The Dutch East India Company VOC, the 'Vereenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie', was the leading power on the Malay Archipelago since the early 17th century. In 1619 it had founded Batavia, todays Jakarta, and established its major trading base there. The company's main business were spices – sandalwood, cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon and pepper; its main power was its control over the spice trade routes to Europe. The VOC was one of the largest companies of Early Modern Times, and the first to issue stocks.
Toward the end of the 18th century the VOC got into financial troubles and was dissolved. The Dutch state now took over spice trade and the VOC's dominions. However, the Netherlands was itself in turmoil at that time; in France Napoleon Bonaparte had just come to power, and in 1794 French troops marched into the Netherlands. The following year the Republic of the United Netherlands was converted into a subsidiary republic of France, the so-called Batavian Republic.
One of the privileges of the VOC had been the right to issue coins for its dominions. After the state had taken over, they were now struck in the name of the Batavian Republic. Despite of this, however, this quarter gulden still bears the lion crest of the United Netherlands. The obverse shows an East Indiaman, a typical sailing ship of the VOC – with a big hull to take in as much cargo as possible, and strongly armed to fight off pirates.