant about the various kinds of wood he had to deliver to the ships carpenter, with the mast maker about the delivery and mounting of the masts and with the blacksmith about the ironwork. The block maker made an estimate for the blocks and 'marsen' (the platforms in the masts), the rope maker had to deliver the cables and rigging, the interior of the Captain's cabin was the task of the carpenter and the sculpturer could start working on the figure head and other ornaments. Craftsmen with all kinds of special skills helped build the ship: anchor-smiths, nail-smiths, glaziers, lantern makers, coppersmiths, flag makers, compass makers, sail makers, sawyers, drillers and caulkers. Smoking - or tobacco-drinking, as people used to call it in those days - was absolutely forbidden, but as long as they were working the labourers were allowed to drink beer for free, with the barrel placed within the visual range of the supervising ship's carpenter.
The shipyard was built on the border of the river, with a slip made of beams and planks. On the yard was a home for the master-ship's carpenter, a large shed for building small ships and cutters and a small shed for the tools, hemp and other storage. Outside was a fireplace for the burning and bending of the wood and for the heating of the pitch and the water. A nameplate was made for every ship built on the yard, and the custom was that those plates would be nailed to the outside wall of the yard. Most ships did not last very long, the average age was eight years, so after a few years, all those nameplates must have been a colorful site.

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Ship Shanghai (ronselaar)
The East Indies Company has always had trouble finding enough volunteers to crew their ships, so they used the objectionable practices of the ship shanghai. More than half of the crew was foreigners, who could come from different countries; in one case, on the ship "Neijenburg", the crew had sixteen different nationalities. The Dutchmen were the navigators and officers; the foreigners were the soldiers and sailors. The ship shanghai and his helpers recruited their victims at the east border of the Republic; most of them were deserters from one of the many German armies and fortune hunters, who were all on their way to the rich Republic. Wondering around penniless they were an easy target for the ship shanghai, who picked them up at inns and cheap joints.
With the promise, that they could serve in the army of the Prince, they put their name or cross under a contract, which they could not read. The ship shanghai paid for their journey to Amsterdam, where they soon found out, that they were contracted to be a sailor. Escape was hardly possible because the armed helpers of the ship shanghai escorted them to "special" houses, where they had to wait till they could embark.
In the meantime the ship shanghai was trying to sell his "merchandise" to the West- or East Indies Company and if he failed to do business he knew he had a second chance. The poor souls were transported to the island Texel and the ships would leave Amsterdam with not enough crew on board. The captain knew he would get no permission from the authorities to set sail from Texel, so this time he had no other choice than go along with the ship shanghai's demands.
Most of the hired men, who were between 15 and 25 years of age, had never seen the sea or a ship before and once on board the rules and regulation were read out to them. But it is certain, that no one understood one word; it would be clear to them soon enough.

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Silk worker(Zijdewerker)
The mulberry tree, the Bombix mori Linné, which is necessary for the cultivation of the silkworm, does not flourish in the Dutch climate. The unprocessed silk had to be imported; the raw material came from China and Bengal. The weaving was done elsewhere, Holland had just an distributive role in the silk trade until 1603; in that year the admirals Jacob van Heemskerk and van Warwijk captured a Portuguese ships with 1200 bags of the finest Chinese silk and within a month they had a similar catch with a total value of 2.5 million guilders. Now Holland could start its own silk production.
After harvesting the cocoons of the silkworm the pupa was killed by hot air or steam. After that the cocoons were put in hot water and birch branches were used to find the ends of the silk threads. Seven or eight threads were put together and carefully run through a ring of glass or copper to be winded to the spools (bobijnen). The silk glue or sercine glued the threads into one thread and this could be 3000 to 4000 meters long. But only 700 to 1000 meters could be used for further production, the rest was of bad quality. The raw silk thread, called the grège, was kind of stiff because of the silk glue and the color was beige to yellow. The grège was rewound to other spools and sorted according to quality and thickness. During the rewinding all knots, loose fibers and dirt was removed. This was an easy job, so poor women and children at home did it. Because silk was always measured according to its weight, these women sometimes tried to increase the weight of the silk by using sugar or syrup and withhold some of the real material. Now the grège was turned into warp- and weft threads, sewing- and embroidery threads by spinning and twisting. The warp- or chain threads had to be stronger, because they had to suffer most in the loom; they had to be twisted more intensely than the weft threads.
Due to the silk glue the dye would not hold on the silk material and it not yet had its desired softness, smoothness and characteristic glow. Putting it in a boiling soap solution cleaned it and after this process the silk had lost at least 25% of its weight. But the dyers added a limited amount of weight to the material and sometimes they tried to double-cross their principals; increasing the weight by washing it in an alum solution was strictly prohibited. But in the long run the Dutch silk products could not compete with the elegance and delicacy of the French products and at the end of the 18th century the Dutch silk industry was gone.
If you want to see a picture of the silk worker go to:

http://www.geneaknowhow.net/in/beroepen/luyken/zijdereder.html

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Silversmith (zilversmid)
Silver is not found in nature in its pure form like gold. It has always to be separated from other metals, like led, copper or other non-precious metals. It had to be melted and during this treatment sulphuric acid was used and in later years nitric acid. Silver is, as gold, immune to the influence of oxygen, but it attracts the sulphur from the air, which attaches itself on the silver surface as a black layer. Pure silver needs to be alloyed with copper only a little to give it its desired hardness.
To determine the percentage of pureness two methods were used, the first was the oldest, the touchstone, even used in 600 B.C. by the Greeks. They used a grinded, but not polished black slate, scratched the silver object over the stone so a yellow to red mark stayed behind. Then they did the same with a few silver needles, each with a certain percentage and by comparing the colors, they determined the pureness. The second more reliable method was much more complicated and could only be done by an expert. Thus the silversmith found himself in a position of trust towards his customers; only he could measure the pureness of the silver. It's obvious, that the authorities needed a certain degree of control over the gold- and silversmiths. This task was delegated to the guilds, however according to some strict rules.
Silver (and gold) can be remodeled by melting or by various other methods in cold condition. It depended on the skills of the gold- and silversmith and the effects he wanted to achieve, which methods he would use. Heated silver could be turned into a thin silver plate and from this plate hollow forms, for instance for a sugar bowl, could be made by using a hammer. By filling this hollow form with a kind of pitch, the silversmith turned the thin and fragile silver form into a solid object to work on.
If you want to see a picture of the silversmith go to:

http://www.geneaknowhow.net/in/beroepen/luyken/zilversmid.html

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Soap maker (zeepzieder)
The soap making business goes back till the 15th century and the ingredients were always strictly regulated in order to protect the quality. The top years in the early 1600 could be characterized by small-scaled production; most soap makers had only two or three man on their pay list. Such a small company could produce between 30 to 60 barrels of the famous green soap per week. During the following 150 years the companies grew, but the production and quality declined.
The Dutch zeepzieders produced two kinds of soap: summer- and winter soap. The two main ingredients were hemp-oil and coleseed-oil. From Martinmas (11 November) until Shrove Tuesday (six weeks before Easter) the mixture contained two parts hemp-oil and one part coleseed-oil and from Shrove Tuesday until Martinmas two parts coleseed-oil and one part hemp-oil. These two kinds of soap were called winter- and summer soap. In later years linseed oil became the third ingredient, but it had to be crystal clear, not turbid. But increasing oil-prices forced the soap makers to bend their rules sometimes; in 1704 and 1716 they were allowed to use butter in the summer soap and in 1709 and 1740 they added talc, which had a negative effect on the quality. Those deviations from the rules were exceptions, the quality had to be protected. Soap makers who broke the rules by using fish-oil could count on a 300 guilders fine and closure of their mill for at least three months.
The barrels in which the soap were stored had to have three different brands: a W or S for the kind of soap, the mark of the soap maker and the coat of arms of the town. An official "burner", appointed by the city authorities, did this; it's obvious that this had something to do with taxes.

