"[Lot of 2] Rue Quinquempoix en l'annee 1720 [and] De Verwarde Actionisten Torenbouw Tot Babel", Anon.
Subject: Satire - Stock Trading
Period: 1720 (circa)
Publication: Het Groote Tafereel der Dwaasheid …
Color: Hand Color
14.4 x 12.5 inches
36.6 x 31.8 cm
These satirical engravings are from the important account of one the most infamous financial meltdowns in history, known as the Mississippi Bubble incident. The first is a chaotic picture of the "wind trade" on the rue Quinquempoix in Paris. The second is graphic satire comparing share trade mania and the collapse of various investment schemes to the story of the Tower of Babel.
John Law, a Scottish financier, established the Banque Generale (central bank) in France. He was then granted control of Louisiana and founded the Compagnie de la Louisiane d'Occident, in 1717. Law developed an elaborate plan to exploit the fabulous resources of the region, which quickly gained popularity and people rushed to invest, not just in France, but throughout Europe. This resulted in the development of several other overseas companies, such as the English South Sea Company and a number of smaller companies in the Dutch Republic. The share price of the (Carte du Mexique et de la Floride) rose dramatically in a frenzy of speculation. In 1720 the bubble burst; speculators cashed in, caused a run on the shares, and the company went bankrupt. As a consequence of the failure, confidence in other similar companies failed, and thousands of individual investors across Europe were ruined.