Links to the collection:

1. Copper engravings d.d. 1733 from the Old Testament that have been used as models for tiles LINK
2. Copper engravings d.d. 1733 from the New Testament that have been used as models for tiles LINK
3. Five of the 54 biblical tiles in the Saba-collection LINK
4. Five of the 30 different non-biblical tiles in the Saba-collection LINK
(Actually more can be seen lower on this webpage)


Exhibition of Dutch Tiles period 1625 - 1900

This permanent exhibition could be visited every day

(Not more than 6 visitors at a time)

Collection of the late Miss Vera H.H. Caderius van Veen

Mentioning tiles and pottery from the Netherlands half the world thinks immediately "Delft".
This is very wrong and that's especially true for tiles.
There were tile factories in Antwerp (1510), Middelburg (1564), Haarlem (1571), Delft (1580), Amsterdam (1584), Dordrecht (1586) and even before 1600 also in Rotterdam and later also in Gouda, Leiden, Utrecht , Enkhuizen, Hoorn and in many places in the province of Friesland such as in Harlingen, Makkum and Bolsward which produced and much more then and were even more famous than Delft and exported to most of western Europe and also to North Africa, Indonesia and Brazil and ... to Statia and possibly to other Caribbean isles.

The oldest Dutch tiles exhibited here are from around 1625 and many of them are from Friesland. This is partly because my aunt landed after an evacuation at the end of World War II in Leeuwarden, the capital of Friesland .

The production was actually only wall tiles (decorative tiles)
In the beginning, especially the examples from Italy and Spain have been followed in terms of motifs and images. From 1600 there were typically Dutch naturalistic images on tiles such as very often tulips (since the Crusades tulips had been brought from Turkey to the Netherlands) and also more southern images of grapes, pomegranates, oranges and southern leaf shapes.

From 1603 there was also Chinese influence by the materials that were imported in Europe and stolen by the Dutch who had followed for the first time a Portuguese ship via South Africa to China and had stolen everything that was on board, including blue Chinese porcelain. Hence the name "kraak-porcelain" ("caracque" = "sailing ship").

When the Dutch had discovered the route to India via the Cape of Good Hope , they also imported cargoes of Chinese porcelain (called "Kaeps Goet").


It was the Delft pottery industry that - unsuccessfully - tried to make porcelain but it remained just a kind of pottery that was more or less refined; only with the color (blue) and with motifs they came pretty close. It is through this initiative that abroad almost every Dutch pottery became named after Delft , but tiles were mostly made elsewhere.

Blue became the fashion colour in all the Netherlands but Chinese patterns on tiles already disappeared again around 1650. It was then often naturalistic images of people, animals and plants and even landscapes that were made on tiles.
An advantage of the fashion color blue instead of polychrome tiles was that the tiles became cheaper and therefore more sold and produced.

From about 1650 the corner motifs became smaller and the already mentioned images dominated and later came also the images of ships, mermaids, and of course the riders and biblical images.

Since 1750 the colors blue (cobalt) or purple (manganese) are getting generally dull, and the French Louis styles are found more on the tiles.

After 1800, the tile in fireplaces becomes obsolete by stoves instead of open fires and wall covering as well was supplanted by other products. In the 19th century, one after another tile bakery disappeared . Tichelaar factory in Makkum (Friesland) has maintained until now.

The use of the tiles
They were widely used in fireplaces, skirting boards as well as an entire wall of stairways and other rooms at the time of tapestries, murals, (gold) leather wall "lining" and certainly wallpaper were not usual yet.

Two fire-places:

An example of just before 1800 in a more sophisticated house

and in one of the paintings of Johannes just skirting near the floor.

Of all these old factories very little is known anymore.
The only (new) image found from the factory in Harlingen (Friesland)

The factory in Rotterdam stopped in 1851

The only still working factory is the one in Makkum (Province of Friesland) and is still owned by the original family who named themselves after their profession "Tichelaar".



Origin and date of Dutch tiles
Corner Patterns
Many tiles of different places and from different periods have the same corner motifs. Burgundy Lily and derivatives, the antique dealers said "Ossenkop" variants, Chinese Wan-Li ornaments, bees, spiderheads, cups and ornaments three-dots and sometimes carnations and leaves. I call the spinnekoppen / spiderheads "berries" and the ossenkoppen / ox-heads "berries-blades" because the other names make no sense.
Older tiles often have larger corners, especially as ornaments for 1600 were important.
In 1602 a Dutch kaper / pirate conquered 2 Portuguese ships with Chinese export porcellain, which was blue and with motives that were special for that period in which the Chinese emperor Wan-Li was in power. The motifs meant something as "a long and happy life". From that period on the Dutch tiles started to be blue and the Chinese motifs have been used - or more or less copied - and were called Wan-Li motifs.


Other corner motifs Lilies, Ox-head, ox-head utrecht (all deviations from the lily pattern and spider can be seen here:

Example of tiles ornament for 1600. (Not in collection)

Part of that ornament tiles have been standing motifs like tulips and pomegranates.
Examples are

The transition from ornaments to naturalistic images takes place around 1600.
A polychrome vase from the collection, just like the tulip on the left dates from about 1625 and are examples of the so-called rhomb tile. Similarly, the tiles with the images placed within a circle or a similar frame where often made. On the right one example in this collection of approx 50 different non-bilblical tiles.

