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Making ship drawings in the seventeenth century Dutch Republic.


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Hello Hubac's Historian,

 

Thanks for your reaction. What you state could very well be true. But the question is how? Is the drawing a geometrically adequate representation of the ship which was built and is to be build? How do you ‘read’ the drawing? And if this drawing is a way to record a specific successful design in order to be able to repeat its characteristics in the next ship to be build, how is the drawing used in the building process? If you mention a purpose why these drawings are made, this should be accompanied by an explanation or substantiation for this claim. I absolutely do not pretend to know it all but I ask questions and try to do just that, give a substantiation if I am making a claim. I haven't read the article Ab Hoving wrote, about the seventeenth century drawings in the Amsterdam maritime museum being forgeries, but knowing his work, which is crammed with unsubstantiated claims, I would not be surprised if this is the case there too. I like to stay far removed from this.

Edited by Philemon1948
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I am not making any claims, Friend.  I am postulating a guess.  That is all.  I’m not sure that the answer you are seeking is out there in the recorded cannon.  I personally couldn’t tell you, though, because I have not invested any time or energy into researching that problem.

 

You seem to have quite a problem with Ab Hoving.  I will tell you that I certainly know who he is.  He has done far more than most to bring light and understanding to this time period where knowledge was spoken from one generation to the next, and perfected through the doing of the thing.

 

I don’t know who you are, though.  You seem to be searching for absolutes in a time that was more art than science.  

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Hello Waldemar,

 

I wouldn't give my head for that statement. The drawings show too much intriguing details to be regarded as drawings who are solely made for a purpose like beauty, sales or for display. But since there are no written sources to confirm this there is nothing you can say with any certainty. Because these drawings are unique the only thing you can do is trying to find a sort of inner consistency which might point to some use. The latter is also true for the books of Cornelis van Yk and Nicolaes Witsen. You can never state these books are very reliable because the references for both books are very poor. These books are unique and so are these drawings.

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On 11/16/2022 at 7:26 AM, Philemon1948 said:

The latter is also true for the books of Cornelis van Yk and Nicolaes Witsen. You can never state these books are very reliable because the references for both books are very poor. These books are unique and so are these drawings.

One must understand the era during which these treatises were prepared before passing judgement on the source. Witsen was documenting in a written form what was primarily institutional knowledge among the shipwrights of the time. Not so different from the Newton manuscript or, for that matter, the many 18th century works such as Steel or the various encyclopedia entries. Citing of references is a much more modern concept. Is Michael of Rhodes any less credible for not citing the more ancient sources?

 

 

Edited by trippwj
Fixed typos
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Hello Hubac's Historian,

 

Thank you for your reaction. Let me start with who I am. I don’t think that really matters. A forum like this is a platform on which you can publish things if you think you have something to say about the subject, no matter who you are. I don’t think position, status and reputation are things that matter in a genuine substantive discussion as long as the participants involved are content competent. And I think I am.

Concerning Ab Hoving, I wonder how it is possible this man is regarded as an expert concerning shipbuilding in the seventeenth century Dutch Republic? And I will tell you why I am asking myself this question.

I started about ten years ago with an analysis of the book ‘De Nederlandsche Scheepsbouw Open Gestelt’ written by Cornelis van Yk and published in 1697. I assumed Ab Hoving had done thorough research with regard to the books of Nicolaes Witsen so, in case I got stuck with van Yk, I could try to find an answer in Ab’s book about Witsen. But nothing could be further from the truth. There is not one single question I asked and ask myself which is answered by Ab’s book. His book is superficial and for me completely useless, like it is useless for anybody who likes to have a deeper understanding about shipbuilding in that age. When I discovered this I couldn’t believe it at first. This can’t be true, I must be making a mistake. But no, unfortunately. It would have been much better if Ab’s book could be used as a support for my own work.

I have published a number of articles on this forum where I point out many strange contradictions and omissions in the books of Nicolaes Witsen, all of whom are completely missed by Ab.

I decided years ago to take Witsen along in my analysis and leave Ab’s work for what it is. Ab Hoving doesn’t bother me, I am completely independent and I am only interested in people who are genuinely capable to discuss the subject, so knowing the sources, use their knowledge in the discussion and be able to listen.

Unfortunately Ab surfaces once in a while when I am doing my research and meet people.

This is the case with the seventeenth century drawings in the collection of the Maritime Museum in Amsterdam. For years I vaguely knew of the existence of these drawings but I had never seen them. That changed in February this year when I met someone who is handling a subject which has relations with what I do. And he uses the book of van Yk to tackle some of his questions. He showed me digital copies of these drawings, 12 in total, made by an unknown artist. This convinced me that these drawings could give information about certain questions I have concerning van Yk’s book. But at the same time I was told these drawings were forgeries according to Ab Hoving.