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Stonecutter (steendelver)
Sometimes the stonemason selected his own material and the stonecutter had to bring the stone to the surface or cut it out of the mountain. Depending on the origin of the stone, igneous rock, originated by a volcanic process or sedimentary rock, he would choose his strategy. The process of quarrying hard stone needed hard methods; several holes were cut out of the surface of the rock, where the stonecutter wanted the rock to split. Wooden wedges were driven into the holes and then water was poured in so the wood would expand and the rock would slowly split. Increasingly larger wedges were used until the stone would crack.
But these kinds of materials had to be imported and were very expensive. Many buildings in Holland were built out of limestone, a sedimentary stone. In the province of Limburg, in the southern tip of the Netherlands, are some marl-mines. Marl (mergel) is a soft limestone with an amazing characteristic. Due to the conditions within the mines, 55 degrees F. (13 degrees Celsius) and a very high humidity (90% RH) the marl is very soft; you can write your name in it with your fingernail. This made it very easy to saw it in manageable blocks and due to the high humidity there was no sawdust, but most stonecutters in these mines suffered from rheumatism due to these conditions. By the time these blocks were brought to the surface and exposed to normal conditions, the marl would crystallize and turn into the limestone, which could be used for building. If it was processed now, it would produce a lot of dust, so the stonemason was destined to get lung trouble working on the same material.

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Stonemason (steenhouwer)
The sculptor and the stonemason both started working on a shapeless piece ofrock, but the stonemason worked according to a plan; the shape and measurements were strictly prescribed. His piece of work had to fit exactly, for instance in a building. Look up at the dragons and devils on the pinnacle of a cathedral, 200 or 300 feet up, where hardly anyone can see it, look at the details and you know he must have loved his job. Sometimes, if his assignment was important enough and if he could affort it, the master stonemason selected his own material before it was quarried.
The stonemason started his actual work with his precision tools, like his compass, square and sliding calipers; the outlines of his piece of work were exactly marked off. Then the shape was formed with saws, chisels and planes accurate to the millimeter, until it was according to the measurements desired. Now the stone was decorated with all the necessary mosaics, ornaments and stripes. For each of these processes the stonemason had a special chisel. He had to sharpen his own tools; it was part of his craftsmanship. Every chisel needed to be sharpened at another angle to make it suitable for creating a specific pattern or ornament.
Being a stonemason was not very healthy; most of them had lung trouble due to working with limestone.
If you want to see a picture of the stonemason go to:

http://www.geneaknowhow.net/in/beroepen/luyken/steenhouwer.html

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Streetpaver (stratenmaker
In the 13th and 14th century only a few streets in Amsterdam were paved,only in the second half of the 15th century we could find a lot of streets paved with cobbles. The mainstreets were the first and of course those where the yearly procession passed. The laying and maintenance were paid by the owners of the houses, which were situated at that street. Usually the material used was granite- or basalt, which were transported by boat and unloaded by hand. Even the black granite pavement suffered a lot from the heavy traffic, like the large coaches or the brewer-waggons. Only in pedestrian areas bricks were used, or for a short period wood, which could become very slippery and it would rot in no time. The first street in New Amsterdam to be paved by the authorities was Brewer's Street (now Stone Street, between Whitehall Street and Broad Street), which was paid for grudgingly by those who had petioned for this improvement in 1655. A paved street in New Amsterdam was like many a one still to be seen in old European towns, where the gutter is a broad gully in the middle of the street, which must be crossed by stepping-stones when rain turned the throughfare into a brawling stream. We may gain a clear idea of a model street of the day (1670) from the "Orders and Instructions for Mr. Johannes de Peister, Isaacq Greveraet, Coeuraet te Eyck and Hendrick Willemsen Backer, Overseers appointed for the Laying out and Paveing of the Streets": 1st. The sd. Overseers are hereby required to order that the streets, which are to be paved be laid as level and even as possible may be, according to the Convenience of the Streets. 2nd. That the passage be raised about one foot higher than the middle of the street to the end, the water may take its course from the passages towards the middle of the streets aforesaid. 3rd. And in case the neighbours are inclined to wards the paveing of the whole streets, they have liberty so to do, provided that all the neighbours do jointly agree about the same.
Sidewalks first appeared in Paris in 1850, Amsterdam followed this trend in 1855. A city without sidewalks must look very different; some villages in the Netherlands still have streets without sidewalks.