Biblical tiles
The first known its polychrome tile pictures from Antwerp in 1600. Around 1640, the first blue and purple tiles with biblical scenes to separate, and with the "ox head" in the corners.
From 1650, the sometimes complicated pictures fit into a circle so as tile medallion.
This occurs in Rotterdam, including tiles. Early Frisian tiles often have no image framing and are sometimes difficult to interpret. Assistence for recognizing the biblical scenes came from Jan Pluis - THE authority on tiles - via the Dutch Tegelmuseum and from other helpful people.
The paintings are usually derived from engravings such as Pieter H. Schuts (1619-1663), who in their turn go back to the works of Albrecht Durer (1471-1528), Maarten de Vos (1531-1603), Abraham Diepenbeeck (1596-1657 ), Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640), Matthew Merian (1593-1650) and others.


Hereafter also two examples of how the engravings resulted in tiles

The total number in the Netherlands found images is about 600, so this collection on Saba includes with 54 different biblical tiles a nice part of it (or even in some instances tiles not known to the existing inventory). For example, the images from the Apocryphal books in the Netherlands are not even inventoried and unknown.

Biblical tiles without bible text are generally pre-1730. In the tiles after that time regarding the indicated texts often mistakes have been made.
By far the most tiles come from Friesland, Harlingen and Makkum likely and a few from Utrecht, Rotterdam or possibly elsewhere.


A relation with the WIC (West Indische Compagnie)

Although it is very likely that the WIC has transported Dutch tiles, very little traces have been found yet. The major one is the incredible collection in Recife (Brazil).

The old Franciscan monastery in the then 'Ilha de António Vaz' dated from 1606,
seems to be repaired in 1612-1613. During the Dutch period (1630-1654) it was incorporated into the fort built by the WIC, Fort Ernestus (1630; 1654 dismantled, demolished ca 1673). The monastery was reconstructed, when the late seventeenth and early eighteenth century, the Church of São Francisco 'was put into. One of the inner walls of the current convent of extreme thickness and is considered as a vestige of this fort. Just north of Fort Ernestus was the governor's palace, House Vrijburgh (1640).

Het oude, Franciscaanse klooster op het toenmalige ‘Ilha de António Vaz’, dateerde uit 1606 en
schijnt in 1612-1613 gerepareerd te zijn. In de Nederlandse periode (1630-1654) werd het opgenomen in het door de WIC gebouwde fort, Fort Ernestus (1630; 1654 ontmanteld, ca 1673 afgebroken). Het klooster werd gereconstrueerd, toen er eind zeventiende eeuw en begin achttiende, de kerk ‘São Francisco’ tegenaan werd gezet. Een van de binnenmuren van het huidige klooster is van extreme dikte en wordt beschouwd als een overblijfsel van dit fort. Iets ten noorden van Fort Ernestus lag het gouvernementspaleis, Huis Vrijburgh (1640).

The tiles during this last rebuilding in the
new cloister attached. It is the largest seventeenth-century Dutch
tiles collection outside the Netherlands. Because it really is a very large tile collection is believed that at least a part of the palace of Prince Johan Maurits of Nassau coming is.Op June 18, 2004 it was 400 years ago that Johan Maurits, Count of
Nassau-Siegen, was born on the ancestral seat Dillenburg. In involved forums
2004 was also called "The Nassau-Year".
Ironic coincidence is that 350 years ago the WIC withdrew from Hollantsch
Brasil, what little joyful event had major consequences for the Republic
development of other areas of the WIC.

De tegeltjes zijn tijdens deze laatste verbouwing in de
nieuwe kloosterhof aangebracht. Het betreft de grootste zeventiende-eeuwse, Hollandse
tegeltjescollectie buiten Nederland. Omdat het echt een heel erg grote tegelcollectie betreft, wordt verondersteld, dat tenminste een deel ervan uit het paleis van Prins Johan Maurits van Nassau afkomstig is.Op 18 juni 2004 was het 400 jaar geleden, dat Johan Maurits, graaf van
Nassau-Siegen, op het stamslot Dillenburg geboren werd. In de geïnvolveerde gremia
heet het jaar 2004 dan ook: “Het Nassau-Jaar”.
Ironische bijkomstigheid is, dat 350 jaar geleden de WIC zich terugtrok uit Hollantsch
Brasil, welk voor de Republiek weinig heuglijk feit grote gevolgen had voor de
ontwikkeling van de overige gebieden van de WIC.

Photos from Foundation MOWIC

The first WIC existed from 1621-1675 and after that the second one from 1675 to 1792.

A relation of this exhibition with Saba and the WIC

Such a relation does not exist. Only on St Eustatius a cottage existed with Dutch tiles on it's walls. Since 1850 many Dutch yellow bricks ("IJsselstenen" or "Frisian stones") have been transported from Statia to Saba. These stones had been made in the Netherlands in the 17th and 18th century and on Saba they were used very often to build chimneys. So far traces of antique Dutch tiles have not been found however.

Another thing is that the intention is to leave the collection on Saba
available for tourists and to do more research into history


Some images: just to give an impression of the exhibition
(Each tile has a description with the year of production,
the city of the kiln, the meaning of the image
which is especially interesting for the over the 50 biblical tiles)

Some images of Dutch Museum Saba (




























Some other Saba-websites and- pages: Some other websites

All others are deleted