Knowing the substantive quality of Ab’s work I doubted that and simple reasoning makes clear that it is impossible for someone like Ab to make such a statement. If you want to prove these drawings are forgeries you need to be an expert on subjects like paper, ink, handwriting and art history and you need to do hands on research on these drawings. Ab is not qualified on one of these fields neither did he perform the necessary research on these drawings. The Maritime Museum Amsterdam however did investigate these drawings recently which confirmed they date from the second half of the seventeenth century. So these drawings are genuine. Since I have not read the article in which Ab apparently states these drawings are fake I decided to order the magazine in which this article is published to read with my own eyes what arguments Ab presents to make the reader belief these drawings are fake. I expect to receive this magazine next week. I am very curious what to expect but I suspect Ab raises the same kind of smokescreens as he does in his other work.

I know Ab Hoving is regarded as an expert in the field of shipbuilding and according to you: “He has done far more than most to bring light and understanding to this time period where knowledge was spoken from one generation to the next, and perfected through the doing of the thing”.

As said, I discovered years ago you can have some doubts about that. But if I say this and make my point by giving clear examples, I am usually met with hostility. I don’t care about that but it raises a very intruiging question: how it is possible people think Ab is an expert?

The most striking feature of Ab’s book about Witsen is the fact Ab uses tricks to make the reader believe he knows while he does not. This is the hallmark of the charlatan. Grete de Francesco gives in her book ‘The power of the charlatan’ (1939) a definition of a charlatan: “one who pretends to know what he does not know, boasts abilities that he does not possess and proclaims talents that he lacks”. It would be interesting to analyse Ab’s book with regard to the methods he uses to pretend he knows what he is talking about. I won’t do that here, everybody who is able to critically read a text can do that. But the above mentioned subject about these seventeenth century drawings is very suitable as an example of how Ab goes to work.

Again, I would have liked this to be very different. I am not very fond of trumpeting forth negative statements about the work of others but I know first hand that Ab is capable of causing considerable damage by imposing himself as an expert by pretending to know what he doesn’t know.

As soon as I have read the article Ab wrote about these drawings I will give a comment.

And last but not least, I am a shipwright and worked for years in traditional settings concerning ship reconstructions and restoration projects. But before I started my career I was a student at Art School. I don’t think I am searching for absolutes but I am searching for what can be said about the books of Nicolaes Witsen and Cornelis van Yk concerning the very practical question: what is the practical meaning of these books? And can I build a ship with the information which is presented in these books?

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4 hours ago, Philemon1948 said:

I don’t think I am searching for absolutes but I am searching for what can be said about the books of Nicolaes Witsen and Cornelis van Yk concerning the very practical question: what is the practical meaning of these books? And can I build a ship with the information which is presented in these books?

While this specific set of questions is worthy of discussion, your diatribe attacking Ab Hoving is lacking substance. His credentials are strong, with many published academic works in addition to his books. 29 years restoring museum models would involve broad familiarity with archival material. While you may disagree with his conclusions, that does not make them wrong.

 

Could you build a boat based on Witsen? Yes, with some assumptions regarding missing or strange information.  Does his treatise meet modern standards? Heck no - he could use a good editor!

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Yes, Philemon, you are being met with hostility because you are leading with hostility.  At best, to dismiss Ab’s work on Witsen’s pinas ship is mis-placed.  At worst, it is self-serving, yet it doesn’t serve you well here.  The question of who you are, I think, is relevant when you are tearing someone down to make your point.

 

Ab Hoving took the opaque work of Witsen and made it coherent and intelligible.  He spent 14 years on the endeavor, and it resulted in a fully coherent ship model, and his work now also exists as a virtual treatise that takes you inside the ship and across every square inch. 

 

 

I think that all counts as quite a significant accomplishment.  Ab Hoving is not a personal friend of mine.  I have had a few exchanges with him on the various forums, where I have found him to be informative and gracious with his time and insight to myself and other model makers.

 

It is not my point that authors of books on any subject are wholly un-assailable.  You are certainly within your rights to ask questions and seek answers.  However, to pretend that one man’s life’s work is a pile of garbage because it does not neatly support your thinking is just unfair.

 

Ask yourself - would you even be studying Witsen and Van Yk, in this manner, if Hoving hadn’t written his book?

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Philemon, I think Ab Hoving deserves much credit and respect. It is easy "behind the keyboard" to take a man down or attack his reputation and I think it is really shamefull reading through your posts how you seem to "dislike" Ab and show him no respect. It doesn't matter to me if you agree or dissagree with his research, just show the proper respect and be professional. He is a very kind and helpfull man with a lot of knowledge on 17th Dutch shipbuilding. I'm not even going there to debate his knowledge nor his many books written on the subject.

 

To answer your initial question, and this is more to the one who are interested on the subject. 