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Street sweeper (straatveger)
To draw you a picture of the sanitary situation within the city, you have to know, that most feces were dumped into the canals and in order to get rid of the waste water the sink drain simply discharged on the street. Despite all regulations a lot of dirt ended up in the streets, which turned into one big stinking quagmire. Even the simple pavement, which was installed in the 16th century, was hardly an improvement. The old gutters, which were on both sides of the road, had no connections to any sewer system and were nothing else than gatherings of smelly garbage. The wooden covers, which were introduced in later years, did hide it from view, but that was about everything.
By local law, dated 16th December 1497, the inhabitants of Amsterdam had to sweep the streets in front of their houses once a week. Even if it had been snowing, the civilians had to help to clean the streets. A horn blower made the announcement and everyone had to help to clean the part in front of his or her house and dump the snow into the nearby canal.
Street sweepers, who were hired by the City Council, did the cleaning of bridges, squares and market places. Most of them had their own bridges to clean. One of them was Jan Trip, his territory was the Dam square. Once a year he received an allowance for clothing and tools, but his wages were collected from the transporters, who polluted the square with their horses and garbage. Because Jan Trip was the local dog killer too, he had the advantage of living in a small room for free.

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Streetlamp lighter (lantaarnopsteker)
For us it is impossible to imagine, a city without any light. But in the 16th century Amsterdam was a city in the dark, after nightfall it was very hard to find your way through town; people got hurt walking against walls or fell into the canals and drowned. If you had to go out, you brought your own lantern or was accompanied by someone with a torch. In 1595 the authorities ordered, that every twelfth house should have a lantern at the front, but the majority ignored the maintenance. So in 1597 the city hired some men to light these lanterns and the citizens paid the costs as 'lantern money'. Only in 1668 after the city had expanded, the authorities had 2380 lanterns installed. The two feet high lanterns were put on 10 to 12 feet high wooden posts, each containing an oil-lamp with a cotton wick. The fuel was turnip-oil and in winter some linseed oil was added as antifreeze. About hundred lighters could light these 2380 lanterns within 15 minutes; they earned two guilders for each lantern in one year. The amount of fuel was measured out, so the lamp would go down at dawn. During the day an army of fillers and cleaners made the lanterns ready for the next night.

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Sugar-baker (suikerbakker)
The sugar refineries were an important part of the Dutch industry in the 17th and 18th century. In 1603 Amsterdam had 3 refineries, in 1630 the number was 26 and in 1661 about 60, in 1771 the number of Amsterdam refineries had grown to 110.
The sugar-bakery as the refinery was called, was a large house with several floors, which were from top to bottom full of kettles, pots and jars, with only one path, wide enough to let one man pass. It contained raw materials, worth two tons of gold and all kinds of pottery, worth sixty-thousand guilders. Then there were the attics for further processing and storage, the house itself cost at least one hundred-thousand guilders, so a sugar-baker had to be a rich man.
In the sugar-bakery the sugar beets were broken and squeezed in a press driven by two horses. By the time Holland had its colonies in the East and West Indies, the raw material was imported and processed in the refineries. Here the raw sugar was melted, purified and made into different kinds of sugar. After the sugar was boiled in kettles and pans, it was poured into large cone-shaped vases, which had a small hole in the bottom. This vase was put on top of a pot, the syrup slowly poured into the pot leaving the granulated sugar in the vase. This was called a sugar-bread. The residue of this process was the syrup, which was, in the surrounding countries, used as pigs-food, but in Holland it was very popular and, being very nutritious, it was sold in large amounts to the common man. It is obvious the Dutch market was flooded with foreign syrup, so Dutch merchants and sugar-bakers asked the government to restrict this importation.
These sugar-refineries used a huge amount of pottery, not only for production purposes, the jugs and pots in which the syrup was, were sold too. Three Amsterdam potteries specialized in only making pottery for the sugar-industry and those were large businesses.
It's obvious that those refineries were rather dangerous as far as fire is concerned; the sugar-baker had to provide 18 buckets near the entrance and each year in September those buckets had to be filled with water and and put outside for inspection. But soon the authorities banned those refineries to the outer districts.
If you want to see the cone-shaped vases,look at the picture of the sugar-baker and you will see them on the floor, so go to:

