A 'bloedband' was a distinctive decoration of sheriffs, burgomasters and aldermen (schout, burgemeesters en schepenen), the highest authority of a city. How a 'bloedband' was worn can be seen on a number of painted portraits of Amsterdam alderman in the Police Museum in Apeldoorn and the Amsterdam Historical Museum. The earliest painting is a copy after an anonymous portrait of probably Gerrit van den Anxter from around 1530 (inv DA 454). The painting shows that a 'bloedband' was in use even before the mid-sixteenth century. Later examples include a portrait of Cornelis Backer (1633-1681) by Jan van Mieris (1660-1690) (inv SB 2545) and a portrait of William Sautijn (1703-1743) by Jean Fournier (ca. 1700-1765 ) (inv SB 5772). The men wore the bands over their left shoulder when they passed the death sentence and witnessed executions.
After having resigned their position, the bands were ceremoniously handed over to their successors. In 1595 an order of fourteen new bands was placed. The bands were in use until the French Period (1795-1813). Ten bands are known to have survived. Besides the six specimens in the Amsterdam Historical Museum there are two bands in the collection of the Royal Archaeological Society (inv BK-KOG-1479a, b), purchased in 1861 from the collection of Elias, and one in the Six collection ( inv 01,699), both in Amsterdam. The Archives for Kennemerland keep an Amsterdam 'bloedband' from Adriaan Cornelis Fabricius (1767-1847) who was appointed as alderman in 1793. And finally the nineteenth-century numismatist William Carel Esdrè owned a 'bloedband'. It is uncertain whether the present 'bloedband' is one of the four disappeared or whether this is the one previously in the collection of Esdrè and acquired by Herman Heshuysen.
For futher information please see the website of the Amsterdam Historical Museum.