Ordinance fixing the rate at which goods are to be sold in New Amsterdam

Scanned Document:

The following ordinances were issued
since the arrival of the secretary
Cornelis van Ruyven, namely,
1653 in November.[1]

The director and council of New Netherland. To all those who shall hear, or see this read, greetings.

Let it be known that in the month of September last past the respective New Netherland colonies and courts and their deputies enacted, published, and posted various orders and regulations concerning the great and excessive expense of all sorts of merchandise, foodstuffs and grains, and workers’ wages;[2] which well-intentioned orders and regulations, published and enacted by previous ordinances, and made known to everyone, the director general and council still expect to be promptly observed and obeyed without any connivance, deceit, or favor, on pain of the fine more fully expressed in the ordinances. But whereas the most recently arrived passengers, merchants and traders have not been informed in advance in the matter of declaring their goods and merchandise, and ] because they have also declared their goods and merchandise according to their previous customs, and ] in addition considering among other things the great risk of the sea, the heavy insurance and the extensive storage of the goods and merchandise in the ships, subjecting them to much leakage and loss; all of which having been considered by the director general and council, they find it here well advised that the merchants could not survive with one hundred percent above the duty on the company’s invoice at the present time. Therefore, not to annul absolutely the previously enacted order, the director general and council have for the present time thought it best and necessary to appraise some goods and merchandise as follows:

One pair of men's shoes, sizes 8 to 12 ƒ3:5
One pair of Icelandic stockings at 36 stivers
One firkin of soap at 20 guilders
One quart of salad oil ƒ1:10
One pound of candles at 12 stivers
One ancker of distilled spirits ƒ32
One ancker of vinegar at ƒ16
One ell of duffel cloth for Christians not to be priced higher than ƒ3:10
One hundred pounds of nails ƒ30
One ancker of Spanish wine ƒ40
One ancker of brandy at ƒ44
One hogshead of French wine at ƒ110

What further concerns the goods and merchandise that are neither specified nor appraised herein, and some that cannot be appraised such as assorted linens of Haarlem and Leiden manufacture, cloth, worsted stockings, etc., of which some are finer and better than others; also, all materials and necessities required for farms and households, all too numerous to be specified here, the director general and council order that the authentic invoice of the actual cost of these items ] and of all other merchandise, however they might be named, shall be exhibited and shown to the buyers at their request; and for the present out of consideration of the present dangers and the heavy insurance, the seller shall be allowed to ask one hundred and twenty percent above the first and actual cost and no more, on pain of the fines expressed more fully in the previously enacted ordinances. The director general and council hereby give notice that this order and regulation shall only continue for the present time and until further orders from the fatherland, and no longer.

Thus done at the session of the director general and high council. Done at Fort Amsterdam in New Netherland, this 19th of November 1653.[3]


The directors in Amsterdam informed Stuyvesant of Van Ruyven's appointment to the post of secretary of the council in a letter dated July 24, 1653. He came over with a high recommendation, and a monthly salary of ƒ36 and annual subsistence of ƒ200.
These ordinances do not appear among the records. They may have been sent to the directors of Amsterdam and were consequently disapproved. The directors' letter of March 12, 1654, indicates their displeasure with certain ordinances adopted by the assembly concerning the fixing of prices on merchandise. See NYCD, 12:1 for the letter and LO, 149 for a translated extract concerning this matter.
Also in LO, 149-151.


Translation: Gehring, C., trans./ed., New Netherland Documents Series: Vol. 16, part 1, Laws and Writs of Appeal, 1647-1663 (Syracuse: 1991).A complete copy of this publication is available on the New Netherland Institute website.