http://www.geneaknowhow.net/in/beroepen/luyken/suikerbakker.html

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Surgeon (chirurgijn)
The surgeon was not an educated man like the physician, but in the villages he was an important and respected man with a versatile business and sometimes with astonishing results. His shop was identified by a signboard with a lancet and scissors, which indicated his "descent" from the barbers' trade. In later years most surgeons left the shaving brush to their helpers, but did not sell the shop, because they could not survive without the income of it. According to the guild rules the surgeon was not allowed to treat internal diseases or give strong emetics or laxative drugs without consulting the physician. He was the man for the bleeding, setting fractures, cutting out growths, pulling teeth and treating ulcers.
Education was given in practice; after a five years assignment to a known surgeon the apprentice was assumed to know his trade. He had visited some anatomical lessons in the Theatrum Anatomicum, where in winter some anatomical demonstrations were given. These autopsies were performed on convicted criminals and were mainly as entertainment for the riches, so the amateur surgeons were banished to the seats in the back, where they could hardly see a thing. In the early days his exams were limited to sharpening his lancet and perform a bleeding. In the 17th century a lot of theoretical knowledge was required, like what veins does a human being have, which ones are used for bleeding. And he had to prove his knowledge about fractures, swellings, pain, itching, gout and other disorders, but he also learned he always had to answer to the guild and the physician.
Amputations were often inevitable and the reports about it were horrifying. In 1554 the first surgery in the Sint Pieters Gasthuis (Hospital) was performed by surgeon Willem Andrieszoon and two colleagues, they amputated Vrees Reinertszoon a couple of toes with a chisel !! Anesthetic and disinfecting were unknown words; if an operation was very painful gin was the only anesthetic available. Most patients left the surgeon shop alive, but nobody knows how much patients died later on due to infections.
If you want to see a picture of the surgeon go to:

http://www.geneaknowhow.net/in/beroepen/luyken/chirurgijn.html

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Tanner (leerlooier)
For centuries people have used skins and hides to make shoes and clothes. For strong leather, used for soles and buckets, the skins of bulls and grown cows were used; to make soft leather for jackets, trousers and bookbinding, the skins of deer, elks, bears, foxes, sheep and goats were used. Unprocessed skin would rot if it got wet and dry skin would become hard, so in order to make it suitable for further use and to prevent it from decay, the skins had to be processed. This process caused an awful smell, so normally this industry was found outside of town.
First the skins were rubbed with lime, so the hairs would come off easily. After that the skins were soaked for one day, rubbed with lime again and then the inner side was worked on with razor-sharp knives to strip the remaining fat and tissue, then the lime was removed and the skins were stained. One of the industries closely related to tannery is glue-cooking (lijm-ziederij); the fat and tissue is cooked and is used for the manufacturing of glue.
Now the real tanning started; the skins were laid into large tubs with a dilution of bark and alum, which was used as tannin. The bark was peeled of the trees in spring and ground very thoroughly and used for the tannin, in which the hides were soaked. This tanning process could last more than a year for thick leather because every three months the tannin was refreshed. For the softer and thinner hides this process was shorter. By the chemical reaction of this process the natural characteristics of the skin were preserved; the skins would remain supple and waterproof. The leather was now washed, dried then and severely beaten, to make it softer and stronger. This beating was later done by fuller-mills; one of those mills, called Kleine Stinkmolen (little stinking mill) became world-famous, because Rembrandt made a sketch of it.
If you want to see a picture of the tanner go to:

