Dan liever de lucht in!

Beautiful broadside celebrating Dutch naval hero Jan van Speijk, 1831

Tranen toegeweid van alle ware Nederlanders aan onze nooit te vergetene held J.C.J. van Speijk, ridder der militaire Willems Order, en kommandant op de kanonneer boot no. 2 voor Antwerpen. Amsterdam, J. Wendel en Zoon, [1831]. Broadside (ca. 52,5 x 44,5). With a woodcut showing an exploding ship, signed "Coldewijn". Dog-eared, early folds, a few tears along the folds with a tiny hole in the centre affecting one letter, a few small spots in the lower left-hand corner, otherwise in good condition.

 

"Dan liever de lucht in!" Large and beautifully illustrated broadside celebrating Dutch naval hero Jan van Speijk (1802-1831), who famously blew up his gunboat on February 5, 1831, killing himself and most of his crew.

 

Van Speijk commanded a gunboat (no. 2) during the Belgian War of Independence. When his ship drifted into the quay at the port of Antwerp, Belgium revolutionaries stormed his vessel. Rather than surrender, Van Speijk allegedly said "Dan liever de lucht in!" ("I'd rather be blown up!") and blew up his ship, killing 28 of his own crewmen and probably dozens of Belgians as well, becoming, in effect, the first suicide bomber in Dutch history.

 

The act had no military significance whatsoever. Nonetheless, after his death Van Speijk grew into legend, becoming a Dutch naval hero, celebrated in books, pamphlets and broadsides, and remembered in an impressive monument at Egmond aan Zee. The present broadside features a short biography of Van Speijk, a detailed account of the events of February 5, 1831, and a lengthy poem. Interestingly, the impressive woodcut depicts a different exploding ship, possibly the man-of-war Alphen, which exploded in the port of Curaçao in 1778.

 

Very rare on the market.

 

Atlas van Stolk 6933; Muller, Historieplaten, 6623.

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