The Dutch didn't make drawings in the 17th century because they had no real need for it! The knowledge was passed down from master to apprentice who worked for years to learn the trade and there were strict rules within the guild. Talk to the master shipwright Willem Vos who build the Batavia replica. He did it the "old school" way and he did it the right way without cutting corners. He researched all the known books and he "listned" to his old collegues in those books. He stated that The Dutch shipwrights of that day used "known proportions" to build a ship. So if you know the length, you know the width, the heigth, the size of the gunports etc etc. Everything was build by these " golden rules". He said, you really need to dig in and think in the way they did then in these old days. The answers were in these books if you understand them. If you know the standards, rules and point of views. It took him a lot of years to understand and learn these rules so to say. If you look at the old "public tenders" of the day, those measurements were always stated so the master shipwright knew how the ship should be build. 


The shell first method called in Dutch "vlakbouw methode" or "schaalbouw methode" was an art and a real craftmanship that sadly has been lost because ships of the late 18th century were build differently, so new knowledge was more necessary above the old. Not all the Dutch shipyards used this method those days, some put some of the mayor frames up first. However, the same calculations, proportions and measurements were used. These were the golden rules everyone followed. There is a known example where these "golden rules" were not followed and the result is known as the Vasa story, we all heard of! Even Willem Vos stated that some of the Vasa's constructions for example the gratings are done different than the Dutch did it those days. That's because the local craftmanship used different methods even when the master shipwright was a Dutch person.

 

So to me it's okay to debate and argue the Dutch building style, how they did it and so on, but respect the ones who did their research and have a solid track record. Don't make it personal, keep it professional please!

 

regards,
Peter

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There have been several mentions of available research literature and potentially relevant treatises contemporary to the Renaissance in northwest Europe. With appologies to some, following is a fairly lengthy set of resources (note there may be some duplication between the two lists - they are tagged for topic areas, and some or most fit multiple subjects).  Again, this is a sample. I have not included my Naval Architecture and Shipbuilding collection, though some of these are in either or both of those subject collections.

 

List the First is primarily related to the low countries, although some other regions may have snuck in.

Adams, J., Holk, A.F. van and Maarleveld, T.J. (1990) Dredgers and archaeology: shipfinds from the Slufter. Alphen aan den Rijn (Archeologie onder water : onderzoeksrapport, 2). Available at: https://www.academia.edu/919874/Dredgers_and_Archaeology._Shipfinds_from_the_Slufter (Accessed: 13 May 2015).

Bender, J. (2014) Dutch Warships in the Age of Sail, 1600-1714: Design, Construction, Careers, and Fates. Barnsley, SYorkshire: Naval Institute Press.

Bruijn, J.R. (2017) The Dutch Navy of the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries. Oxford: Liverpool University Press (Research in Maritime History, 45). Available at: http://liverpooluniversitypress.co.uk/books/isbn/9781786948908.

van Duivenvoorde, W. van (2012) ‘Chapter 34: Use of Pine Sheathing on Dutch East India Company Ships’, in N. Günsenin (ed.) Between Continents: Proceedings of the twelfth International Symposium on Boat and Ship Archaeology, Istanbul 2009, ISBSA 12, pp. 241–251. Available at: https://www.academia.edu/2276273/Chapter_34_Use_of_Pine_Sheathing_on_Dutch_East_India_Company_Ships_in_N._G%C3%BCnsenin_ed._Between_Continents_Proceedings_of_the_twelfth_International_Symposium_on_Boat_and_Ship_Archaeology_Istanbul_2009_ISBSA_12_pp._241_251 (Accessed: 19 March 2015).

van Duivenvoorde, W. van (2015) Dutch East India Company Shipbuilding: The Archaeological Study of Batavia and Other Seventeenth-Century VOC Ships. College Station: Texas A&M University Press.

van Duivenvoorde, W. van (2017) ‘(2009). More Than Just Bits of Hull: Expensive oak, laminate construction, and goat hair: new insights on "Batavia"'s archaeological hull remains. Tijdschrift voor Zeegeschiedenis 28.2:59–68 and 72–73.’, Tijdschrift voor Zeegeschiedenis 28.2:59–68 and 72–73. [Preprint]. Available at: https://www.academia.edu/2280418/_2009_._More_Than_Just_Bits_of_Hull_Expensive_oak_laminate_construction_and_goat_hair_new_insights_on_Batavia_s_archaeological_hull_remains._Tijdschrift_voor_Zeegeschiedenis_28.2_59_68_and_72_73 (Accessed: 4 January 2017).

Gardiner, R. and Unger, R.W. (eds) (1994) Cogs, caravels, and galleons: the sailing ship, 1000-1650. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press (Conway’s history of the ship).

Guy, R. (2012) First Spaces Of Colonialism: The Architecture Of Dutch East India Company Ships. PhD Dissertation. Cornell. Available at: https://ecommons.cornell.edu/handle/1813/29468 (Accessed: 15 August 2021).

Hocker, F. (2013) ‘Review - Nicolaes Witsen and Shipbuilding in the Dutch Golden Age’, The Mariner’s Mirror, 99(3), pp. 359–361. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1080/00253359.2013.792595.

