‘When the city was largely destroyed by fire in 1452, it was decreed that from then on it was only allowed to build with stone. Building timber was popular because it was lighter in structure and the Amsterdam underground was swampy. One of the two oldest houses in Amsterdam is the Aepjen (in ‘t Aepjen). It was a rough pub even for that time, a first drink stop for the sailors. It was a wooden house, (Amsterdam still has only 2 wooden houses) and tapered upwards, made possible by the light building materials so that there was more space above than below. ‘In the Aepjen there were two floors above the café, hammocks hanging from large nails on the beams of the floors. Here the ‘men,’ were recruited for the ships. A recruiter stepped into a pub and offered a froth of beer to an already drunk sailor or drinking brother. At the bottom of the tank was a penny, which the drunk sailor only saw at the last sip, by drinking and accepting the beer this was seen as a binding contract. If they did not want to join, they would be taken into custody and transported to the VOC ship that the recruiter worked for.
The same thing took place in surrounding countries, in England your so-called militar service was ‘drunk’ by a recruiter, or you woke up on board a ship as ‘sailor’. This was the so-called ‘king’s shilling’ in the beer.
People became extremely suspicious about accepting beers. So suspicious that many people abolished the crucibles and switched to glasses. Hence also during the toast, the lifting of the glass, you could see if there was a coin on the bottom.
The visitors were mostly sailors who had been at sea for months to trade and bring them from the east. They drank, ate and slept in the inn directly on the waterline. The sailors traded in curiosities that they brought from the East. It was mostly limited to trinkets and fabrics and small exotic animals. Spices were reserved for the shipowner or the VOC. Tropical birds, parrots, and a lot of monkeys were transported as well.
“If the sailors could not pay their bill, they would leave their trade behind. One of the owners of one of these inns renamed his establishment to ‘In den Aepjen’ because he had a lot of customers who did not pay in cash but with a monkey. To entertain the guests he put them in cages. Because these animals had many fleas that jumped on people, the guests were itchy and scratched themselves.
At one point the ‘scratching’ was linked to “you will have stayed in In den Aepjen”.
Sailors would have spent the night here before they sailed to the East Indies. Some of those troops did not return from the harsh journey. Had they slept here, chances were that they would not see Amsterdam again.