Auction 140, Lot 867

"Spiegel der Reden Voor de Wanhopende Actionisten", Anon.

Subject: Satire - Stock Trading

Period: 1720 (circa)

Publication: Het Groote Tafereel der Dwaasheid…

Color: Hand Color

3.8 x 6.2 inches
9.7 x 15.7 cm

This engraving is from the important account of one the most infamous financial meltdowns in history, known as the Mississippi Bubble incident. This engraved view, entitled "Mirror of Reason for the Despairing Stockbrokers," depicts a man, at center, ready to stab himself to death with a dagger. Instead he turns towards Reason, holding a lyre and mirror, with two men at his feet representing despair. Reason points behind him at Prudence, who holds a shield shining rays of light on Greed, Arrogance, Wantonness and Superstition. In the distant background, bolts of lightning rain down on a crowd. Truth, enthroned in the clouds, looks calmly at the scene below. There are three columns of verses in Dutch below the scene.

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 prices 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.


Condition: A

Watermarked paper with marginal soiling and a few spots of printer's ink residue.

Estimate: $70 - $90

Sold for: $35

Closed on 5/23/2012