Holk, A.F.L. van (2021) ‘Innovation, institutions and migration: transfer of technology in Dutch shipbuilding, 500-1700’, Archaeonautica. L’archéologie maritime et navale de la préhistoire à l’époque contemporaine, (21), pp. 33–40. Available at: https://doi.org/10.4000/archaeonautica.754.

Hoving, A.J. (2012) Nicolaes Witsen and shipbuilding in the Dutch Golden Age. 1st ed. College Station: Texas A&M University Press (Ed Rachal Foundation nautical archaeology series).

Hoving, A.J. (2014) 17th century Dutch merchant ships: text, photos and plans for the ship modeler. Florence, OR: SeaWatch Books. Available at: http://www.seawatchbooks.com/114003.

Jaeger, W. (2001) Die niederländische Jacht im 17. Jahrhundert: eine technisch-historische Dokumentation. Bielefeld: Verlag für Regionalgeschichte.

Jong, J. de (2010) Standvastigheid & verwachting : a historical and philosophical inquiry into standardization and innovation in design and production of the VOC retourschip during the 18th century. info:eu-repo/semantics/masterThesis. University of Twente. Available at: http://essay.utwente.nl/66547/ (Accessed: 24 April 2015).

Koot, G.M. (2016) the Dutch Republic and Britain: The Making of a European World Economy: Home. Available at: http://www1.umassd.edu/euro/welcome.cfm (Accessed: 3 November 2016).

Maarleveld, T.J. (2013) ‘Early Modern Merchant Ships, Nicolaes Witsen and a Dutch-Flush Index’, International Journal of Nautical Archaeology, 42(2), pp. 348–357. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1111/1095-9270.12022.

Maarleveld, T.J. (2017) ‘The Aanloop Molengat site (Wadden Sea, the Netherlands) and Europe anno 1635.The historical interpretation of a strategic cargo.’, in J. Gawronski, A. van Holk, and J. Schokkenbroek (eds) Ships And Maritime Landscapes. Proceedings of the Thirteenth International Symposium on Boat and Ship Archaeology, Amsterdam 2012. Barkhuis, pp. 113–119. Available at: https://www.academia.edu/34251783/The_Aanloop_Molengat_site_Wadden_Sea_the_Netherlands_and_Europe_anno_1635_The_historical_interpretation_of_a_strategic_cargo (Accessed: 2 August 2022).

O’Grada, C. and Kelly, M. (2014) Speed Under Sail, 1750-1850. SSRN Scholarly Paper. Rochester, NY: Social Science Research Network. Available at: http://papers.ssrn.com/abstract=2412955 (Accessed: 15 February 2015).

Preston, R.A. (1950) ‘To Outsail the Dutch’, The Mariner’s Mirror, 36(4), pp. 322–336. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1080/00253359.1950.10657617.

Rålamb, Å.C. (1691) Skeps Byggerij eller Adelig Öfnings Tionde Tom Stockholm 1691. Sjöhistoriska museet. Available at: http://www.bruzelius.info/Nautica/Shipbuilding/Ralamb(1691).html. Page images available at https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?search=Skeps+Byggerij&title=Special:MediaSearch&go=Go&type=image

Reehorst, K.P. ter (1850) The mariner’s and merchant’s polyglot technical dictionary of upwards of five thousand nautical, steam, and ship-building terms, commercial and scientific, in ten different languages, ... with a precise explanatory key to the pronunciation of these languages, and a comparative table of the money, weights and measures of sea ports. London : Williams and Northgate ... Available at: http://archive.org/details/gri_33125012932121 (Accessed: 11 April 2015).

Reinders, R. (1991) Carvel construction technique: skeleton-first, shell-first: fifth International Symposium on Boat and Ship Archaeology, Amsterdam 1988. Edited by P. Kees. Oxford: Oxbow Books (Oxbow monograph, 12). Available at: //catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/002647582.

Roscam, H. (1603) Dutch ships ram galleys (Halve Maene overvaart een galei op 3 oktober 1602. Ook wel gezien als een afbeelding van de Slag bij Sluis van 26 mei 1603). Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Scheepsstrijd_op_de_Zeeuwse_stromen,_slag_bij_Sluis_26_mei_1603.jpg (Accessed: 7 October 2016).

Sewel, W. (1699) A compendious guide to the Low-Dutch language : containing the most necessary and essential grammar-rules ... Korte wegwyzer der nederduytsche taal ... Printed for the widdow of S. Swart. Available at: http://brbl-dl.library.yale.edu/vufind/Record/3558608. May be useful in translating some of the older treatises.

Stevin, S. (1586) De Beghinselen des Waterwichts. Inde druckerye van Christoffel Plantijn, by Françoys van Raphelinghen. Available at: https://books.google.com/books?id=r288AAAAcAAJ.