http://www.geneaknowhow.net/in/beroepen/luyken/leerlooier.html

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Thatcher (rietdekker)
Reed has been our only roofing material for a long time. The material is ideal; it ventilates and is a perfect insulant; in winter a house with a reed roof is warmer and in summer cooler as a house with a normal roof. And it was cheaper, the flat stones had to be imported and reed was growing nearby. The reed, which was suitable as roofing material, grew in swamps and sweet water areas, the fiber was tough and supple, the stem was straight and had no other plants between it. The reed growing near the coast in salt or brackish water was not suitable, because the structure was too rough, the stems were too short and it would soon become moldy.
The thatcher used normal ladders as he started his job at the lower parts of the roof, but working his way up, the ladders were too short. Now he started using the "kluiver", a beam with at the ends two bended metal hooks, which were hooked behind the wooden roof construction. Standing on this beam and leaning against the roof the thatcher placed the bundles of reed up the roof and worked from eaves to ridge. Shaking it out he laid it carefully at a slight slant and pegged down the spars laid across it: then taking his "klopspaan", a kind of skimmer, he beated it upwards, driving it firmly under the spars, until unevenness disappeared. The next layer covered the spar, overlapping the one below, and so he proceeded until there was a smooth even surface to the ridge, which was finished off so no rain could penetrate and the eaves were trimmed with a sharp hook.
The foundation or lower layer of thatch was kept in place by tarred twine threaded through a large wooden (later made of metal), which he put through the reed. His helper, mostly an apprentice who sat at the attic inside the house, took the needle, guided the twine around a tile lath and put the needle back through the roof. A skilled thatcher could do this job alone with a bent needle.
This wonderful roof with all its advantages had only one disadvantage, it was highly inflammable. Some ancient methods made it less inflammable, immersing the reed into a mixture of loam and old urine was one of them; but this treatment shortened the life span of the reed.

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Timber merchant (houthandelaar)
Another important participant in the Dutch economy was the timber merchant. He imported most of his wood from Norway, the Eastsea region and from Russia. His merchandise was as dangerous for the town as the tar or the pitch of the tar-merchant, who had to store his limited amount of merchandise on floating rafts outside the city-walls. These precautions were necessary to protect the town from the feared city-fires. So the storage of timber was outside the city-walls too. It contained huge stocks of pinewood, all kinds of oak, in the form of trunks, pieces, planks and beams, common firewood and later even tropical hardwood.
Using this raw wood was a problem, until Cornelis Cornelisz. from Uitgeest built the first sawmill in 1592. Using a sawmill with several blades made the production of wooden planks very lucrative and helped Holland to reach its number one place in the shipbuilding business. Complete trunks of trees were sawed into planks, piled 'on slats' out in the open air for about a year, so the wind could blow through and the wood would 'rest and die'. The planks for shipbuilding however, which had to be shaped and formed, were laid in water, sometimes for as long as three years, so the juices came out and the wood would absorb the water and it would not be damaged, while the ship-builders worked on it. For the keel and timbers special bent trees were selected, planks could be shaped, but those enormous beams had to be carved from deformed, bent trees.

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Tinsmith (tinnegieter)
One thousand years B.C. the Phoenicians and the old Greeks used tin ware, they imported their tin ore from Spain, but the Romans made tin ware popular, they imported the ore from Cornwall in England. The tin ore is melted in special ovens at low temperatures, tin being a very soft metal melts at 446 degrees (230 degrees Celsius). The pure metal is useless, because you can squeeze it with your bare hands. It has to be alloyed with another metal, like copper or lead. After the tin was melted it was poured into a form, which was usually made of copper or bronze and consisted of two fitting parts. Both form parts had small holes to let the air out and immediately after the tin was poured in, the tin would solidify. With a simple knock the object would come out of the form and was ready for further processing.
The separate parts of, for instance, a coffee can were welded together and if it was completed in had to be smoothed. The tinsmith used a lathe, driven by a big wheel, which had to be rotated at a constant speed by an apprentice or even by his wife. He used various chisels to smooth the welding and every twitch would ruin his work. The polishing was done with a disc made of sheepskin and was a dirty, muddy job, but the object came out very smooth. But after this treatment the surface of the object was matted with a metal brush. This was done to make the surface of the tin accessible for the next step: a short bath in a special acid. Now the tin object got its characteristic dark and dim surface.
If the produced plate or can had thin spots or even holes in it, the tin could simply be melted again and used for the second time. Old tin ware could also be used for a second (or third) time, but using "old" tin had a disadvantage, it could contain dirt or grease. The tinsmith would stir the boiling (old) tin with a green branch; the fluid from this branch would boil and the dirt would come to the surface and could be easily removed with a metal spoon.
If you want to see a picture of the tinsmith go to:

