The ship Leimuiden, also referred to as Leymuiden, was a Dutch East Indiaman. It was in use by the VOC between 1755 and 1770, during which time she made voyages between Texel, Batavia, Dejima, and Ceylon. She left Texel in 1769, bound for Ceylon, containing a cargo of, amongst other things, 37 gold bars.
On the 25th of January, 1770, Leimuiden was lost when she ran aground off the Cape Verde island Boa Vista. The master of the ship, Jan van Kinsbergen, did not act with the traditional sense of bravery and responsibility one expects from a captain when his ship is in trouble. Instead of doing his utmost to save the entirety of the crew and cargo, he chose just a few people on board to join him in his attempts to reach safety on shore, leaving the majority of the crew behind on the floundering Leimuiden. The crew that was left behind by their captain made their own attempt to save themselves using rafts in efforts to reach the shore. About 15 people from the crew of Leimuiden never made it to shore, among them the sailor Abraham Kats, who took with him 9 bars of gold, weighing a total of 45 kilos. Unable to successfully swim carrying such a weight, Kats drowned in his attempts to reach the shore.
The captain reclaimed the gold bars from the crew members who reached the shore. However of the 37 bars originally on board, only 16 were retrieved. It is unknown what happened to the remaining gold ingots, as only one was ever found during the excavation of the site. The survivors were taken to the Cape of Good Hope by a passing ship, Renswoude, which also delivered the remaining cargo of Leimuiden to Ceylon.
The wreck of the Leimuiden was discovered by G. Clackworthy, a salvage diver from South Africa who worked on wrecks surrounding Cape Verde, with the consent of the local government, in 1993 after years of research and searching. The firm Arquenautas Arquelogia Subaquatico S.A. recieved permission to search and excavate the wreck site from the Cape Verde government. This company is specialized in search and recovery operations for historical shipwrecks in the republic of Cape Verde.
The information from the research of the wrecksite is not currently available, although some items from the wreck site of Leimuiden were auctioned at Christie's in Amsterdam.
The Gold of the Leimuiden
The Rijksmuseum Het Koninklijk Penningkabinet in Leiden obtained the only known bar of gold from the VOC and made it a prominent part of their collection. This ingot came from the wreck-site of the VOC ship Leimuiden, found at the island of Boa Vista in Cap Verde. The gold weighs about 5 kilos and has not only high economic value, but high in cultural value as well,since it is one of the few VOC-era gold bars that have ever been found.
Unfortunately the bar of gold was stolen from the museum in Leiden. This was a tragedy in many ways, given both the economic and cultural value of the ingot. The ingot had been in the museum for less than a month when it was stolen from the secured showcase by a thief who overpowered four guards with pepper spray, shattered the glass case containing the bar, and made off with only the ingot in hand.
Name: Leimuiden (Leymuiden)
Type: Dutch East Indiaman (Spiegelretourschip)
Master: J.H. Kinsbergen
Tonnage: 1150, 575 last
Length: 150 feet