Unger, R.W. (1973) ‘Dutch Ship Design in the Fifteenth and Sixteenth Centuries’, Viator, 4, pp. 387–412. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1484/J.VIATOR.2.301656.

Unger, R.W. (1978) Dutch shipbuilding before 1800: ships and guilds. Assen: Van Gorcum (Aspects of economic history.2). Available at: http://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/000736872 (Accessed: 13 March 2015).

Unger, R.W. (2011) ‘Dutch nautical sciences in the golden age: the portuguese influence’, E-journal of Portuguese History, 9(2), pp. 68–83.

Verweij, J., Waldus, W. and Holk, A.F.L.V. (2012) ‘Continuity and change in Dutch shipbuilding’, Journal of Archaeology in the Low Countries, 4(1), pp. 65–93.

Witsen, N. (1671a) Aeloude en hedendaegsche scheeps-bouw en bestier. t’ Amsterdam : By Casparus Commelijn, Broer en Jan Appelaer, Boeck-verkoopers. Available at: http://archive.org/details/gri_33125008247716 (Accessed: 9 March 2015).

Witsen, N. (1671b) Nicolaas Witsen, Aaloude en hedendaagsche scheeps-bouw en bestier · dbnl. Available at: http://www.dbnl.org/tekst/wits008arch01_01/ (Accessed: 9 March 2015).

Witsen, N.C. (1690) Architectura navalis et reginem nauticum. [Amsterdam, Graphic]. Available at: http://archive.org/details/bub_gb_XfA3AQAAMAAJ (Accessed: 24 November 2016).

Yk (Ijk), C. van (1697) De nederlandsche scheeps-bouw-konst open gestelt : vertoonende naar wat regel, of evenredenheyd, in Nederland meest alle scheepen werden gebouwd : mitsgaders masten, zeylen, ankers, en touwen, enz. daar aan gepast : soo suit de schriften van ouder, als jonger bouw-meesters, als ook by eygen ondervindinge, tot nut van alle jonge bouw-meesters en knechten, als ook uitreeders en liefhebbers van scheepen. Available at: https://archive.org/details/gri_33125012921124 (Accessed: 11 April 2015).

List the Second is a broader survey of academic research related to the design of vessels or the reconstruction of wrecks.

Adams, J. and Rönnby, J. (eds) (2013a) Interpreting shipwrecks: maritime archaeological approaches. Southampton: Highfield Press (Southampton Archaeology Monographs New Series, 4). Available at: https://www.academia.edu/31175211/Adams_J_and_R%C3%B6nnby_J_ed_Interpreting_Shipwrecks_Maritime_Archaeological_Approaches.

Adams, J. and Rönnby, J. (2013b) ‘One of his Majesty’s “Beste Kraffwells”: the wreck of an early carvel-built ship at Franska Stenarna, Sweden’, International Journal of Nautical Archaeology, 42(1), pp. 103–117. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1095-9270.2012.00355.x.

Adams, J.R. (2013) A Maritime Archaeology of Ships: Innovation and Social Change in Late Medieval and Early Modern Europe. 2nd Revised ed. edition. Oxford, UK ; Oakville, CT: Oxbow Books.

Alexiou, K. (2011) Two 16th century ships: their hull form and performance. Master’s Thesis. Maritime Archaeology Programme. Maritime Archaeology Programme University of Southern Denmark. Available at: http://www.maritimearchaeology.dk/downloads/MA%20Thesis_Alexiou.pdf (Accessed: 2 April 2015).

Anderson, R.C. (1934) ‘The Bursledon Ship’, The Mariner’s Mirror, 20(2), pp. 158–170. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1080/00253359.1934.10655746.

Barker, R. (1988) ‘“Many May Peruse Us”: Ribbands, Moulds and Models in the Dockyards’, Revista da Universidade de Coimbra, XXXIV, pp. 539–559.

Bass, G.F. (ed.) (1974) A history of seafaring based on underwater archaeology. 1. Omega ed. London: Futura Publ (An Omega book).

Bellabarba, S. (1993) ‘The Ancient Methods of Designing Hulls’, The Mariner’s Mirror, 79(3), pp. 274–292. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1080/00253359.1993.10656457.

Bellabarba, S. (1996) ‘The Origins of the Ancient Methods of Designing Hulls: A Hypothesis’, The Mariner’s Mirror, 82(3), pp. 259–268. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1080/00253359.1996.10656602.

Bellamy, M. (1997) Danish naval administration and shipbuilding in the reign of Christian IV (1596-1648). PhD Thesis. University of Glasgow. Available at: http://theses.gla.ac.uk/1383/1/1997bellamyphd.pdf (Accessed: 1 March 2015).

Blue, L.K., Hocker, F.M. and Englert, A. (eds) (2006) Connected by the sea: proceedings of the Tenth International Symposium on Boat and Ship Archaeology, Roskilde 2003. International Symposium on Boat and Ship Archaeology, Oxford: Oxbow. Available at: https://books.google.com/books?id=kLzNDQAAQBAJ.