http://www.geneaknowhow.net/in/beroepen/luyken/tingieter.html

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Tolltaker (tolgaarder)
In order to bear the costs for maintenance of roads and dikes local authorities introduced toll passages. The establishing of tolls needed the approval of the national government, but in most cases that was no problem. They were normally situated at the entrance of the village or town. The inhabitants didn't have to pay toll money, because they already paid the local taxes, but every non-resident was liable to pay toll money. And of course it made a difference whether a horseman would pass or a stagecoach with four horses and a number of passengers. Every vehicle had its own tariff, some tolls even charged a pedestrian.
The tolltaker usually lived at the toll passage, which was a fence or a stonewall with a gate. Some had a barrier bar, but normally it was open and only closed during the night. The tolltaker rented the toll passage from the authorities, was allowed to free housing and a small fee. This way the City Council did not have to hire expensive personal and was assured of their toll money. Despite this tenancy the collector had a special police-protection if he had trouble with defaulters.
Some toll passages were bridges and then it worked two ways. The pedestrians and coaches had to pay, but the track boats and other vessels too.
In many cases the tollhouse turned into an inn. Late travelers who found the city gates closed could find a sleeping place at the toll and this way the toll collector could earn some extra money. Some of the toll passages of Amsterdam became famous establishments, where even today one can sit at the waterside and enjoy a cool beer.

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Weaver (lakenwever)
The raw material for the textile-industry was provided as sheep-skins or bales of wool, which were first washed thoroughly. After that the woolcombers (kaarder) worked on it with their large bone combs (kaarden). Later 'kaardmachines' were used; these were two planks with metal hooks on it. The raw wool was placed on one of the planks so it covered the whole surface. The second plank was moved over it till the wool had attached itself to this second kaard. This procedure was repeated 5 to 6 times until the wool was unraveled totally and the threads were aligned. The rolls, which had been formed on the kaard, were called 'spinrokken'.
After that it was the spinners' turn; this work was mostly done by poor women and children at their homes. They worked in the small houses from dawn till dark to earn a few nickles. In those single room houses, full of fluff and dust, people used to work, eat and sleep. The weaving itself was a man's job, so father sat with his back against the wall at the loom, mostly assisted by one of the boys; even a strong man had trouble managing it alone. Most weavers got a deformity in their spine, just below their neck, called the dowager's hump. By the time he got older and his arms weakened, he was forced to change to the spinning-wheel and the son had to take over.
Warp and weft are the two magic words in weaving; the vertical treads, seen from the weavers point of view, are the warp or chain-threads and those are divided in the even and odd threads. Each group is connected to a treadle, so the odd and even threads can be pulled down in turn. The wooden spool is pulled between the two groups of chain-threads and that horizontal thread is called the weft.
The weaver of the 17th century used the same loom as the slaves in old Egypt; it was not the fastest and most efficient tools which were used, but those which needed time and labour. Otherwise it just caused unfair competition and unemployment. A man from Dantzig invented a much faster loom and it is said he was drowned in the Weichsel. Don't forget the typesetters of New York went on strike for 113 days in 1962 just to stop automation in their trade.
If you want to see a picture of the weaver go to:

http://www.geneaknowhow.net/in/beroepen/luyken/wever.html

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Whalebone worker (baleinwerker)
For filtering their food the whales had a row of whalebones in their huge upper jaw, which could be ten feet long and weigh about 500 to 1500 kilos. These "beards" were most valuable, sometimes only the whalebones were removed from the killed whale. On the mainland they were cleaned; the last meat-tissue was cut off and with brushes the grease and dirt was removed. Now the "beards" were spread out to dry and sorted according to size and bundled in equal packages in order to be sold.
Whalebone is comparable to our nail and has some positive characteristics: elasticity, heat-resistance and hardness. This makes it suitable to use it for various purposes. In March 1618 the English immigrant John Osborn (1584-1634) applied for a patent on the preparation of whalebone. He intended to produce frames for paintings and mirrors, walking sticks, handles for knives and brushes. In England this material was introduced a few years earlier, so he had an advantage to the Dutch competition. But in 1620 Herman Albertsz. Rooswinckel developed a method to slice the whalebone so thin, that it could be used as veneer or for inlaid work, like ebony. In 1625 John Osborn did his last and most important discovery; he weakened the whalebone in hot water, put it in a copper mould or under a stamp and could produce beautiful medallions. He worked together with skilled gold- and silversmiths and the value of whalebone rose sky-high. And so did the whale killing.
From the teeth and bones various articles were manufactured; from buttons to rosaries. The sperm whale produced two other materials: the first, spermaceti, was used to make valuable candles, which did not smoke and the second was amber, used in the perfume-industry.

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Whale-oil worker (traankoker)
Unfortunately whaling is not an extinct profession; it has been big business during the last four centuries. Early in the 17th century the English, the Danish and the Dutch started small-scale industries near the fishing waters east of Greenland, on Spits Bergen and the Jan Mayen islands. The fishing season was short: from early May until late August, but because the sun did not set completely in the short polar summer, it was possible to work day and night. Only on Sunday morning the work was stopped for mass. It must have been a terrible place; an average temperature of 36 degrees (+3 Celsius), rotting and stinking whale parts all over the place, everything soaked with whale oil and the dense smoke of boiling and burning fat.
The meat of the whale was not very important; the oil, whalebones and to a smaller degree the bones and teeth had commercial value. The blubber-layer of the adult animal was almost two feet thick. After the whales and sperm whales were killed, they were dragged to the islands and the blubber was removed and cut into small pieces. It was boiled in large cast iron kettles called trypots; two men were constantly stirring it with long spoons to avoid burning. As soon as the blubber was boiled down, the oil was drawn out and filtered in large wooden trays and cooled down. The residue of this process, the boiled down fat, was used as fuel under the trypots. The whale oil, which did not solidify once it was boiled, was shipped to the Republic in large barrels and used as raw material for soap, fuel for oil-lamps and many other products.

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Wheelwright (wielmaker or radelaar)
The hub was always the first part the wheelwright made, for this part he used elm wood, it is tough and supple. With chisels he made holes in it for the spokes and these holes were deliberately made a little bit too small. After that the blacksmith forged a hoop around the hub. Before the spokes were attached, the hub was cooked in water so the wood became soft. The spokes had to be strong, so he used oak, ash wood or locust wood. Only after the spokes were attached did the wheel maker saw them to size. Now he started working on the rim; it was build up in segments, one segment for every two spokes. The thread of the wood had to align with the curve of the rim; otherwise it would break too easily. The segments were put together with pegs in holes.
Now that the circle was rounded, the four wheels were transported to the blacksmith; he had to make it into a solid wheel by using a metal hoop. This hoop was measured a little too small; by heating it in the fire it would expand. Outside the forge, the wheel was laid down on a horizontal millstone with a hole in the middle for the hub. The red-hot hoop had to be forged around the rim; this had to be done very fast, because the hoop already started to shrink. As soon as the hoop was attached, the wheel maker started pouring water over it; not only to put out the fire, because the wood was burning, but also to cool down the metal very fast, so it would shrink and turn the spokes and rim into one solid unity.
The spokes of a cart were never mounted at a square angle to the hub, but a little pointing to the inner side, like an umbrella. If a heavy loaded cart went into a hollow, the bottom spokes would suffer most and could break. This could be avoided by slant mounting the bottom spokes. As the wheel went into a hollow, they were in a square angle to the ground and could carry more weight. The rule was: the worse the road was, the more slanting the spokes had to be.
If you want to see a picture of the wheelwright go to:

http://www.geneaknowhow.net/in/beroepen/luyken/wagenmaker.html

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