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Voet (Old Dutch)

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This page describes an obsolete unit.

The unit described on this page was in use prior to modern methods of precision measurement. It was based on a standard which is no longer available, and which is not capable of being calibrated against modern measurement units. Therefore, the equivalence to modern SI units or to current United States customary units can only be considered approximate.

The voet (meaning foot) was a unit of length in the old Dutch system of lengths.

The length of the voet varied from place to place; Cardarelli[1] gives the Amsterdam voet (which he calls "voeten," actually the plural form of the word) as 0.2830594 m = 11.1440709 in. = 0.9286726 ft .

According to Wikipedia[2], the following were the lengths[3] of some of the various voeten in use in the Netherlands prior to metrication:

  • one Rijnland foot (Rijnlandse voet) (=12 Rijnland inches) was 31.4 cm = 1.03 ft = 0.343 yd
  • one Amsterdam foot (Amsterdamse voet) (= 11 Amsterdam inches) was 28.3133 cm = 11.146969 in. = 0.928914 ft
  • one Bloois foot (Blooise voet) was 30.1 cm = 11.85 in. = 0.988 ft
  • one 's-Hertogenbosch foot ('s-Hertogenbossche voet) was 28.7 cm = 11.299 in. = 0.942 ft
  • one Hondsbos and Rijp foot (Honsbossche en Rijpse voet) was 28.5 cm = 11.22 in. = 0.935 ft
  • one Schouw foot (Schouwse voet) was 31.1 cm = 1.02 ft = 0.34 yd
  • one Gelderland foot (Geldersche voet) was 29.2 cm = 11.496 in. = 0.958 ft

The Rijnland foot which had been in use since 1621 was most commonly used voet in the both Netherlands and in parts of Germany. In 1807, de Gelder measured the copy of the Rijnland foot in the Leiden observatory to be 0.3139465 m ( 1.0300082 ft = 0.3433361 yd ), while Eytelwien found that the master copy that was in use in Germany was 0.313853543 m ( 1.029703225 ft = 0.343234408 yd ) - a difference of 0.03%.[4] An 1808 resolution of the King of Holland defined the French legal meter (which in fact was 1.0000081 times as long as the meter that became established internationally in 1883) as 3.1852560866 Rijnland feet, or, inverting this ratio, the Rijnland foot = 0.3139455615 French legal m = 0.313949043 International m = 1.030016545 ft = 0.343338848 yd [5] . In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries Dutch settlers took the Rijnland foot to the Cape Colony. In 1859, by which time the colony had passed into British control, the Cape foot was calibrated against the English foot and legally defined as 1.033 English feet (0.314858 m). [5][[6]


  1. Cardarelli, François (1998). Scientific Unit Conversion. Berlin, Heidelberg, New York: Springer-Verlag. ISBN 3-540-76022-9. 
  2. Wikipedia article on "Dutch units of measurement"
  3. Jacob de Gelder (1824) (in Dutch). Allereerste Gronden der Cijferkunst [Introduction to Numeracy]. 's Gravenhage and Amsterdam: de Gebroeders van Cleef. pp. 167. Retrieved 2011-03-02. 
  4. Jacob de Gelder (1824) (in Dutch). Allereerste Gronden der Cijferkunst [Introduction to Numeracy]. 's Gravenhage and Amsterdam: de Gebroeders van Cleef. pp. 164. Retrieved 2011-03-02. 
  5. 5.0 5.1 Tomasz Zakiewicz, The Cape Geodetic Standards and Their Impact on Africa
  6. "Cape Foot". Sizes. Retrieved 2011-12-26. 

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