Bondioli, M. (2003a) ‘The Arsenal of Venice and the Art of Building Ships’, in C. Beltrame (ed.) Boats, Ships and Shipyards. Atti del IX International Symposium on Boat and Ship Archaeology. Oxford: Oxbow, pp. 10–13. Available at: https://www.academia.edu/37935615/BONDIOLI_Mauro_The_Arsenal_of_Venice_and_the_Art_of_Building_Ships (Accessed: 14 July 2019).

Bondioli, M. (2003b) ‘The Art of Designing and Building Venetian Galleys from the 15th to the 16th Century’, in Boats, Ships and Shipyards. Atti del IX International Symposium on Boat and Ship Archaeology. Oxford: Oxbow, pp. 222–227. Available at: https://www.academia.edu/37935593/BONDIOLI_Mauro_The_Art_of_Designing_and_Building_Venetian_Galleys_from_the_15th_to_the_16th_Century (Accessed: 14 July 2019).

Breen, C. and Forsythe, W. (eds) (2013) ACUA Underwater Archaeology Proceedings 2013. Advisory Council on Underwater Archaeology. Available at: https://www.lulu.com/shop/advisory-council-for-underwater-archaeology/acua-underwater-archaeology-proceedings-2013/paperback/product-1wvq92rw.html (Accessed: 25 October 2022).

Castro, F. (2008) ‘In Search of Unique Iberian Ship Design Concepts’, Historical Archaeology, 42(2), pp. 63–87.

Cook, G.D., Horlings†, R. and Pietruszka, A. (2016) ‘Maritime Archaeology and the Early Atlantic Trade: research at Elmina, Ghana’, International Journal of Nautical Archaeology, 45(2), pp. 370–387. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1111/1095-9270.12180.

Crumlin-Pedersen, O. (1998) ‘A new centre for maritime archaeology in Denmark.’, Archaeonautica, 14(1), pp. 327–332. Available at: https://doi.org/10.3406/nauti.1998.1226.

Damianidis, K. (2018) ‘The Use of Ribbands in the Recent Shipbuilding Tradition’, Archaeonautica. L’archéologie maritime et navale de la préhistoire à l’époque contemporaine, (20), pp. 183–194. Available at: https://doi.org/10.4000/archaeonautica.571.

Davis, J.S. (no date) The Problems Involved in Reconstruction of the Original Hull Shape of a 14 th Century Venetian Galley. Available at: https://www.academia.edu/36020087/The_Problems_Involved_in_Reconstruction_of_the_Original_Hull_Shape_of_a_14_th_Century_Venetian_Galley (Accessed: 20 August 2019).

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On 6/5/2022 at 9:33 AM, Waldemar said:

an attempt to build a ship (or a model of a ship) using the shell method, conforming to the theoretical hull lines made beforehand and within acceptable accuracy.

If the model was built the same way as the actual ship was built,  a free floating shell  - the result would probably be unreliable at best.  The material - wood - is the same - more or less.  The bending and other physical characteristics would not scale.   Since Nature's math is Calculus, the differences due to scale would be more than a linear proportion.  Trying to use the technique at scale as a predictor of full size behavior  would probably yield a failure.

 

If the full size shape was drawn, and scaled,  and molds or frames made to that shape,  these would be able to provide for a model that Was an accurate representation.

 

On 6/5/2022 at 9:33 AM, Waldemar said:

This is an example of what was then produced:

England was using plans at this time -  the method used was one of various derivatives of whole molding.  The example with three frames and the stern structure is what was used to get the mathematical data on paper in whole molding.  The batten part that came next was art and finesse for getting the lines.  Those preliminary whole molding plans were probably enough to get the bureaucracy off their backs.  Rather than try to get wood to match some planed shape, they took what the wood allowed them.  Their battens were full sized on the ways, instead of slivers on a drawing board.   It would be constant frustration for the customer that was a bureaucracy wanting cookie cutter predictability.   It is frustration for those who wish to replicate   in miniature   what they built .

 

Whole molding uses very basic geometric tools - straight lines and arcs.  These guild based shipwrights were probably doing basically the same things.  Instead of committing it to paper before they started,  they probably did it either in their heads, or did drawings that were one off for each part and that were discarded after use.   My bet is that the plans version of whole molding came from someone breaking the rules and committing to paper what the guild had been doing for quite a while.   It just took a Royal to get too involved in the actual work for someone to gain profit by revealing guild secrets.

 

For the actual ships at the time and in the place at issue here,  we have no evidence that significantly sophisticated plans were used.  The problem is:  it is necessary to have these sort of plans to build a ship model that is an actual 'model'.   It is a great gift from Ab Hoving and to our advantage that a way has come to us to generate plans for these otherwise lost vessels that way produces a reasonable approximation of their form and shape..  

 

About Ab Hoving's place in this:  To repeat myself, the skills and mental prospective required to be a pathfinder is different from the telephone sanitizers who follow on to tighten things up,  apply the polish, and make a big deal of deficiencies the original path did not include.  Pathfinders deserve honors and respect.  They are rare and cannot be willed into existence.  The education system is geared to produce an endless supply of telephone sanitizers.  Their contributions are obviously useful but are only incremental.

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3 hours ago, Jaager said:

If the model was built the same way as the actual ship was built,  a free floating shell  - the result would probably be unreliable at best.  The material - wood - is the same - more or less.  The bending and other physical characteristics would not scale.   Since Nature's math is Calculus, the differences due to scale would be more than a linear proportion.  Trying to use the technique at scale as a predictor of full size behavior  would probably yield a failure.

 

3 hours ago, Jaager said:

It is a great gift from Ab Hoving and to our advantage that a way has come to us to generate plans for these otherwise lost vessels that way produces a reasonable approximation of their form and shape.

 

 

Jaager, are you aware that Ab Hoving was reconstructing the shape of hulls precisely by building scale models? By making such a statements, you have just annihilated much of the efforts made so far by Ab Hoving, as well as by many scientists and archaeologists who reconstruct the shape of ships precisely by building models. At different scales, e.g. 1:5, 1:10 and so on. Or is it perhaps an unintentional contradiction?

 

 

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3 hours ago, Jaager said:

England was using plans at this time -  the method used was one of various derivatives of whole molding.  The example with three frames and the stern structure is what was used to get the mathematical data on paper in whole molding.  The batten part that came next was art and finesse for getting the lines.

 

Interesting. Could you give at least one such example based on contemporary evidence?

 

 

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3 hours ago, Waldemar said:

reconstructing the shape of hulls precisely by building scale models?

I was envisioning this key first step:  the garboard and first belt of planking that would then be fixed in place using the floor timbers - as having its shape determined by the bending of the boards.  A model can mimic what is thought to be shape of the original.  Using it to predict   what could have been allowed by full size planking pushed to its extreme    is not likely to be a good technique.   I see that assumptions and fudge factors come into play with a model.  I was being somewhat absolute about the input for a true experiment in possible hull conformations allowed by the original methods.  

I see models as being excellent at replication.  I see them as being limited as being predictors of the behavior of full size materials.

 

Shipbuilding in the Age of Sail was entirely a series of one off experiments that had no real controls.  The bad practices were obvious enough.  Getting a hull with maximum efficiency was something that was only chased. 

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Jaager, you have already truncated my statements twice in such a way that their meaning has been altered, and your comments refer to these truncated statements. Please reread my statement in post #12 and you will realise that your comments actually bear little relation to the original meaning.

 

 

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The second quote was not any sort of criticism.  I was trying to say that the plan may be also valid for a shell first construction.  In their zeal to protect their rice bowl,  the shell first guild may have hidden methods that were sophisticated and technically complicated.  The plan may actually reflect what they did.  They did not need to do the work to draft a preliminary plan.

 

On the first quote, I was in agreement with you.   When I first read what was involved with shell first,  I saw the initial form of the hull bottom as having a random factor -  a -what Nature allows you- factor.  The keel, stem and stern  planned. 

The three frames planned.   It obviously worked for them and they resisted fixing what was not broke well into the 18th century.   I do not expect that the random possibilities for model scale wood planks to be a good predictor of what wood will allow on an actual full size build.

 

I reacted to "experiment".  I have a background in wet bench basic biochemical pharmacology.  Experiment, to me, means a certain discipline is involved.    (I was wise enough to realize that experimental science was a bad fit for me and I was fortunate enough to have a fall back gig that was lucrative enough.)

 

If the term is meant in a colloquial sense, that sort of "experiment" does not have a p value to support the result.  Someone who repeats it in exactly the same way, is not likely to get a different result.  For a speculative model:  When what information that does exist is used  in an organized manner and  best guess assumptions that are compatible with existing evidence is used to fill in the gaps, then valid or reasonable results are possible.  The assumptions used to perform it need to be documented.   It just takes the falsification of a basic assumption to invalidate.   One of the assumptions would be a planned prediction of the bottom planking would do, rather than accepting what it does at model scale.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

The reactions concerning my last posts surprise me. But the post is not deleted nor is my account. That surprised me too, I thought this would have happened much earlier.

 

I promised to say something about the article Ab Hoving has written about drawings kept in the maritime museum in Amsterdam. Ab claims these drawing are forgeries.

I have read the article and wasn’t surprised by its content. It’s characteristic for how Ab Hoving writes.

The article is published in ‘Scheepshistorie 24’, a glossy magazine with all kinds of articles concerning ships, shipbuilding and related subjects and is written in Dutch. Citations are given in Dutch together with a translation. The article is called: “Zeventiende-eeuwse Hollandse ontwerptekeningen. Echt of namaak?”, “Seventeenth-century Dutch design drawings. Real or counterfeit?”

 

The article opens with the following two sentences:

 

“De methode die de Nederlandse scheepsbouwers in de zeventiende eeuw bij de bouw van hun schepen gebruikten, was het zogenaamde huid-eerst systeem, waarbij de buitenbeplanking maatgevend was voor de vorm van de spanten. Tekeningen kwamen daar niet aan te pas.”

 

“The method Dutch shipbuilders used in the construction of their ships in the seventeenth century was the so-called skin-first system, in which the outer planking was decisive for the shape of the frames. Drawings did not fit in this process.”

 

First of all, there is no ‘general method’ used to build ships in the seventeenth century Dutch republic. But the second sentence is the most revealing. Ab claims, to the aid of the building process, drawings were not used. But there is no substantiation whatsoever to back up this claim nor have I ever read one in Ab’s work. The claim also raises questions as to why this article is written? If you are so sure that drawings were not used to the aid of ship construction in the seventeenth century Dutch republic, why would you write an article about them? In fact, you can skip the article and go straight away to the conclusion: these drawings are forgeries. Of course they are, because if someone proposes these drawings could have a relation with shipbuilding in the seventeenth century, the only way to break off a discussion which is not favourable for Ab’s own unsubstantiated opinions, is to declare they are fake. This is circular reasoning.

 

The article itself contains the same way of making claims and assumptions who are not substantiated. Like the remark: “De stand van de techniek in Storcks dagen was van een ander niveau dan hier wordt gepresenteerd”, “The state of the art in Storck's (the author of the drawing red.) day was of a different level than is presented here”.

Of course this remark is without any substantiation. Do I need to explain the bluntness of this remark?

 

I won’t go into great detail to what Ab states because that isn’t necessary. I would merely like to mention one basic assumption Ab makes. I have the impression Ab doesn’t even know he makes this assumption. But it is a huge mistake.

In general this assumption comes down to the notion that how a process is executed in our time, that is what would have happened in the seventeenth century. But this will prove to be a very dangerous assumption.

I will give one simple example. Many original copies of Nicolaes Witsen’s book about shipbuilding in the Dutch seventeenth century republic contains a portrait.

The caption states his name, his age, 36, and the date his book was published, 1671. But Nicolaes was born in 1641, so by the time his book was published he would have been 29 or 30 years old. How is it possible a portrait of Nicolaes at the age of 36 was present in his book? The answer is simple and I think I have said something about it somewhere on this forum. The assumption here, which causes the confusion, is books are made in the seventeenth century Dutch republic the same way as we do it now. And that is not the case, which provides the answer.

The assumption Ab makes about these drawings is that they are made prior to construction. That is the way we do it now, first you make a drawing, after that you start construction. This assumption leads to the fact that Ab thinks the drawings he uses as examples in his article, are correct geometrical representations of the ship to be built. The consequence is that Ab frantically tries to prove one ‘fault’ after another in these drawings.

But were these drawings made prior to construction and are they made to represent a correct geometrical representation of the actual ship? As said at the beginning of this post, according to Ab, drawings were never used for the benefit of construction. So why does he bother to try to expose them as badly conceived and ultimately as fake? If Ab’s case, drawings were not made prior to construction, is a strong one, there is no reason to do that.

 

I will give another example. In the eighteenth century Dutch republic drawings were produced to the aid of constructing a ship. What was the procedure? I think almost all of the eighteenth century drawings we now know are made during or after construction and not prior to construction. Can I prove that? Yes, I can. I will try to describe this as brief as possible.

In the specifications and conditions, written before a ship was build and issued by the Admiralty of Rotterdam, many measurements were recorded. What was not recorded were the layouts of the decks. These layouts are mentioned in the specifications as “shall be decreed”. These layouts are crucial for a complete longitudinal design. Yet, these layouts are established during construction. And indeed, notes of the secretary of the Rotterdam Admiralty show that after about two months of construction work, the layout of the decks is officially established. So what did the building process look like in the eighteenth century? What kind of drawings did they use prior to construction?

The answer to these questions sheds some light to the drawings made in the seventeenth century. Because I think drawings were indeed used in the seventeenth century Dutch republic to the aid of constructing a ship.

To answer this question how this was done you need a thorough understanding of the process of building a ship. I don’t think this concept has reached Ab Hoving, far from it. I only encounter unsubstantiated claims and assumptions. Years ago I put aside the books of Ab because for me they are completely irrelevant. Which brings me to another subject.

If you don’t have any knowledge about historic shipbuilding, you can still read an article in a critical way. That is why I am still astonished how it is possible Ab Hoving is regarded as an expert? This present article about drawings from the seventeenth century Dutch republic is written in a way that a critical reader easily recognizes as being seriously flawed. How is it possible people don’t see through that?

 

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